“Mum angry as son denied Irish-language school place”

Simon Doyle in today’s Irish News carries the story of a family who are angry about not getting a place in the Irish language stream in St. Catherine’s Armagh (subs needed). The school has decided to limit its intake into the IME stream to 25 pupils per year, a figure which falls far short of the number of children emerging from IME in north Armagh, anyone with that figure should get in touch.

I have spent sometime speaking to pupils and parents on this situation and there is alot of frustration, anger and a sense of betrayal. Many have indicated that for them, IME means 4-18, not 4-11.

The finger is being pointed at the usual suspects, Comhairle na Gaelscolaíochta and the Minister of Education, though given that it appears to be a decision of the school’s board it is not immediately apparent what they can do with respect to Coláiste Catríona – they could however formulate an immediate plan to establish an independent Irish language secondary school in Armagh.

Above all the finger is being pointed at the Catholic Church, the most capable of all the Irish language’s opponents. The arguement being that the church has permitted the stream only in order to control the growth of IME. That is a charge they that will have to answer.

Most Irish speakers, activists and parents of Gaelscoil pupils take a pragmatic view as to whether stand alone schools or streams in English medium schools are the better option. My view is that by default stand alone schools are the better option but I would prefer to see a IM stream that not to have IME in an area at all.

In addition, I believe that in certain areas, the numbers may not be able to sustain a stand alone school longterm and that in areas of high social and economic deprevation the task of setting up a stand alone school can be very difficult.

However, the Coláiste Chaitríona debacle has delivered a death blow to arguements that streams are a good idea in themselves. One simply cannot depend on schools nor the Catholic Church to allow the streams to grow naturally and not interfere.

UPDATE : Readers may be interested in this story from the Irish News earlier in the week concerning the children of non-English speakers in IME.

  • Apologies if I missed this previously, but is there further detail available about how “the Catholic Church (is) the most capable of all the Irish language’s opponents.”

  • Píobaire

    The real truth is this…What has happened here is not the fault of the secondary school in Armagh. After all it is an English language school that provided some subjects through Irish for some children….It is not an Irish school.
    The real people at fault are Comhairle na Gaelscolaíocht and their civil service, neutral, risk averse approach to a community inspired sector. They have consistently ‘U’ turned on the issue of secondary schools through Irish and also in relation to several primary schools.
    The unclear position of Comhairle and lack of leadership has meant that Derry has now no secondary, they have unbelievably abandoned the Cookstown school, WHICH THEY SETUP!. Their flawed and cowardly approach of hitching a lift on English language schools has failed once again in Newcastle and Armagh.
    The Comhairle have treated their only Irish-medium post primary with little or no respect and have only reluctantly worked with them when left with no choice.
    International evidence and evidence for the south is clear, Irish medium schools work, streams and units don’t.

    What is really sad about this is that Sinn Féin, who, for the first time in their history, are in a position of real influence have also been sucked into to the confusion. The Minister of Education has only listened to Comhairle, because they are the ‘Recognized Authority’
    Being in a suit and being called Chief Executive does not bestow leadership. Connection with peoples needs, bravery and ‘a can do attitude’ are the stuff of leaders.

    We are being let down by the suits and sadly the minister has also been mislead.



  • Ray

    At a recent Comhairle meeting in Lurgan concerning the Armagh secondary school situation, the CEO of Comhairle told the distressed parents who had been told their children could NOT attend St. Catherine’s that he was there “to take notes” and “not to answer questions.” He had one of his staff “chair” the meeting.
    Several parents walked out of the Lurgan meeting in total disgust.
    This is latest in the coordinated campaign between Comhairle, Foras, Sinn Fein, and the Catholic Church to destroy the Irish language in the North.
    This is the bitter fruit of the Good Friday Agreement for all to see.
    It is past time to decommission Comhairle for the absolute farce it is and for Sinn Fein and the Catholic Church to clear the hell out of the way involving anything concerning education.
    We do not need this new insidious form of language repression.
    Let the free market decide Irish language educational needs — not the Catholic Church and Sinn Fein.

  • its me who didnt get excepted into st catherines i got in in the end up