Barry McElduff: On a point of order, Mr Speaker. I ask the Speaker to rule on the use of inappropriate language like "twit", which the Member has just said. I ask him to rule on temperate language.
Barry McElduff: I empathise to some degree with those who are qualified longer needing to secure posts, and I encourage the Minister to look creatively at that in the future, if he can. Is there any possibility of introducing or exploring the possibility of a scheme to refresh the head teacher workforce in our schools?
Barry McElduff: In light of the fact that there have been increases to teachers' pension contributions and employees' National Insurance contributions as well as, in recent years, changes to income tax thresholds, will teachers be better off or worse off? How does that compare with other public-sector workers?
Barry McElduff: Further to Mr Agnew's question, I point out that your predecessor, Minister O'Dowd, was able to increase provision in the most socially deprived areas from 20% to 25%. We want universal provision, but, in some wards that are otherwise regarded as affluent, there are big pockets of deprivation, so is there any scope for looking at that?
Barry McElduff: I will make the first part of my contribution in my role as Chair of the Education Committee, and then I will make some comments from a party political perspective. The first thing I want to say as Chair of the Education Committee is that the primary-school population is growing, the post-primary population is not growing, and most of that reduction is happening in non-selective schools. It...
Barry McElduff: Yes.
Barry McElduff: I thank the Minister for his intervention. That needed to be said, because there is a contest. Among the principals that I met last Friday, there was a howl of protest when that point was made to them in a provocative way to tease out their response. I communicated to those principals that they needed to make arguments based on educational research and evidence. My final point relates to...
Barry McElduff: Maybe on one discordant note, it is a pity that the previous Member's party did not take its place in the Executive and accept responsibility. I will now move to a more unanimous and harmonious mode. I commend Linda Dillon for proposing this debate. Living in mid-Tyrone, as I do, I am very familiar with the Cookstown situation and with the rural communities that Linda outlined and which are...
Barry McElduff: — not just something that has been passed to him by senior civil servants.
Barry McElduff: From a party political perspective, Sinn Féin's position is that it will support the motion and the SDLP amendment. In my capacity as Cathaoirleach — Chair — of the Education Committee, I want to make a few remarks about our interest as a Statutory Committee in this matter to date. Nurture is a focused, school-based intervention, usually in primary schools, designed to...
Barry McElduff: Will the Member give way?
Barry McElduff: This is just to serve notice that our party is of a mind to withdraw the motion, if the facility is open to us, given that there has been a very full debate on the value of the Middletown centre and a recognition that the Minister and the Department are moving in the right direction. Of course, we reserve the right to hold our position regarding the value of a residential facility as well.
Barry McElduff: I beg to move That this Assembly is deeply concerned by the failure to provide residential assessments and therapies at the Middletown Centre for Autism; believes that this represents a setback for autism services across the island of Ireland; and calls on the Minister of Education to work with his Executive colleagues and the Minister for Education and Skills to evaluate the development of...
Barry McElduff: 7. Mr McElduff asked the Minister of Health for an update on the progress being made in identifying further potential for all-Ireland approaches to health. (AQO 617/16-21)
Barry McElduff: I ask the Minister whether she and her Department are identifying potential new areas for North/South cooperation in this matter?
Barry McElduff: Principal Deputy Speaker, I know that this debate has been on a subject close to your heart as a former Education Minister who initiated many community school partnership-type programmes under your stewardship. In my role as Committee Chair, I want to say at the outset that the Committee does not yet have a formal position on the issues covered by the motion, but the debate has rightly...
Barry McElduff: T2. Mr McElduff asked the Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs whether she and her departmental officials will work closely with Minister Michelle O’Neill and her departmental officials to discuss the implications of the Bengoa report, essentially for rural communities, not least isolated rural communities. (AQT 397/16-21)
Barry McElduff: Will the Minister keep at the forefront of her mind the weighting that needs to be given to rural needs and rural proofing in decision-making? Will she remind her Executive colleagues, when appropriate and necessary, that the definition of social deprivation includes the distance from essential health services?
Barry McElduff: T3. Mr McElduff asked the Minister of Justice whether she and her Department value the role of volunteers in Safer Streets projects in various towns. (AQT 378/16-21)
Barry McElduff: The town of Omagh recently achieved purple flag status as a safer town in relation to evening entertainment etc. That is down not least to the voluntary efforts of the Omagh Safer Streets project. Will the Minister initiate discussions with the project leaders and Fermanagh and Omagh District Council regarding funding difficulties that they are having?