An Foras Pátrúnachta is delighted that the Department of Education’s survey of parents has recognised the huge demand for education through Irish in Birr, County Offaly.
The Department’s report recommended that 23 multidenominational schools are founded, including a Gaelscoil in Birr. The survey also recognised that there is a demand for education through Irish in areas such as Malahide, Skerries and Portmarnock in Dublin.
Caoimhín Ó hEaghra, General Secretary of An Foras Pátrúnachta, said that parents in Birr have been campaigning for years for a Gaelscoil in the area and are delighted that they have succeeded. An Foras Pátrúnachta is looking forward to working with the Catholic Church in this process.
The other results show that there is a strong demand for education through Irish around the county. It is also clear that there is a demand for the model which is provided by An Foras Pátrúnachta. According to the Department’s report, between 4% and 31% of those surveyed in the different areas wanted education through Irish. This is in keeping with the demand for education through Irish which An Foras Pátrúnachta has expressed to the Department of Education since the start of the process. These parents and children have rights and there is a responsibility to provide them with education through Irish.
The Department of Education has attempted to ensure fairness in the survey but it felt that this is not the best model to cater for parents who are not part of the majority. What about those parents who chose education through Irish in those areas?
An Foras Pátrúnachta expressed these concerns to the Department of Education before the survey was conducted on five pilot areas and again when the results from these areas were published. As the only all-Irish school patron, An Foras Pátrúnachta will be expressing its concerns again that children, parents and areas will be neglected unless the process ensures that their wishes are recognised.
The question of the Irish language and all-Irish schools needs to be examined. It is clear that when pupils and parents receive education through Irish that they recognise the advantages and are delighted with the model. It is clear also that when An Foras Pátrúnachta inform parents about this model, they choose it for their children.
Caoimhín Ó hEaghra said that An Foras Pátrúnachta, the only patron which was set up to promote education through Irish, is working hard to support its schools and to set up new schools. An Foras Pátrúnachta is fulfilling a very important role with support from its schools, parents and from the Irish language community in general. We are grateful for this and are looking forward to further developing what has been achieved to date.