Faith schools shouldn’t get public cash: Nesbitt
Pacemaker Press Belfast 20th June 2012 : The Ulster Unionist Party is hosting a Seminar on Areas of Multiple Deprivation, at the Holiday Inn Hotel, Ormeau Av, Belfast. Pictured at the event are: Dawn Purvis, Michael Copeland, Mike Nesbitt,Les Allamby and Goretti Horgan Picture By: Arthur Allison.
Published on Thursday 21 June 2012 10:49
FAITH schools should not get taxpayers’ money, Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt has said.
Addressing a UUP conference on poverty yesterday, Mr Nesbitt said that he had no opposition to such schools — the vast majority of which are Roman Catholic — but that they should be privately funded.
If Mr Nesbitt’s idea — which follows a similar proposal by First Minister Peter Robinson — is adopted, it would reverse the decision of the former UUP prime minister of Northern Ireland, Terence O’Neill, to provide per cent (eventually 100 per cent) of Catholic schools’ funding from public funds,
Mr Nesbitt also proposed big changes to how schools are funded: “My party supports grammar schools...but if you really want to support grammar schools, you have to understand that a grammar school today is not what a grammar school was 10 or 20 years ago.
“And so we have to change a system that encourages — in fact it forces them — to take a bigger intake than they actually should. They take a bigger intake not for the benefit of each individual pupil...they do it for the sake of the school’s finances.”
Mr Nesbitt said that the current system “turns high schools into sink schools” and “skews everything”.
The UUP leader said that his proposals would “involve some pain for grammar schools” but that the prize was a “fairer system focused on the child rather than the label on the entrance to the school”.
He added: “What I mean by a single education system is this: the taxpayer funds one system. Yes, there will be parents who choose to go to an independent school, or to set up a faith-based school, and that’s fine — that’s choice. But we’ll pay for one system; we stop funding multiple and divisive systems.”
Also speaking at the event, former PUP leader Dawn Purvis questioned the need to retain welfare parity with the UK, something which decades ago unionists fought for and is one of thhttp://www.newsletter.co.uk/news/local/faith-schools-shouldn-t-get-public-cash-nesbitt-1-3973109e reasons why Northern Ireland’s public sector can spend billions of pounds above what is raised here in tax. She said that “parity can be thrown out the window when it suits and we’ve seen that”.
Les Allamby said that “there may be things that are unsayable from political parties”, and went on to suggest greater taxation to redistribute wealth “in a class-based way”, adding: “This does involve spending money; it may well involve some redistribution of money as well and that does mean very considerable leadership.
“I do recognise the unpopularity of that but if we’re looking long-term that’s the kind of debate we need to start and that can include, actually, people who can afford to pay more tax doing so – not like in the last UK budget where, somehow, for some bizarre reason, they cut taxes for the rich.”
Goretti Horgan said: “The inequality that’s around these days is very different to the inequalities that were around when we were growing up.
“When we were growing up, most people were poor, really. There was only a very small number who were better off. So we weren’t looking around us and seeing the kind of inequality that children see these days.”
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Faith Schools Shouldn’T Get Public Cash: Nesbitt
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