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de Brún presents awards to Irish language students at Destined

15 October, 2007

Sinn Féin MEP, Bairbre de Brún today presented certificates of achievements to members of Destined in Derry who completed an Irish language course over the summer months.

Speaking at the awards ceremony at An Gaeláras in Great James Street, Ms de Brún congratulated all nine participants as well as their tutors. She said the education programme a collaboration between Destined, An Gaeláras, Gaelscoil Éadain Mhóir, UCG in Gweedore and funding body, Foras na Gaeilge has been a great success, with classes continuing on a weekly basis.

Ms de Brún said:

"I warmly congratulate all those who are achieving certificates today. Many of our young people today are being brought up with Irish as well as English, and are going to schools where Irish is the main medium of teaching. Irish comes quite naturally to them, learning it as they do from an early age. For adults and young adults, however, learning to use a second language can be quite a challenge, and it takes courage and determination to undertake a course at any level.

"I want to pay a particular tribute to the course participants from Destined who have given me such a warm céad míle fáilte here this morning. This innovative course is the product of collaboration between a number of bodies on a cross-border basis, including Destined, An Gaeláras, Gaelscoil Éadain Mhóir, UCG in Gaoth Dobhair and funding body, Foras na Gaeilge."

The course was a pilot initiative to assess the viability and methodologies of delivering an Irish language course to people with learning disabilities. The programme of study, involved participants attending daily classes delivered by a tutor and

supported by an assistant. It consisted of a 'rang comhrá' or conversation class in a classroom setting and also incorporated the use of ICT. This proved very popular in that most people with learning disabilities are IT literate and it also allowed the participants to revise on their own.

Ms de Brún later met a recently established Destined group for women with learning disabilities at the Old Library Trust in Creggan's Central Drive. She commended the developing work programme of Destined, a group she has visited before and which has empowerment of individuals with learning disabilities as its key aim.

Ms de Brún said:

"The European Disability Forum, which combats discrimination against disabled people and promotes disabled people's full participation in society, collected over one million signatures across the European Union, recently, in favour of comprehensive EU disability legislation. Mary Lou McDonald and I went out with our colleagues across Ireland to help the final push to reach the one million signature target. The European Disability Forum believes that a society in which disabled people are fully included is a better society for all, and we agree. The work of Destined and groups like it deserve our praise and our support. But we need to go further and to support legislation that will remove the barriers faced by people with disabilities."

Ms de Brún having completed her round of morning engagements in the city left for rural south Derry to visit projects based at Irish language community and enterprise centre, An Carn at Tirkane, Maghera. As part of her visit to An Carn she met with local community and voluntary sector representatives to discuss a report she is currently writing for adoption in the European Parliament on an evaluation of the PEACE Programme and strategies for the future.

Note to Editors:

The Destined organisation is a voluntary organisation with charitable status that seeks to address the needs of people with a learning disability in a whole life context. The mission statement of the organisation is one of access to citizenship through empowerment. It has as its core ethos the involvement and full participation of its members with a learning disability in all aspects of activity and at all levels of the decision making process.

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