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Sinn Féin protest Leinster House for retention of immersion teaching

14 May, 2008

Members of Dublin Sinn Féin's Cumann Gaelach were joined yesterday by members of Conradh na Gaeilge, the Union of Students Ireland and children from various Gaelscoileanna in Dublin at a protest outside Leinster House against plans to end the practice of immersion teaching in Irish Language Schools throughout the state.

The picket was addressed by Sinn Féin Irish Language Spokesperson Senator Pearse Doherty and by Dublin Sinn Féin TD and long time Irish Language advocate Aengus Ó Snodaigh.

Meanwhile President of Sinn Féin Gerry Adams has written to both An Taoiseach Brian Cowen and new Education Minister Batt O'Keeffe highlighting his party's concerns at the proposals to remove the choice to defer the teaching of English in the first two years of school in Gaelscoileanna. Mr. Adams has called on the Taoiseach and Minister O'Keeffe to abandon this proposal which came from the previous Education Minister Mary Hanafin.

Speaking at the protest outside Leinster House yesterday evening Senator Pearse Doherty said Mary Hanafin's proposal should be abandoned by Minister O'Keeffe as there is no basis or evidence to back up her claims that early Irish Language immersion adversely affects the learning ability of students in later years.

Senator Doherty pointed to research which refutes the claim that immersion teaching damages English learning in later years.

He said, "Research surveyed the English reading attainment tests of 3,298 children in Gaelscoileanna at the end of the 2nd and 5th classes in the last academic year. At the end of 2nd class it showed that the equivalent score achieved by the top 33% of children nationally was attained by no less than 43% of children who had enjoyed at least one full year's early total immersion in Irish.

"Mary Hanafin's directive to end total immersion teaching in Gaelscoileanna was based on a false claim that this type of teaching damages English learning in later years. Minister O'Keeffe must look at the evidence and abandon this proposal." ENDS

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