Irish civil organizations come together to launch a Gaelic medium school

The project for a new 'Gaelscoil' does not have the permission of the Department of Education · Organisations warn against the administration’s new criterion for opening schools as government has not recognised any Gaelic medium school since 2008.

The small town of Ráth Tó, in the Republic of Ireland, is witnessing a civil disobedience action carried away by several organizations in favour of Irish language. They have disregarded the decision by the Department of Education of denying the permission to open an Irish medium primary school ('gaelscoil'). The organizations, which have come together under the name Aitheantas (Irish for 'Recognition'), declare that the Irish administration does not figure in linguistic needs for giving a green light to new schools. As a result they are proceeding with the opening of the school in September despite the official veto.

Aitheantas has launched a campaign to raise money for the school, and is ready to lobby the Department of Education with the backing of several local councilors. The organisations hope that the administration will finally recognize the school, but won’t wait for the approval to launch it.

The movement in favour of Gaelic believes the Department of Education has modified the criterion through which ‘gaelscoileanna’ are given permission. Anita Sheppard, spokesperson of Aitheantas, is quoted as saying by The Meath Chronicle that even though there is a “huge demand” for the school, “the Department refuses to differentiate between new schools on the basis of the language of tuition”. Therefore, she claims, it is not being taken into consideration whether a certain area needs a Gaelic medium school or not. Very few education centres in Irish Gaelic have been given authorisation in recent years, being the last one in 2008. “The Department has not indicated that this situation will change," Ms Sheppard further added.

The organisations point out that it is “as much a national issue as a local one”, and that the Irish language rights of both parents and children are being disregarded. Furthermore, they state that the denial threatens the ‘gaelscoileanna’ movement, which is one of the “fastest-growing education sectors in Ireland”. “We would simply like to see a fairer approach by the Department regarding the setting up of schools that teach through the medium of the first language of the State, according to Article 8 of Bunreacht na hÉireann", they went on saying.

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