Belfast Telegraph

Education Authority not department took decision to drop Irish logo

By Andrew Madden

A decision by the Education Authority (EA) to drop Irish language translations from its branding is "unacceptable", a Sinn Fein MLA has said.

In correspondence to Irish language campaigners last September, the decision was initially linked to the change in education ministers when the DUP's Peter Weir took over from Sinn Fein's John O'Dowd, The Irish News reported on Thursday.

Two months later, however, the EA told the Committee on the Administration of Justice the decision was taken by its chief executive Gavin Boyd "in line with the DE (Department of Education) practice at the time”.

The organisation said its logo was solely its own responsibility.

When Peter Weir took over as education minister he adopted an "English first" policy. Prior to his tenure official letters contained English, Irish and Ulster Scots, with other publications in English and Irish.

Sinn Fein MLA Karen Mullan called on the EA to overturn their decision, stating it is "unacceptable" and "falls short of its own equality scheme for changing policy".

"The education system must be inclusive and for everyone in our society, including those who wish to be educated through the medium of Irish," she added.

"Government departments also have a duty to promote the Irish language and that includes the use of bilingual logos and Irish on official documentation.

"This type of decision brings into sharp focus the need for Acht Gaeilge to provide legal protections to the Irish language. It is now imperative that the EA take the necessary steps to rectify this.

"I will continue to press the case until there is a reversion to the direction set by John O’Dowd when he was Education Minister."

An Education Authority (EA) spokesman said: "The style and use of a corporate logo is entirely an operational matter for EA.

"In preparation for the new Education Authority which was established in April 2015, logos for the new body with both mono-lingual and tri-lingual options were drafted in line with Executive guidelines.

"In 2016 the EA chief executive made an operational decision to use the mono-lingual option in line with the DE practice at the time."

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