Aontú Leader Peadar Tóibín TD has called on President Higgins to withdraw the “Parcels of Hate caricature” of the education system in the north. He stated;
“Aontú seeks a diverse and pluralist education system where parents have a choice as to which school they send their child to. Parents are under no obligation regarding which school they send their child to in the north of Ireland. Depending on geographical location, parents have a choice of Controlled, Catholic Maintained, Irish Medium, Integrated or All Male/Female school. Parents choose their school in the north on exactly the basis and they do in the south. They are not ‘abandoning’ their children to anything, certainly not to ‘hate,’ and in no school in the North of Ireland are educators instructed to ‘manipulate’ the memory of any child”.
“The idea that schools in the north are responsible for the division in the north is an incredible example of revisionism. Division in the north is as a result of partition, it’s as a result of decades of an Orange State discriminating against Nationalists and Catholics in terms of housing, jobs and rights. Parity of esteem in the north was a hard won thing. Many nationalist still do not have complete faith in the state. Catholic schools have often been the only place that an element of Irish geography, history, language and culture which extends beyond the six counties was available”.
“Catholic schools have achieved great results in terms of fighting disadvantage. The numbers the children going to universities from Catholic Schools in disadvantaged areas is greatly improving. Many Catholic schools are achieving great results. Catholic schools have done a really good job of integrating Portuguese, Polish, Lithuanian children into their class rooms and communities”.
“Sinn Féin are speaking from both sides of their mouth on this issue. Michelle O’Neill spoke in favour of educational diversity on the Late Late Show yet in the same interview stated that a secular uniform education system is where we want to get to. Indeed when I was a Sinn Fein TD I was whipped into vote for a bill that sought to delete all ethos diversity in the southern education system in favour of a uniform ethos.
“Much of this is a diversion. There is a crisis in funding in the education system in the north. There is a crisis in educational services for children, especially for children with disabilities. The most important action we can take in the north is to invest properly to enable children to receive “an effective education under articles 28 and 29 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.”