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Meabh Burns - education - speaking in Favour of motion 136

26 May, 2012

A truly integrated school is one where diversity is recognised and celebrated and where pupils of different identities have their respective identities and cultures upheld. An integrated school is not one where Protestants and Catholics mix together alone and that definition needs to be challenged. We need a system which recognises equality of identity and not just religious integration.

As republicans we must be serious about re-uniting the people of Ireland and to have all children of the nation cherished equally. We must recognise the opportunity there is in educating all children together, especially in the north, to remove the scourge of sectarianism that has blighted Irish history.

We must strive to create a single Education system on this island. In the north in the shorter term we should have a shared education system which has as its cornerstone the right of pupils to express their identity, to practice their culture and their favoured sports.

I believe that the right to have one’s Irish identity recognised, the right to play Gaelic Games, the right to learn the Irish language needs to be given the same focus in Integrated schooling as it does in the Catholic Maintained sector; and the same should apply to other traditions and cultures.

Unionist politicians has thrived on fear and misunderstanding. A divided education system suits that political discourse.

As republicans we need to challenge the current definition of Integrated Education in the north and draw up our own vision for shared Education that upholds the rights of Section 75 groups at the same time as removing the barriers between the people of Ireland.

We need to view this as an opportunity for radical social change and we should not be leaving this debate to other political parties.

We are Irish republicans first and foremost and as such we must work towards a truly Republican Education system because it is the right thing to do. I urge you to support Motion 136

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