Caitriona isn’t planning to breach the Ministerial Code again, is she?

22 01 2008

By PR Cracken

This is unusual.

Mr A Bresland asked the Minister of Education what steps she will take to address the situation whereby families resident in the Republic of Ireland are using false addresses, in order for their children to attend schools in Northern Ireland.

The Minister of Education (Ms C Ruane): The Department issued comprehensive guidance on this issue on October 11. This guidance advised all schools and pre-schools of the implications for them of the judgment in a recent Judicial Review: that they now may be covered by a “duty to verify” information within applications where a problem with false information is suspected. This guidance gave all schools and pre-schools practical recommendations for requesting verifying documents from applicants within the admissions process.
Notwithstanding this I believe that the way forward for education is that children attend local schools regardless of which side of the border they are on. I will therefore be reviewing the requirements in primary legislation on all schools and preschools to prioritise all applicants resident in the North of Ireland before those who are not resident in the North of Ireland, and this review will take account of a possible conflict with EU legislation.

How does that answer coincide with this story from January 11? Is the department saying one thing but the Minister another? Undoubtedly considerations of space prevented Caitriona from declaring an interest.

The Minister isn’t in favour of grannying – she just favours a free-for-all. How is the DENI Minister acting in the best interests of children in Northern Ireland? More local kids competing to get into the best schools could be denied access.

And how can optimising Northern Ireland’s education system for the benefit of children living within Northern Ireland possibly be in conflict with EU legislation?

Also, families want to live close to the schools they send their children to. If many more RoI children succeed in getting places in NI border schools, wouldn’t there be implications for population spread? If affluent families than can afford to move tend to congregate around the better schools, and admission is based on BT code, won’t socially deprived families be further disadvantaged? An emerging problem suddenly becomes an acute emergency.

Is it right to think that even minor shifts in population/workforce would carry disproportionately larger economic impacts? If Ruane goes ahead with this review, would it not have implications for DETI & DEL ministries?

This sounds like it could be a cross-cutting initiative – so it’s probably best for it to go to the executive as per the Ministerial Code. Hang on… Caitriona isn’t planning to breach the code again, is she? Tsk. Typical.

BTW… scoping out methods of allowing individuals from the RoI tax regime to enter schooling here? How much will that cost taxpayers in the NI tax regime? M’learned friends don’t come cheap. Wasn’t there something in the Ministerial Code about acting in the best interests of taxpayers/efficient services etc? Such profligacy wouldn’t be a breach of the Ministerial Code, would it? (That’s enough. Ed.)

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One response

10 11 2008
Darla

Keep up the good work.

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