East Derry Sinn Féin MLA Cathal Ó hOisín has welcomed the approval of a development proposal by Education Minister John O’Dowd for the establishment of an Irish-medium post-primary college at Owenbeg in Dungiven.
Speaking about his decision, the Minister said: “My Department has a statutory duty to encourage and facilitate the provision of Irish-medium education and on this occasion I have decided to agree the proposal to establish a new Irish-medium post-primary college in the area.”
The Minister said he made his decision following careful consideration of the proposal.
“I recognise there is a demand for post-primary education through the medium of Irish and I believe that Coláiste Dhoire is capable of delivering a high quality education for the benefit all young people in Dungiven and the surrounding areas,” said Minister O’Dowd. “I wish everyone involved with the project well for the future.”
Mr O’hOisin said the decision reflected “more than 20 years work by Gaeligeoirs in the wider County Derry area, and is the most significant step in Irish language education provision ever”.
“The insightful and far seeing proposals from Coiste Choláiste Dhoire, the proposing Committee, show just how viable this might be, with a significant intake from Year One. Currently over 450 children are going through primary school education in the medium of Irish, in County Derry alone, and this looks likely to expand and must be catered for,” said Mr. O’hOisin.
“It will be the only Irish Medium second level school outside Belfast; an obvious dearth considering there are some 42 in the south.
“I fully endorse the Minister O’Dowd’s approval of the development plan and acknowledge the work done in the sectors across the county in recent years, in particular that at St Patricks, Maghera. There will be many challenges in the years ahead, but I’m confident that with the help of the Irish Language Community and the parents of our children that this will prosper and flourish.”