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Gardiner slammed for NEELB funding crisis

20 December, 2004

North Antrim Sinn Féin MLA, Philip McGuigan, has slammed Direct Rule Minister Barry Gardiner for the current funding crisis within the North Eastern Education and Library Board (NEELB). His comments follow an emergency meeting with NEELB Chief Executive Gordon Topping, which he attended with party colleagues Cllr Oliver McMullan and Daithí McKay.

Mr McGuigan said:

"The decision by the British Government to starve the NEELB of funding means that the Education Board will in all likeliness have to cut jobs, cut services and cut front-line education over the next number of years.

"The NEELB are already £7 million short of what they need to maintain this year's service, never mind improving upon it. School-workers, lollipop men and women, parents and pupils will all feel the effects of this to varying degrees. Regardless of what the Minister says funding is being cut and it will impact on front-line services.

"If we compare the performance of the Direct Rule Minister Barry Gardiner with the Assembly Education Minister Martin McGuinness, it is obvious that the former man's decisions show a lack of understanding of education in the North. Not only are the Education Boards being sapped of funding, but when we look at rural schools in North Antrim in places like The Braid, the parish of Ahoghill and The Glens that are now at risk of closure Mr Gardiner's decisions are actually damaging our children's education and the rural way of life in the North." ENDS

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