Méid an Téacs

O’Dowd’s Irish schools agenda causes concern

Lúnasa 1, 2013

IT was with alarm that I read a recent article in your paper entitled, ‘Benefit of Irish-medium education is there for all’, by Dr Micheal O Duibh.

In it, Dr O Duibh claims that “Irish-medium education offers a system which improves children’s skills in English and Irish, making them more tolerant.” I challenge the implication that children who do not learn Irish are somehow less tolerant.
However, more worryingly, his article demonstrates one of the threats to our education system: minister O’Dowd’s preference for Irish-medium schools. These schools receive more funding than other schools by virtue of teaching through Irish.
Elsewhere in our education system, Minister O’Dowd uses the argument that a school is too small to be viable. Not so with Irish-medium schools.
O’Dowd’s long-term plans for education across Northern Ireland must be exposed. This is to prevent the Northern Irish people sleep-walking into the Sinn Fein utopia of Irish-medium, all-ability comprehensives.
Nicole Lappin
Waringstown, Co Down
SF’s language ideology is lost in translation
SURELY the Irish language should be treated as any other language (Comment, July 25)?
If a school wants to introduce it as subject – as French, or German – then so be it. But I fail to see the logic in having an all-Irish-medium school. What does the future hold for the language outside of the school?
Last week, I stayed in a town south of Dublin and travelled around. Apart from bilingual signage for directions and on public buildings, I did not see any sign of the Irish language being used.  Many non-Irish people live and work in Dublin – their main working language being English. There was also a proliferation of English language colleges to enable other nationalities wanting to speak English. Some of the local people I spoke to had not looked at Irish since they left school.
In Northern Ireland, successive Sinn Fein education ministers have used their position to push ahead with this ideology.
In the year 2010/11, the minister, John O’Dowd, spent £110,000 on Irish translation services – up from £68,000 the year before. Also, CCEA spent £598,828, compared with £98,000 in 2006/07.  If this principle of translation were applied to other languages of foreign nationals living in Northern Ireland, the cost would be insurmountable.
Maybe Sinn Fein need to take their heads out of the sand as the cost of translation alone is more than enough.
Hugh Morrow
By e-mail