Northern Ireland news

First Irish language school in east Belfast to relocate after ‘hate campaign'

Naiscoil na Seolta was due to open to 16 children at Braniel Primary School in September, the first Irish language school in east Belfast
Jonathan McCambridge, PA

A Belfast primary school has blamed a social media “hate campaign” after it emerged that an Irish-language nursery will not open at the site as planned.

Naiscoil na Seolta was due to open to 16 children at Braniel Primary School in September, the first Irish language school in the east of the city.

The pre-school would have been separate from Braniel PS but was to be housed in a classroom on the same site.

But the primary school released a statement to parents to say that it would not now happen due to the actions of “those who are not of our school community”.

A school statement said: “It is with great sadness and regret that we had to inform our school community today of the decision of the Integrated Naiscoil na Seolta to relocate to another site due to actions of individuals not connected to the school.

“Due to an ongoing social media hate campaign against some individuals and the integrated Naiscoil na Seolta, it is with great sadness that it is choosing to relocate to an alternative location.

“A social media campaign was started and fuelled by those who are not connected to the school, nor are parents of our school and who are clearly not interested in facts and truth, who allowed disgusting comments to be posted that were littered with unfounded erroneous allegations about certain individuals and the Naiscoil.

“Braniel PS is not and should never be thought of as a contested space.

“We are proud to be a shared space for all. We welcome all children, parents, families and individuals irrespective of religion, faith, creed or language and always will.

“The comments, made mostly by those who are not of our school community, on social media do not in any way reflect the opinions and beliefs of the governors and entire staff of the school.”

The statement was signed on behalf of the board of governors, principal and staff of Braniel Nursery and Primary School.

A spokesperson for Naiscoil na Seolta said: “We have been offered another venue which is in a better location and which is a larger space which will allow us to grow and develop.”

The nursery recently received £73,000 from Foras na Gaeilge, the north-south body for the promotion of the Irish language, for its running costs.

Its stated aim was to bring integrated Irish-medium primary education to the area.

Linda Ervine, Irish language development officer of Turas, the language organisation which has been running Irish classes for adults in the Skainos centre in east Belfast for a number of years, is among those behind Naiscoil na Seolta.

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