West Tyrone Sinn Féin -- Building an Ireland of Equals

SDLP Need To Explain Vote Against Targeting Social Need- Boyle

Published: 25 September, 2013

Sinn Fein West Tyrone MLA Michaela Boyle Sinn Féin says that the SDLP needs to explain why they voted along with the DUP in the Assembly last night to back a regressive motion designed to block the targeting of social need within our education system.

The local MLA and Assembly Education Committee said,

"Nominally the SDLP purport to be advocates of the principle of targeting objective social need. However last night, when the opportunity came to practice what it preaches, it totally abandoned this principle by backing a regressive DUP motion which is an attempt to sectarianise the issue of educational underachievement in our schools and by supporting the DUPs stance that free school meal entitlement is not an indicator of poverty.

"For some time now the SDLP have been telling us that they were advocates of using 'objective need' when utilizing resources to tackle the effect of poverty on our pupils' learning experience, but they have apparently reneged on this fundamental principle of progressive politics.

"In supporting the motion the SDLP have demonstrated their willingness to buy into the sectarian myth peddled by the DUP that mitigating the effects of social disadvantage can be analyzed through the lens of community background - and that the community in most need is the Protestant community.

"This stands in stark contrast to the facts of the matter, indeed multi-deprivation figures regularly illustrate that while the effects of poverty are evidenced across all sections of our community, it is within predominantly Catholic wards that the effects of poverty are most keenly felt.

"Indeed a recent Labour Force Report examining Economic Activity based on Community background identified the local Catholic community as suffering from higher levels of economic inactivity, higher levels of unemployment, higher levels of single parent families and indeed lower levels of home ownership.

In conclusion Michaela Boyle said:

"Sinn Féin remain committed to targeting social need regardless of creed, we want to give additional resources to schools regardless of the religion of the pupil. We will do that on the basis of need, not creed.

"The SDLP must come forward and clarify their position - surely they could not have abandoned the principle of objective need, and indeed the Catholic and Protestant Working Class all in one night?!"