DUP-led Department of Education ends use of Irish on official logo

Education minister Peter Weir of the DUP

THE DUP-led Department of Education has stopped translating publications and correspondence into the Irish language.

Minister Peter Weir's department has adopted a new policy which makes clear that "the principal language is English".

Under Sinn Féin, official letters contained English, Irish and Ulster Scots while department circulars and other publications were published in English and Irish.

Now, like other departments with DUP ministers, it will use English only.

Recent decisions taken by Mr Weir, and which affect Irish-medium education, have angered campaigners. They have pointed out that the DUP promised, in its assembly election manifesto, to "tackle the preferential treatment" of Irish medium.

A proposal for an Irish-medium pre-school unit at Gaelscoil na Daróige in Derry was turned down due to there being other schools nearby. The minister said opening a new nursery would "create sustainability issues".

In addition, he rejected a separate proposal for a part-time Irish-medium nursery unit at Bunscoil an Iúir in Newry.

He also said Gaelscoil an Lonnáin could not relocate to the former St Comghall's PS in west Belfast.

Mr Weir did, however, approve a proposal for a statutory nursery unit at Gaelscoil Éanna in Glengormley.

In its new language policy, the department said it would accept correspondence in Irish, Ulster Scots and other languages.

"We will however reply in English," it read.

"We will respect the wishes of anyone who prefers to use the Irish or Ulster Scots version of their name in correspondence (or official business), provided that they are generally known by that name.

"When a person uses a lawful Irish or Ulster Scots street name, we will use that form in replying."

All materials will be produced in English, the exception to this is publications issued to Irish-medium schools.

The department noted its statutory duty to encourage and facilitate the development of Irish-medium education. It also must meet the learning needs of pupils whose language of instruction is Irish.

"At our discretion we will therefore arrange, where practicable and financially viable, to provide information such as information leaflets to pupils and inspection reports in Irish."

Circulars that have already been published and translated into Irish are still available on the department's website.

Mr Weir's party and Executive colleague Michelle McIlveen sparked a row when a fisheries protection vessel had its Irish name replaced with an English translation.

Banríon Uladh was re-named Queen of Ulster due to Ms McIlveen's department adopting a single language policy.

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