Page last updated at 15:28 GMT, Monday, 10 December 2012

Question Time: Education and Employment

Civil servants in the Department of Education want to spend their time working to improve standards rather than "shuffling papers from one desk to the other," the education minister said on 10 December 2012.

John O'Dowd was responding to a question from DUP MLA for Strangford, Simon Hamilton, about what information his department provided to the Treasury.

Speaking during question time, Mr O'Dowd said that he provided the "same amount of detail to the Treasury as all other departments do."

"I have no difficulty with transparency," he said.

But he added that he did have a problem with Stormont's Department of Finance telling him where he should spend his money which, he said, was nothing to do with transparency.

Invited via a supplementary question from party colleague, Sinn Fein North Antrim MLA Daithi McKay, Mr O'Dowd listed a number of means by which he engages with the Department of Finance.

He said he acknowledged that there was a need to "resolve the situation" but that he would not allow the Department of Finance or any other department to tell him how to run his affairs.

Mr O'Dowd also answered questions on the promotion of the Irish language and the use of the Lisanelly site in Omagh as a new shared education campus.

Meanwhile, during Employment and Learning question time, minister Stephen Farry answered questions on the University of Ulster's new campus in Belfast and on the strategy to help so-called NEETS - those "not in education, employment or training".


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