The DUP has accused Education Minister John O’Dowd of “stepping up its cultural war” with an initiative to promote Irish in primary schools.
The Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment (CCEA) wrote to principals of controlled primary schools last month inviting them to help develop a programme to teach Irish to children in their schools.
DUP MLA Nelson McCausland said: “This is a further initiative in Sinn Fein’s cultural strategy. They have ‘weaponised’ the Irish language and want to use it to convince unionists that they are really Irish and Gaelic.
“Having failed to win their terrorist war and with support for the Union at an all-time high in Northern Ireland, Sinn Fein are now placing more and more emphasis on their cultural war.”
The CCEA said it had written the letters – on behalf of the Department of Education.
But Mr O’Dowd said yesterday Mr McCausland’s claims were “nonsense” and that he had no personal involvement with the letter.
“Officials confirmed to me that as part of the normal day-to-day running of the Department of Education, and in engagement with the curriculum advisory body, they sent out a letter to all schools asking them would they be interested in this project,” he said.