Letter: Integrated schooling in Northern Ireland

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The Independent Online
Sir: Your report from David McKittrick, 'Concern grows in Ulster as divisions continue' (22 March), taken along with his report in the Independent on Sunday, makes sorry reading for those who live in Northern Ireland. What makes it so depressing is that for 12 years leaders ecclesiastical, political etc have

seen a paradigm of how people can live together in this divided soci-

ety. However, many do not seem

to wish to see or support these

ventures.

Your report quotes a community leader as saying that the problem begins with segregation in primary school and that this segregation continues right through even into government-sponsored work schemes. He is correct. There is, however, an alternative.

Since Lagan College was set up in 1981, the education of Protestant and Catholic children together in schools without loss of religious or cultural identity has proved not only possible but also successful.

Report after report has shown that very many parents in Northern Ireland support such ventures but are prevented from exercising this option by the lack of such schools in particular at post-primary level.

I find it hard to understand why there is not more sustained and audible support from leaders in Northern Ireland and politicians on both sides of the Irish Sea for one of the few proven ways to lessen sectarian attitudes, fears and mistrust which plague a deeply divided community.

Northern Ireland needs leaders who will stop equivocating and speak out in support of integrated schooling.

The divisions and their attended ills do not have to continue to bedevil our society.

Yours sincerely,

C. E. T. FLANAGAN

Principal

Lagan College

Belfast

23 March

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