Sinn Fein Call For Immediate School Closures

Stormont's deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill has said schools, colleges and universities should close immediately.

The Sinn Fein Vice President called for "decisive and coordinated action" to manage the spread of Covid-19.

In an apparent split among political leaders, First Minister Arlene Foster is in support of the UK-wide strategy to keep schools open.

Her Sinn Fein counterpart, however, said Northern Ireland should follow the Republic of Ireland by implementing a blanket closure.

Ms O'Neill said she is acting on the concerns of local families, many of whom have chosen not to send their children to school this morning.

"To protect the public, schools and colleges should now be closed.

"There has been contradictory medical evidence and in that context my view is that we should err on the side of caution."

She continued: "Now is the time to take action. Now is the time to ensure that all schools are closed. That universities and colleges are closed. That needs to happen immediately."

The comments come after joint heads of government Arlene Foster and Michelle O'Neill last night said it was not yet time to close schools.
News Image
Meanwhile, Green Party Leader Clare Bailey has called for an all-island approach to public safety measures to prioritise those most at risk across society.

The south Belfast MLA said: "It's time for a Covid-19 island wide response plan and a disaster recovery plan to deal with the fall out of this crisis for our citizens.

"We know that schools will close at some point, yet there is no plan for working parents or families facing loss of income. We know that many small businesses face going to the wall, yet there is no mitigation measures in place for SMEs. We know that people in housing stress may struggle against eviction or homelessness and there is no sign of a safety net.

"The scientific and public health experts are quite clear on how this virus will affect the population. The Prime Minister warned that we will lose loved ones. We only need to look to other nations to see how this crisis will unfold.

"Governments and policy makers must take urgent action and initiate emergency social policies to lessen the fall out of this crisis for our citizens. In Northern Ireland, that means an island wide response which prioritises those most at risk across our society."


Related Northern Ireland News Stories
Click here for the latest headlines.

22 January 2013
Heavy Snow Closes Over 80 Schools
Over 80 schools across Northern Ireland have been closed as the heavy snow continues to cause disruption on Tuesday morning. The Met Office has issued a yellow weather warning, as the snow is continuing to affect many roads. Areas which have been majorly disrupted include Lisburn, Castlereagh and Carryduff.
02 March 2018
Schools Closures Across NI
The Department of Education have published a list of all schools across that have confirmed they will be closed today, Friday 2nd March, 2018 due to the adverse weather conditions.
23 March 2020
Scammers Prey On Vulnerable Amid Crisis
Members of the public have been asked to warn their vulnerable loved ones after it emerged that cold callers have preyed on those currently isolating due to coronavirus. The PSNI called for vigilance in the face of scammers who have set out to take advantage of local people during the pandemic.
08 July 2013
Time Zone Split For Ireland?
The island of Ireland could be split into two different time zones, following the debate of a Brighter Evenings Bill in the Dáil. TDs are debating whether or not to introduce a measure in the Republic of Ireland that would see clocks move an hour forward; putting them out of sync with Northern Ireland.
02 August 2013
Parents Encouraged To Use School Uniform Grants
Education Minister John O'Dowd has encouraged parents to take advantage of school uniform grants. The Clothing Allowance Scheme covers pupils in primary, post-primary and special schools and is similar to free school meals with regards to its eligibility criteria.