HC Deb 26 July 1990 vol 177 cc564-5W
Dr. Thomas

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what is the total funding made available by his Department each year for the maintenance of the Irish language.

Dr. Mawhinney

Irish is widely taught in schools and colleges of further education in Northern Ireland. It is also available in initial teacher training and in the universities. However, the costs of these forms of support are not held centrally.

In addition, full Irish-medium education is provided in two schools, Bunscoil Phobal Feirste in Belfast and Steelstown primary school in Londonderry. In 1989–90 the running costs for such Irish-medium education were approximately £367,000. Capital grants have also been made in the past to the Bunscoil amounting to £443,000. A further allocation of £20,000 has been made available to Bunscoil Phobal Feirste to assist in the development and production of curriculum materials in Irish language.

Funding of Irish language projects by the central community relations unit also began last year under the cultural traditions programme and grant in the region of £90,000 was paid. Provision in the present financial year is around £200,000 including support for the Ultach trust.

In addition, funding has been provided for a project at Queen's university, Belfast to research the origins of Irish place names; funding in this financial year is £130,000.

Mr. Kilfedder

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what representations he has made to the Irish Government to release members of the Protestant minority from the need to pass examinations in Irish as a condition of public employment.

Mr. Brooke

I have not raised any matters relating to the Protestant minority in the Republic with the Irish Government. However, questions relating to the language requirement for Northern Ireland residents seeking employment in the education sector in the Irish Republic have been raised.

Mr. Corbyn

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what are the reasons for the bans on the use of Irish in prisons(a) in correspondence, (b) during visits and (c) on forms; what is the average time taken to censor Irish language publications for prisoners' use; and what is the practice on the provision of opportunities for Irish sports in prisons in Northern Ireland.

Mr. Cope

I regret that in the time available it has not been possible to provide the information requested. I shall write to the hon. Member as soon as possible.

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