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New Gaelscoil for Ballincollig in September 2017, but heartbreak for parents of more than 500 children as three other applications for new schools are rejected

May 4, 2017

A new multi-denominational Irish-medium school for Ballincollig

Gaeloideachas would like to congratulate the parents of Ballincollig, whose tireless campaign to open a new multi-denominational Irish-medium primary school has been recognised today by the Minister for Education & Skills, Richard Bruton. The school will open in September 2017 for junior infants, under the patronage of An Foras Pátrúnachta.

“Of the 3 new primary schools due to open in September 2017, we really welcome this announcement by Minister Bruton that the one in Ballincollig is to be an Irish-medium school”, said Clare Spáinneach, Vice-CEO of Gaeloideachas. “It means that a whole new generation of children will have access to immersion education, thanks to the very hard work done by local parents to establish their new school. Irish-medium education offers huge benefits to children – they will be fluent in at least two languages, and the immersion model of education helps them with their social, communicative and cognitive development . This multi-d school will cater for children from different linguistic, cultural and religious backgrounds and will give them a happy and well-rounded education”.

Suitable accommodation for the school will be arranged with the assistance of the Department of Education over the coming weeks, and a principal will be appointed by An Foras Pátrúnachta. Parents interested in registering their children for a place should contact An Foras Pátrúnachta: email cormac@foras.ie or call 01 6294110.

Disappointed parents of more than 500 children in Dún Laoghaire, Pelletstown and Dublin South City Centre left without a choice for their children

It’s a huge disappointment, however, to the communities in Dún Laoghaire, Pelletstown and Dublin South City Centre that the demand for Irish-medium education in their areas has not been recognised. “The communities in each of these areas have done incredible work since the Department of Education gave notice that they were to get new schools, and we received more than 517 expressions of interest from local parents who wanted those schools to be multi-d, Irish-medium schools” said Ciara Ní Bhroin, Senior Policy & Development Officer with Gaeloideachas.

“These are parents who can’t get places for their children in existing Irish-medium schools, and there are no Irish-medium multi-d schools available in any of the three localities. The new schools due to open are all to teach through English, and will not cater for the wishes of these parents for their children’s education. Though they showed a very clear demand for Irish-medium education, there is nowhere now for them to send their children”.

No recognition for North Dublin City after parents of more than 700 children petition the Minister for a school

There was further disappointment in the Minister for Education & Skills’ announcement today re new schools for 2017 and 2018, as no mention was made of the campaign to have an Irish-medium multi-denominational primary school established in North Dublin City. The campaign under the 2016 process for the establishment of patronage gathered expressions of interest from the parents of 733 children for an Irish-medium school, but was unsuccessful. The report of the New Schools Establishment Group to the Minister in April 2016 conceded that there was evidence of considerable demand for Irish-medium education in the area, and that this should be kept under review. There was some hope that today’s announcement might include belated recognition of the wishes of those parents in North Dublin City, but there has been no further communication on the matter from the Department of Education or from Minister Bruton. “Gaeloideachas will continue to fight for the educational rights of these children and others like them” said Clare Spáinneach, “and we will continue to lobby for the reform of the processes to determine school patronage and facilitate divestment, as the current ones militate against the establishment of minority-language schools. We have made recommendations to the Department regarding the reform of these processes, as have other Education Partners, and it remains to be seen whether the genuine concerns of parents will be taken on board by policy-makers”.

The process used by the Department to determine the patronage of the new schools has been a long and arduous one for parents, who campaigned in their local communities for over a year before being left to wait through a three-month delay for a decision by the Minister. It will be a challenge for the successful patrons to have everything in place for the upcoming school year, and a challenge for parents whose campaigns were unsuccessful to secure school places for their children in alternative schools. Gaeloideachas would like to acknowledge all of their hard work, and to thank the parents, the patrons and the organisations who supported them, especially Conradh na Gaeilge, for running very positive campaigns in all four areas and for raising public awareness about the benefits of Irish-medium education for all.