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Calls for Irish to be taught in Britain

(Barry McCaffrey, Irish News)

A new report has called for the Irish language to be to added to the school curriculum in Britain.

An Irish language group made up of teenagers living in Britain have delivered the report to 10 Downing Street calling for Gaeilge to be introduced into schools across Britain.

The report, 'Raising Standards, Offering Choice' found that Irish is currently the fourth most popular choice among a typical sample of children in British schools.

Student Simon Hughes (18) said the report called on Prime Minister Gordon Brown to consider introducing Irish onto the syllabus of at least one school in every major British city.

"The report that shows that at least five per cent of schoolchildren in Britain would like to study Irish," he said.

Student Gemma Clarke said the group was determined to get its message across to the British and Irish governments.

"Getting into Downing Street was quite nerve-wracking, but this report is too important to be ignored," she said.

"Irish should be taught in British schools, along with a range of other languages."

Schoolteacher Christy Evans, who accompanied the teenagers to Downing Street, said the Irish language campaign was already gathering support.

"There is a growing interest for the Irish language in British schools," he said.

"I'm certain that this campaign will go from strength to strength."

There are 200 schools in Britain teaching Japanese.

The campaign calls for the establishment of 20 'Gaelic Beacon' schools across Britain and urges Mr Brown and Taoiseach Bertie Ahern to explore the opportunities for the Irish language to be introduced into the British national curriculum.

Campaign spokesman Donal Kelleher said that there was a growing interest in the Irish language right across Britain.

"There are already language evening classes in all the main cities in places such as London, Manchester, Liverpool and Glasgow," he said.

"However we realised that there was a demand among young people from Irish families for them to be able to learn Gaeilge as part of the national curriculum.

"We are a multi-cultural society and there are already many different languages being taught in British schools.

"We see no reason why the demand for Irish language can not be accommodated in at least one school in each of the main cities."

December 2, 2007

This article appeared first in the November 30, 2007 edition of the Irish News.

This article appears thanks to the Irish News. Subscribe to the Irish News