Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

Minister rejects proposal for statutory Naíscoil in Newry

A campaign launched earlier this year to establish a statutory part-time Irish-medium nursery unit at Newry’s Bunscoil an Iúir has been dealt a devastating blow after Education Minister Peter Weir turned down the proposal.

Bunscoil an Iúir recommended the establishment of a statutory Naíscoil in place of the existing voluntary pre-school facility at the Irish speaking school in order to bring the Newry Naíscoil into line with every other statutory mainstream nursery in Northern Ireland, “giving it security for the Irish Community in Newry.”  The proposal was to establish a statutory part-time Irish-medium nursery unit, with 26 part-time places at Bunscoil an Iúir with effect from September 1 coming, or as soon as possible thereafter.

A petition page created to encourage the Education Authority to consider the proposal outlined the benefits of a statutory nursery, which included the provision of longer hours and free full day nursery places with hot food provided and transport to and from rural areas. The statutory ranking would also have resulted in the employment of a qualified Irish teacher as well as at least one Classroom Assistant.

“With government funding a statutory nursery would receive the best resources and cover all accommodation, maintenance costs and staff wages,” the petition continued,

“A statutory nursery would open up many job opportunities in the Irish education sector in Newry, eventually gaining a larger Bunscoil and an Ard scoil stream in the area.”

Last week however, the local Bunscoil learned its bid had been rejected by the Minister, who said he had come to his decision after careful consideration of all the information pertinent to the proposal.

“Whilst I recognise all statutory obligations in relation to Irish-medium education, I am also bound to consider carefully all the information pertinent to any proposal to establish new provision on a case-by-case basis and of the potential displacement of a good quality voluntary pre-school setting,” said Mr Weir.

“Taking account of all the information provided, it leads me to conclude that the evidence does not currently support the establishment of a statutory part-time Irish-medium nursery unit at Bunscoil an Iúir.

“This would also have involved the closure of the existing good quality pre-school provision.

“I believe that the pupils are best served by the current arrangements.”