Woodlands: setting the record straight

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Sir,

It was with great surprise today when I read the statement printed on page three of your paper entitled ”McCartney secures meeting on Woodlands Unit”.

In his statement Raymond McCartney SF MLA announced that Education Minister John O’Dowd has agreed to meet all six Foyle MLAs to discuss the proposals relating to the Language Unit. He states: “Following concerns being raised by parents [. . .] I felt it was very important to secure a meeting with the Education Minister” and he goes on to state the time, date and venue of the meeting.

The reality of this situation is that it was Pat Ramsey SDLP MLA who secured this meeting and the staff and parents in the Unit are very aware of this and are rightly angered by Sinn Fein’s attempts to come in with their support through the back door.

I brought a notice of motion to Council last Tuesday 28/02/2012 asking the Minister of Education to intervene as a matter of urgency on the issue. Sinn Fein produced an amendment to my motion which in the view of the SDLP, staff and parents watered down the original motion. Not only that, they also abstained en bloc from voting for the substantive motion after their amendment failed.

Sinn Fein can play politics with people’s lives if that is their wish but they need to stand up and be counted in the democratic system.

Shame on you Sinn Fein hiding behind your Minister and not standing up for the most vulnerable in our society. If this is what standing up for Derry amounts to then I am glad that the people of this city and region have the SDLP to support them.

Is mise,

Councillor Brenda Stevenson SDLP