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Drumragh’s Moving Forward

In a court ruling on 15th May 2014, Judge Treacy largely upheld Drumragh’s case against the Minister of Education and the Department of Education. 

The Education Minister’s refusal of Drumragh’s request to expand, in 2012, led to a court case where he and the Department of Education were held to account for their response to their legal duty to facilitate integrated education. The ruling by Judge Treacy re-emphasises the importance of the integrated vision. It sets things straight, for the good of us all. We are delighted that our voice has been heard, that sense has prevailed, and are convinced that this promises well for the future.

The ruling offers clarity in several important ways. For example, it affirms that integrated schools educate young people ‘from all backgrounds as equals’, and that they must be ‘integrated throughout’. Nothing less will do, nor will it qualify as integration. The ruling also reminds the Department of Education of its ‘need to be alive’ to its duty to facilitate and encourage integrated education ‘at all levels, including the strategic level’. In other words there is a legal duty to promote integration in our education system. This includes planning for the future.

 

In a society that is scarred and struggling toward real peace, it seems completely obvious that they should be educated together – all day, every day. A central goal of integrated education is the transformation of young people’s hearts and minds. This is achieved by actively helping them to respect difference and encouraging them to form friendships that break down barriers. It’s not always easy, but it matters. And so we shape a future that includes tolerance, peace and healing.

 

This ruling creates hope. It is not a victory over anyone, it is a victory for everyone. This is quite simply great news. I am deeply grateful to the Integrated Education Fund, the Northern Ireland Council for Integrated Education, the Public Interest Litigation Support Project and our excellent barrister, to the staff, students, parents and governors of Drumragh Integrated College, and to the MLAs who have supported us in this journey. Here’s to the future.

 

Nigel Frith

Principal of Drumragh Integrated College, Omagh

 

 

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