Archive for the 'Castlewellan' Category Page 2 of 3

Sept 2012 – update on Coláiste Feirste

discrimination continues as Coláiste Feirste experiences one more year of delays from Department of education over implementation of High Court decision to provide busses for Irish speakers in the same manner as buses are provided for English speaking children

Sept 2012 – update on Coláiste Feirste – prominent Republican speaks out

Prominent Republican hits out over discrimination as Coláiste Feirste experiences one year of delays from Department of education over implementation of High Court decision to provide buses for Irish speakers in the same manner as buses are provided for English speaking children – note legally Irish Medium Education is on a statutory par with Integrated Education in N.I. and is supposed to be actively promoted to overcome 100’s of years of discrimination since the peace process in 1998 BUT in practice spendind per student in the Irish Medium Sector falls short of not only spending in the Integrated Sector, but falls below that in the wider English Speaking sectors of education in NI (ref answer to question from DUP by Minister O’Dowd in Oct 2012)  Spending per pupil is on average £200 per annum less than the average of all other sectors.

Challenging Projected Coverage for RTE and TG4 in April 2012 – 6 months before digital switch-over

Following Digital UK writing to Down District Council last year us last year on the schedule for switch-over, I wrote back to them to them seeking reassurance that widespread concern around Down District that RTE1, RTE2 and TG4 would be available from day one as had previously been announced and as agreed under the Good Friday and Saint Andrews Agreement.

It was clear from the on-line maps they were supplying at the time that large areas of Down District including Downpatrick, Newcastle and Ballynahinch would be left out, I had been seeking improvements to this scenario. Map of Best Case Scenario April 2012 for RTE / TG4 coverage

Very large numbers of people in this district rely on these stations for sports coverage, Irish Language broadcasting and news across the Island of Ireland.

Denis Wolinski, Digital UK’s National Manager in Northern Ireland, wrote to me last October  saying “Beidh RTE agus TG4 ar fáil ar an gcóras nua.  Beidh a thuilleadh eolais faoi seo á fhógairt amach anseo.” (RTE and TG4 will be available on the new system, more information will be announced on this.)

However  significant gaps in coverage emerged (see link above to  map) during the digital switch-over which I  continued to query in a lengthy correspondence with Digital UK

Worryingly, digitaluk’s team here in N.I. have confirmed that only one of the two transmitters in the Belfast area will be carrying the Irish as well as the UK stations. Blackmountain will have both, but the Divis transmitter will only have UK services – most TV’s in Down District receive their signal from the Divis Transmitter.

I have challenged this arrangement both directly myself, and have had Down Council express concerns on behalf of all citizens in the District.

Digital have written to me saying “Our advice to consumers is based on information made available to us from the broadcasters. This indicates that the new Freeview service supplemented by Saorview signals from the Republic will make TG4, RTÉ One and RTÉ Two available to approximately 93 per cent of households in Northern Ireland. Our campaign reminds viewers that Freeview HD equipment will be needed to receive these channels via Freeview.”


I am campaigning to make sure we do not end up as part of the 7% who do not get the service.

Click here to see some of the correspondence to both Digital UK and to Saorview in the Republic


yes to anti social patrols

yes to anti social patrols

Bicycles can now be recycled

Bicycles can now be recycled

Councillor highlights RTE signal danger

Councillor highlights RTE signal danger

Re-‘cycling’ Breakthrough in Down Council

Councilor Cadogan Enright proposed a motion to allow bicycles being dumped at Downs civic amenity centers to be refurbished and sold on for charity. Cllr Enright put the motion at Wednesday night’s environment meeting at the request of committee chair, Castlewellan Cllr Eamonn O’Neill.


Cadogan Enright  said “Following proposals by myself last year, Council Management have agreed to include an area in Downs new larger civic amenity site to be used to allow people to leave out perfectly reusable goods for others to take away for free as is done in the USA and Australia. Anybody visiting our local civic amenity centers will see dozens of perfectly good bicycles in the skips, furniture, doors and many other reusable items like furniture. As rules currently stand, ratepayers are not allowed to re-use what is in the skips. This makes no sense”.

“My motion on Wednesday night will allow the council to bring forward this date at least for bicycles, and we can move on the other large recyclables when the new civic amenity center comes on-stream.”

Cllr Cadogan Enright with Tom McRoberts manager of the Restore Centre and Killikeagh Environmentalist Barbara HaigCllr Enright continued “There are other options available. For instance Banbridge District Council opened a ‘restore Centre’ on the Scarva Road in Banbridge in summer 2009. Since opening thousands of  items have been purchased including sofa’s, tables, chairs, dressers, washing machines, tumble driers and cookers to name just a selection of items for sale. ‘Restore’ has helped Banbridge get across the principals of full sustainability and created a more positive outlook on reusing second hand goods with the financial benefit this has for the whole of society in these economic tough times.”


