Government Rejects Secular Irish-Medium School Despite Record Popularity

According to the all-party “20-Year Strategy for the Irish Language 2010-2030”, one of the most purposefully underfunded policies in the history of the modern nation-state of Ireland, it is official government policy to prioritise schooling through the medium of the Irish language:

“It will continue to be national policy to promote immersion education through Irish in all subjects other than English in Gaeltacht and Irish medium schools (gaelscoileanna) and preschools (naíonraí).”

Six years into an already deliberately minimalist language strategy almost none of its recommendations have been implemented. Instead they been blocked or ignored by politicians and bureaucrats imbued with the legacy of the old British colonial classes and their antipathy to any and all aspects of Irish “nativeness” (attitudes reflected in much of the domestic anglophone press too). Take this latest example of the casual discrimination that passes for government policy, featured in today’s Irish Times:

“Campaigners for a multidenominational Gaelscoil in north Dublin are calling for a change in the criteria used to grant school patronage after an application to open an Irish-medium school was rejected.

Minister for Education Richard Bruton refused to sanction the Gaelscoil in the Drumcondra/Marino/Dublin 1 catchment area despite the application registering the names of 733 children from the immediate area and adjacent school districts.

The children’s names – a record-breaking number for Gaelscoil campaigns nationwide – were submitted by proposed patron An Foras Pátrunachta on behalf of parents as part of the application.

Despite noting evidence “of considerable demand for all-Irish provision at primary level”, the department rejected the Gaelscoil application in favour of an Educate Together school, scheduled to open on the All Hallows campus in Drumcondra in September.

Karolina Stefanczak, a Polish woman living and working in Ireland who wishes to send her three-year-old daughter Gaia to the Gaelscoil, said…

“Currently there is not a single Irish-medium multidenominational primary school available from O’Connell Street to Swords. Living in the capital as we do it is bizarre that we do not have the option of this type of education. The Government should ensure that there is this type of education available for any parents who want it without imposing significant distances on them to travel.”

Highlighting the fact that the school would be the only Irish-medium school in the area without a religious ethos, she said: “Such a school would break that idea that the Irish language is only available to Catholics. Having a multidenominational Irish school opens the Irish language to everybody.””

Which raises three questions. Firstly, why are schools educating through the medium of our national language not treated as a priority in government recognition and funding (as per the 20 Year Strategy)? Secondly, why are all schools not moving towards significant aspects of Irish language immersion in their day-to-day working and teaching (as per the 20 Year Strategy)? And finally, why is their any religious patronage or qualifications for attendance in Irish schools? Publicly-funded institutions, paid for by tax-payers of many different backgrounds and beliefs, should be entirely secular in nature. The only faith they should be teaching is that of republican citizenship, and in its true classical sense.

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7 comments

  1. why are all schools not moving towards significant aspects of Irish language immersion in their day-to-day working and teaching?
    ————
    Because there’s no demand for that?

    Why are schools educating through the medium of our national language not treated as a priority in government recognition and funding
    ————–
    Because the vast majority of voters are English monoglots?

    1. Why do your robots in GCHQ stop bothering Irish people talking about certain issues and using fake names to cover your tracks? I doubt any latvians has some compulsion to troll blogs discussing language problems in a jursisdiction where they feel unwelcome? Can’t get over the fact your’e not irish and so you lash out like a screaming child but pigs and grunts come to mind………

      1. He’s actually a real guy called Jānis Circenis, he sometimes posts on the journal website. Though quite why he chooses to obsessively lecture Irish people about their own language and our supposed attitude towards it with speculative half truths and exaggeration is beyond me. Maybe he’s just genuinely disrespectful and arrogant, maybe his parents never taught him any manners, or maybe Latvians have no traditional codes of conduct in regard to guest/host situations.

        1. You’re just reacting in a way fat persons act if you call them fat and say that they need to lose weight to improve their health.

    2. In the case of this gaelscoil there was obvious demand. My own local gaelscoil took ten years to be recognised by the Dept. of Education and twenty odd years to be housed in bricks-and-mortar buildings. There is a proposed new secondary level gaelscoil not far from me which already has 500+ names for student places and has been told by the DofE that no decision would be possible on its establishment before 2020! I think it not unreasonable to place a priority on the provision of Irish-medium schools and education where obvious demand exists. As for partial immersion streams in anglophone schools, they have proved effective elsewhere and educationalists have welcomed their planned inclusion here. Yet what we have is complete inaction.

      1. Did they provide any reason for that delay?

        Or do they simply care more about English schools, because those are preferred by the majority of voters?

        That’s democracy for you – politicians aren’t going to care about something that isn’t going to affect their chances of being elected. If the Irish valued the language more then things like that would not happen. But looks like that water charges are far more important to you than the language and culture of your nation. Remember when you wrote about the Russian language referendum in Latvia in this very blog – that was the most popular referendum in Latvian history – in other countries people would flip shit if politicians dared to mistreat their language this badly.

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