11 Aug

What do we tell the children?

A blog by Colm Heaney. Colm was born in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada and has lived in Northern Ireland since 2001. He currently lives in South-East Belfast with his wife and two children who will both be attending Lough View Integrated when the school year begins next month. Colm  is a sub-editor at the Daily Mirror in Belfast

As the calendar turns towards summer and the flags are up around Northern Ireland, a curious five-year-old will notice.

“Daddy. You see that red, white and blue flag? Is it ours?”

And with that my, quite frankly, naive hopes that I could somehow protect my children from Northern Ireland’s politics and talk radio forever all come crashing down.

“Um… no…. yes…. sort of. Look, under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement that decision is yours and yours alone.” (more…)

3 Aug

Stalemate in Stormont

A blog by Robert Magee, graduate of Politics with Criminology at the University of Ulster, Washington Ireland Program alum and past pupil of Lagan College.

With Northern Ireland’s most controversial period of the year passing in an all too familiar confrontational fashion – the province appears to be swamped in an annual, destructive ‘Groundhog Day’ scenario. These issues that arise around the marching season are just some symptoms of deeper problems that have either been left unaddressed or have received insufficient and ineffective temporary solutions. I believe that education is an area that falls into both of these categories.  (more…)

22 Jul

Baroness May Blood: The Executive is not doing enough.

From Baroness May Blood, Campaign Chair, Integrated Education Fund

The NGO Alternative report to the United Nations should give everyone cause for concern. It’s a joint publication from 60 organisations in Northern Ireland urging the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child to keep the pressure on politicians and policy-makers to improve young people’s lives. The UNCRC will in 2016 examine the UK’s compliance with its obligations on children’s rights and this report flags up issues of concern before that process begins.

The introduction states, starkly: “…segregation in housing, education, public services and leisure facilities is the daily reality experienced by most children.” (more…)

26 Jun

My week’s work experience at the IEF

A blog by Nancy Eaton a year 12 student at Lagan College

Some people find the prospect of work experience quite daunting. I will not deny that I felt that way on my first day as well. I was going to the Integrated Education Fund or the IEF, and was very interested to see how the organization worked. I am very passionate about integrated education myself, being a student at Lagan College. But I was nervous. I had never worked in a singularly adult environment before.

However, I found that everyone was extremely friendly, welcoming, and relaxed.

I particularly enjoyed a meeting where we met a political advisor and journalist. I did not feel bored at all in his company, as he is a very flamboyant personality, with an outlandish character and a tendency to positively scrutinise, as well as tell things as they truly are. In the meeting they discussed Northern Ireland’s troubled politics and the difficult way that integrated education fits into that equation today. He stated that some communities, political parties, and politicians feel that a compromise is a loss in many situations in politics today and then often act over aggressive about what they want. I would agree with that, but also say that people only ever lash out in anger when they are afraid of change. I found his words refreshingly honest and daring, and I hope I have learnt some important lessons and skills which will help me in the future. (more…)

15 Jun

‘Shared Education’ is spin

An open letter by Margaret Kennedy, a campaigner for integrated education in Northern Ireland, and a founding member and former chairwoman of ACT (All Children Together, which led to the establishment of the first planned integrated over school thirty years ago)

As parties urgently discuss the Stormont budget crisis, it is vital to remind politicians, policy makers and especially the public that duplication of services in Northern Ireland is costing in excess of a billion pounds each year.

The figure was arrived at by Deloitte in a study of the cost of maintaining separate education, housing and other facilities to the two communities in Northern Ireland.

How does the continuation of this segregation contribute in any way to a “shared future” or to “building a united community” — on the other hand, how does the waste of resources add to the current problems? The profligate separation certainly adds nothing to the credibility of our political class in terms of economic management — but perhaps both unionist and nationalist parties find this division advantageous in maintaining their tribal vote. (more…)

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