Garda praised for use of Irish
Conradh na Gaeilge general secretary says Garda is role model for Irish language development
Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan: met the Irish language commissioner to work out how the force would recruit additional people with Irish. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien
The Garda Síochána has been lauded as a role model for Government departments to follow when it comes to Irish language development.
Conradh na Gaeilge general secretary Justin de Spáinn said the Garda Commissioner had met the Irish language commissioner to work out how the force would recruit additional people with Irish “to come to a point where 100 per cent of gardaí in Gaeltacht areas will have Irish in a number of years”.
His praise comes after the State’s commitment to the Irish language has been questioned recently following the resignation of Seán Ó Cuirreáin, the Irish language commissioner. Mr Ó Cuirreáin, whose resignation takes effect in February, told an Oireachtas committee 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.
However, despite the praise for the gardaí, Mr de Spáinn criticised the Government’s decision to reduce, to 6 per cent, the proportion of new recruits to the public service who will be required to have Irish. He said Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin should examine the Garda model as a case study that would work for the whole public service.
He was speaking during a protest outside Leinster House by Irish language activists demanding that the Government act on its legal obligations to give Irish language speakers equality in their right to engage with the State through Irish.
Union of Students in Ireland (USI) vice president for the language Feidhlim Seoige said the resignation of Mr Ó Cuirreáin showed how unsupportive the Government had been towards the Irish language.
“This is the worst Government towards promotion of the Irish language since the beginning of the State”, he said.
Niamh Ní Chróinín, a Trinity College Irish student, said Irish has not been treated as fairly as English, even though both are national languages. “The language commissioner is the person you go to if you have a complaint about the Irish language and without him we’ve nowhere else to go,” she said.