O'Dowd rejects 'school discrimination'

O'Dowd rejects 'school discrimination'

Education Minister John O'Dowd has faced questions at Stormont about his schools planning policy following last month's landmark court ruling brought by Drumragh Integrated school in Omagh.

The department was told it was not allowed to stifle the growth of the integrated sector to protect falling numbers in Catholic and controlled schools.In his judgement, Mr Justice Treacy said the department had failed in its legal duty to "facilitate and encourage" integrated education - and he criticised its controversial area-based planning policy.Sinn Féin minister John O'Dowd defended his decision on Drumragh in the Assembly on Monday."You have to make decisions based on the information in front of you, not simply on needs of an individual school but on the needs of education in an area," he said."That is what area planning is about."Mr O'Dowd was asked by the UUP's Danny Kinahan whether the department had adopted an Orwellian-esque policy of all sectors are equal but some "are more equal than others".The minister replied: "Name the sector, name the school where I have acted inappropriately, name where I have been involved in discrimination against a school?"Name them. Because these broad stroke statements do not stack up. Which sector is being treated more equally than others?"If any member of this chamber wishes to present, either in this chamber or outside the chamber, where I have treated another school in a discriminatory manner, then name it."


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