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Parents in Kildare furious as children of gaelscoileanna ignored

About 1,600 primary school-going Gaelgeoirí will be forced to attend mainly English-speaking secondary schools in North Kildare.

Image: Cathal Burke via Flickr

THE PARENTS OF more than 1,600 primary school children are planning actions against the Department of Education and Skills following a decision to block the establishment of a post-primary gaelscoil in Maynooth.

Earlier this month, the DES refused to accept an application from An Foras Patrúntachta to take on the patronage of a new school due to be built in the North Kildare town in 2014.

An Coiste Bunaithe (the founding committee for gaelcoláiste) has applied twice in the past five years to establish an Irish-medium secondary school in the area but has failed in both attempts.

There are currently four primary schools who teach through Irish in North Kildare which would be feeder schools for any such coláiste. Those children currently have few options to continue their post-primary education through the medium of Irish.

On announcing plans to build a new school in Maynooth last June, Minister for Education Ruairi Quinn said the criteria used in deciding on patronage would place a particular emphasis on “parental demand for plurality and diversity”.

“Parental preferences should be at the centre of considerations about the type of school to be recognised,” Quinn also said.

Last week, the Department of Education posted what they saw as the valid expressions of interest from patronage bodies. An Foras Patrúnachta’s application was excluded.

Those from County Kildare VEC – which already runs a school in the North Kildare town – and the Loreto Education Trust were accepted.

The Department told TheJournal.ie that a decision had previously been made that the new school in Maynooth would operate through English.

However, it advised that prospective patrons must be willing to establish an Aonad (an Irish speaking unit) if there is demand for one.

Colm Ó Cearúil from An Coiste Bunaithe said this was not enough for the number of children currently being educated through Irish. It would also fail to cater for the growth in the area, he said.

Ó Cearúil said the parents of the children attending the local primary schools are furious and frustrated by the decision. “We are taking a three-pronged action against the decision,” he said, adding that it could lead to a legal challenge.

The parents of the children attending Gaelscoil Uí Fhiaich in Maynooth, Scoil Uí Dhálaigh in Leixlip, Scoil Uí Riada in Kilcock and Gaelscoil na nÓg in Dunboyne are furious that their wish to have their children continue their education through the medium of Irish should be dismissed in such an unjust manner.”

He said that they had been willing to compromise and look at taking on a joint patronage of the school – a solution used in other areas of the country.

Previous applications for gaelscoileanna in Maynooth and other parts of North Kildare were refused as Coláiste Cois Life in nearby Lucan was not at capacity.

“North Kildare was told it could not have an Irish secondary school once there were empty seats in the Lucan school. That is no longer the case as the school is now full,” explained Ó Cearúil.

We demand that Ruairí Quinn explains why the DES is opposed to a Gaelcholáiste in Maynooth and to explain why Co. Kildare VEC is posted when the Minister’s own criteria calls for diversity of choice given that the VEC already has a school in the town.”

The group met with a community council this week, as well as local TD Bernard Durkan to discuss the issue.

The large Irish-speaking community in Maynooth has sprang up since a group of parents decided to establish an Irish-speaking primary school by renting local premises from their own funds. North Kildare lost out to Lucan in the previous application for a secondary school.

The new school is due to be built in 2014. A final decision will be made after the closing deadline for applications for patronage on 24 February.

Of the schools due to be built in 2013 and 2014, three will be Irish speaking – one in North Dublin, one in South Dublin and another in Cork. VECs have applied for the patronage of 14 new post-primary schools across the country.

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