From Diane Dodds MLA <[email protected]>
Subject We will oppose Government's RSE regulations
Date June 24, 2023 6:59 AM
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On 6 June the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, without any warning or prior consultation, laid regulations before Parliament to require the teaching of Relationships and Sexuality Education in Northern Ireland ([link removed]) covering abortion and the reduction of teenage pregnancy for key stages 3 and 4.

On Monday next week these regulations will be debated in the House of Commons and on Wednesday they will be debated in the House of Lords.

DUP MPs and Peers will be opposing these regulations.

This intervention is uncalled for and inappropriate.

Education is a devolved matter, and it is not as if schools in Northern Ireland do not already provide relationships and sex education.

The Secretary of State has made this intervention using the power that Parliament gave him to impose abortion on Northern Ireland in 2019, in a vote on 9 July that year when every Northern Ireland MP who took their seat in Northern voted against.

These regulations, however, suffer from an even worse democratic deficit on two counts:

First, while there was at least some rushed discussion about the imposition of abortion in the July 2019 debate, there was no debate at all about sex education.

Second, while the resulting abortion regulations were the subject of a public consultation in November 2019, these controversial regulations have not been the subject of any consultation and the NIO admits that there may not be time to give parents a right of withdrawal in time for when the legislation comes into effect.

This is completely unacceptable.

The DUP has been working hard over the last week liaising with school principals, school governors and the churches in relation to Parliament’s Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee and its consideration of the regulations.

The Committee met on Tuesday and yesterday it published an extraordinarily damning report on the regulations and has drawn the special attention of the House to the regulations because of the lack of any consultation on the regulations.

The report can be accessed here ([link removed]) starting at part way down on page 8.

They also published 55 pages of concerned submissions on the regulations from organisation and individuals in Northern Ireland which can be accessed here ([link removed])

This provides a very helpful context within which DUP MPs and Peers can highlight all that is wrong with these regulations in next week’s debates.

The truth is that the most effective approach to relationships and sex education is not one that involves controlling it through a centralised curriculum but rather through a system where the governing body of the school determines the right RSE curriculum, sensitive both the ethos of the school and the views of parents.

There are some excellent models of RSE best practice that we can and are using without these intrusive and undemocratic regulations.


Diane Dodds MLA
DUP Education Spokesperson
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