‘The recognition it deserves’: Parents express delight as new Gaelscoil Ui Neill building project is approved22nd January 2013 | By: brendan64 | Comments Off on ‘The recognition it deserves’: Parents express delight as new Gaelscoil Ui Neill building project is approved
An Irish-language school in Coalisland is one of 22 new school building projects that have been approved by Education Minister John O’Dowd.
Gaelscoil Ui Neill is among the 14 primary and eight post-primary schools to benefit from the £220m investment.
New builds have also been approved for Edendork Primary School and St Patrick’s Academy, Dungannon.
It is hoped the investment will address issues including overcrowding, substandard accommodation and an over-reliance on temporary classrooms.
Parents whose children attend Gaelscoil Ui Neill expressed their delight at the decision, saying the school has received “the recognition it deserves”.
Mr O’Dowd said the 22 schools had been indentified as “priority projects”.
He said: “Six of the projects will see permanent new-build solutions for integrated and Irish-medium schools currently located almost exclusively in temporary accommodation.”
The minister said it was a “significant investment” in the school estate but was also “good news for the construction industry” and had the potential to support thousands of jobs.
A third of the schools who applied for funding received approval.
Parent Geraldine Rushe, whose four children have attended Gaelscoil Ui Neill, said she was very pleased with the decision.
She said: “I am delighted that the school has finally been granted funding for new premises and in turn got the recognition it deserves.”
Ms Rushe’s youngest child Cónall Keegan, four, is currently in Primary One at the school, while her second son Seán Óg Keegan, 11, is in Primary Seven.
Her eldest daughter Momháine Keegan, 18, is now studying A-Level Irish and hopes to attend St Mary’s University College in Belfast and become an Irish teacher.
And Ms Rushe’s daughter Blánaid Keegan, 16, is studying for her GCSE examinations, but has already obtained an A grade in Irish while in her third year of secondary school.
Ms Rushe, a former hairdresser from Annagher, praised Gaelscoil Ui Neill for its teaching and staff.
She said: “The school has a family feel within it, with teachers being called by their first names, giving it a more personal feel.
“I chose the Gaelscoil when Momháine was only three years old. The Naiscoil was then on the grounds of the old Fianna football club.
“I like the idea of smaller numbers and was delighted at the thought that my children could have the chance to learn their native tongue. Something that was not made available to me in primary school.
She added: “It is important that we continue to encourage and facilitate the opportunity for our children to learn our culture and heritage.
“There were times in the early days that teachers had to do without a wage – that’s dedication. It is a success story.”
Although ministerial approval has been granted, the building projects are still subject to planning approval and “capital funding availability at that time”.
Mr O’Dowd has also opened applications for a new £40m programme helping to fund school refurbishment and extension projects.
Schools should submit applications by mid-April for the programme, with a decision on the recipients expected to be made by June.
The funding programme is aimed at projects costing between £500,000 and £4m.