THE Department of Education is facing calls to act over concerns that Coláiste Feirste will be 50 per cent oversubscribed in the coming academic year. 

Sinn Féin MLA Pat Sheehan has said the Education Minister Michelle McIlveen must act on her duty to encourage and facilitate Irish Medium Education and ensure schools have their accommodation needs met.

It comes following revelations that Coláiste Feirste is set to welcome 900 pupils this autumn in a school building that is built to accommodate just 600. In recent years the school has been looking at the possibility of opening a campus in North Belfast to help ease the oversubscription..

School Principal Mícheál Mac Giolla Ghunna told BBC NI that the school was facing an  "an unprecedented situation".

"We are looking at using the staff room as a classroom," he said.

"We're looking at using sports facilities as classrooms, we're looking at trying to get extra mobiles, but time is very short here."

West Belfast MLA Pat Sheehan called on the Department of Education to fulfil its obligations to the Irish medium sector. 

"Irish medium is the fastest growing education sector in the North with over 7,000 young people now learning through the medium of Irish here," he said.

"Coláiste Feirste was set up to accommodate 600 pupils, they are expected to welcome 900 this autumn.
“Over 60 per cent of Irish medium schools reside in so-called temporary prefab or modular accommodation. The rapid growth of Irish Medium Education is expected to continue with enrolment figures set to hit 10,000 pupils in the coming years.
"There is a duty on the Department of Education to encourage and facilitate Irish Medium Education and the minister needs to realise this duty isn’t optional. The Minister has an obligation to engage with and address the issues facing Irish Medium Education.”

The Andersonstown News has contact the Department of Education and is awaiting a response.