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Last Updated: Thursday, 24 March, 2005, 16:45 GMT
Resignations over education cuts
Six members of the SELB resigned
Six members of the SELB resigned
Six members of the final Northern Ireland education board to agree major cuts have resigned in protest.

Four Sinn Fein and two SDLP councillors resigned from the Southern Education and Library Board after it voted for savings of 7.2m.

Members from each of the five education boards have resigned over cuts in services minister Barry Gardiner said had to be made.

A motion of no confidence in the education minister was passed.

The board chairman said if they did not agree to the budget the government would appoint an administrator to take over and make the same 7m savings.

A proposal from Sinn Fein councillor Brendan Lewis to force the government - not the board - to implement the cutbacks was rejected by 20 votes to seven, with three board members abstaining.

BBC Northern Ireland education correspondent Maggie Taggart said the budget shortfall for the five boards was about 30m.

"We have heard over and over again from boards that we do not want to make these cuts, that Barry Gardiner is responsible," she said.

"They are all saying this - it is not just one board or a few politicians - it is all of the boards. I have not heard one dissenting voice saying Barry Gardiner is right and that 'we have to clean up our act'."

On Wednesday, 11 board members resigned from the Western Education Board.

It voted narrowly to approve budget cuts of 5.7m affecting special needs children, road safety, school library books and maintenance.

Councillors from Sinn Fein, the SDLP and DUP walked out of an emergency Western Education Board meeting in Omagh in protest at the decision.

'Every public body'

Earlier this week, eight councillors resigned in protest after the Belfast Education Board voted for a 7m package of cuts.

The board also passed a no confidence motion in the Northern Ireland education minister, Barry Gardiner.

Members cited the "the impossible financial cuts imposed on the education system and the minister's belligerent manner toward the board".

At least 11 board members have resigned in protest
Western board members resigned on Wednesday

On Wednesday, Mr Gardiner said: "The fact is that every public body would like more resources - but we all have to manage within the budgets set for us.

"I am pleased to note that four of the five education and library boards have agreed a budget, and I look forward to examining the details in the next few days."

Trade unions have warned jobs could be lost because of the cuts.

Meanwhile, the North Eastern Board voted to close Antrim's Massereene College despite a final attempt by parents and governors to apply for integrated status.

Adrian Watson of the Ulster Unionist Party, SDLP councillor Joe McBride and Arthur Templeton subsequently quit their posts on the board.

The North Eastern Board has already voted to push through cuts to school services "under severe duress", as it faces a 6m shortfall in money from the department next year.


SEE ALSO:
Board cuts lead to resignations
22 Mar 05 |  Northern Ireland
Members 'should resign' over cuts
22 Mar 05 |  Northern Ireland
Board backs cuts 'under duress'
19 Mar 05 |  Northern Ireland
School closure decision delayed
22 Feb 05 |  Northern Ireland
School's closure to be discussed
16 Feb 05 |  Northern Ireland


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