Should children of returning emigrants be exempt from Irish?

Some parents want their kids to learn Irish, while others are relieved by the exemption

Veronica Fegan-Smith, her husband Tom and their children Griffin, Fiona, Erin and Kieran moved from New York to rural Clare last year. Photograph: Eamon Ward

Veronica Fegan-Smith, her husband Tom and their children Griffin, Fiona, Erin and Kieran moved from New York to rural Clare last year. Photograph: Eamon Ward

Is the system for exempting schoolchildren from studying Irish fair? It’s a question that goes to the heart of a forthcoming Department of Education review on the system of opt-outs that applies to learning Irish in the classroom.

Irish, controversially, remains mandatory at both primary and second level for most pupils. Students who have been abroad for a period of time or who have certain learning disabilities may be exempted under rules produced by the department and implemented by schools.

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