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Ruane’s as useful as a trapdoor on a canoe, says MLA

By Noel McAdam

The DUP chairman of the Assembly education scrutiny committee is to meet the Catholic Bishops in the near future, the conference heard.

Mervyn Storey said, to cheers: “That will be more of an experience for them rather than me”.

The groundbreaking talks, following former First Minister Ian Paisley's historic face-to-face meeting with Catholic Primate Sean Brady, is expected in the next few weeks.

In a trenchant attack on Education Minister Caitriona Ruane, the North Antrim MLA said she was “as much use as a trapdoor in a canoe” — and he believed she should be renamed ‘Ruin’.

“It is an absolute shame and disgrace the way she has conducted herself and mismanaged the whole question of transfer.”

And yet, as negotiations between his party and Sinn Fein on the academic selection controversy continue behind the scenes, Mr Storey said he believed agreement on transfer can be found.

He was speaking ahead of the planned launch of a DUP pamphlet on education in the next few weeks. “People are looking for leadership,” he said.

North Belfast MLA Nelson McCausland, also speaking in the education section of the programme, said the problem of under-achievement, which is particularly prevalent in some working class unionist communities, was being usurped by other education issues.

He also accused Ms Ruane of “using children” by suggesting transfer was a cause of under-achievement.

“The problem starts a long time before the age of 11,” Mr McCausland argued.

East Londonderry MP Gregory Campbell said apart from the blocked Stormont Executive, the DUP was demanding the Westminster government does more to help the people of Northern Ireland and Finance Minister Nigel Dodds had recently met Gordon Brown to highlight the impact of energy price rises on people in the province.

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