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Ruane chairs first all-Ireland Ministerial Council Education meeting to be held in the North

28 May, 2008

Sinn Féin Education Minister Caitríona Ruane MLA has chaired the first North/South Ministerial Council (NSMC) Education Sectoral meeting to be held in the north of Ireland since restoration of the institutions last year.

Attending the meeting was Minister Batt O'Keeffe TD from the Department of Education and Science and Edwin Poots MLA, Minister for Culture, Arts and Leisure. The meeting was held in De La Salle High School, Downpatrick.

Speaking after the meeting Ms Ruane said:

"I welcome the opportunity to discuss educational issues facing both the North and South. I am committed to North/South co-operation and working together for the good of all our children and young people.

"I found the discussion on different approaches to raising overall levels in educational achievement very useful. It was particularly interesting to hear about those addressing the needs of young people in the most disadvantaged groups in society such as ethnic minority groups and members of the travelling community.

"I was pleased to hear about the on-going progress being made at the Middletown Centre for Autism, where training courses have already begun at the newly refurbished accommodation. I consider Middletown to be a tangible example of the benefits of North/South co-operation, which we must continue to build on for the good of the whole of Ireland.

"Lastly, but not least, I would like to thank everyone at De La Salle High School for both accommodating us and showcasing the excellent educational provision we offer here in the north of Ireland."

The Ministers met with Principals from neighbouring schools before the meeting. Collaboration on school leadership development issues were discussed during the meeting with a presentation from the Regional Training Unit and Leadership Development for schools programme.

This was Minister O'Keeffe's first official visit to the north of Ireland since taking up his new post.


  1. The first NSMC meeting in Educational Sectoral format since the restoration of the institutions was held in Dublin on 14 November 2007.
  2. The Good Friday Agreement provided for the NSMC to identify and agree at least 6 matters for co-operation through existing bodies North and South. The agreed aspects of North/South co-operation in Education as mandated by the Inaugural Plenary of the NSMC in Armagh in 1999 are:
  • education for children with special needs;
  • educational under-achievement;
  • teacher qualifications; and
  • school, youth and teacher exchanges

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