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Unionist attempts to undermine Irish Medium Education at odds with commitment to tolerance and equality

13 May, 2008

Sinn Féin Education Committee member, Michelle O'Neill MLA has said that the motion tabled by DUP Environment Minister Arlene Foster and Chief Whip Maurice Morrow calling on the Minister of Education to abandon proposals for Irish Medium Education in the Dungannon/South Tyrone area is at odds with the commitment to promote tolerance and equality.

Ms O'Neill said,

"In the last decade, in Tyrone, the Irish language has made great strides forward. Much of this has been community driven, and is down to the hard work and dedication of teachers, parents, Irish language activists and others who have kept the Irish language alive down the years.

"Where there is a clear demand for Irish Medium education Sinn Féin will continue to support the development of new educational provision.

"This motion will no doubt become yet another opportunity for unionism to demonstrate a lack of tolerance towards the Irish language. Sinn Fein are committed to choice for parents and want to see progress on the wider and much needed reforms of the entire education system.

"Sinn Féin and the SDLP have lodged a petition of concern in relation to this motion so there is no chance of it going anywhere. I would encourage both Maurice Morrow and Arlene Foster to try and adopt a mature approach to this debate because we know just what impact their words may have on community relations." Críóch

Note to editors-

Motion - Irish Medium Schools in Dungannon/South Tyrone

That this Assembly calls on the Minister of Education to abandon proposals to establish primary and post-primary Irish Medium schools in Dungannon and the wider South Tyrone area where there are already a considerable number of long-term unfilled places; and expresses its concern at the detrimental impact the creation of such schools would have on both present and future Education budgets.

[Lord Morrow]

[Mrs A Foster]

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