Northern Ireland news

Queen's University insists no decision made on Gaeilgeoirí residential scheme

Queen's University has said no decision has yet been made on a proposal for an Irish language residential scheme

QUEEN's University has said no decision has yet been made on a proposal to that would see Gaeilgeoirí housed together in its halls of residence.

The university was responding to claims by An Cumann Gaelach that the Irish language residential scheme had already been rejected.

Queen’s Irish language student society claims minutes of a meeting in October show the university authorities are averse to the proposal, which was officially launched earlier this week.

Similar arrangements exist at Trinity College Dublin, Galway City University and other higher education establishments in the Republic, while corresponding schemes are in place at Welsh and Scottish universities.

The initiative has the support of Sinn Féin, the SDLP and Alliance.

According to An Cumann Gaelach's Eimear Nic Ionnrachtaigh, university officials have already described the proposal for creating a bespoke living space for Irish speakers on campus as “counter productive” and “segregating and siloing”.

She said the remarks were "hugely disrespectful" to Irish language speakers.

"The Irish language community's confidence in Queen's is at an all time low, following this latest attempt to deny language rights and opportunities on campus," she said.

"The opposition to the residential scheme comes in a long pattern of disrespect and discrimination towards the Irish language by Queen’s University dating back to the 1990s."

Ms Nic Ionnrachtaigh urged Queen's to "choose to be a more inclusive and welcoming space for Irish language speakers on campus".

 

However, the university insists that the minutes An Cumann Gaelach is referring to are notes from an internal staff discussion and have not been signed off as an official record.

It said it would be meeting Irish language campaigners about the proposal over the coming days and that no decision had been made.

"Queen's has scheduled initial meetings with An Cumann Gaelach and An Droichead on December 2 and 3, respectively, to discuss various issues around cultural and linguistic diversity," a statement said.

"The university has not made any decisions on these matters at this time, as it important to first discuss the issues with An Cumann Gaelach and An Droichead directly.”

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