East Belfast’s first Irish language school moves

The first Irish-language nursery school in a Protestant and Unionist area of ​​east Belfast, which was due to open in September, has had to find a new site due to an online abuse campaign.

Naíscoil na Seolta was offered a building on the site of the Braniel Primary School.

Sixteen pupils had signed up to begin their education through Irish in September.

In a statement, the Naíscoil board said it was with mixed emotions that Naíscoil na Seolta had made the decision to move to another site in east Belfast.

“However, a small social media campaign was launched to try to move us forward. This was addressed using the correct channels.

Nevertheless, with the well-being of children at the heart of our concerns, we have decided to seize a new opportunity.

“The Braniel site has always been a temporary location as we have drawn up plans for a permanent home in East Belfast.

“Over the past few weeks it has become apparent that a new site has become available to us. The new site is larger, better located for parents and builds on our existing connections in East Belfast. The new site will be announced very soon, after we have spoken to parents and donors.

“Naíscoil na Seolta has always aimed to deepen community relationships, and those relationships will continue, regardless of our location. We remain committed and excited to bring an integrated Irish Middle School education to the east of Belfast.”

A statement from the school said: “It is with great sadness and regret that we had to inform our school community today of the Integrated Naiscoil na Seolta’s decision to relocate to another site due to actions of individuals unrelated to the school.

“Due to an ongoing social media hate campaign against some people and the integrated Naiscoil na Seolta, it is with great sadness that he chooses to move to another location.

“A social media campaign has been started and fueled by those who are not connected to the school, nor the parents of our school and who are clearly not interested in the facts and the truth, which allowed the publication of disgusting comments littered with erroneous unsubstantiated claims about certain individuals and the Naiscoil.

“Braniel PS is not and should never be considered a contested space.

“We pride ourselves on being a shared space for all. We welcome all children, parents, families and individuals regardless of religion, faith, creed or language and we always will.

“The comments, made primarily by those outside of our school community, on social media in no way reflect the views and beliefs of the governors and the entire school staff.”

The declaration was signed on behalf of the board of directors, principal and staff of Braniel’s kindergarten and elementary school.

The nursery recently received £73,000 (€85,816) from Foras na Gaeilge, the north-south body for the promotion of the Irish language, for its running costs.

Its stated aim was to bring integrated primary education in the Irish language to the area.

“Negativity and Misrepresentation”

Linda Ervine, head of Irish language development at Turas, the language organization that has been running Irish courses for adults in the center of Skainos in east Belfast for several years, is among the creators of Naiscoil na Seolta .

Speaking on RTÉ’s Drivetime, Ms Ervine said they thought it was best to pull out of Braniel.

“There were lies, misrepresentations, rumors about our intentions. We were there temporarily for 16 three-year-olds and they were trying to connect us with the political situation,” she said.

“This negativity and misrepresentation is not who we are or who we are.”

Ms Ervine said there were 16 places available at the school, 14 of which have been taken.

“We are a kindergarten in an integrated sector, in which the objective is 40% from each community and 20% other, and that is the box we tick.”

Ms Ervine said there were 16 places available at the school, 14 of which have been taken.

“We are a kindergarten in an integrated sector, in which the objective is 40% from each community and 20% other, and that is the box we tick.”

She thanked those who sent messages of support, which she said “come from all communities in Northern Ireland”.

Additional Report AP

Sylvester L. Goldfarb