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Concerns over Gaelscoil representation in Government surveys

January 29, 2013

Significant steps were taken over the past month in the divestment of primary schools from the Catholic Church in 44 areas.

Parents in Kildare received good news two weeks ago when it was announced that a new Gaelscoil would open in the area at the end of the year, however Irish language organisations and patronage body An Foras Pátrúnachta are concerned about representation in surveys that have been distributed until now.

Surveys which were distributed in five areas before Christmas showed that 4-10% of parents were looking for a change in primary school patronage in their area. It was also clear that a large percentage of parents in those areas did not partake in the surveys at all which presents the risk of the public not being properly represented in the survey results.

Minister Ruairí Quinn recently launched primary school patronage surveys in 38 more areas countrywide. There is currently no access to a Gaelscoil in 9 of those areas – Passage West, Roscrea, Birr, Kells, New Ross, Skerries, Mulhuddard, Portmarnock Ballyfermot/ Chapelizod/ Palmerstown.

However it is uncertain whether the Minister believes that any further announcements of school openings is to follow the surveys, due to the stable nature of the population in some of the more rural areas. Minister Quinn did hint that more negotiations might take place to divest current schools from the patronage of the Catholic Church, depending on the outcome of the surveys.

Irish Language organisations are urging parents in these areas to take part in the surveys and for those who wish to send their children to a gaelscoil to show support for An Foras Pátrúnachta.

It is crucial that parents are aware that Irish language education can be made available to their children if there is a demand for it and that religious belief is not the only topic in the surveys.

All surveys must be submitted before 8 February 2013. All information on the reform in patronage can be found at www.foras.ie and an electronic copy of the survey can be found on www.education.ie.

Foilsithe ar Gaelport