Monday, 28 September 2015

Culture in the classroom, including Orange culture

Tonight there has been some comment on Facebook about a situation that arose earlier today in a primary school in North Belfast.
The issue of culture, including Orange culture, in the classroom is an important one.
Bringing the culture of the child and the child's home and family into the school is (1) right for the child - it leads to a better educational outcome and (2) the right of the child.
In this post I simply want to quote one sentence from the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).  There are other relevant paragraphs in the UNCRC but paragraph 29c is the most relevant and specific.
States Parties agree that the education of the child shall be directed to the development of respect for the child's parents, his or her own cultural identity, language and values, for the national values of the country in which the child is living ...

In this case the 'state party' is the United Kingdom government which has signed the UNCRC and therefore in any part of the United Kingdom the education of a child should be such as implements this principle.
If a child comes from an Orange family, in which there is an affection for and affinity with the Orange Order and Orange culture, then there should be respect for the Orange Order and Orange culture in the classroom.  It should not be denigrated in any way and that includes denigration by the wilful exclusion of Orange culture.
To suggest to a child that Orangeism is something negative or divisive would undermine the child's respect for his parents and his family.  Moreover the exclusion of Orange culture from the classroom and curriculum would contravene Article 29c.
That culture must be included, not excluded, and should be included in a way that is positive and welcoming.
Any parent who is faced with this situation should refer to Article 29c of the UNCRC.  Then if the school ignores it and the outcome is unsatisfactory both child and parent can take the matter up with the Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People.
We hear a lot today about 'rights' and children from Orange families or an Orange community have rights too!

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Women's football in Belfast in 1918

A women's football team from the early 20th century
Women's football is increasing in popularity and gaining increased coverage on television.  However women's football was also popular during the First World War, when many games were played to raise money for charity.  It was helped at that time by the fact that women were starting to work in munitions' factories and they were invited to join the remaining male workers in their lunch-time kick-abouts.
However in 1921 the Football Association banned all women's teams from playing on the grounds of teams affiliated to the FA.  It was only in 1969 that the situation changed with the formation of the Women's Football Association. 
I came across a local reference to women's football in the Northern Whig for 27 July 1918.  This reported that the Ulster Women's Gift Fund - 14th Royal Irish Rifles (YCV) Comforts Committee had raised £94 8s 7d and that this was the proceeds of a Ladies Football Match at Grosvenor Park, organised by Mrs Walter Scott and Mrs Mercer.  The sum of £36 had been deducted for 'amusement tax'.
The advertisement was signed by Dehra Chichester of Moyola Park, Castledawson.
Dehra Parker and her grandson, James Chichester Clark (1931)
She was then the wife of Lieutenant Colonel Robert Chichester MP (1874-1921) and was herself elected to the Northern Ireland parliament to represent Londonderry from 1921 to 1929.  Later she remarried and returned to the Stormont parliament as Dehra Parker, representing South Londonderry from 1933 to 1960.  She was succeeded by her grandson, James Chichester Clark, who became the fifth Prime Minister of Northern Ireland.