Coláiste Lú parents and students hand over petition to Education Minister
The parents and students from Coláiste Lú took their protest to Dáil Éireann today where they handed over a petition to Minister for Education and Skills Joe McHugh pleading for him to save Irish language education in Co Louth.
The Parents’ Council are in their fourth week of public protests over what they describe as the “degaeling of Coláiste Lú”, which is Louth’s only all Irish post-primary college.
In the petition to Minister McHugh they outlined their frustrations at what they see as the downgrading of the school and called on him to take action.
The petition read: “Minister, a chara
“The parents of children still attending Coláiste Lú know that they have to thank their predecessors who waged a long campaign that resulted in a deep immersion Irish gael choláiste being approved and opened in Dundalk in 2013.
“Within a few weeks of it opening the patron – LMETB – then announced to them that it was being downgraded to an aonad. Parents were furious, but ultimately powerless and were forced to accept the new reality imposed by a state body. To give due credit to LMETB, for the next 5 years Coláiste Lú was operated as the CEO of LMETB promised and we are extremely proud that some of our children received the tangible benefits of deep immersion Irish medium education.
“Latent fears turned into horrible reality in the new 2019-20 school year when the school management and patron reneged on commitments which resulted in a new reality that they wanted us to accept, namely that there was no longer to be any meaningful Irish medium education.
“Since then, our attempts to raise the issue with the LMETB have resulted in a single inconclusive meeting. However, instead of being provided with a commitment, or even an aspiration, to swiftly repair damage done to Coláiste Lú’s teaching capacity and build to create a gael choláiste for the North East, parents were told that it wasn’t the patron’s fault, that bureaucratic process took precedence and that parents would effectively have to accept the new reality – again.
“After the meeting LMETB then erased the name ‘Coláiste Lú’ from their portfolio and adopted a new, openly discriminatory, school admissions policy.
“The actions of LMETB and school management demonstrate that pupils seeking Irish medium education in Co Louth are now living in a very hostile environment.
“Parents and children have not been consulted and feel that they have been shabbily treated by state institutions; at best they have been misled; at worst they have been lied to while ulterior agendas have been implemented. This has resulted in the haemorrhaging of pupils and many of the
remaining parents are actively looking to move their children from the school.
“Parents do not want to be taking their children out of school to demonstrate; however, they feel that no one is listening, or cares, and are desperate for someone – anyone – to help.
“We have been told that there are initiatives which have been recently put to officials in the Department of Education & Skills by other patron bodies. We would ask that you ensure that these initiatives, if feasible, are swiftly considered and rapidly approved this week for immediate implementation. These are not some dry dusty theoretical discussion papers; our children’s education and those of future children in the North East is at stake.
“Coláiste Lú is on the point of collapse and there is a very real risk that it will have ceased to exist by end Oct 2019, as a result of having no pupils. Time is of the absolute essence.
“The opening of Coláiste Lú in 2013 was significant event in the North East and was the culmination of a lot of campaigning and hard work.
“If it closes, it will not be easily reopened.
“It will affect and probably halt an aspirational initiative to expand 3rd level Irish medium capacity in Dundalk Institute of Technology by way of a BA (Hons) Irish degree offering.
“Our children will have been betrayed by the school management, the patron and ultimately by the state.
“We beseech you to take action to save Irish medium education in Co Louth.
“If you do not take action, we will not be taking our children out of school again to highlight these broken promises. We have neither the time, nor the energy, to fight against an uncaring system.
“The inertia of the status quo combined with the active hostility in some quarters will have broken our dream of educating our children through Irish.”