Statement by TUV Leader Jim Allister:-
“Having seen John O’Dowd deploy eligibility for free school meals as a funding tool to disadvantage the controlled sector in general and many rural schools in particular, like Moorfields Primary where I chair the Board of Governors, I greatly welcome the UK Government’s initiative to provide free school meals for all Key Stage 1 pupils.
“The local Department of Education will be provided with the funds by Westminster to make the same provision here. It is imperative that O’Dowd does not hijack this money but puts it to the use intended and ensures all small children in Northern Ireland have the same level of free school meals as elsewhere in the UK.
“Universal free school meals will remove the chill factor which produces low uptake under the current arrangements, benefiting all children equally by providing a hot meal for all. There can be no credible excuse for Northern Ireland not following where the UK Government is leading on this issue.”