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Approval of three new Irish medium schools evidence of increasing use of language

18 July, 2005

Sinn Féin Education Spokesperson, West Belfast MLA Michael Ferguson has
welcomed the announcement that the Department of Education has approved
three new Irish medium primary schools that will be eligible for recurrent
and capital funding as grant-maintained schools from September 2005. The
schools are Gaelscoil Ghleann Darach in Antrim, Gaelscoil an Lonnain in
West Belfast and Gaelscoil na gCrann in Omagh.

Mr Ferguson said:

"Throughout the Six Counties there is increasing demand for Irish medium
education. It is testament to the hard work and dedication of teachers and
parents and their enthusiasm that there are three new schools that should
benefit from both recurrent and capital building funding. It is an
education that is first class.

"It is a tribute to all those who have worked tirelessly over the years to
set up, maintain and fund Irish schools. It is all the more remarkable
given that many Irish medium schools are often in areas of high
deprivation. The sacrifices made by parents, teachers and supporters of
these schools have given children in West Belfast, Omagh and Antrim and
beyond a great start in life.

"The approval of the request for controlled status is a welcome first
step. However, we still need to see progress on the issue of
accommodation. Hopefully this decision will be the start of a process that
sees the development of first class schools accommodation and facilities
and long-term security and stability for the staff, parents and children
at these three schools." ENDS

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