Northern Ireland news

East Belfast Irish language nursery school to relocate after 'social media hate campaign'

Braniel Primary School in east Belfast. Picture by Mal McCann

AN Irish language nursery school in east Belfast is being forced to relocate after a "social media hate campaign".

Naíscoil na Seolta, the first Irish language pre-school in the east of the city, was due to open on the site of Braniel PS in September.

In a letter to parents, officials at the school said: "Due to an ongoing social media hate campaign against some individuals and the Integrated Naíscoil 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 were not interested in facts and truth."

Braniel PS Principal Diane Dawson responded angrily to the development.

"I am a unionist, I will be first, foremost, and last a unionist and not one word of the Irish language spoken undermines or weakens my unionism.

"And certainly not two-year-olds learning how to say colours in Irish on the Braniel school site," she told the BBC.

She also took to Twitter saying: "Some of the most disgusting and shameful bullying I have ever seen on Facebook by individuals with no association to the school."

She added that neither the nursery school or Irish language campaigner Linda Ervine, who is one of those behind Naíscoil na Seolta "deserved the vicious trolling and hate they received for renting a space on our site for the Naíscoil".

In a statement, Naíscoil na Seolta said that it had "mixed emotions" about the decision to relocate.

Comhairle na Gaelscolaíochta Chief Executive Ciaran Mac Giolla Bhéin said the "wellbeing of children is paramount".

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