2 new gaelscoils welcomed but the decision by the Department of Education and Skills not to prioritise Irish medium education choice, as they are doing for multi-denominational education choice, strongly criticised by Conradh na Gaeilge
Conradh na Gaeilge welcomed the announcement of two new gaelscoils today, Thursday 20th of February, for the scoil areas of Booterstown / Blackrock and Maynooth but the organisation has strongly criticised the Department of Education’s decision that the other 10 new schools announced will function through the medium of English. There is a huge gap in all school areas between the number of gaelscoils and parental demand, according to research from the ESRI, and the decision of the Department of Education and Skills will make no difference in filling those gaps. At the same time the Department of Education and Skills have prioritised multi-denominational education as all the new schools will be multi-denominational (including the new gaelscoils).
Niall Comer, President of Conradh na Gaeilge, said: “The Department of Education and Skills had a wonderful opportunity to increase Irish medium education choice and to narrow the gap between the provision and the demand in the community for Irish medium education but they did not take that opportunity. Their decision does not comply with the Government’s own Strategy for the Irish Language 2010-30 to provide a high standard of all-Irish education to school students whose parents/guardians so wish. According to ESRI research in 2015 23% of the population would choose Irish medium education for their children if there was a gaelscoil near them but there is currently only 5% of schools that are gaelscoils. The two new schools, while welcome, will not change this.”
Julian de Spáinn, General Secretary of Conradh na Gaeilge, said: “It is evident that the process established by the Department of Education and Skills, to aid them in setting up new schools, is at fault and does not serve, in all honesty, but to ensure that there is a greater provision of multi-denominational education for parents. Irish medium education is not a priority. The Conradh is calling on the Minister of Education and Skills, Joe McHugh TD, to take control of the system of establishing new schools and to provide the choice of Irish medium education for the public. We are looking for an urgent meeting with him to discuss this matter. In the meantime Conradh na Gaeilge will assess all options to oppose this bad decision and to ensure that such a disastrous decision is not taken again.”