Irish spoken in some areas for 'first time since Famine'


SEACHTAIN na GAEILGE: IRISH IS being spoken in some areas of the country for the first time since the Famine, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin claimed in the Dáil during a debate on the language for Seachtain na Gaeilge.

Mr Martin acknowledged the ambition of the 20-year strategy to increase the number of people speaking Irish on a daily basis from 83,000 to 250,000, but he said children were now speaking Irish in towns and cities around the country and he claimed the previous government had made great progress in Irish.

He warned, however, that the Government was “about to make a terrible decision in regard to small rural and Gaeltacht schools”, and the move would endanger Gaeltacht areas. He also criticised the Government’s decision to abolish elections for the Irish language authority, Údarás na Gaeltachta, and replace them with an appointed board, which he claimed “will be open to a lot of cronyism”.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said the Government was engaged in job creation in the Gaeltacht through investment in energy, broadband and water.

Opening the debate, which took place through Irish, Mr Kenny said the Gaeltacht Bill would start the process of linguistic planning in Gaeltacht areas based on the 20-year strategy.

The Irish language “gives us an opportunity to improve our image on the international stage”, according to Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore. “We can bring the language forward safely to the next generation to show to the world we have respect for this part of our culture and that Irish is of value to world culture,” he said.

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams said there had been no meeting of the Cabinet subcommittee since May last year and there was “no evidence of any saving of money” through the merging of the office of the language commissioner and the ombudsman. His party colleague Aengus Ó Snodaigh described the Irish language as a “jewel” which should be worn and shown, but Irish was currently a “jewel on display in a museum to be looked at”.

All party leaders paid tribute to TG4 and Raidió na Gaeltachta for their coverage of the language.