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Minister must accept responsibility for crisis in Education Library Board

27 October, 2004


Sinn Féin Education Spokesperson, Newry Armagh MLA Davy Hyland has criticised the approach of British Direct Rule Education Minster Barry Gardiner to the financial crisis facing the Belfast and South Eastern Education Library Boards and said that effective financial management must apply equally to the Boards and to the Department of Education.

Mr Hyland said:

"It is clear that we need effective financial management throughout the Education Library Boards but equally we must have financial management within the Department of Education.

"The approach adopted by Barry Gardiner will have only one outcome. It will impact on services for young people and have a long-term impact on the education of our young people. This is unforgivable and it is time that Mr Gardiner examined the failure of direct rule ministers to take responsibility for this situation.

"It is vital that the review of ELB budgeting agreed in August is taken forward with the same urgency as the sustained attack on the SEELB and BELB. There is a growing perception that the real difficulties lie in a significant lack of resources that is forcing Boards to make the decision to either cut services and remain within budget or to maintain services standards and risk overspending.

"It will not be lost on parents and teachers that almost every month there is an announcement of very substantial under spending across all departments, for example last year there was a £220 million underspend and in July 3.2% of the Education Budget or some £51.9 million was lost from the Department of Education budget.

"Barry Gardiner must ensure effective financial management systems within the department to make sure that when such money is lost it is not lost for good. Few believe British direct rule ministers who claim that such funds are not ultimately lost back to the British Treasury and the conservative estimate is that some £140 million has so far been return to the Treasury by Direct rule Ministers." ENDS

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