Demand for Irish medium education growing and sector must be adequately supported, says Alliance representatives

Alliance Education spokesperson Nick Mathison MLA and colleague Sian Mulholland MLA, party spokesperson on Young People, have called on the Education Minister to ensure that the Irish-medium education sector is sufficiently resourced in order to meet growing demand.

Education Nick Mathison Sian Mulholland

They were speaking following an Irish-Medium Research Symposium held yesterday (7 February) which explored the Queens University research paper, ‘Fair? Shared? Supported? Examining expectations and realities for Irish-medium practitioners’.


Mr Mathison has said: “The research presented here has demonstrated the significant number of challenges currently facing the Irish-medium education sector. Such challenges include a lack of classroom-based materials, issues with recruiting staff, and the physicality of school buildings and facilities, which are struggling to meet growing demand.


Despite these challenges, the sector has seen a growth of 8.5% over the last 5 years, with a further projected growth of 4% for the next 5 years. Speakers throughout the afternoon highlighted the importance of seeing this reflected at departmental level, and ensuring that the Irish-medium sector is properly valued and supported.


Irish-medium education has an important part to play in improving outcomes identified in the ‘A Fair Start’ report, and it was particularly welcome to hear from Professor Noel Purdy on the importance of ensuring it is properly resourced.


Education in Northern Ireland has been chronically underfunded for years, resulting in pressures being felt across the system as a whole. With an Education Minister finally in-post, I would urge him to ensure that the Irish-medium sector receives the investment and support it needs in order to meet demand.”


Ms Mulholland added: “As the parent of children who are being educated within the Irish-medium sector, I understand the importance and value that bi-lingual immersion education has on the academic development of a child.


“However, I also see first-hand some of the challenges the sector is facing. I hope that long-term strategic investment can be achieved so that those parents who choose to educate their children in two languages can do so with ease and confidence.”