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[mycontrol]Change to equality law for teachers out of my control: Weir

2021-9-8 source:Latest web game Tag:
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  Assembly Members have expressed frustration at the lack of progress towards changing the legislation that excludes teachers from fair employment legislation.

  The Education Minister said the responsibility for changing the law, a move supported by all parties in the Assembly, lies with the Executive Office.

  While Peter Weir said he remained committed to repealing the law, which has stood for over two decades and still allows schools to select teachers on religious grounds, he said the Department of Education was not in a position to take action.

  “I have Executive Office in support of repealing Article 71 of the Fair Employment and Treatment (Northern Ireland) Order 1998, and I know it is something I think there is a broad support (for) across the chamber,” he told MLAs yesterday.

  “Any amendment to that legislation would ultimately be a matter that they (Executive Office) have to bring forward for them to address.

  “While my department is not taking a lead in taking this forward, Department of Education officials will facilitate and act as a point of contact through to the education sector.”

  Last month First Minister Arlene Foster told the Assembly she was not blocking the move to change the legislation.

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  And Alliance MLA and chair of Stormont’s Education Committee Chris Lyttle currently has a Private Member’s Bill on the issue passing through the Assembly.

  Mr Weir said he would “in principle” be supportive of that Bill.

  SDLP MLA Daniel McCrossan told the minister there was confusion that if all parties support the repeal, it was now “becoming a game of Guess Who” as to why nothing has yet been done.

  Mr Weir replied that he could only confirm he and Mrs Foster were in support of it.

  “I can’t really speculate on what is happening as regards legislation in another government department,” he said.

  Meanwhile, university students here are expected to be back in face to face teaching on campus at the start of the next academic year.

  Economy Minister Diane Dodds said she has written to both Queen’s and Ulster University and other higher education bodies to remind them of their legal obligations to students.

  “I believe that we should be facilitating a return for all students in the new term,” Mrs Dodds told the Assembly yesterday.

  “I have asked Executive colleagues to currently consider the advice and we have agreed an increase in face to face teaching and extracurricular and student support activities all to be resumed.

  “As our universities are autonomous institutions, the model and implementation of provision is for them to consider based on the public health advice.

  “Ulster University and Queen’s University have informed me that they have already written to their students to set out their vision for the new academic year, and I am pleased that both are committed to a return to face to face learning for our students.”

  Stranmillis University College has also already told students of plans for next year and it’s understood St Mary’s College intends to inform students after June 21.

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