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McGuinness addresses Education Conference

16 June, 2005

Speaking at a conference today at St Mary's University College in West Belfast on the impact of Education cuts at local level, the former Education Minster, Martin McGuinness said,

"Much of our effort at this time is directed at rescuing the peace process and seeing the Good Friday Agreement implemented in full. But it is essential that we also remain focused on immediate issues, such as the current crisis in the education service, and that as far as is possible, British direct rule ministers are held to account. This is the very real and immediate value of today's discussions.

"The care and education of our children must be a central priority for any modern society. And we can best judge that commitment by they way that those children in most need are treated. Children with disabilities, children with special needs and those from disadvantaged backgrounds have to enjoy equality rather than suffer disadvantage. They must be adequately and generously catered for and, as far as is humanely possible, in a mainstream setting. If the education budget erodes this core responsibility then the education budget must be increased. There is no other approach or option.

" Sinn Fein has made the case to the British government for an immediate increase in funding to resolve the current crisis and the resultant short-fall in the provision of core services. We also put the case for increased funding to tackle the decades of neglect and under-funding in the north of Ireland and to match the increases in England to improve provision across the education service." ENDS

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