The decision by Stranmillis to offer RE course is a boost for integrated schools and non Catholic teachers

Stranmillis University College will teach the Certificate in Religious Education
Stranmillis University College will teach the Certificate in Religious Education

The BBC has reported that Stranmillis College will teach a qualification, the Certificate in Religious Education (RE), which is needed to get a job in Catholic schools for the first time.

Previously students there only had the option of an online distance learning course if they wanted to get the certificate.

Congratulations to all involved in bringing about this change, especially the college principal Anne Heaslett and her staff including Norman Richardson.

Being able to teach the Certificate in Religious Education will bring new life to Stranmillis and comes nearly five years since the issue was last in the news.

My letter to the News Letter four years ago (‘Protestant teachers at disadvantage,’ February 18 2015) explained the background to this important development.

The removal of the teacher exception from fair employment law after nearly 50 years is the last step in the preliminary work toward equal opportunity for school teachers.

Sinn Fein and the SDLP invoked the Petition of Concern to stop a law change in 2013 proposed by the Ulster Unionist Party, who have been in the vanguard in this liberalising reform.

Hopefully those two parties will not veto the matter again if the assembly reappears. The unique EU discrimination law exemption for Northern Ireland can then be repealed.

I said in my 2015 letter that the Equality Commission had not shown any willingness to campaign on the matter. Looking back over the last decade, I still cannot say the commission has been overly bothered about this continuing injustice but am willing to be told otherwise.

The integrated schools movement who have been keen and worked for this change will be well pleased.

Jeff Dudgeon,

Belfast BT9 (Ulster Unionist councillor 2014 to 2019)