Northern Ireland news

Patrick Kielty calls for end to segregated education in Northern Ireland

Paddy Kielty pictured while speaking at Ulster University today. Picture by Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Michael McHugh, Press Association

Paddy Kielty has called for an end to segregation of education along religious lines in Northern Ireland.

An outsider like Good Friday Agreement peace talks chairman George Mitchell should be introduced to overhaul the country's divided schooling system, the broadcaster and comedian said.

He criticised "casual sectarianism" and "tribalism" which characterises parts of society.

Kielty said: "I think we really have to address education, segregated education, and I think that as a society we kind of have to start calling out that casual sectarianism.

"Whenever we had peace here we thought if we move on to a Glaswegian level of sectarianism that is fine, so we only hate each other every week when we go to football.

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"That is not good enough. The tribalism of that is not good enough."

He addressed an Ulster University event in Belfast focusing on sectarianism.

Most Catholic children are educated at church-run schools while Protestants go to those overseen by the state. Only a minority attend facilities where the two denominations are integrated.

Kielty said: "Now I think here, integrated education, the term is insulting.

"Around the rest of the world that is called education.

"What we have in this country is segregated education."

He paid tribute to the "brilliant" work of teachers but said people felt those high standards were enough and did not tackle the underlying division.

"The natural platform of mixing and realising that we are exactly the same and having a school that has got a rugby team and a GAA team, you don't have to go to that school if you like GAA.

"There are just certain things that we really need to have a look at and I am not sure that we are necessarily ready for it."

He said changing the system would have to be done by an international figure like former senator Mitchell.

"Once we actually get through it we will go, 'gee why didn't we do that before now?', but it is a difficult one," said Kielty.

He said social media contributed to the lack of exposure to different views.

"Your own opinion is folded back into yourself on the screen every day," he said.

"More than ever we actually have to put the screen down and make an effort to realise that we are the same.

"We talk too much about difference here.

"You are either a British person living on the island of Ireland or you are an Irish person who is currently actually in the UK.

"You are actually a bit of both.

"The minute that we accept that that is going to move in a fluid way, and it is perfectly fine to be a bit of both, that is kind of where we need to be."

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