Jockeys Robbie Power, Barry Geraghty and Nina and Paul Carberry joined the parents and pupils of the planned new Irish primary school in Ratoath, for a launch at Fairyhouse Racecourse.

Parents to press ahead with Gaelscoil in Ratoath despite Department's 'no'

The founding committee of Gaelscoil Ráth Tó has announced that it is to set up the school without Departmental recognition in September 2010. Spokesperson Anita Sheppard said the group was being assisted in this endeavour by the parents and by a number of Irish language organisations which are also determined to see Gaelscoil Ráth Tó open. The organisations in question are An Foras Pátrúnachta, Glór na nGael, Comhluadar, Conradh na Gaeilge and Gaelscoileanna Teo. The collective campaign has been named Aitheantas (Irish for 'recognition'). It is anticipated that the school will take up residence in Ratoath GAA Centre on a temporary basis. "Despite the refusal of the Department of Education to recognise the school, even though new school provision is needed in Ratoath, we have decided to proceed with establishing the school on an unofficial basis with the generous support of the Irish language organisations mentioned," Ms Sheppard said. "We aim to place heavy pressure on the Department to recognise this school. We are working with individuals in the Irish language organisations mentioned who have extensive professional experience in running Irish language schools and we are all confident of achieving the Department's recognition," she added. "We have seen huge demand shown for this school in Ratoath, but the Department refuses to differentiate between new schools on the basis of the language of tuition in the school. This means that the Irish language rights of both parents and children are being disregarded and everyone involved in this campaign believes that this is a situation that cannot continue. Not only do we want to see Gaelscoil Ráth Tó recognised, but we wish to see the Department change their criteria for the recognition of new schools, which is currently stacked again new Irish language schools. The result of this is that no new Gaelscoil has been approved since 2008 and the Department have not indicated that this situation will change," Ms Sheppard went on. "This is as much a national issue as a local one for the Gaelscoileanna movement, which is one of the fastest-growing education sectors in Ireland. We would simply like to see a fairer approach by the Department regarding the setting up of schools that teach through the medium of the first language of the State, according to Article 8 of Bunreacht na hÉireann."

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