28 Sep

Community Relations and Cultural Awareness Week 2015 – One Place, Many People

By Jacqueline Irwin. Jacqueline is Chief Executive of the Community Relations Council which is co-ordinating the programme of events for Community Relations and Cultural Awareness Week. The events listing can be viewed on the CRC website www.nicrc.org.uk

Community Relations and Cultural Awareness Week 2015 begins on 28 September. The theme is “One Place, Many People” to highlight and celebrate the wide range of people, cultures, traditions and beliefs that make up our community. The theme is also a timely reminder of some of the skills we need for living in the world today. Welcoming those that are different from us and knowing how to show respect to each other should be a fundamental expectation and an essential part of everyday life here as we learn to live with and celebrate our diversity.

Schools, as well as businesses, churches, sport clubs and societies are the social fabric of our lives – these are the engines that drive our sense of interconnectedness or of separation. Whether we like it or not, diversity is intrinsic to who we were, who we are and who we will be in the future. We are a place that is full of different identities and aspirations. Learning to cherish our differences, not just tolerate them and to share this place is our moral responsibility. If our children find a better way to live with their differences they will have helped secure their future in this diverse world. (more…)

27 Aug

Education fit for the 21st century needed by everyone on this island

Baroness May Blood responds to comments made by Sinn Féin leader, Gerry Adams.

Gerry Adams’ recent comments regarding education in the Republic offer a welcome and progressive vision of an education system fit for the 21st Century. Given that Sinn Fein’s last manifesto (in 2011) called for “Harmonisation of the two education systems on the island” I look forward to progress on the structures of the schools system in Northern Ireland too.

A report in 2012 called for a major restructuring of education in the Republic of Ireland, opening the way for schools which have been governed by churches to be released to other patrons. The Sinn Fein leader has joined his voice to calls for this to be implemented “as speedily as possible” pointing out that “Taxpayers’ money, not the Church, is what funds the education system and Irish parents are demanding greater choice.” (more…)

17 Aug

We need bridges not stepping stones…

A blog by India Fahy. India is a law student at the London School of Economics. She is secretary and a founding member of the Integrated Education Alumni Association.

At the beginning of this month Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams TD spoke out about the growing controversy in the Republic of Ireland over school patronage. Mr Adams’ sentiment was that the Irish education system must serve all children regardless of creed, and on that basis, he posited that it is not in anyone’s best interest for the vast majority of schools to remain under the control of the Church. After all, as Mr Adams rightly stated, ‘it is the taxpayers’ money, not the Church, that funds the education system, and Irish parents are demanding greater choice.’ (more…)

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…)

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