Photograph shows Claire NicInnreactaigh (left), now studying at 3rd level through the medium of Irish at 3rd level in Galway, and Méibhín Ní Ruiséil (third left) who has secured a scholarship to attend Maynooth College in Kildare. Included are fellow students Anton O Dubhthaigh (center left) and Leá Aubert (far right).

Green Party Cllr Cadogan Enright has welcomed the news that the Department of Education are taking steps to introduce a pilot bus scheme for Irish speaking students in Downpatrick to their nearest Irish Medium school Coláiste Feirste.

The decision to attempt this pilot scheme comes as parents and students took steps to challenge the Department for not providing a dedicated bus service to the Belfast school despite there being over 2000 other dedicated bus services to other schools in Northern Ireland.

Cllr Enright said, “I welcome the news that this pilot scheme from Downpatrick to Coláiste Feirste will come into effect but I feel a lot more has to be forthcoming from the Department of Education. When there are over 2000 dedicated buses in Northern Ireland and not one of them are designated to the Irish Medium sector the grounds for discrimination are clear and I will campaign until full equality between all education sectors in Northern Ireland is achieved.”

Senior teacher at Coláiste Feirste Mr Dairmaid Ua Bruadair commented, “We were delighted to hear this week that a case brought by Downpatrick parents of students attending our school against the Department of Education has resulted in the department choosing Downpatrick for a trial of the first dedicated bus in the Irish Medium Secondary School sector. Our Downpatrick students are all very committed and have had to cope with inadequate transport from the Department of Education. There are currently 2020 dedicated buses serving the secondary school sector in NI over and above the normal translink services. But up until now not one of these buses serviced Irish Medium secondary schools. Had Claire and Méibhín chosen to go to Lagan College, Victoria or Ballynahinch Convent they would have had a good transport service throughout their years at secondary school.”

“Staff and students at Coláiste Feirste owe Claire, Méibhin and other current Downpatrick students like Aoife McConn Midhe a debt of gratitude for fighting this case over the last few years,” concluded Dairmaid Ua Bruadair.

Cllr Enright also congratulated the outstanding achievements of Coláiste Feirste students from Downpatrick in their recent A-level results despite the failures of the Department to provide them with proper transportation to school. Claire and Méibhín are also active in the local Green Party involved in a number of local campaigns.

Claire NicInnreactaigh of St Patricks Avenue and Méibhín Ní Ruiséil of New Bridge Street celebrated their success with classmates home from University for Christmas.

Claire received the Tomás Ó Leannáin Cup for top results with her 4 “A” levels in Biology, Art, Irish and French and is now studying at 3rd level through the medium of Irish at 3rd level in Galway, whilst Méibhín (third left) received straight A’s also and has secured a scholarship to attend Maynooth College in Kildare.

Press Cuttings: Success for Irish Speaking Students From Downpatrick