BBC News School Report
Students from St Malachy's College will be making the news for real on 16 March 2017 as they take part in BBC News School Report.
The Legacy of the Troubles
As a group we are focusing our School report on the legacy of the Troubles; we decided that it was a matter of upmost importance to Northern Ireland. We spoke to former MLA and Malachian Alex Attwood about his experiences of the conflict whilst at school in North Belfast.
Over 50,000 people were injured and over 3,000 were killed in the thirty year period that spanned the Troubles.
How has its conclusion through the Good Friday and St. Andrews Agreements affected our lives as 15 year olds in present day Northern Ireland and what can we learn from that time?
Included within that number were doubtless dozens of young people. A report by Marie Smyth in 1998 concluded that 26% of all Troubles victims were under the age of 21.
Some, including Rory Gormley, were students of our school community, and their memory lingers on forty years later.
No matter your creed, we can all agree that the Troubles was a truly dark period in our history and one we would be fine to move past. The memory of it lingers on, even as we make progress in areas such as Shared Education, which seeks to unite Catholic and Protestant communities.
Many have the objective of putting the spectre of sectarianism to rest, even in a post-Brexit era of political division. They fear that day will not come for many years.
Peace has been the law of the land for twenty years and numerous cross-community projects have done a great amount to show that there is more to there is more than one side to a community.
In this new environment, the challenges to cross-community participation are great. That doesn’t overturn the momentous work done, and if anything, we can be hopeful that the new generation looks back on sectarianism instead of bringing it into the future.
Edward, Matthew, Gareth and Declan
The Irish Language
Irish is one of the most popular subjects taught in St Malachy’s College. Recent political debates have led to discussions over whether or not funding for the Irish Language should be reduced, with potential drastic effects on Irish in the College.
That being said, with the recent election results and nation-wide response to the proposal of a funding cut, it looks as though an Irish Language Act will be passed. This outcome may help to avoid any loss of jobs or quality of learning being provided for children here in North Belfast.
Irish has always been known as a very enjoyable subject within the College and a high percentage of students continue to study Irish throughout senior school, whether that be GCSE Irish or A-Level Gaeilge.
We carried out a survey amongst younger students in the College and found that over 95% of them find Irish enjoyable and easy to learn as a result of the way it is taught.
In terms of the continuous debate on how Irish is supposedly becoming an “outdated” language, over 65% of students surveyed speak Irish very often, both at school and at home.
Although the Irish Language Act may not seem so apparent to these young students, each of those who understood the details and effects of it believe that it should be passed.
We spoke to Head of Irish at St. Malachy’s, Miss E O’Dare. We asked her about the positive aspects of learning Irish and also her experiences through learning and teaching the language. She said “There is an eagerness to learn Irish and not very many people find it difficult to learn. There is always a high number of students who choose it for GCSE.”
“The benefits of learning any language are that it teaches you communication skills, amongst young people these days the skill of communication is being lost with all the technology. As regards to Irish it helps you stand out against the crowd as you are learning your own native language, you can speak it right here; in Belfast, Dublin or anywhere in Ireland”
“I have a group of friends, that when we get together we would speak Irish and I would say around 50% of the time outside my job I spend speaking Irish. I believe that Irish is a great language to speak and learn, and it is also ever-growing.”
Furthermore, we interviewed Irish speaking students Donal and Ferris about their thoughts on the subject and love of the language.