O’Dowd pressed to reveal cross-border education cost to Northern Ireland

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DUP education spokesman Mervyn Storey has noted that more than 400 children from the Republic attend schools in Northern Ireland whilst the figure for children travelling in the opposite direction is much lower.

Minister for Education John O’Dowd has been challenged to produce the report into the number of pupils who cross the border for education.

The research was carried out over a year ago and the findings had been expected to be released at a North-South Ministerial Council meeting in February.

However, this did not happen and the minister has said the council must first consider the survey and authorise publication.

Mr Storey said he accepted that some degree of cross-border travel for schooling will inevitably take place, and is a “sensible option” for a child whose closest school is in a different jurisdiction.

“It is also an issue of parental choice, but what has never been revealed is the cost to the public purse in Northern Ireland.

“Parents from the Republic of Ireland have made it quite clear that there is a financial element in their decision making, with the costs of books and other items cited as reasons for sending children to school in Northern Ireland.

“We have a situation in health where patients from the Republic can receive treatment in Northern Ireland, but the Irish government reimburses the cost.

“There should be a similar arrangement for education so the Northern Ireland public are not disadvantaged through having a more generous education system on this side of the border.

“My question to the minister for some time has been how much this is costing the Northern Ireland taxpayer. The minister has also not published the survey into schooling in border areas and he must tell us why.”




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