SDLP Sports Spokesperson Justin McNulty has said that children will lose out following a decision to end the school sports programme.
The programme was delivered by IFA and GAA coaches in over 200 schools across the North.
The Department of Education said there was no funding to continue to continue the programme due to budgetary pressures.
Newry & Armagh MLA Mr McNulty said:
“Since its introductions the school sports programme has had a massive impact in schools across the North, allowing young people to enjoy sport with elite level coaching from both the GAA and IFA. When a similar scheme ended in 2018 there was a real sense of disappointment, but on that occasion common sense prevailed and a new scheme was launched for primary school pupils.
“This programme had huge benefits for our children, not only encouraging them to participate in sport which keeps them fit and healthy, but teaching them the importance of teamwork and the emotional resilience that comes with taking part in organised sport. Developing these skills at a young age will encourage children to keep active throughout their lives with all the benefits that brings. The decision to end this programme will have a significant impact on our young people and schools and demonstrates yet again that PE is the poor relation in education.
“Sports coaching for children cannot be yet another casualty of the DUP’s Stormont boycott and the austerity budget imposed on us by the Tory government. No matter what harm is visited on people in the North these people fail to face up to the reality of their actions. To see this programme ripped away, which contributes so much positivity to children and their families’ lives is extremely disappointing, and I hope to see this scheme return, as it did in 2019.
“Together with Ulster GAA, the IFA and cross-party MLAs, we have written to the Permanent Secretary at the Department of Education seeking an urgent meeting in an effort to have this important education programme restored, secured and enhanced for the future. Children deserve nothing less.”