Northern Ireland news

New Irish medium youth project launched in west Belfast

Cian Ó Riardáin of Sólás na nÓg, Paul Sweeney and Seamus McCann from the National Lottery, Orliath Mhic Leannáin of Fóram na nÓg, NI Children's Commissioner Koulla Yiasouma and Padraigín Nic Mhathúna of Sólás na nÓg. Picture by Mal McCann
Suzanne McGonagle

A NEW project has been launched in west Belfast aimed at helping young people with additional learning needs who struggle to access mainstream Irish medium youth services.

Sólás na nÓg will provide youth provision through Irish and is the first of its kind anywhere on the island of Ireland.

Unveiled by youth and community organisation, Glór na Móna, it said it is "yet another milestone in the continued development of Irish-medium youth services".

Youth project co-ordinator Padraigín Nic Mhathúna said the initiative, supported by the National Lottery Community Fund, is aimed at young people aged eight to 18.

"Our holistic programme is shaped by the project sub-title, 'Comhbhá, Cothú agus Cumasú', which means 'compassion, nurture and support'," he said.

"Our programmes are led by the unique and diverse needs of our young people and aim to enhance the personal, social, and emotional capacity of our young people in a nurturing and welcoming safe space that also embeds their sociolinguistic needs.

"This involves a wide-ranging programme of training, learning and therapeutic interventions that these young people have never had the opportunity to avail of previously.

"We are excited about what the next four years can bring and how our young people can grow and develop."


Koulla Yiasouma, NI Children's Commissioner, speaking at the Sólás na nÓg launch. Picture by Mal McCann


Orliath Mhic Leannáín from Fóram na nÓg, the Irish-medium regional youth representative umbrella body, said it is "a huge development for the Irish medium revival and especially for those young people with additional learning needs who struggled to access our mainstream Irish medium youth services".

Paul Sweeney from the National Lottery said it is "built around the needs of young people and it's empowering a whole new generation of local community-based youth workers".

NI Children’s Commissioner, Koulla Yiasouma, said she hoped to see similar project "scaled up across the north, wherever there is a school, there should be a youth service nearby for those children with SEN who need it".

Northern Ireland news