The IEF was saddened to learn of the death of Lord Mawhinney, a staunch advocate for integrated education whose support was invaluable over many years.
Brian Mawhinney, as the Conservative Minister for Education in Northern Ireland, was instrumental in the creation and passing of the Education Reform (Northern Ireland) Order 1989. The Order placed a statutory duty on the Department of Education in respect of Integrated Education:
‘It shall be the duty of the Department to encourage and facilitate the development of integrated education, that is to say the education together at school of Protestant and Roman Catholic pupils’ (Education Reform (NI) Order 1989).
Lord Mawhinney later said
“One of the proudest moments of my political career was putting integrated education on the statute books in Northern Ireland in 1989. I knew it had to be done to support the parental desire for children to be educated together in my native Ulster.”
He had already visited Hazelwood Integrated College, in 1988, to announce it had been granted maintained status – that is, it was now recognised officially as a viable school and fully funded by the Department of Education. He also took a personal interest in Hazelwood Integrated Primary School, visiting with the All-Party Parliamentary Group in 2008.
Brian Mawhinney continued to actively support the work of the Integrated Education Fund, introducing and encouraging donors at many events and attending the supporters’ dinner at the House of Lords, hosted by IEF Campaign Chair Baroness May Blood. The Conservative peer was appreciative of May’s insistence on acknowledging and reminding everyone of his role in creating a legal duty towards integrated education. Lord Mawhinney also proved keen to highlight and defend the crucial clause in the order when Drumragh Integrated College sought a judicial review against the Department of Education in 2014.
Urging bold political decisions to plan for the future of education in NI, Lord Mawhinney wrote:
“Integrated schools…. work to explore and celebrate diversity, encouraging self-expression and respect for others’ traditions and beliefs…. We could act quickly in Northern Ireland to build a truly shared and integrated system of schooling – something we could proudly show to the rest of the world.”
Brian Mawhinney will be missed by the integrated education movement and remembered for his vision and perseverance. Our thoughts are with his family and friends.
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