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Irish language victory in Education Order

14 June, 2006


Sinn Féin Education Spokesperson, Michael Ferguson MLA has said that the British government have responded to pressure and amended the Draft Education Order in order to address the restriction on English Speaking Schools offering Irish Language as an entitlement.

Mr Ferguson added that there was a right to Irish language education is a right not a concession.

Michael Ferguson said:

"The British Minister contacted me by phone to say that the draft Order had now been amended to enable schools, other than Irish-speaking schools, to include Irish in their minimum language entitlement at Key Stage 4. This is an issue that I raised with her when we meet on May 20th at Hillsborough Castle and with her predecessor Angela Smith at Stormont.

"I am of course pleased that she took the time to personally phone me on this matter but this is unfortunately comes hot on the heels of a very negative decision to play political football with the issue of Academic Selection.

"The British Government, by neglecting to ensure that all children had an entitlement to the Irish Language, was in breech of the European Charter on minority languages and in breech of the 1998 Equality Section 75 legislation.

"Equality of educational entitlement can not be defined as a concession and the British Minister should view this amendment to the order as a move to rectify the mistake in the original draft and the recognition of the right to Irish language education.

"Martin McGuinness and I will be meeting with the new British Minister in the next fortnight and we will be addressing the issue of Academic Selection and bringing with us representatives from all Irish Language Education Sectors." ENDS

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