O'Dowd says ESA will not be 'Europe's biggest quango'

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The new Education and Skills Authority (ESA) may be "biggest quango" in Europe, an Ulster Unionist MLA commented during Question Time, on 19 February 2013.

Education Minister John O'Dowd said he rejected Leslie Cree's description of ESA.

The minister said he suspected the UUP's opposition to ESA was "more political than educational".

He added that it would not be the biggest quango in Europe, or anything like it, as it would be democratically accountable.

Judith Cochrane of Alliance asked about meetings with representatives of the voluntary grammar schools concerning the Education Bill, and the proposal that ESA should become the employer of teachers in that sector.

Mr O'Dowd said he had not had any such meeting, nor had he been approached by anyone from the voluntary sector for such a meeting.

The minister said the proposal did not amount to "interference".

He said it was important to have a single employer, and that every employee in the educational sector should be treated equally.

"If the voluntary sector wish to meet me with regard to this matter my door remains open," Mr O'Dowd added.

Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster answered questions about trade missions, tourism and the recent disturbances in Belfast, and the 2013 World Police and Fire games.

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