20 March 2006

Youth workers to join school cuts protest


by Laura McDaid

Sinn Féin councillors will join youth workers and NIPSA representatives outside the BELB headquarters today in a protest against another round of cuts.

The party’s education spokesperson, Michael Ferguson, will join Councillor Tom Hartley and youth worker Stephen Hughes in a protest that aims to send a clear message to the board as they decide what form the cuts should take.

Commenting upon the protest, Michael Ferguson said, “Sinn Féin’s chairperson of the BELB’s finance committee, Councillor Tom Hartley, will be opposing the recommended cuts by the board’s finance staff.

“We are calling on the representatives from all political parties to oppose these cuts.”

Proposals before the BELB include cutting youth services to deprived areas in West and North Belfast, where high levels of suicide and self-harm exist.
Representatives of the Community Youth Workers Union will join the protest in a cross-community show of opposition to the cuts.

“It is therefore crucial that we stand united against Direct Rule Ministers who are eroding the educational entitlement of our children and young people before our very eyes,” said Cllr Ferguson.

“On Thursday last the SEELB announced proposals to cut £7.3m which will see the loss of over 140 teachers to add to the loss of 110 in Belfast.

“The consequence of the current funding strategy is leading to greater class sizes, less support for special needs children and the worst crisis the education system here has ever faced.

“Sinn Féin calls upon anyone prepared to do the British government’s dirty work to do so publicly instead of hiding in committee behind closed doors.”

Journalist:: Laura McDaid

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