Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The Department of Education has come under fire over a document seeming to compare British loyalist terrorist groups to children's charities

BBC News:

The UDA and UVF were described as "voluntary organisations" and bracketed with Barnados and the NSPCC.

The document is a note of a meeting between a group of principals and senior figures in the department.

Dolores Kelly (SDLP) said it was outrageous. The department there was a "mistake" in drafting the minutes.

Ms Kelly, whose party has accused the department of "illegal sectarian discrimination" through an action plan which allegedly favours Protestant neighbourhoods for additional funding, said she was stunned.

"It beggars belief that anybody would compare the UDA and UVF with Barnardo's and the NSPCC," she said.

"Indeed it beggars belief that the UDA and UVF would be asked to help contribute to a plan to help children's education.

"It is, at the same time, ludicrous and insulting. "

The comparison was made in minutes of a meeting between school principals in Protestant areas of north and west Belfast, the chief executive of the city's education and library board and a deputy permanent secretary at the Department of Education.

Called as part of Renewing Communities, the government's response to a taskforce report on working-class Protestant communities, it lists a series of actions needed to develop service delivery integration.

One point states: "Maintain/establish good working relationships with voluntary organisations (Barnardo's, NSPCC, UDA, UVF)."

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