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Sheehan backs move to resolve ESA impasse

29 May, 2014 - by Pat Sheehan

Sinn Féin MLA Pat Sheehan has backed an initiative by Education Minister John O'Dowd to break the impasse over the establishment of the Educational Skills Authority. 

Speaking after Minister O'Dowd tabled an alternative Executive paper, which would see the five current education boards condensed into one, the West Belfast MLA said; 

"In 2011 the Assembly agreed to the establishment of the Education and Skills Authority. However, despite Minister O'Dowd agreeing to a number of significant compromises, we were unable to secure the political agreement to take the Education Bill forward. 

"The delay in reaching agreement on this important issue is having a detrimental impact on education structures and that cannot be allowed to continue. 

"So in an effort to move this forward, Minister O'Dowd has shown leadership by tabling an alternative Executive paper which would see the five current education and library boards condensed into one. 

"Not only would this deliver much of the savings and efficiencies of the original ESA plans, it would also ensure effective use of public funds and that the money already invested preparing for ESA has not been wasted.

"It would also meet the legal requirements as part of the Review of Public Administration that education structures must be aligned to local government structures. 

"By moving forward positively on this Minister O'Dowd is not scrapping the ESA and the door will remain open to the original plans if and when agreement can be reached in the future. 

"I believe this is something all parties can support and hopefully it will have swift passage through the Assembly."

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