The Minister and the language

Wed, Jul 23, 2014, 01:50

Sir, — As many Irish speakers have stated, the Gaelic language is the first offical language of the State and our native tongue.

If that is the case, why do we need a Department of the Gaeltacht when we don’t have a Department of English? Why are there Irish language schools for Irish people, when the English language schools are only used by foreigners? If Irish is becoming more popular, how come the Gaeltacht has not increased in size since it was created?

Why do we have Údarás na Gaeltachta, which wastes half its €17.5 million funding on administration? How many multinational companies set up in Ireland because of our Irish speakers? Why do our schoolchildren spend so much time on two subjects, Irish and religion, which are of minimal use in getting a job, contribute nothing to the economy or exchequer, and in relation to which most children leave school knowing as much about them as when they started.

Why does the website of An Coimisinéir Teanga focus on Irish language rights, when the Official Languages Act 2003 instructs him to protect the rights of both languages? And why do Irish language activists continually ask for public services through Irish and then not use them? Case in point, for Census 2011, of the 1,662,253 forms submitted, only 7,806, or 0.47 per cent, were the Irish version. – Yours, etc,

JASON FITZHARRIS,

Rivervalley,

Swords,

Co Dublin

A chara, – Aidan Doyle’s assertion that native speakers of Irish prefer to use English with State bodies is misleading. If services through Irish weren’t provided so grudgingly and without question there would be no issue. For no practical reason, many of us have had to wait for extended periods and even produce solicitors’ letters to avail of these services. It would be a terrible mistake to change the constitutional status of Irish as this is our defence against a Government that, in spite of its rhetoric, is doing everything to discourage us from speaking our language. – Le meas,

MAITIÚ de HÁL,

Cearnóg an Ghraeigh,

Baile Átha Cliath 8

Sir,- I am pleased to hear that the Minister for the Gaeltacht, Joe McHugh, has to brush up on his Irish (your editorial, of 19th July 19th).

I hope, however, that he will be realistic and also speak English freely, as he would in any other European country when he has a problem with the local language. I am pleased, since at last the majority of Irish speakers (the ones not fluent in the language) will have a rep familiar with our difficulties, one who might hopefully face the realities that we labour under, such as – the gross imbalance between funding of creative writing in Irish and expenditure on translating official documents; the need to boot the language high priests to allow freedom of expression and modernisation in old-fashioned grammar such as prefixes – which are the bane of students and writers. That would be rebalancing his portfolio, which after all includes Irish culture. – Yours, etc,

RAPHAEL DARCY,

Dundrum.

Dublin 16

Sir, – If and when Joe McHugh attains “fluency in the State’s first official language” (your editorial “A tongue-tied Minister”, July 19th), might he be tempted to show off his newly acquired skill by communicating solely through the medium of Irish while in the Dáil chamber?

If so, I feel such a course of action would be bound to shame the majority of our “linguistically challenged” Deputies currently ensconced in the lower house to enroll into (subsidised?) Irish language classes during the long winter months. Ní faide gob na gé ná gob an ghandail. – Yours, etc,

PAUL DELANEY,

Beacon Hill,

Dalkey,

Co Dublin

A chara, – Bíonn go leor daoine ag fail lochtanna orthu siúd a bhaineann triall as an chuid Gaeilge atá acu. Níl taithí ar bith eile níos comhachtaí chun stop a chur le scaipeadh na dteangan. Ní feictear an friothgníomh céanna le daoine nach bhfuil Béarla foirfe acu pé Éireannaigh iad nó eachtrannach. Ba choir dúinn fáilte a chur roimh éinne atá sásta an iarracht a dhéanamh má theastaíonn uainn an teanga a scaipeadh níos forleithne. (Níl aon amhras orm ach go bhfuil lochtanna ag baint leis an litir seo feasta!) – Is mise,

CÓRA Uí SHEARCAIGH,

Celbridge,

Co Kildare.