Apprentices being trained in electrical and plumbing trades

Apprentices being trained in electrical and plumbing trades

Cadogan Enright pointed out that “During a recent visit to the ‘restore’ project I was able to see how young apprentice joiners, electricians and others have been taken hired and are undergoing training from skilled tradesmen to divert perfectly good consumer goods from landfill to resale as tested, top-quality, low-price goods. In the first year it was estimated that the project reduced the Councils ‘carbon-footprint’ by 60 tonnes.“




Apprentices being trained in joinery

“I am pleased with moving the bicycle part of this project  forward to this year, but look forward to a more substantial project next year to a more substantial project next year and see is no reason why the council could not operate a Banbridge-style scheme with local NGO’s or charitable groups gleaning the benefit.” concluded Cadogan Enright.


 Bicycles can be recycled

Council seeks recycling centre


Cllr Cadogan Enright at Down District Council

Cllr Cadogan Enright at Down District Council

The issue of Digital TV coverage cropped up again at Monday Night’s Down Council Meeting, as the latest reply from digitaluk on TV coverage in the Down area was discussed in Council. Cllr Cadogan Enright pointed out that digitaluk management seemed to be ignoring the fears of the council that neither the Saorview signal in Louth nor the Divis transmitter in Belfast was currently set up to cover Down District.

In response to queries from local sporting organizations, Councilor Cadogan Enright has been campaigning to ensure that when Freeview digital TV is launched next October that residents in Down District will continue to receive RTE and TG4 as well as UK television services.

Cllr Enright said, “I received written reassurances last year from the ‘digitaluk’ team at Havelock House in Belfast, but have recently been given new cause for concern when the management of digitaluk came to make a presentation to Down Council.”

“The digitaluk management team invited Down Councilors to examine to see what our likely signal would be from the Republic, myself and other councilors did so and we discovered that the Downpatrick, Newcastle and Ballynahinch areas will not be covered”. continued Cllr Enright.

“Worryingly, digitaluk’s team here in N.I. have confirmed that only one of the two transmitters in the Belfast area will be carrying the Irish as well as the UK stations. Blackmountain will have both, but the Divis transmitter will only have UK services – most TV’s in Down District receive their signal from the Divis Transmitter”.

Cllr Cadogan Enright said “A large number of people in Down District follow sports, News and even the soaps in Irish TV channels, and are annoyed that their coverage could be threatened in this way. Especially as the availability of Irish TV channels was expressly written into the Good Friday Agreement.”

“Over the last 10 years we have had several joint press releases from Direct Rule Ministers and their Southern counterparts promising that this would be dealt with, but we find ourselves in Down District Council having to write to both digitaluk and Saorview with only 5 months left before the switchover. I will be meeting with local MLA’s to address this issue and will continue to chase this up personally and though Down Council.” Concluded Cllr Enright

News article

School Transport Campaign for Irish Medium Children

I have created this web-page for the benefit of Down District Council’s Education committee to try and give a summary of the plight of pupils attending secondary education through medium of Irish. They have been refused the same form of transport to their school (Coláiste Feirste in Belfast) that every other regional school in Belfast is provided with its own dedicated transport network covering County Down.

The GFA placed a statutory duty on the Department of Education to encourage and facilitate Irish medium education in line with current provision for integrated education.

Access to second level IM education for many/most children outside of West Belfast is effectively blocked by the use of transport regulations that were not present when the Integrated, State and Catholic secondary school sectors were set up.

Given that all other sectors are English Speaking, not only may the DOE be acting illegally, but also may be acting in a racist manner.

Access to integrated education is given a clear priority by the department of education in both city and country areas to enable this sector to develop. Lagan College for instance is seen as a regional college servicing county Down. In addition to a fleet of City buses, Lagan college has been provided with a “shuttle service” between the school and Belfast bus-stations and a fleet of country buses serving areas around county Down as far south as Downpatrick.

This same priority must be given to IM education based on the application of existing UK law as well as the provisions of the European Charter signed by the UK Government following its commitment to do so in the 1998 GFA.

Find linked letters clearly stating the law supporting Coláiste Feirste’s case from
• the NI Human Rights commissioner here
• the Children’s’ Commissioner here
• and Rodger Watts the Lawyer who has advanced this case over the last 3 years on behalf of these Children here.

