Dáil Éireann - Volume 458 - 21 November, 1995

Written Answers. - Irish Language.

112. Mr. McGrath asked the Minister for Education the criteria used in deciding on exemption from the study of the Irish language for children of returning emigrants; if her Department makes these decisions; and if there is an appeals mechanism to review these decisions. [17157/95]

Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach): The regulations governing exemption from the study of Irish contain provision for children of returned emigrants who enroll in primary and second-level schools.

At primary level, a pupil whose primary education up to the age of eleven years was received in Northern Ireland or outside Ireland may be granted exemption by the Department from studying Irish, provided that the parent or guardian was permanently resident in Northern Ireland or outside Ireland during the pupil's period of education up to that age.

At second-level, pupils in the following circumstances may be allowed to substitute any other approved subject [993] for Irish in order to make up the minimum number of subjects to be studied: pupils whose primary education up to the age 11 years was received in Northern Ireland or outside Ireland; and pupils who were previously enrolled as recognised pupils who are being reenrolled at second level after a period spent abroad, provided that at least three years have elapsed since the previous enrolment in the State and the pupils is at least 11 years of age on reenrolment.

Information concerning the conditions which apply to the granting of an exemption is circularised to schools. Applications for exemption at primary level are dealt with centrally in the Department. The managerial authorities of second-level schools have been delegated authority by the Department to grant exemptions in accordance with prescribed procedures and criteria and subject to regular monitoring by the Department.

The criteria providing for exemption are kept under review and are updated periodically to take account of new circumstances.

There is no formal appeal procedure against decisions in this matter. However, the Department considers fully the views of parents dissatisified with decisions regarding exemptions and endeavours to ensure that exemption criteria are applied equally and fairly throughout the school system.