By Alan Healy

The principal of a Derry Gaelscoil has accused education chiefs of ‘failing’ in their duty to promote Irish language speaking schools in the city.

The fresh criticism comes as both Gaelscoil na Daróige and Groarty Integretated renewed their calls for a shared bilingual campus.

Earlier this year, application on behalf on both schools for the shared campus was turned down by the Education Authority (EA).

The Education Authority (EA) said that the application ‘did not meet the criteria’, and that the application had been forwarded to the Department of Education for the final assessment process.

Speaking to the Derry News on Friday, the principal of Gaelscoil na Daróige, Oisín Mac Eó, said that both schools were now waiting on a ‘definite decision’ on their application from the Deaprtment.

He made the comments after children from both schools met made a presentation to local councillors and the Mayor of Derry and Strabane, Cllr Maoliosa McHugh, about the benefits of the proposal.

Mr Mac Eó added that the schools had been collaborating and cooperating to their mutual benefit over the past few years, which had ‘increased our capacity for bringing about such improvements’.

“This has been achieved without detriment to the ethos and practices of both schools,” he said.The creative collaboration culminated in a proposal to provide a new, fit for purpose, cost effective build that would create conditions for the best possible educational and societal outcomes.

“We are still waiting for a definite decision. At this crucial stage in the application we would implore all involved in the decision-making process to approve our proposal.

“We demand an end to the status quo that results in parents and children having to settle for sub-standard accommodation if they strive for immersion or integrated education.”

Mr Mac Eó continued that there was an ‘increasing appetite for immersion, integrated and shared education’ which was reflected locally by the fact that the two-year-old programme and Naíscoil at Gaelscoil na Daróige is full to capacity this year.

“We believe that the increasing demand and growth of integrated and Irish medium should not be stifled by poor accommodation and lack of investment,” he said.

He added that as a parent, Mr Mac Eó, he believed education chiefs were ‘failing’ in what he said was its ‘statutory duty to promote Irish Medium and Integrated Education’.

“This is one the reasons society has not moved on in the last twenty years,” he added.

“The work between these two schools over the last few years has brought communities together and improved educational outcomes for our children.

“A new Campus would meet the needs of the 3,000 homes due to be built on its doorstep. There can be no denying the community support here today as we outlined in our original application.”

He added: “If the EA don't have the vision to support our application we need to see real leadership shown at the highest level of the Department of Education and call on Derek Baker to approve our Shared Campus.”

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