Northern Ireland - Minister faces calls to resign

29th May 2009 at 01:00

Northern Ireland's education minister is facing calls to resign after it emerged she had taken her daughter, aged 12, out of school to go on holiday - a breach of her department's guidelines.

Unionist members of the education committee, set up to scrutinise the department, said Caitriona Ruane must step down for taking her daughter to Cyprus on a political trip.

Ms Ruane said it was a "private" decision that she did not regret as she had paid for her daughter, who attends a school in the Republic of Ireland, to accompany her for three days on a working trip.

Mervyn Storey, the education committee chairman, said the minister's leadership had to be questioned given that her department's guidance states a child should be removed from school only in "exceptional circumstances".

Mr Storey said: "This is about her professional ability to do her job and the fact that she has attempted to bully schools into following guidance in one area which she obviously knows is not enforceable in another.

"It is also about the 'do as I say, not as I do' attitude displayed regularly by the minister."

In a statement, Ms Ruane said her decision was "dictated by private and personal matters and in the best interest of my daughter".

She added: "I am happy that my decision was both responsible and correct." rv.

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