“Queen’s Jubilee School Books are a Waste of Money” - Gemma Brolly
Gemma Brolly, the Aontú Representative for East Derry, has expressed ‘utter frustration’ at the distribution of Queen’s Jubilee books to every child in the North. Speaking today, Ms Brolly, herself a teacher, explained:
“As part of celebrations marking the Queen’s jubilee, the UK government decided to print and distribute a “free” commemorative book to every child in the six counties. This hard back book was designed to help children ‘understand’ historic events. It is no secret there are many in the North who will have celebrated the Queen’s jubilee and there will also be many who have chosen not to, ours is a very complicated and traumatic history. Thankfully we have progressed significantly, many now respect the wishes of others and respect their rights to celebrate who they feel represents them while respecting the rights of those who do not share the same perspective.”
“As someone who considers herself an Irish citizen, holding an Irish passport and respects the rights of others to celebrate their Queen, I was shocked to discover that the same respect was not extended by the government. Upon reading the book prior to distribution in fact, both Scottish and Welsh governments viewed this ‘historic memento’ as being ‘anglocentric’ and decided they would implement an “opt-in” policy; allowing schools to consult parents and place their order according to demand” added Brolly.
Ms Brolly continued: “Where was Stormont on this? Where was the practical and sensible request for an ‘opt-in’ approach? In the midst of a cost-of-living crisis, whilst our education system is crumbling around us and cries out for investment, thousands of books will reach schools where they simply will not be wanted. Schools cannot afford to return them so they must decide for themselves what to do with them. There are those who have commented “ don’t want them, don’t take them-no harm done”. This could not be further from the truth. The UK government spent approximately £12 million on these books. That investment could have been used in so many vital areas. It could have helped support the health or education of our children but instead a substantial amount of that £12 million will be completely wasted due to the failure of our government to implement a practical approach and consult parents before printing and distributing of books that would be viewed by many as highly disrespectful.”
“Aontú fully appreciate and respect the rights of those in our community who wish to celebrate the Queen and British figures such as Margaret Thatcher. Such respect must always be mutual. To place “commemorative books” in the hands of children whose families remember Margaret Thatcher’s as the woman who claimed that the Irish are “liars” and branded the likes of Nelson Mandela and so many more as “terrorists”, is more than just a waste of money. This lack of basic respect flies in the face of all that has been achieved since Thatcher’s time”, Concluded Ms Brolly.