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Caitríona Ruane MLA (born 1962 in Swinfordmarker, County Mayomarker) is a Sinn Féin politician and a member of the Northern Ireland Assembly for South Down.

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


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

"Bring them Home" campaign

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 Colombiamarker of training Marxist rebels.

Abolition of the Eleven Plus

Ruane has faced opposition for her support for abolition of the Eleven Plus examination, originally planned by her predecessor Martin McGuinness. She has faced opposition from the Democratic Unionist Party and Social Democratic and Labour Party as well as from grammar schools in Northern Ireland, causing them to form the AQE (Association for Quality Education), which will offer a replacement for the Transfer Examination, with 30 grammar schools signed up to the plan.

Bobby Sands complaint

In December 2008, she praised the Provisional IRA hunger striker, Bobby Sands, whilst giving a speech at a Northern Ireland school. A member of the public complained to the PSNI regarded claiming her speech was illegal under the law preventing glorification of terrorism.


  1. Caitríona Ruane - Sinn Féin profile
  2. Caitríona Ruane - NI Assmbley profile
  3. Strategem NI - South Down
  4. Legal challenge to St Pat's Day funding
  5. NI cabinet ministers: at a glance
  6. Minister scraps the 11-plus exam
  7. BBC - Ruane's plans 'need DUP support'
  8. - SDLP hits out at new exam plans
  9. AQE Home Page
  10. BBC - Ruane attacks elist schools
  11. Ruane reported over Sands praise - Retrieved 21 December 2008

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