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26th Apr 2021

East Belfast set to open its first ever integrated Irish-language pre-school

Melissa Carton

The National Early Years protest

A historic moment.

Last week it was announced that funding has been confirmed for East Belfast’s first integrated Irish-language pre-school.

A first of its kind in East Belfast, the Irish language play school is set to open this September.

According to BBC News Northern Ireland, the new gaelscoil, Naíscoil na Seolta, has received £73,000 from Foras na Gaeilge, the North-South body for the promotion of Irish language.

Although the exact venue of the Irish speaking playschool has not yet been confirmed, once open the funding will enable the nursery to open for 16 children with two members of staff.

Foras na Gaeilge is an initiative that was first set up following the Good Friday Agreement in 1998.

The inclusion of the Irish language in schools in Northern Ireland has been heavily backed over the last few years by many organisations.

Among these are Turas, an organization that has been running Irish classes for adults in the Skainos centre in east Belfast for a number of years.

The new Irish language pre-school is also supported by the Northern Ireland Council for Integrated Education (NICIE) and the Irish-medium schools organisation Comhairle na Gaelscolaíochta (CnG).

As it stands there are over 7,000 pupils currently in Irish-medium education in Northern Ireland.

Additional to the opening of Naíscoil na Seolta, gaelscoil Scoil an Droichid, is waiting for a move to a larger school building to keep up with demand.

In a statement, the chair of Naíscoil na Seolta, Dr Annelies Taylor, said;

“This is an exciting time for the children and their parents, who will have the opportunity to learn together, grow together and carve out a new path of integration together – step by step, word by word, hand in hand.

It is believed that more Irish medium schools and play schools will open in Northern Ireland over the coming years.