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Special needs must come before Irish schools

Published 23/06/2010

I refer to the article in the Belfast Telegraph about Education Minister Caitríona Ruane approving the establishment of an Irish-medium nursery unit at Gaelscoil Uí Néill in Coalisland (News, June 21).

In a time of recession and cutbacks, it is very difficult to comprehend how money can be found and approved by Education Minister Ruane to further Sinn Fein's politically inspired pet Irish language project. Surely in economically tough times, Irish language nursery schools are an outrageous luxury we can ill-afford? Also the reality is that such schools will only benefit one side of the community.

It is galling that almost side-by-side with this announcement we have savage cuts being made to special needs education.

One wins and one loses. Special needs summer scheme provision, which helps both sides of the community, is being cut from four weeks to one week.

These schemes bring joy to the faces of the weakest and most vulnerable children in our society. These youngsters simply cannot physically attend other schemes.

Special needs summer schemes provide a welcome respite for full-time carers. These carers, by carrying on regardless, save the Government huge amounts of money every year. Now weary families and children who do not understand are being told their scheme will only last for one week.

Surely providing for special needs children counts as a far more worthy case for funding than providing an Irish-medium nursery school?

Let's get our priorities right.

T J McCLEAN

Belfast

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