Teacher training changes ahead – College of Education may merge with other Dublin institutions
Plans are proceeding for the merging of the Church of Ireland College of Education (CICE) with the Mater Dei Institute of Education (MDI), St Patrick’s College, Drumcondra (SPD) and Dublin City University (DCU ) into a single Institute of Education. In a joint statement issued last week, the Principal of CICE, the Director of MDI and the Presidents of SPD and DCU indicated that throughout the past year higher education institutions had been working “to craft a response” to the Higher Education Authority’s ‘Landscape’ document.
That document envisages “a significantly changed configuration for Higher Education in Ireland”, they said.
The joint statement said that last week’s Government report on the outcome of the International Panel Review of Initial Teacher Education was a central part of that process.
Recent violence in Belfast has underlined that parading in Northern Ireland is at times not only contentious but also can give rise to real danger to life and limb. However, healing was brought to an extremely fraught situation by the Black Institution’s apology to St Patrick’s Roman Catholic parish for any offence caused by the highly publicised events of 25th August during a parade by the Institution and associated bands.
The Archbishop of Armagh’s comments on radio, reiterated again in comments to the Gazette (report, page 3), were a welcome reminder of Christian responsibilities. Certainly, parading is a long tradition in Northern Ireland, but it is has no attraction whatsoever if it is to be associated with crass and violent behaviour.
Equally, it is clear that there is very considerable frustration in certain quarters with the Parades Commission.
The head of the Commission, Peter Osborne, has expressed the view that local politicians should be making the decisions which currently fall to his organisation. Whether or not one likes the Parades Commission, it has a statutory role and its rulings are to be followed. It is possible to protest against laws which one feels are unfair, but that protest must at all times be peaceful. Indeed, it is part of any free society that people can protest openly, but within the law.
Mr Osborne is surely right that decisions about parades should fall to local politicians, but the question is whether or not politics in Northern Ireland has reached the stage at which such decisions actually can be made by them. However, it is surely not too much to hope that society has in fact progressed to such a stage.
Certainly, the new Secretary of State, Theresa Villiers, has her hands full, but it was significant to note that on being appointed to take over from Owen Paterson, who showed much competence, Ms Villiers spoke of her eagerness to help build a peaceful and prosperous Northern Ireland. Peace and prosperity go hand in hand and there is no doubt that disturbances such as have arisen of late do absolutely nothing to encourage foreign investment.
The shared future which is so much needed in Northern Ireland will be built on genuine reconciliation. The Black Institution’s conciliatory approach to St Patrick’s parish is therefore a really hopeful sign and one which can set an example as well as give heart to the new Secretary of State and, indeed, to everyone.
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