Irish language college plan for north Belfast

The new college will be a stream of Coláiste Feirste until it establishes its viability

IRISH language campaigners have unveiled plans for a new college in north Belfast.

It is hoped Coláiste Loch Lao will open in 2019 to help meet increasing demand for Irish-medium education.

There are only two stand-alone Irish language post-primary schools in the north - Coláiste Feirste in Belfast and Gaelcholáiste Dhoire in Dungiven, Co Derry.

Campaigners say demand has been growing over the last five years in Belfast.

Coláiste Feirste in west Belfast is close to full capacity and will be able to admit 600 pupils when an extension to its building is completed.

"The demand for places will only grow and it is clear that there is need for additional capacity in the sector," said Ciarán McCavana, a member of the college working group.

"Initially the new college will be a stream of Coláiste Feirste until it establishes its viability. This will ensure that it will be staffed with experienced teachers from day one, with the necessary support and resources and with quality assurance for the delivery of education."

Previous plans to open an Irish-language secondary school in Cookstown - Colaiste Speirin - as a satellite site of Coláiste Feirste were rejected in 2006.

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