Northern Ireland news

Public invited to view plans for new north Belfast Irish school

The plan is to open a junior campus for Years 8-10

HIGH demand for Irish language schooling is behind a proposal for a new college in north Belfast.

Coláiste Feirste wants to open a `junior campus' by September 2020. The school is to hold a public meeting next week where it will share details.

There are only two standalone Irish language post-primary schools in the north - Coláiste Feirste in west Belfast and Gaelcholáiste Dhoire in Dungiven.

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

Coláiste Feirste is close to capacity and will be able to admit 600 pupils when an extension is completed.

A `case for change' and development proposal to establish a campus in north Belfast of Coláiste Feirste has been submitted for public consultation.

The Department of Education will make a decision next year.

North Belfast was considered to be "the optimum location" for a junior campus - for Years 8 to 10. It has three vibrant and growing primaries, which could provide adequate pupil numbers for two form classes each year.

A significant number of children from north Belfast already attend Coláiste Feirste, making "a relatively arduous journey" each day, facilitated by two dedicated school buses".

"A campus of Coláiste Feirste in north Belfast would be educationally and financially sustainable in the long-term with pupil numbers from the area set to grow further. Indeed, it is likely that a post-primary provision in north Belfast would attract increased numbers from these feeder schools," those behind the plan said.

:: The meeting will take place in Bunscoil Bheann Mhadagáin on Monday November 19 from 8-9pm.

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