Pádraig Mac Fhearghusa, the newly re-elected President of Conradh na Gaeilge, is calling on the Government to establish an independent committee of inquiry to thoroughly investigate internal decisions made by the Department of Education and Science in the last 30 years that have resulted in the major problems currently affecting the teaching of Irish.
Pádraig Mac Fhearghusa, Conradh na Gaeilge's new President for 2009 - 2010: "An independent committee must be urgently established to fully investigate the decisions made by the Department of Education and Science over the years, and the devastating effect these bad decisions have had on the teaching of Irish at primary, secondary and third level education."
"Circular 44/2007 is one such bad decision, whereby the practice of total early immersion education would be prohibited in the country's Gaelscoileanna and Gaeltacht schools alike if it were implemented, contradicting international research that supports total early immersion as an exemplary model of education. This fails the educational needs of the Irish-speaking community and discriminates unjustly against them; furthermore, by neglecting to provide an integrated Irish language course for all our country's primary schools over the past 20 years, the Department of Education has also failed the Irish community at large."
Conradh na Gaeilge supports the right of every citizen to receive the best education through the medium of Irish, and believes that the country's education system should put the best Irish-language teaching practices forward for the population in general. Many motions dealing to do with educational matters are up for discussion at the Ard-Fheis in the Abbey Court Hotel, Nenagh, Co. Tipperary over the weekend 8 - 10 May 2009.
Some for the calls for action put forward by the Conradh's branches and individual members include a demand that the Department of Education and Science withdraw circular 44/2007 immediately; that tax relief be allowed for adults completing Irish language courses, such as is already the case for other non-official languages; and that the appropriate authorities look to it that research on total early immersion education is undertaken on an all-island basis.
Mac Fhearghusa is President of Conradh na Gaeilge since last year's Ard-Fheis in September 2008 and he was re-elected unchallenged at the Conradh's 2009 Ard-Fheis Saturday, 09 May 2009. All the staff and members of Conradh na Gaeilge wish to sincerely congratulate the new President on his election and bestow their best wishes on the work with the Irish-language community in the year ahead.
Pádraig Mac Fhearghusa
President, Conradh na Gaeilge.
066 7124169 / 087 2901154
Julian de Spáinn
General Secretary, Conradh na Gaeilge.
01 4757401 / 086 8142757
Early total immersion education is a system in which English is not taught for a year or two until the child is capable of doing schoolwork and of communicating in school through Irish. There is evidence available nationally and internationally that children succeed in the total immersion system and that they achieve a very high standard in Irish and in English.
The total immersion policy, as practiced throughout the length and breadth of the country by Gaelscoileanna, is under threat as a result of circular 0044/2007, issued by the Department of Education and Science, which obliges All-Irish schools to teach 2.5 hours of English every week from the beginning of the second term in the junior infants class, at the latest.
Pádraig Mac Fhearghusa is chair of the Tralee branch as well as an active member of both the Executive and Standing Committee of Conradh na Gaeilge for many years. He is President of the Conradh since last year's Ard-Fheis in September 2008. He is the editor of the monthly magazine Feasta published by Clódhanna Teoranta, the Conradh's own publishing company, and a noted writer. Mac Fhearghusa is the chair of Gaelcholáiste Chiarraí, Tralee which he helped found, and he also had a hand in the founding of three other Gaelscoils. He is the past chair and founder of Gaelscoil Mhic Easmainn, Tralee, one of the schools taking a stand against the Department of Education's attempt to ban total early immersion education through Irish with the 0044/2007 circular.
Conradh na Gaeilge is the democratic forum for the Irish-speaking community. There are 200 branches of Conradh na Gaeilge and since its foundation in 1893, members of the Conradh have been actively promoting Irish in every aspect of life in Ireland and especially its use in their own areas. Conraitheoirí are at the forefront of campaigns to secure and strengthen the rights of the Irish language community. It is also possible to register as an individual member of the Conradh. The organisation's annual Ard-Fheis is held in a different location every year. Both branches and individual members have the opportunity to put motions before the Ard-Fheis to guide the work of the organisation over the course of the following year, and both the President and the Executive are also elected. The Role of the Irish Language in Ireland's Economic Recovery is the theme of this year's Ard-Fheis 2009. www.cnag.ie