30 April 1998 Edition

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Bunscoil refused funding

By Eoin O'Tuama

Parents of children at Belfast's oldest Bunscoil on Shaw's Road are outraged that the school will not receive a penny of the £33 million of education money handed out last week.

Tony Worthington, the NIO's education minister, has claimed that other schools are in greater need, even though the Bunscoil has been operating out of 17 wooden huts for the past 27 years. One of the schools apparently in greater need is the St Aquinas Grammar School on the Ravenhill Road, established only four years ago, which received £12 million of the education money.

``How can they promise on a Friday, Good Friday, to give parity of esteem to Irish speakers,'' said Bunscoil Phobal Feirste Principal, Diarmuid O'Tuama, `` but on Monday revert to their old anti-Irish language policies?''.

The school has a roll of 346 pupils and is maintained by a budget from the Dept of Education to cover teaching and supplies. However, the lack of permanent buildings to house the school gives it a somewhat transient atmosphere.

``It's almost as if they hope we'll go away,'' said O'Tuama.

After a tour of the school Gerry Adams arranged a meeting between the school and Mr Worthington for 7 May.

He also raised the issue with Tony Blair during their meeting on Monday as well as the funding of the Irish language secondary school in Derry.

``The British Government decision on funding must be reversed,'' said the West Belfast MP. ``The British Government has publicly committed itself to removing the obstacles it has placed in the way of the Irish language. It's time now that it puts its money where its mouth is''.

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1