McGuinness defends schools spending record

 

The Northern Ireland Education Minister, Mr Martin McGuinness today warned unionists are inflicting psychological harm on their communities by accusing him of biased school funding.

He mounted a defence of his spending record amid allegations that his decisions were politically motivated.

Challenged by Mr Sammy Wilson to explain allocations in the School Capital Build programme, Mr McGuinness laid out the figures for his three announcements since taking office.

The controlled sector received £132 million sterling (40 per cent); the maintained sector was given £113 million (34 per cent); voluntary grammar was allocated £48 million (15 per cent); and integrated schools received £35 million (11 per cent).

He cautioned: "Given the figures that have been cited, some people should reflect on the psychology of the damage that they do within certain communities in the north by regurgitating, as they are inclined to do, this absolute nonsense."

During a fractious exchange in the Assembly, DUP member for East Belfast Mr Wilson challenged him to explain why he said the integrated sector made up 5 per cent of educational need while attracting 20 per cent of funding over the past two years.

He asked: "Is his allocation based on need or is it based on his own narrow, political agenda?"

But Mr McGuinness hit back, declaring: "Anyone who advocates that resources should be allocated on a sectarian basis rather than on the basis of educational need is behaving like a sectarian bigot."

PA