Plan for optional Leaving Cert Irish


Madam, – Seán Flynn’s article on the Irish language (February 19th) mentions that the State spends about €500 million a year on (second-level) Irish language education. According to a recent statement by Prof Ed Walsh, the total spend on promoting Irish is closer to €1.2 billion a year, however. Yet as Dr Kevin Williams says, the result of this spend is the ability of people to use Irish is “a manifest failure”. Fine Gael’s policy is surely based on the reality that after almost 90 years of force-feeding Irish to our children, at high cost to the taxpayer, the result is “a manifest failure”. It is questionable whether new life can be breathed into it through continued compulsion, as Micheál Martin proposes.

Fewer than 20,000 people are native speakers today and that number is decreasing. Choice, not force, may prove to be a more sensible approach, as well as spending some of the €1.2 billion on teaching another language, such as Chinese, as suggested recently by Prof Walsh. – Yours, etc,


Military Road,

Killiney, Co Dublin.

Madam, – All of the comment on the above issue misses the the point. If we are to get jobs back into our country we must start to prioritise and learn a European language or Mandarin at an early age in order to attract companies to our so-called well-educated workforce. Are we seriously to believe that a graduate of any discipline with fluent Spanish or Mandarin cannot get a job? Would we not prefer a taoiseach who could speak one of these useful languages over one who has fluent Irish? Without focusing on these languages we may all be fluent Irish speakers, but will be for the most part unemployed ones. – Yours, etc,


Kiltoom, Co Roscommon.

Madam, – As a secondary school student, I believe it is an outrage that Fine Gael plan to remove Irish as a core subject. I feel Irish is an important subject, for it is part of our culture and heritage. The Irish language is one of the things that makes Ireland unique. Many of my family members outside Ireland are jealous that I get the chance to study Irish in school. Considering this and Fine Gael’s desire to make Irish non-compulsory, I think that we in Ireland are ungrateful for the chance to speak and learn our native tongue. – Yours, etc,


Dale Drive,

Stillorgan, Co Dublin.