Just because something is unpalatable, doesn’t make it untrue

“Just because something is unpalatable, doesn’t make it untrue”. So said former world record triple jumper Jonathan Edwards about losing his faith, as it happens. However, the phrase has sprung to mind very often since I first read it, not least when looking at the local and global economy we live in.

As they got out the begging bowl to the UK Government in the Stormont Castle Agreement in mid-December, the DUP, Sinn Fein, SDLP and Ulster Unionists all put their name to a document which states:

  • “Structural level social divisions create inefficiency” (Paragraph 44)
  • “Additional costs have been driven by duplicating services” (Paragraph 44)
  • “Division tends to impact disproportionately on those who experience poverty” (Paragraph 45)
  • “Initiatives which would assist…[would include] acceleration of integrated and shared education” (Paragraph 47)
  • “[Shared education will] bring about future savings in the Budget” (Paragraph 48)

It’s magnificent stuff – go and read it yourself.

Of course, one obvious thing you would need to do to address “societal divisions” is ensure teachers in schools are themselves well acquainted with the diverse society in which we live. Another obvious thing to do would be to stop the inefficiency of small teacher training colleges which require subsidies (leaving quite aside the fact they train too many students anyway). No doubt, we would particularly want to do this because of the particular penalty paid for those divisions by those experiencing poverty, say, in places like West Belfast. Naturally, to maximise the investment in “integrated and shared education” you will want teachers who themselves were trained in integrated and shared settings. And it goes without saying that merging, say, teacher training into a single University campus would not just deliver all the above benefits, but also future savings to the budget.

Here’s an odd thing though – when the Employment Minister specifically set out a reform programme of teacher training to achieve all of these things, exactly as the other four parties wanted in an Agreement they all supported, the other four parties went out of their way within two months to block him doing so. Just because something’s (electorally) unpalatable…

I mean, anyone would think those four parties aren’t serious about tackling the costs of division and the inevitable inefficiencies and poverty that goes with them! But that couldn’t be, could it…?



8 thoughts on “Just because something is unpalatable, doesn’t make it untrue

  1. Why is this only moral outrage directed at St Mary’s and not the 35 Catholic training colleges in England, the four in the Republic of Ireland, the three in Scotland or the one in Wales?

    There seems to be an idée fix that before the invention and further intervention of Catholic schools (in England) the population of Britain and Ireland were all integrated, yet Wales with a Catholic population half the size of Northern Ireland’s goes and ruins it.

    Surely if the goal is to integrate societies, the principle of Catholic only teaching colleges should not be confined to one college in Belfast?

    And secondly after being “well acquainted with the diverse society in which we live” why has Dr Farry (unlike his fellow minister in David Ford with regards to the NCA,) failed

    1) to get any support or even sympathy for his proposals from the vast majority of these politicians

    2) to get any support or even sympathy from these training schools or the educationalists?

    Surely this cannot be a reflection of the savings and efficiencies that will happen under Farry’s current proposals nor are they a reflection of Farry’s understanding of our diverse community?

    • On the first point, the parallel with England is ludicrous. England is not a society split along sectarian lines or recovering from sectarian conflict. Catholics in England are the same nationality, identity and background as Protestants. Etc.

      Secondly, Stephen Farry got a lot of support. He was hindered, with regard to other parties, by their innate sectarianism. Which is, rather, the point.

      • Why is the paralell with England so ludicrous?

        Not split along sectarian lines could be questioned when the North of England is clearly more Catholic than the south.

        Not to mention the fiscal conservative arguement that seperate schools for faith are duplicators, why is that not a ludicrous case to make to England or to the Republic?

        And there is clearly a socioeconomic division on these lines. There is also a greater tendency for Catholics in England to join Labour than the Conservatives. Even if arguably the church would prefer they voted the other way.

        Isn’t this down to societal divisions and duplication?

        Are you going to revise English history and deny that apart from partition (which only exists socioeconomically) in England it too didn’t suffer from many the sectarian forces the island of Ireland did?

        That ordinary Catholics and Protestants weren’t killed and descriminated against in great liberal England by the powers that be there similarly to Ireland?

        Or that Catholic schools in England the precursors to the ones in Ireland were not a direct bi-product of that similarly to Ireland?

        Or that sectarianism still exists in England today in the xenophobia to Muslims and Sheiks?

        I can’t say Catholics in England have the same nationality, identity or background to Protestants in Britain, when they do not have that with one another, there’s nothing in common between two random Catholics from England other than a common faith. Who can make these generalisations?

        In the same way I can’t say Catholics in Northern Ireland have or do not have the same nationality, identity or background to Protestants in Northern Ireland, that’s a matter of self determination for individuals who have free will.

        I can’t determine what networks people will want to belong to.

        The Catholic Church doesn’t care about the border neither does the Church of Ireland and there are people on both sides of the constitutional question and both sides of the border who don’t have time for either.

        What I do know is that Farry’s “meet me in my middle where I stand” approach brought concern from the two sides he wants to bring together, and concern from the institutions who he wants to bring together. he has failed the integrated sector in my opinion through tactless finger pointing and the sort of tithes that proliferated sectarianism two centuries ago.

      • bob wilson says:

        My understanding is that the pemia has been removed in England

  2. And for the record, welfare reform is electorally unpalatable, the NCA is electorally unpalatable … Farry’s one teacher training centre strategy just seems unworkable, no real human beings want to engineer it, far more likely both Stranmillis and St Mary’s will “wither on the vine” than the magic bullet of a poverty beating all loving all integrating super teaching council emerging as a solid proposal before a committee.

  3. http://www.theyworkforyou.com/ni/?id=2015-01-27.8.43

    Primia has been kept in England according to Sean Rodgers, thanks to those socially divisionary inefficient anti-integrationist left wing Irish nationalists in the Tory Party.

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