The Conservatives’ South Belfast spokesman, Ben Manton, has criticised “needless scaremongering” about the proposed merger of three primary schools. The department of education has published plans to amalgamate Fane Street Primary School, Blythefield Primary and Donegall Road Primary.
“I was disappointed that the director of the Northern Ireland Council for Ethnic Minorities, Patrick Yu, chose to introduce the threat of possible racist attacks to an argument which should be about children’s education”, Ben commented. “The way his remarks were reported by some media outlets also threatens to increase tensions in the area. Scaremongering about racism shouldn’t form any part of a debate which should be about providing a first class education for children in South Belfast, for the best possible value and encouraging kids to integrate, irrespective of their racial or religious backgrounds”.
“There is a serious problem with empty desks across the three schools involved and proposals for a merger should be examined in terms of possible benefits, as well as potential disadvantages. There is a potential for improved facilities for children and amalgamation could even be a huge positive for building better community relations. After all, we should be working toward the ultimate goal of having children from all religious, racial and community backgrounds learning together, as part of an integrated education system. Let’s have a sensible discussion about the possible benefits of merger, as well as looking at any problems and the concerns of parents and teachers.”