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Irish-language nursery school in east Belfast to relocate after 'social media hate campaign'

Naíscoil na Seolta is due to open in September but will now do so in another location.
Jul 28th 2021, 10:55 PM 21,855 32

AN IRISH-LANGUAGE nursery that was set to open at a site in East Belfast is to relocate following “an ongoing social media hate campaign”. 

Naíscoil na Seolta was due to open in September to cater for 16 children in a prefab on the grounds of the already-established Braniel Primary School but will now move to another location. 

Naíscoil na Seolta said today that it was making the move “with mixed emotions” but that it had dealt with “a small-scale social media campaign” against it. 

In a letter to parents, Braniel Primary School said the campaign against the Irish-language nursery was from individuals “not connected to the school”.

“Due to an ongoing social media hate campaign against some individuals and the Integrated Naiscoil na Seolta, it is with great sadness that it is choosing to relocate to an alternative location,” the letter said

A social media campaign was started and fuelled by those who are NOT connected to the school, nor are parents of our school and who are clearly were not interested in facts and truth, who allowed disgusting comments to be posted that were littered with unfounded erroneous allegations about certain individuals and the Naiscoil.

Braniel Nursery and Primary School is not and should never be thought of as a contested space. We are proud to be a shared space for all. We welcome all children, parents, families and individuals irrespective of religion, faith, creed or language and always will. 

In a statement this afternoon, Naíscoil na Seolta confirmed that it was relocating but pointed out that the location in Braniel was always planned to be temporary. 

“With mixed emotions, Naiscoil na Seolta has made the decision to relocate to another site in east Belfast,” the school said. 

“We would like to thank Diane Dawson, Braniel Primary School, its governors and parents for the generous opportunity they extended to us to use a mobile building on their school grounds. We received a hugely warm welcome, and have loved bringing the Irish language to Braniel, which we look forward to continuing.”

There was, however, a small-scale social media campaign launched to attempt to move us on. This was dealt with using the correct channels. Nonetheless, with the children’s wellbeing at the front of our minds, we have decided to take up a new opportunity. The Braniel site was always a temporary location, as we developed plans for a permanent home in east Belfast. In the last weeks, it emerged that a new site had become available to us. The new site is bigger, more conveniently located for parents, and builds on our existing relationships in east Belfast. The new location will be announced very soon, after we have spoken to parents and funders.

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“Naiscoil na Seolta has always been about deepening community relationships, and these relationships will continue, regardless of our location. We remain committed to, and excited about, bringing integrated Irish medium education to east Belfast.”

Reacting to the development, SDLP East Belfast city councillor Séamas de Faoite said that those behind the social media campaign are “warped and twisted”. 

“This school wasn’t even open yet, it was due to welcome its first pupils in September and has already been forced to move. This lack of tolerance is disgusting and is in no way representative of the majority of people in east Belfast,” he said. 

“The opening of an Irish language nursery school in east Belfast should have been a symbol of how far we have come in the past few decades, instead it has now become a symbol of how far we still have to go in Northern Ireland.

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Rónán Duffy

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