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Ulster parties urged to join talks on education

All political parties in Northern Ireland, including Sinn Fein, have been invited to submit proposals and open talks on the future administration of Ulster's education, writes Noel McAdam.

They are to meet Michael Ancram, the education and political development minister, who is charged with getting substantive inter-party talks off the ground.

The Government views education as one of the first main functions which could be handed over to a new elected Ulster assembly.

While far from uncontentious, unionist and nationalist politicians have strong interests in the province's religiously-divided school system. They have for years criticised the centralised control through the Education Department.

Mr Ancram revealed he has written to all the parties urging them to come to meetings on the issue of education when he faced the Northern Ireland select committee in Westminster last week.

The proposed meetings on education would run in parallel to the continuing discussions on substantive political talks following the terrorist ceasefires.

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