Trevor Lunn MLA said: “The Alliance Party views the proposed appointment of Paul Kavanagh and Mary Nelis to the board of Lumen Christi with great concern.
“In the context of Lumen Christi as a highly successful Grammar school which has taken a public stance on the question of academic selection, in defiance of the Minister’s instruction and indeed the view of the Catholic Church, it is hard to see these proposed appointments as anything other than a means of infiltration of the schools board of governors, with the aim of influencing the stance taken by the present board.
“How, I wonder would the Integrated school movement or indeed the Irish medium schools feel if the Department appointed board members who were vehemently opposed to the ethos of their schools, in the way that Ms Nelis is on record as opposing the selection stance of Lumen Christi?
“I would ask the Minister what if any consultation has taken place with the board about these appointments? A nine person board, in order to run a major Voluntary Grammar under the present system requires its members to provide a range of skills and experience. What personal qualities in those terms does John O’Dowd feel that these two candidates will bring to the board?
“The Alliance party agrees with other parties that academic selection at age eleven is unnecessary and traumatic to young people. We continue to advocate an end to the system by agreement, but would urge the Minister not to go down the path which is indicated by the proposed clearly political appointment of senior Sinn Fein personnel to school boards.
“This is even before account is taken of the effect of such decisions on the relatives of the victims of Mr Kavanagh’s past activities. Sinn Fein and the Minister for Education seem intent on pushing their agenda forward without any regard for the sensitivities involved and I suggest that they think again, consult fully and make appointments on merit rather than political expediency.”