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Government education policy ‘not only anti-Irish – it’s illegal’ – Tóibín

16 May, 2018

Sinn Féin TD for Meath West Peadar Tóibín has said that reports of the Department of Education’s legal breach in considering Irish language requirements in deciding a patron for a new school in Dublin are yet further proof of their remiss attitude towards Irish language education provision.

Teachta Tóibín, who is Sinn Féin’s spokesperson on the Irish Language, added that these findings, published today by the Irish Language Commissioner, highlight the long and arduous struggle that many families have in securing Irish language education.

Speaking today, Teachta Tóibín said:

“I have long highlighted the growing chasm between the demand for Irish language education and its provision by the Department of Education. A study last month by Cantar Millward Brown found that 78% of people agreed that Irish language education should be available to everyone in the state. While 5% of schools are Gaelscoileanna, there are over 23% of parents who have expressed a desire to send their children to a Gaelscoil.

“One of the main obstacles to this is the issue of school patronage. We have been challenging the Department of Education for years for the process to be revised so that Irish language schools are not at a disadvantage against English speaking schools and that diversity and the linguistic needs of students in this state are taken into account.

“The report published today shows how in this particular instance the department’s patron selection process did not fulfil the Education Act’s language provisions with regards the establishment of a Gaelscoil in the Drumcondra/Marino/Dublin 1 area.

“It stated that the problem with Department’s system was that it ‘did not succeed in.. support(ing) the realisation of the State’s policy in respect of the promotion of bilingualism in the country’. The Department are proposing a multi-denominational Gaelscoil in the area. They have also mooted changes to the selection process to allow for two separate schools if a certain threshold of demand is reached in the area.

“Cases like these have been all too common in recent years, despite brilliant campaigns from hundreds and thousands of families to secure a Gaelscoil for their area. The government have denying our Irish language rights for too long. This is a positive move in the right direction and I commend the stellar work carried out by An Coimisinéir Teanga, Rónán Ó Domhnaill, and his team.” 

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