Yesterday, the parents and pupils of gaelcholáiste, Coláiste Lú, Dundalk staged a public protest in order to highlight the fact that they currently are not being taught all their subjects through the medium of Irish.
Pupils & parents started at the Coláiste Lú on Thursday morning before 9am and marched from the school to picket the offices of LMETB in Chapel St., Dundalk. This is a massive upheaval for the pupils as most of their education to date has been taught through Irish. Now they will have to sit their state examinations in Irish yet they are currently being taught through English. This makes it extremely difficult to learn the terminology necessary to perform as well as expected in those exams.
The parents are committed to protesting until their patron, LMETB, publicly commit to
- Confirmation of commitment to full immersion Irish language education to pupils, teachers &
- Immediate implementation of all issues set out in document – Coláiste Lú, Aonad to Gael Choláiste
and largely agreed with LMETB
- Provision of resources (whatever it takes), both fiscal and human, to restore capacity of Irish
language medium teaching lost over summer as soon as possible – (days and weeks, not months)
- Confirmation of immediate appointment of dedicated stiúrthóir (with no Coláiste ChúCulainn
- Detailed timetable, agreed with parents, as to when this will happen
- Weekly progress updates
Coláiste Lú was set up to provide deep immersion Irish medium education within an LMETB school, (Coláiste ChúChulainn). It is the only Irish medium school in Louth and a key part of the Irish language infrastructure in the North East. The school opened back in 2013 and successfully operated a deep immersion ethos until 2018-9 when a new principal started to give parents and pupils concerns over his commitment to deep immersion Irish education. After parental pressure LMETB in 2019 committed to policies that would maintain and encourage the deep immersion Irish medium education ethos. In the first week of this school year the actions of the Principal and LMETB indicate that they have reneged on the commitments made to parents and pupils.
There is now an existential crisis for the very survival of the school. Parents have sent a letter of no confidence in the Principal to CEO, School Board and LMETB Board. They are planning a publicity campaign to highlight the crisis the school is in and will be petitioning politicians for their support.
They are asking LMETB for commitments to Irish medium education.
Current school status
They now have a situation where most of the Coláiste Lú pupils are only being taught Irish through the medium of Irish. The 17 new 1 st year pupils are only being taught Irish and Geography through Irish. Some Coláiste Lú Irish classes are being integrated with Coláiste ChúChulainn pupils, which results in completely asymmetrical learning. All other subjects are being taught in English.
Students who have studied subjects up to now in Irish, and due to take Junior and Leaving Certificate exams are forced to study in English, with terminology that they do not understand. In a number of instances this difficulty is compounded by the fact English is not spoken at home.
Parents and pupils are upset and angry at this. They are reading that exemptions from studying Irish should be “exceptional” and yet they are being denied their right to continue their studies in Irish. Parents intend to protest publicly to highlight this assault on Irish medium education, which will include withholding their children from attending school. Parents also wish to advise that they intend to explore all options, including legal options, to have the right of having their children educated through Irish upheld. At recent Coláiste Lú parents’ meetings, this is the unanimous position. Parents believe that if the situation isn’t resolved decisively by mid-September that Coláiste Lú will cease to exist as most parents will transfer their children out of the school to other schools and away from Coláiste ChúChulainn.
LMFM covered the protest yesterday morning- if you missed the coverage take a look at the video below. All the parents & pupils are asking for is that the patron, LMETB, honour the committments that they made before the holidays.
"Irish is dying and we need to save it" Helena Mullins Presenter/Reporter spoke to parents & students at today's protest for Save Coláiste Lú. Colaiste Lú is the only Irish medium secondary school in north Leinster with children coming from all of Louth, parts of East Monaghan, South Armagh & South Down. Hear what they're fighting for below. All the parents & pupils are asking for is that the patron, LMETB, honour the committments that they made before the holidays.
Posted by LMFM on Thursday, September 5, 2019
I truly hope that the pupils of Coláiste Lú get the outcome that they are looking for and deserve.