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Farry sectarianises teacher training debate - Maskey

28 November, 2011

Sinn Féin MP for West Belfast Paul Maskey has slammed the Employment and Learning Minister for failing to assure the public that St. Mary's university has a secure and guaranteed future as a teacher training college stating that he is concerned that the minister is out to close St. Mary's by stealth.

Speaking today Mr Maskey said:

“The issue of teacher training is very clear. Stranmillis wishes to merge with Queens University, something which QUB wants to see happen and St Mary’s wants to maintain its autonomy. The respective teacher training universities are entitled to have their wishes respected.

“Under pressure from Peter Robinson and the DUP the minister is now blocking the merger of Stranmillis with Queens University while he undermines St Mary’s status as teacher training university.

"Furthermore the minister has announced a review of teacher training provision with a focus on St. Marys and Stranmillis while ignoring the other three universities in the north.

“St Mary’s has been a successful institution for over 110 years, delivering a first class educational service. In terms of delivering for student's needs it is highly successful, having the most graduates from any of the universities, in long term employment.

“Minister Farry is essentially allowing himself to be placed under pressure by unionist politicians who are opposed to St Marys continuing as a university in West Belfast.

"In doing so he is attempting to undermine one of this island's top performers in terms of teacher training.

“Mr Farry needs to reassess his approach to this issue. He could begin by accepting that St. Mary's requires certainty about its future and he should provide it."

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