In April 2014 PPR were approached by a campaigning group of parents (Tuistí an Tuaiscirt - 'parents of the north') from north Belfast whose 122 children attend Coláiste Feirste, the only Irish medium post-primary school in the north of Ireland. They argued that the failure to provide public transport to the only Irish medium post-primary school was not only costing parents a significant amount of money, rather it was negatively impacting on the development of Irish medium education by effectively preventing parents from enrolling their children in Coláiste Feirste.

Under the terms of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, the UK government and NI Executive have an obligation to "take resolute action to promote the Irish language". An Irish Language Act was promised which would reverse the under investment and neglect of the language. The Education (Northern Ireland) Order (1998) further commited the Minister and Department of Education to "encourage and facilitate" the development of Irish medium education.

However the Irish Language Act never transpired and in 2011 a judicial review determined that the Department for Education was not doing enough to meet its statutory duties to promote access to Coláiste Feirste through the provision of transport.

In April 2014, north Belfast parents and students were still awaiting transport provision but were determined not to leave their right to education in hands of the Executive, the Minister, the department, the Education and Library Board or the courts. 

A research report released today, produced by Tuistí an Tuaiscirt and in association with PPR, reveals that despite commiutments in the Good Friday Agreement and a successful judicial review in 2011, the Minister for Education's ongoing refusal to provide public transport for north Belfast students to the only Irish medium post-primary school in NI is preventing the development of the sector.

Tuistí an Tuaiscirt, a group of north Belfast parents have been campaigning for the provision of transport for 122 students attending the only post-primary Irish medium school in Northern Ireland, are hopeful that a proposal brought forward by the Minister for Education, John O’Dowd MLA can lead to a resolution of this long standing issue.

Parents and pupils of NI’s only Irish Medium secondary school Coláiste Feirste today (17th June 2014) walked from the Waterworks in north Belfast to the school in west Belfast to raise awareness of the continual refusal of the Minister for Education to provide dedicated bus service for the 90 pupils who attend the west Belfast school. Parents and pupils, who have come together under the Tuistí an Tuaiscirt campaign, argue that the failure to provide a dedicated transport service is in breach of specific government obligations, under the Good Friday Agreement, to take measures to promote Irish Medium education. This failure to act also comes in the wake of a damning report earlier this year (January 2014) by the Council of Europe who noted the “persisting hostile climate” towards the Irish Language in the Assembly and the continued failure to implement an Irish Language Act. The report also found that more work was needed to develop the Irish medium education sector.

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