Ulster children lose out as security tightens

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The Independent Online
Children in Northern Ireland have become the real victims of last summer's sectarian violence after ministers axed pounds 120m from education budgets to pay for increased security, teachers heard yesterday, writes Lucy Ward.

Class sizes would rise dramatically in the province as up to 600 teachers faced compulsory redundancy, the National Association of Schoolmasters- Union of Women Teachers' conference was told. The union, meeting in Bournemouth, voted to back strikes and industrial action in schools in Northern Ireland, and to campaign to highlight the cuts.

Northern Ireland minister Michael Ancram announced in January that cash had to be shifted from education to meet the cost of security and compensation for damage caused in the disturbances.

Schools were unique places of stability for children amidst the troubles, delegates heard.

Mervyn Barkman, a teacher from the province, said: "We are very proud of our role as a table bulwark and supportive environment over the last 28 years of violence. What is being done to our education service is totally without justification and is little short of government vandalism."