Shameful children face paying the price for political failure – Butler

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Shameful children face paying the price for political failure – Butler

Ulster Unionist education spokesperson Robbie Butler MLA has said the longer the political paralysis at Stormont continues, the greater the impact it is having on children and already struggling families. The Lagan Valley MLA was commenting after it was revealed the Department of Education is yet to confirm whether the school holiday hunger payments will be made during the upcoming Easter break.

Robbie Butler said:


“Northern Ireland hasn’t had a properly functioning government for 4 of the last 6 years. As an MLA that has long recognised the real benefit of a stable government with public services receiving the leadership that they deserve, there are only so many times I feel I can express my repeated frustration with the current stalemate at Stormont.


“Yet when that deadlock gets in the way of doing what’s right for our children and helping already struggling families, that sense of frustration I have boils right up again.


“It is abhorrent that in the midst of the current cost of living crisis that some children across Northern Ireland might shortly be going hungry all because politics isn’t working here.  


“The school holiday food grant of £27 a fortnight, paid to families during school holidays in place of free school meals, was designed to ensure that nearly 100,000 of our children and young people could continue to have access to sufficient meals. Whilst I fully recognise that public finances need to be carefully handled, holding food back from the bellies of any children from financially vulnerable families – especially within the ongoing financial climate – should be strictly off limits. Yet that is exactly the prospect facing Northern Ireland as we approach the upcoming Easter holidays.


“Whilst the threat of the payments not being extended beyond the end of this month is a failure of politics, I do believe the Department of Education in the absence of a Minister has a moral duty to extend these payments especially for the Easter break. That would allow time then for the entire initiative to hopefully be assessed by a new Minister and Executive whenever that happens.”