Page last updated at 15:04 GMT, Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Question Time - Employment and Learning, and Enterprise

Employment and learning minister Stephen Farry informed MLAs that he would make a full statement to the assembly on the future of teacher training colleges within the next few weeks, on 22nd November 2011.

Questions to the minister were dominated by issues around St Mary's University College, Belfast.

Lord Morrow of the DUP wanted to know why only 7% of the St Mary's workforce came from the Protestant community.

He said that equality must be seen to be done.

Mr Farry said the correct figure was 8%, that the college was very conscious of the need to improve the situation in the near future, and that change was needed.

In reply to a question from the TUV's Jim Allister, the minister said the college was "on a journey".

Sinn Fein's Pat Sheehan asked about support for the expansion of liberal arts studies at St Mary's.

The minister said he had no plans for such expansion but that liberal arts students did act as a subsidy for the college finances.

In reply to supplementary questions from the UUP's Mike Nesbitt, the DUP's Mervyn Storey and Anna Lo of Alliance, Mr Farry said he hoped to make a full statement to the assembly on the issue of teacher training colleges in a week or two.

In enterprise questions the minister, Arlene Foster, rejected a comment by Sinn Fein's Fra McCann that small businesses were not getting government support proportionate to their importance to the economy.

The minister said this was not true, adding that nearly 60% of Invest Northern Ireland funding in the previous programme for government period went to small and medium-sized businesses.


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