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Sinn Féin MEP demands equality for Irish language in schools

12 April, 2006

Sinn Féin MEP Bairbre de Brún has today demanded that the ‘Irish language is treated no less favourably than other EU languages.’


Ms de Brún made her comments after concerns were raised that the British Government’s ‘Draft Education Order (Northern Ireland) 2006' has stated that of the courses offered by a school at key stage 4 “at least one shall be a course in an official language of the European Community (other than English and Irish)."  


Speaking today Ms de Brún said:


“This proposal would treat Irish less favourably than other EU languages. English would not be treated less favourably because the position of English in the curriculum means that schools would already offer this subject.  However, Irish is not already catered for in the same way in English-medium schools, and this proposed clause could have considerable consequences when it comes to the provision of scarce resources.

“At a time when the final preparations are being made for the implementation of the decision that Irish be a full and official working language of the European Union, the British Government is making recommendations that fail to put Irish even on par with these other EU languages in Ireland.  This goes against the grain of commitments being made under the European charter for Regional or Minority Languages.  The Education Order 2000 recognises the unique circumstances of the Irish language in the North of Ireland and these proposals are a contradiction of that recognition.


 “The recommendations in the 'Education Order (Northern Ireland) 2006' are sending out the message that the Irish language is somehow a lesser language than any of the other languages of the European Union.


“I would ask the British Government to think again.” ENDS

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