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The first Irish language pre-school in east Belfast will be housed at Braniel Primary School.

Naíscoil na Seolta will open to 16 children in September 2021.

It will be run separately from Braniel but will open in a building on the site of the 400-pupil primary.

Naíscoil na Seolta recently received £73,000 from Foras na Gaeilge, the north-south body for the promotion of Irish language, for its running costs.

The pre-school is planned as a step to the first Irish-medium primary school in the east of the city.

'Over the moon'
The only Irish-medium school in south Belfast, Scoil an Droichid, is waiting for a move to a new, bigger, school building.


Irish-language teacher Linda Ervine and the language organisation Turas, are among those behind Naíscoil na Seolta.

Turas has been running Irish classes for adults in the Skainos centre in east Belfast for a number of years.

Pupils in pre-school
IMAGE COPYRIGHTREUTERS
image captionThere are now more than 7,000 pupils in Irish-medium education in Northern Ireland
In a statement to BBC News NI, Ms Ervine said Naíscoil na Seolta would open in a purpose-built mobile classroom which was already equipped for early-years learning.

"Setting up Naíscoil na Seolta was the next natural step for us, given the increased number of people learning Irish in east Belfast over the last nine years," she said.

"It's wonderful that parents will now be able to choose the option of integrated Irish-medium pre-school education for their children," she added.

She said she was "over the moon with the site and its facilities, which are beyond what we had hoped for".

"It's all the more exciting to be taking this step alongside our friend Diane Dawson and the wider community at Braniel Primary School," she added.

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