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O’Dowd turns down Castlederg Irish language satellite unit

August 29, 2014

Education Minister, John O’Dowd, has turned down a development proposal to expand Gaelscoil Uí Dhochartaigh, Strabane.

The Western Education and Library Board, on behalf of the Board of Governors of Gaelscoil Uí Dhochartaigh, published a development proposal seeking to expand the school through the establishment of an ‘off-site unit’ in Castlederg.

This unit was to be a conversion of the existing, independent Irish-medium provision in Castlederg, Gaelscoil na Deirge.

The Minister said: “I take my statutory duties in relation to Irish-medium education very seriously and I recognise that both Gaelscoil Uí Dhochartaigh and Gaelscoil na Deirge deliver good quality education through the medium of Irish to children in the Strabane and Castlederg areas respectively.

“I am also, however, duty bound to consider carefully all the information pertinent to any proposal to establish new provision on a case-by-case basis.

“While my Department has a statutory duty to encourage and facilitate the development of Irish-medium education, it would not be prudent for me to approve this proposal to expand Gaelscoil Uí Dhochartaigh. The proposal as put forward is not financially viable and approval would potentially see the school fall into a deficit position which in turn may threaten the viability of the host school.

“Furthermore, a new-build project for Gaelscoil Uí Dhochartaigh, close to its existing Strabane site, is currently progressing in planning. The new-build project does not factor in the costs or implications associated with establishing an extension of the school in Castlederg and would inevitably need to be reassessed should the new unit be approved.

“I would also highlight the many practical issues that would arise from establishing and running what would effectively be a split-site school with locations some 13 miles apart. There is a risk, for example, that pupils at the Castlederg location would experience a lack of peer socialisation with their counterparts on the Strabane site.

“Taking all of these factors into account, I am not satisfied that the establishment of the proposed ‘off-site unit’ at Castlederg is viable or in the best educational interests of the children.”

The Minister went on to say: “By turning down this proposal, I would emphasise that I am not suggesting that there is no demand for Irish-medium education in the Castlederg area.

“Further work is required to provide a robust solution to meet this demand that is educationally strong and viable, financially sound and works to the benefit of local children.

“I am therefore tasking Comhairle na Gaelscolaíochta, the Western Education and Library Board and the Council for Catholic Maintained Schools to explore options for Irish-medium provision in the area. I will give due consideration to any new development proposals that may arise.

“I firmly believe that this approach will best serve the longer term interests children and parents in Strabane and Castlederg who wish to learn through the medium of Irish.”

Londonderry Sentinel

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Gaelcholáiste na Mara have a new iSchool app, which can be used to keep up to date with school news and notices, as well as for direct communication with the school. The app is free to download and you can find further information on it here.

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Gaelcholáiste an Phiarsaigh welcomes its first students!

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Gaelcholáiste an Phiarsaigh opened its doors for the first time on Tuesday, August 26th. The new Gaelcholáiste is located in Loreto Abbey on the Grange Road in Rathfarnham.

“They say ‘Patience is rewarded’; the Gaelcholáiste community has been very patient but excited about this historic day,” said Joe Mac Suibhne, the school’s principal.

“Credit is due to the school’s founding committee, to the school patron, An Foras Pátrúnachta, to the Department of Education, to the design team and also to the builder Seán Ó Dúill from CTS Construction for the great refurbishment work which has been done to the building.”

It was a lovely Tuesday when the principal and some of the teachers, Múinteoir Fionnuala, Múinteoir Pádraig and Múinteoir Rachel welcomed the school’s first pupils as well as their parents and relations.

The school’s opening was also a source of great pride for the school’s Chairperson, Lorcán Mac Gabhann for the other members of the board who were present on the day.

The principal spoke about the importance of the occasion and the way in which pupils and the whole school community are on the threshold between the time that has past and the radiantly bright period still to come.

“The welcoming hall was named ‘An Tairseach’ on the day as a continuous reminder to the school community of the importance of the threshold, that plenty can be learned from history and of the need to move onto the future. This conserved school will have the most modern facilities,” said Mac Suibhne.

Caoimhín Ó hEaghra, General Secretary of An Foras Pátrúnachta, said: “There is a strong link between the Irish language and the Irish medium education in this area, with the Pearse museum just up the road, a place where Pádráig Mac Piarais ran Coláiste Éanna from 1910 to 1916. We are very happy to promote the Irish language and the Irish culture through this school for generations to come.”


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First day of school in Gaelcholáiste an Phiarsaigh!

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Gaelscoileanna Teo. would like to congratulate the students, staff and founding committee of Gaelcholáiste an Phiarsaigh, which opened its doors for the very first time today. We wish everyone involved the best of luck and happiness in the new school.

Visit the school’s website, www.gaelcholaiste.com, for more information. See more photos of the first day in the new school on Facebook.

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