Education officials breached law over patronage
The Department of Education breached the law by not appropriately considering Irish language requirements in choosing a patron for a new school, a watchdog investigation has found.
An Coimisinéir Teanga, the Irish Language Commissioner, probed the patronage of a planned school in north Dublin after the decision was taken not to award patronage for a Gaelscoil.
A number of complaints on the matter were made to his office in 2016 and a summary of the ensuing investigation is included in the agency's 2017 annual report, which is to be published today.
The Commissioner, Rónán Ó Domhnaill, says his probe has led to the department considering a new system for patronage that will place a far greater emphasis on the demand for Irish language schools when new schools are being established.
The investigation concluded that the failure by the Department of Education to take the Irish language into account when choosing a patron for a new school for the Drumcondra/Marino/Dublin 1 area breached their statutory duties under the Education Act.
Under the current regime for the establishment of new schools, the patron with the highest number of expressions of interest is the one chosen to establish the new school.
The Irish Language Commissioner has said this is recognised as a major obstacle to the development of Irish-medium education.
Mr Ó Domhnaill said that as a result of the investigation, the Department of Education has made a recommendation that it will place a far greater emphasis on the demand for Irish language schools when new schools are being established.