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Sammy Wilson rejected proposal for genuine discussion with Education Minister

22 February, 2008

Sinn Féin Mid Ulster MLA Michelle O'Neill, who sits on the Assembly Education Committee, has questioned the approach of the Committee Chairperson Sammy Wilson to educational reform.

Ms O'Neill said:

"Last week Sinn Fein proposed an open-ended private meeting between the committee and the Education Minister to facilitate a proper discussion about educational reform.

"Unfortunately, this initiative was rejected.

"Difficulties in the relationship between the Minister and the committee are being created and exploited because certain members are more interested media headlines that genuine engagement.

"There is no stopping the process of educational reform. No politician can reasonably argue that we should sustain a system that fails the majority of our children.

"The time for grandstanding is past. We need to replace it with genuine discussion.

"Sinn Féin is determined to push through the much needed education reform that is necessary to give all of our children a fair start in life. We will not be deflected.

"If those who also say they wish to achieve education reform were prepared to work with the Minister, rather than engage in a very cynical and highly political campaign against her, we could make progress more quickly and more smoothly.

"We are determined to get this right. We want to work constructively with others to make this happen as smoothly and efficiently as we can. But will we be bullied into rushing into decisions that require proper time and consideration." ENDS

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