Northern Ireland news

New Irish language teacher to be appointed at Maghaberry jail

A new Irish language teacher has been secured to work in Maghaberry Prison
Connla Young

AN Irish language teacher is set to be appointed at Maghaberry Prison, weeks after legal action was threatened.

Lawyers acting for a republican prisoner had begun a challenge after an Irish teacher was not replaced.

It is understood no-one had been in the position for around a year.

Campaign group Conradh na Gaeilge had claimed the failure to provide a teacher was in contravention of the Good Friday Agreement and other international treaties.

It is understood a new teacher has now been secured by Belfast Metropolitan College, subject to clearance. The college also employed the previous post holder.

Prison chiefs have said several attempts were made to recruit a teacher but successful interview candidates were being forced to wait up to 17 weeks for security clearance.

This resulted in several people taking up other employment opportunities.

It is believed the Department for Justice Security Vetting Team has now agreed to treat applications for new teachers as a “priority”, which should take three to four weeks to process.

Solicitor Gavin Booth, of Phoenix Law, welcomed the development.

“It was an unacceptable delay in the first instance,” he said.

A spokesman for the Prison Service said: “Learning and skills in the NI Prison Service is outsourced to our further education partners, Belfast Metropolitan College, and the process to recruit a teacher to provide Irish language classes in Maghaberry is ongoing.”

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