Caitríona Ruane

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Caitríona Ruane
Minister of Education
In office
8 May 2007 – 5 May 2011
Preceded by Martin McGuinness
Succeeded by John O'Dowd
Member of the Northern Ireland Assembly
for Down South
Assumed office
26 November 2003
Preceded by Mick Murphy
Personal details
Born (1962-07-19) 19 July 1962 (age 52)
Swinford, Republic of Ireland
Nationality Irish
Political party Sinn Féin
Website SF election page

Caitríona Ruane MLA (born 1962) is a Sinn Féin politician and a member of the Northern Ireland Assembly for South Down.[1][2]

In the first Executive under First Minister Ian Paisley and deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness she was appointed Minister of Education. She has faced opposition over the scrapping of the Transfer Examination (Eleven Plus) and her subsequent plans for a replacement. She was replaced by John O'Dowd after the 2011 election.


Ruane is a former professional tennis player who represented Ireland in the Fed Cup. She now lives in Carlingford, County Louth and is married with two children.[3] In the past Ruane has acted as director of the Féile an Phobail and chairperson of the St Patrick's Carnival Committee in Belfast.[4]

"Bring them Home" campaign[edit]

Ruane was a prominent member of the Bring Them Home campaign for the Colombia Three, which sought the safe return of three Irishmen later convicted in their absence in Colombia of training FARC insurgents.[5]

Abolition of the Eleven Plus[edit]

Ruane has faced opposition for her support for abolition of the Eleven Plus examination, originally planned by her predecessor Martin McGuinness.[6] She has faced opposition from the Democratic Unionist Party[7] and Social Democratic and Labour Party[8] as well as from grammar schools in Northern Ireland, causing them to form the AQE[9] (Association for Quality Education), which will offer a replacement for the transfer examination, with 30 grammar schools signed up to the plan.[10] She was alleged to have delayed the publication of a report which showed that public opinion favoured academic selection.[11]

In March 2011, Ruane caused controversy by claiming that all Northern Irish pupils should be given the opportunity to study Irish, that Northern Ireland's education system should be made more similar to that of the Republic of Ireland, and that “the debate on academic selection is now over”.[12] Director of the Governing Bodies Association, which represents Northern Irish grammar schools, John Hart, said, “I think the minister is fooling only herself in trying to convince us that the debate surrounding academic selection is over. Some 26,000 parents last year did not think it was over. As we have said in the past, the minister washed her hands of responsibility for academic selection, so she would be better letting those with a more responsible approach get on with it, instead of petty badgering."[13]

Ruane failed to appear in the Stormont chamber to deliver a statement regarding spending within her department. Regarding this, the speaker said, "But certainly I do believe the minister owes an explanation to the house first of all why she was absent this morning in not making her statement and secondly on the issue of why members have not received the statement 30 minutes before the statement was to be made in the house."[14]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]

Northern Ireland Assembly
Preceded by
Mick Murphy
MLA for Down South
2003 –
Succeeded by
Political offices
Preceded by
Office suspended
Minister of Education
Succeeded by
John O'Dowd