East Derry Sinn Féin MLA Cathal Ó hOisín has expressed disappointment at the reaction of Ulster Unionist education spokesperson Danny Kinahan to news of approval of an Irish medium secondary school in Dungiven.
Coláiste Dhoire, proposed to be located in Owenbeg, will be only the second State-funded Irish-medium secondary school in Northern Ireland, following Coláiste Feirste in Belfast.
Mr. Kinahan has claimed the college is neither affordable nor viable and is against the advice of “a host of experts” and has called on John O’Dowd to justify his decision.
Education Minister John O’Dowd defended his decision, saying: “I take very seriously my statutory duty to encourage and facilitate education through the medium of Irish.
“While I note the advice of officials, I am the Minister and is my role to make the final decision on all development proposals. I stand over my decision on Coláiste Dhoire.”
Cathal O’hOisin has hit back at the remarks by Mr Kinahan.
“There are currently nearly 450 children who are going through Irish-medium education in County Derry alone, not counting the city, and Mr Kinahan wants to deprive these children and their parents of a choice for their secondary education,” said the MLA.
“Had he read the proposal he would have seen that the proposed annual intake will reach 65 children per year with an anticipated school enrolement of some 450.
“Were we to apply the conditions as envisaged by Danny Kinahan then there would be wholesale closures of all the Irish medium, as well as integrated and independent schools across the north, and no room for parental choice. The current anti Irish agenda by some, serves no-one well.”