LONDON - AUGUST 04:  (L-R) Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams (C), fellow party member Katriona Ruane, party negotiator Martin McGuinness and  Mary Lou McDonald arrive at 10 Downing Street, August 4, 2005 in London, England.  British Prime Minister Tony Blair has had seperate talks with Sinn Fein and the DUP (Democratic Unionist Party) who said that they would require a 'prolonged period of assessment'.  (Photo by Bruno Vincent/Getty Images)
I was talking with two friends the other day when the subject of education came up. “Caitriona Ruane has made a complete and total hames of the whole thing!” one of them declared. So I asked my friend if he knew what Ms Ruane had done or not done that made her responsible for the hames, and whether or not the inaction or actions of others, including the DUP, might have contributed to the hames. He allowed in the end and in so many words that he didn’t know the answer to any of these questions.

The vilification hurled at Caitriona Ruane has had many sources. One is that she succeeded Martin McGuinness, a man well capable of handling abuse or anything else hurled at him. Caitriona Ruane, to her misfortune, is a woman, and so fair game for a certain class of unionist politician. She’s also got a southern (actually a western) accent, which grates with a certain kind of northerner. Thirdly, and for this Sinn Féin must carry some responsibility, she’s a poor performer on TV. 

And it’s the third of these that has allowed so many people who have no idea what she did or didn’t do to declare that she’s made a total hames of things.  In ways it’s understandable, really.  Her mission to move the north from its antiquated, socially divisive and tragically wasteful system of putting children in different schools is a noble one, and that has provoked opposition from those whose first instinct is to resist change, as well as the many who yell their opposition for reasons of self-interest, stupidity and/or a desire to clobber a Sinn Féin politician. My guess is that,  her weak TV presence aside, she’s doing a decent job.  But it’s just a guess. I’m open to revision, if someone can present me with facts that show otherwise.  That’s F-A-C-T-S, please, not parroted prejudices. 

6 Responses to Hames-maker?

  1. hoboroad June 30, 2010 at 11:40 am #

    Great blog post Jude it’s about time someone stuck up for this poor woman. It is Unionist bigotry pure and simple against her. She is implementing Sinn Fein party policy so there should be no worries about her position within the party. Keep up the good work.

  2. Jude June 30, 2010 at 1:21 pm #

    Not just unionist prejudice, Hoboroad. ‘Nationalist’ as well (note quotation marks). The Catholic middle classes get very frothy-at-the-mouth when her name is mentioned.

  3. hoboroad June 30, 2010 at 1:30 pm #

    Well anything that gets up the nose of the Malone Road Mafia is okay by me. It is not there children that get written off as failures at the age of 11 years old.

  4. Anonymous June 30, 2010 at 8:50 pm #

    I think SF do not support Ruane enough in my opinion.
    Is it a case of not feeding a dead body?
    The recent hullaballu (sic) over the ‘capital build’ is parroted in the media as being Ruane’s making when clearly the money does not exist in her budget, compare that with Mc Gimpsey’s treatment where he is asked to comment on the stringent ‘cuts’.
    It has to be said Ruane does herself and SF no favours when interviewed, she appears weak and in all hinesty could do with more support from her party.

  5. Claire July 3, 2010 at 1:08 pm #

    Yes Jude, you’re right. I dislike her mainly because she’s a bumbling idiot.

    Yes, I know that “idiot” is a harsh word, but it’s also fair.

    Let’s not forget about her daughter’s unauthorised absence to go on hols with Minister Ruane to Cyprus!

    My own parents would never have allowed it and I certainly don’t think the education minister should. Harmless? Maybe so. Idiotic and hypocritical? Yes.

    What about the fact that she sent her daughters to Sacred Heart Grammar in Newry? Surely our education system isn’t “one of the worst in the world” if it’s good enough for her children?

    And lastly…scrapping the 11+ without an alternative? Idiotic!

    I’m afraid I don’t toe the party line on the issue of academic selection, much to my father’s dismay. Which is one of the reasons why I’m not actively involved in the party.

  6. Jude Collins July 5, 2010 at 9:25 am #

    I’m full of admiration for teachers, having been one myself, but I’ve never taught a lesson or series of lessons – say over a one-week period – that my pupils would have lost out on something VITAL if they’d missed ’em. So pulling kids out of school early is a pain for teachers but it’s not a non-repairable loss for kids. As to Caitriona’s kids being sent to a grammer school in Newry – it makes sense. You send your youngster to the best school available within the present system. You’d be mad and bad not to. That doesn’t mean you think the system is fair to everyone = especially those who don’t get to a grammar school – or that you don’t work for a fairer system.