Crisis in Irish-speaking community following resignation, warn activists

Seán Ó Cuirreáin stepped down as Coimisinéir Teanga over failures to improve access to State services for Irish speakers

Seán Ó Cuirreáin told the Joint Committee on Public Service Oversight and Petitions on Wednesday that the Irish language is being marginalised by the current system of public administration.

Seán Ó Cuirreáin told the Joint Committee on Public Service Oversight and Petitions on Wednesday that the Irish language is being marginalised by the current system of public administration.

Fri, Dec 6, 2013, 08:57


The decision by Seán Ó Cuirreáin to resign his position as Coimisinéir Teanga this week points to an emerging crisis in the Irish-speaking and Gaeltacht community, language activists and politicians have warned.

Mr Ó Cuirreáin told the Joint Committee on Public Service Oversight and Petitions on Wednesday that the Irish language is being marginalised by the system of public administration. He said he was tendering his resignation following repeated failures by Government to implement measures that would improve access to State services for Irish speakers.

Irish language groups, politicians and academics have voiced concern at Mr Ó Cuirreáin’s resignation and have criticised the Government for not implementing the Official Languages Act.

Conradh na Gaeilge called on the Government to undertake to “immediately resolve” these problems in partnership with An Coimisinéir Teanga. Donnchadh Ó hAodha, president of Conradh na Gaeilge, said Mr Ó Cuirreáin’s resignation was “undoubtedly the worst blow to the Irish language in many long years”.

Dr John Walsh, NUI vice-dean for research at the College of Arts, Social Sciences & Celtic Studies in Galway, said he believed Mr Ó Cuirreáin had no alternative.

“I don’t think Seán Ó Cuirreáin had any choice. He presented evidence that the Government and the Department of the Gaeltacht together have not been serious about the implementation of the Official Languages Act for some years.” Dr Walsh said he was concerned the vacuum left by Mr Ó Cuirreáin’s resignation would be used in a forthcoming review to weaken the Act.

Sinn Féin Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh said it was “a dark day” for the Irish language. Speaking on Radió na Gaeltachta yesterday, Mr Ó Clochartaigh said Minister of State for Gaeltacht Affairs Dinny McGinley should resign.

Fianna Fáil spokesman on Gaeltacht Affairs Michael Kitt said the resignation was “a wake-up call” for the Government. Welsh language commissioner Meri Huws expressed her disappointment at the resignation and thanked Mr Ó Cuirreáin for the role he played in establishing the International Association of Language Commissioners.

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