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Ulster's budget

The Government has announced a rise of Pounds 47 million in the Northern Ireland education budget for next year, an overall increase of 3.5 per cent. When special funding and initiatives are taken into account, the Pounds 1.4 billion budget represents a rise well below the predicted 2.75 per cent inflation.

Of the increase Pounds 11m is special European money, Pounds 8.3m is for pre-school vouchers and Pounds 3m extra has been allocated for building maintenance. Education minister Michael Ancram stressed that the classrooms would be protected, with increases of around 4.5 per cent.

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