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John O'Dowd is wrong to give Irish school green light

YOUR recent report on approval by the Minister of Education John O'Dowd of an Irish-medium secondary school in Dungiven (News, December 23) gives cause for concern.

The minister's attitude is most disturbing: "I am the minister and it is my role to make the final decision."

This in spite of serious objections raised by a number of educational bodies.

I would suggest that his role is to listen to good advice and to manage his budget accordingly.

He has a legal obligation to avoid unreasonable public expenditure.

He is following in the footsteps of Caitriona Ruane, who approved a third Irish-medium primary school for Derry and fragmented further the provision of bilingual education there.

The proposed school in Dungiven makes no sense, either economically or educationally. It would cost less to send the 15 pupils to Eton. The pupils would eventually have to emerge from their Gaelic bubble if they wanted to avail of A-Level tuition locally on a consortium basis.

Mr O'Dowd is doing no favours to those who wish to preserve and promote the Irish language. The language is being politicised: some would see this controversy as unionists against, Shinners for.

This is, of course, a distortion of reality, when the language is receiving support from people of varying religious and political backgrounds for sound cultural and educational reasons. Irish-medium units within English-medium secondary schools have been very successful.

The proposed secondary school would damage the unit in St Patrick's School, Maghera, thus negating years of hard work by the teaching staff there.

The projected school will cause anger and resentment at a time of cutbacks and school closures.

NORTHERN GAEL

Derry

Belfast Telegraph

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