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Unionists 'Making a huge mistake' - Adams

25 June, 2008


Speaking on last night's motion on Irish Medium Education the Sinn Féin west Belfast MP MLA Gerry Adams has sharply criticised some unionists of 'irrational hostility' to the 'Irish language, to Irish language speakers, and to children who are being taught through the medium of the Irish language.'

He also warned that 'some members feel there is a need to pretend that they are in charge of these institutions and that they can stop a Sinn Fein Minister from fulfilling her duties.

They have chosen the education of our children as the issue to contest this matter.

They are making a huge mistake.

The future of these institutions is based upon the ability of all of the parties to work together in the common good; making necessary compromises and agreements, based upon equality and inclusivity.

That is the only way these institutions will survive.

So the members opposite have a choice - to march backwards into meltdown and failure, or forwards to deliver for citizens on pressing health, education, environmental, economic and planning problems.'

Mr. Adams also praised the Education Minister Caitríona Ruane who 'is working very hard to ensure that no child is placed at a disadvantage; that no child is abandoned, or denied their opportunity to meet their full educational potential… And the Education Minister is showing great leadership in charting a difficult course towards this objective.'

The full Text of Mr. Adams words: Check against delivery.

"A simple question to the Minister would very quickly have elicited the response she gave today and could have saved the Assembly some time.

But then this motion isn't really about any of this.

So what's it about.

I think there are three reasons for today's debate and for the ongoing attacks by some in this chamber on the work of the Education Minister.

First of all, this motion is simply another crude device to continue these attacks by those who are against the crucial reform of our outdated education system.

Their concern is not for the thousands of children, mainly working class children, who are failed every year by this system.

Secondly, this motion also reflects the degree of irrational hostility there is, among some on the benches opposite, to the Irish language, to Irish language speakers, and to children who are being taught through the medium of the Irish language.

Thirdly, some members feel there is a need to pretend that they are in charge of these institutions and that they can stop a Sinn Fein Minister from fulfilling her duties.

They have chosen the education of our children as the issue to contest this matter.

They are making a huge mistake.

The future of these institutions is based upon the ability of all of the parties to work together in the common good; making necessary compromises and agreements, based upon equality and inclusivity.

That is the only way these institutions will survive.

So the members opposite have a choice - to march backwards into meltdown and failure, or forwards to deliver for citizens on pressing health, education, environmental, economic and planning problems.

This is the fourth debate in a year about the education of a relatively small number of children, 3,000 out of a school population of around 350,000.

That there are so many is to the credit of their parents, teachers and others in that sector, which is the fastest growing sector of our education system.

But a chairde the education of children through Irish is not a threat. The Irish language is not a threat to unionism or to anyone else.

Caitríona Ruane is working very hard to ensure that no child is placed at a disadvantage; that no child is abandoned, or denied their opportunity to meet their full educational potential.

She is effectively defending all sectors of the education system, including controlled, maintained integrated schools and the Irish language sector.

She is also bringing forward very necessary reforms of our education system.

I understand the concerns that exist, particularly among parents who are worried about the decisions they will have to take in an education environment that is going through a long overdue overhaul.

These concerns are being exploited by those who are against education reform or against the Irish language and particularly by those who have their own very narrow supremacist agenda here in this institution.

Sinn Féin's commitment is to every child.

We are about making every school a good school and providing the very best possible education for every child.

And the Education Minister is showing great leadership in charting a difficult course towards this objective.

Her detractors and the other begrudgers and naysayers would do well to follow her example - they could best do that by putting the interests of children - all our children - first." Críoch

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