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Sinn Féin MLA's join forces to demand equality for Irish language in schools

10 March, 2006

Sinn Féin MLA's Michael Ferguson (spokesperson for Education) and Francie Brolly (Irish language) have today joined forces to challenge Angela Smith on British Government discrimination against the Irish language in schools in the Six Counties.

The Sinn Féin MLA made their comments after it emerged that the 'Education Order (Northern Ireland) 2006' has recommended that secondary school students should study at least one official European language "(other than English and Irish)."

Speaking today Francie Brolly said:

"The recommendations contained within the 'Education Order (Northern Ireland) 2006' would disenfranchise thousands of students across the Six Counties who wish to study Irish at school.

"At a time when the Irish language is experiencing a revival across the North, the British Government is recommending that students should study at least one official language of the 'European Community' - other than English or Irish. I would like to remind both Angela Smith and the British Government that the Irish language has been afforded full and working status as an official EU language on the 1st January 2007.

"Many people will be shocked that the Irish language is being accorded a lesser status than other European languages.

Speaking today Michael Ferguson said:

"At a time when the British Government is using the excuse of falling roles to reduce investment in schools, there is no comparable increase in investment in the Irish language sector despite increasing numbers in this sector.

"It is disgraceful that young people, in their most formative years could be denied the opportunity to study their native language and I would also be extremely concerned that the new entitlement framework available to all children at the age of 14 will not be accessible to children within the Irish medium sector because of lack of investment both at Key Stage 4 in schools and in the FE sector who are now required to partner with schools to ensure the an increased number of vocational opportunities are available to young people." ENDS

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