Upper Bann Ulster Unionist MLA and Westminster candidate Jo-Anne Dobson has responded sharply to comments made by Sinn Fein’s John O’Dowd in a letter published in the local media.
Mr O’Dowd wrote in response to what he described as “surprising and unfounded comments” by Mrs Dobson in relation to the allocation of pre-school places.
But Mrs Dobson countered saying: “I certainly find it rich to be lectured on the issue of equality by Sinn Fein.
She continued: “How dare John O’Dowd describe my support for parents whose children have been let down by his shoddy management of pre-school places as ‘surprising’ and ‘unfounded’.”
The Ulster Unionist politician said she found it necessary to respond to each of Mr O’Dowd’s accusations.
“Firstly, given that I have lobbied him on this very issue for over four years, I find it rich to have my comments described as ‘surprising’.
“I have been totally consistent in my support for working parents and in highlighting the fact that children and their families are being let down by the system which allocates pre-school places.
“Secondly, I have been approached by countless local parents who have been left deeply upset and angry by the refusal of pre-school places at the beginning of their child’s educational life. and have placed the case of each child in writing to the new Education Authority.
“My views expressed are those of my constituents and the parents who have contacted me - they are in no means ‘unfounded’.
“I would suggest that instead of taking time to pen defensive letters to the newspapers Mr O’Dowd should once and for all sort this mess out a mess he seems content to year on year continue to preside over.”