I was talking with two friends the other day when the subject of education came up. “Caitriona Ruane has made a complete and total hames of the whole thing!” one of them declared. So I asked my friend if he knew what Ms Ruane had done or not done that made her responsible for the hames, and whether or not the inaction or actions of others, including the DUP, might have contributed to the hames. He allowed in the end and in so many words that he didn’t know the answer to any of these questions.
The vilification hurled at Caitriona Ruane has had many sources. One is that she succeeded Martin McGuinness, a man well capable of handling abuse or anything else hurled at him. Caitriona Ruane, to her misfortune, is a woman, and so fair game for a certain class of unionist politician. She’s also got a southern (actually a western) accent, which grates with a certain kind of northerner. Thirdly, and for this Sinn Féin must carry some responsibility, she’s a poor performer on TV.
And it’s the third of these that has allowed so many people who have no idea what she did or didn’t do to declare that she’s made a total hames of things. In ways it’s understandable, really. Her mission to move the north from its antiquated, socially divisive and tragically wasteful system of putting children in different schools is a noble one, and that has provoked opposition from those whose first instinct is to resist change, as well as the many who yell their opposition for reasons of self-interest, stupidity and/or a desire to clobber a Sinn Féin politician. My guess is that, her weak TV presence aside, she’s doing a decent job. But it’s just a guess. I’m open to revision, if someone can present me with facts that show otherwise. That’s F-A-C-T-S, please, not parroted prejudices.