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Reg Empey’s opinions on education fall apart when scrutinised.

16 February, 2010 - by John O'Dowd

Sinn Féin MLA John O’ Dowd has challenged Reg Empey, Minister responsible for Further and Higher Education to reveal how many times since becoming Minister he has brought policy and discussion papers before the Executive in relation to Further and Higher Education; and how many of these papers resulted in legislation being brought  before the Assembly.

Mr O’ Dowd revealed he asked the Minister Empey the same question through the process of Assembly questions but received the bland and less than informative answer from Mr Empey stating that:

“It is not our practice to disclose details of Executive business. The detailed content of Executive papers, including the agenda and minutes of the meeting, are confidential”

Mr O’ Dowd said the answer is unacceptable given Mr Empeys repeated claims that ‘education’ has not been discussed at the Executive in 2 years.

Mr O Dowd added:

“The reality is, when Reg Empey and certain other commentators talk about 'education' they really mean, their mono policy of retaining the 11plus. The absence of any broader education policy or debate is unacceptable from a Minister in his position.

 “Reg Empey is the, Minister for Further and Higher education but appears to be unwilling to reveal what if any work he has been doing at the Executive in terms of education.  

When Reg Empy states that “It is not our practice to disclose details of Executive business.” he obviously means to do with Further and Higher education as he has no problem, on a weekly basis, offering up to cameras his opinions on the Education Minister, Caitríona Ruane work at the Executive.

“He continues to claim wrongly that education has not been discussed at the Executive in 2 years.  Education Minister Caitríona Ruane has brought several policy papers on education to the Executive these include, Transfer, Special Educational Needs and the Educational Skills Authority, Every School A Good School and the Sustainable Schools policy.

“Reg Empey will also be aware that there have been several attempts to discuss Transfer proposals at the Executive, as he was one of the Unionist Executive Ministers who refused to even discuss the Education Ministers compromise proposals.

 “It is clear that when the Minister for Further and Higher Education talks of education he really means the narrow needs of the AQE Grammars. His mono policy on education appears to have caused to him to forget that his department has a role in education. I am sure the public would be interested in knowing as to how many debates, policy papers and pieces of legislation he has brought to the Executive to strengthen further and higher education.”

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