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Barry Gardiner should go back to school

25 February, 2005

Sinn Féin Education Spokesperson, Newry Armagh MLA Davy Hyland has said that direct rule minister Barry Gardiner should go back to school to learn some basic arithmetic after his inadequate response to the statement from the 5 education library boards outlining the reality of their financial situation.

Mr Hyland said:

"Everyone involved in education has been telling Barry Gardiner for some time now that our education library boards are facing a financial; crisis that will impact directly on frontline services. The huge deficits they are facing will hit school meals, school maintenance, school transport, the safety of children going to and from school, undermine the statementing process for children with specific educational needs and be to the detriment of the education of our young people.

"This is clearly unacceptable and rather than constantly try and shift the blame and demand unrealisable so-called efficiency savings Barry Gardiner should come clean and admit that he has failed to secure adequate resources for our education system. He has failed our children and young people. In truth this is only part of the wider failure of the British government to resources public services across the north of Ireland.

"Gardiner claims that there are paper increases of 9% overall and 6% for the boards but once inflationary and wage pressures are taken into account the reality is that there is little money left to maintain or develop provision. And this is the key point we should not just be concerned about maintaining services our priority should be to constantly improve them.

"It is vital that the Education sector gets the funding required to improve and enhance the opportunities for all children across the six counties. It is clear that the Department is supporting a decrease, in absolute real terms, in the Education budget.

"Barry Gardiner should go back to school to learn some basic arithmetic because he has clearly failed to do his sums on this. I appreciate that Barry Gardiner is only doing this job on a part time basis but that is no excuse for selling out the future of our young people." ENDS

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