Northern Ireland news

Education Authority criticised for dropping Irish language from its branding

The Education Authority has dropped the Irish language from its branding 
Connla Young

THE Education Authority (EA) has been criticised for dropping the Irish language from its branding.

The decision was initially confirmed in a letter to campaigners last September which linked it to the change in education minister from Sinn Féin's John O'Dowd to the DUP's Peter Weir.

The authority later said in a letter to the Committee on the Administration of Justice (CAJ) that the decision was taken by its chief executive Gavin Boyd in line with departmental practice at the time.

After taking up office at the Department of Education in 2016, Mr Weir adopted an ‘English first’ policy.

Until then official letters contained English, Irish and Ulster Scots while department circulars and other publications were published in English and Irish.

The EA initially said that “with a change in Department of Education ministry in May 2016, the logo was changed to English language only”.

Less than two months later a letter from the same official said: “I would like to clarify that there was no ministerial instruction in May 2016 to change the EA logo/corporate branding/promotional literature”.

The official confirmed that while mono-lingual and tri-lingual options for the EA corporate logo remained in place, “in 2016 the chief executive made an operational decision to use the mono-lingual option in line with the DE (Department of Education) practice at the time”.

The letter added that it would be “uneconomical to dispose of materials due to a change in branding” and it was left to officers to run down their stock until replacements were needed.

Independent Mid-Ulster councillor Barry Monteith hit out at the decision last night.

“I would call for the restriction on the Irish language on all EA documents to be lifted immediately,” he said.

Daniel Holder, deputy director of the CAJ, said: “Regardless of who the minister is, public authorities should be complying with the relevant legal framework.

“This includes all the treaty-based duties to take resolute action to promote the Irish language - something commonly done through the use of bilingual logos."

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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