1. Secondary Education Transport in NI – a look at the Belfast Area

Any child living more than 3 miles from school is entitled to a bus pass and may use normal public bus provisions or one of the many dedicated buses serving schools the secondary sector.

Transport to school in NI via the normal daily public bus service but is supplemented by approximately 2020 dedicated school buses funded by the Department of Education. These additional buses are provided where the public routes are unsatisfactory, crowded, where the distances are great, where the children may be in danger from traffic or crossing hostile areas etc. This form of transport is ideal, as it takes a child to the door of a school, but where they are engaging in extra-curricular activity they can still use their bus passes on ordinary transport.

None of these 2020 buses are available for IM secondary school children.

When one compares the generous dedicated bus provision shown in the attached link for integrated schools in the Belfast area to the complete absence of any dedicated buses for the Irish Medium secondary sector, one only begins to scratch on the surface of this problem. (Note the provision of dedicated buses to areas like Lagmore or Downpatrick where Coláiste Feirste children have been refused a similar service.),-5.780182&spn=0.3158,0.890579&z=11

2. Putting Children in Danger in Hostile areas

There are other scandals affecting transport in this sector. I have been copied on letters from the Department of Education by the parents of children in North Belfast who have been instructed that if their Children were to walk down the Shankill Road (a Loyalist/British Nationalist area with a long history of anti-Irish/Catholic violence) to Irish secondary school their journey would be just less than 3 miles – and are therefore not entitled to a bus pass.

Letter to North Belfast Parent (widowed during ‘troubles’ and bringing up children alone).

Map here for stroll to IM school down Shankill Road.

When I met the department at Balloo House in my capacity as elected representative, DOE representatives openly accepted that no parent of an Irish speaking child could possibly let their child walk down the Shankill Road to school, but insists this rule must be followed and that “special exceptions” specified by the regulations do not apply. By contrast Integrated schools have a network of busses crossing “hostile areas” all over Belfast. Catholic Schools in East Belfast have buses provided that journey less than a mile and a half through hostile areas for very good health and safety reasons – but Coláiste Feirste students are refused the same facility. (Note other precedents exist to deal with this situation – eg Holy Cross primary get 2 buses because of “special circumstances”)

3. Looking at the Transport Situation outside Belfast

The situation outside of Belfast is even more dire. Parents have been campaigning for dedicated bus transport from Downpatrick to school. All other secondary school sectors (state, catholic, integrated) have a network of such buses serving Downpatrick – even where those sectors already have a school in Downpatrick and where no necessity exists to transport children in those other sectors to secondary school in distant towns. The attached links show the network of dedicated buses for;

State schools in Downpatrick area, e.g. special dedicated buses for Methody and Victoria colleges,-5.918884&spn=0.316497,0.890579&z=11

The Catholic schools in the Downpatrick area, e.g. special dedicated buses to Assumption Grammar school.

Integrated Schools in the Downpatrick area, e.g. special dedicated buses for Lagan College,-5.780182&spn=0.3158,0.890579&z=11

The average distances to IM secondary school in Belfast from towns in Antrim and Down are made greater because outside of Belfast those communities most likely to take up secondary IM education are in North Antrim or South Down for historical reasons. This means that children as young as 11 must travel two hours each way per day (20 hours per week) if they wish to continue to receive their education in their Native Language as required of the UK under EU law.

Not one of the 2020 dedicated buses supporting secondary schools provided by the Department via Translink and the Education Boards serves the Irish Medium Secondary sector – despite this sector having the most pressing need of transport to distant schools.

It is noteworthy that were NI a county in England and Wales, most of the 2020 buses serving secondary schools would not exist, as in E&W pupils are expected to attend their nearest school in category. Yet the DOE refuses to allow Irish speaking children equivalent transport provision to attend their ONLY school in category.

While we have focused on Downpatrick in our campaign, exactly the same situation is found in the Mourne mountains area, the districts around Sliabh Crúibe, South and East Armagh, North Antrim, Tyrone and other areas around NI.

If the same percentage of the dedicated bus fleet to be available to the Irish Medium secondary sector based on (at least) the percentage of children attending secondary education though the medium of Irish, Coláiste Feirste would have a comparable fleet of country buses and city buses to that which services Lagan College or the other Belfast colleges servicing the Down/Antrim regional area.

See here for briefing document on language rights in Northern Ireland according to the Human Rights Commission

use cash not rates

use cash not rates by CadoganEnright
use cash not rates, a photo by CadoganEnright on Flickr.

Victory in reducing Rates flows from Renewable Energy