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Blair's faith defence was simply superficial

Tony Blair's article defending faith schools (Comment, June 18) was patronising and superficial.

He is correct to commend the excellent work of the two schools in Ballycastle which are engaging in many joint activities. But one has to ask why this didn't take place long ago.

The reality is that pupils and teachers in Northern Ireland have been hamstrung by an education system based on segregation or, to use a more honest term, apartheid. Mr Blair states: "People invariably sort themselves into mono-cultural groups in times of conflict." No, they don't.

Mr Blair himself would presumably, in around 2008, have segued from being a monocultural Protestant/unionist to a monocultural Catholic/nationalist identity. That's fine for him.

However, throughout the years of sectarian violence there were always people - perhaps best described as dissenters - to whom the basic human right to life far transcended Mr Blair's depressing concept of the primacy of atavistic and tribal loyalty.

For these people the key to a peaceful future was and is to create a society where children are judged upon the content of their character - not upon the church they attend. As a doctor, if I were to refuse to see a patient because they were Catholic or Protestant, I would - quite correctly - be suspended by my Trust, sued for discrimination and brought before a General Medical Council disciplinary hearing. The majority of people in Northern Ireland want their children to be educated together just as they are treated together in the health service.


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