The first Irish language school in East Belfast to move

The first Irish pre-school in a Protestant and federal district in East Belfast, which was due to open in September, had to find a new location due to an online abuse campaign.

Naíscoil na Seolta was shown a building on the site of Braniel Elementary School.

Sixteen pupils enrolled to begin their education through the Irish language in September of this year.

In a statement, Naíscoil’s board said it was with mixed feelings that Naíscoil na Seolta had made the decision to move to another location in East Belfast.

“However, there has been a small-scale social media campaign to try to move forward. This has been addressed using the right channels.

However, with children’s wellbeing at the forefront of our minds, we decided to seize a new opportunity.

“The Braniel site has always been a temporary site, as we have developed plans for a permanent home in East Belfast.

«In the past weeks it has emerged that a new location has become available to us. The new location is larger, more parent-friendly, and builds on our existing relationships in East Belfast. The new location will be announced very soon, after we’ve spoken to parents and funders.

«Naíscoil na Seolta has always been about deepening community ties, and those relationships will continue, no matter where we are. We remain committed and passionate about bringing an integrated middle Irish education to East Belfast.»

The school statement said: “It is with great sadness and regret that we had to inform our school community today of Naiscoil na Seolta’s integrated decision to relocate due to the actions of individuals not associated with the school.

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“Due to the ongoing hate campaign on social media against some individuals and the combined Naiscoil na Seolta, it is with great sadness that she chooses to relocate.

“A campaign was started on social media and fueled by people not associated with the school, nor parents of our school who are clearly not interested in facts and facts, who allowed disgusting comments to be posted that were filled with unfounded false allegations about certain individuals and Naiscoil.

“Braniel PS is not and should never be considered a contested space.

“We are proud to be a common space for all. We welcome all children, parents, families and individuals regardless of religion, creed, creed or language and always our will.

«Comments made mostly by those who are not from our school community, on social media do not in any way reflect the opinions and beliefs of the referees and the entire school staff.»

The statement was signed on behalf of the Board of Governors, the director and staff of Braniel Nursery and Elementary School.

The nursery recently received £73,000 (€85,816) from Foras na Gaeilge, the Northern and Southern body for the promotion of the Irish language, for its operating costs.

Its stated aim was to provide an average Irish primary education in the area.

«Negative and distortion»

Linda Ervin, Irish Language Development Officer at Turas, the language organization that has been running Irish lessons for adults at Skainos Center in East Belfast for a number of years, is among those behind Naiscoil na Seolta.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Drivetime, Ms Ervine said they felt it was best to pull out of Braniel.

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«There were lies, misrepresentations and rumors about our intentions. We were there temporarily for 16 three-year-olds and they were trying to connect us to the political situation,» she said.

«That negativity and distortion is not what we’re about or who we are.»

Ms Irvin said there were 16 places available at the school, 14 of which have been filled.

“We are a nursery in an integrated sector, where the target is 40% of each community and 20% of the other, and that is the square we have been waiting for.”

Ms Irvin said there were 16 places available at the school, 14 of which have been filled.

“We are a nursery in an integrated sector, where the target is 40% of each community and 20% of the other community, and that is the square we keep in mind.”

She thanked those who had sent messages of support, and said they «come from all communities in Northern Ireland».

Additional Reports PA

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