Northern Ireland Music Legends To Back Integrated Education

Stiff Little Fingers (SLF) have announced they will be getting behind the drive for more integrated education in Northern Ireland. The band will use their homecoming gig at Belfast’s Ulster Hall on Friday 16th November to highlight their support and also to make a financial contribution to the Integrated Education Fund (IEF).

Speaking ahead of the gig, bass player and founder member, Ali McMordie commented: “I have followed the work of the Integrated Education Fund for a number of years. I recently discovered that my old school in North Belfast, Cliftonville Primary, had taken a parental decision to transform to integrated status – a move I fully support. I also found out that the pupils and parents had raised £1,500 for the IEF through a sponsored walk on the Antrim Road. They were my inspiration to do something. Speaking to Jake Burns and the rest of the band we quickly decided that we could show our support for the IEF at our forthcoming Belfast gig in November.”

Paul Caskey, IEF Campaign Director added: “ We are thrilled that Stiff Little Fingers have decided to declare their support for our work. They are a band that always brought young people together in our community and it is wonderful that they are helping to continue that by supporting integrated schools. SLF helped inspire people to look beyond sectarianism and the establishment here – to encourage us to realise we hold more in common than what might divide us. That is what the Integrated Education Fund is all about. We believe that in supporting parents and providing children with the chance to learn and play together in school then we can build a better and more shared future for everyone.”

Stiff Little Fingers formed In 1977 and were at the forefront of the punk movement in Northern Ireland. They were renowned for lyrics and music that melded the personal and political, writing about their experience of life in Belfast with classics like “Suspect Device”, “Wasted Life” and “Alternative Ulster”. In 1979 they became the first band ever to hit the UK top 20 album charts on an independent label – with their debut Inflammable Material. Fiercely anti-sectarian, Stiff Little Fingers, always drew support from both sides of the divide in Northern Ireland, which was typical of a punk scene here where young people challenged the cultural, religious and political norms of the time.

The IEF is an independent charitable trust that targets financial support for the development and growth of integrated education. Its aim is simple. It wants to enable as many children as possible to learn together in an environment that celebrates, not fears, religious and cultural diversity. It wants to make integration, not separation, the norm in the education system. On the basis of parental demand it continues to support the establishment of more integrated school places, the transformation of existing non-integrated schools to integrated status as well as cross community school initiatives that provide meaningful interaction between pupils, parents, staff and the wider community.