A chara, – I congratulate Rónán Ó Domhnaill on his nomination to the post of Language Commissioner (Pól Ó Muirí, February 11th). But I do not envy him.
Although the language and the Gaeltacht are cultural and economic resources which can, and do, benefit all on this island, and belong to all, both are under threat.
The Gaeltacht is a rural area, and contact with the State is pervasive and frequently intrusive. The outgoing commissioner has documented and demonstrated that, despite the rhetoric, the State has long imposed compulsory English on the Gaeltacht for those who must avail of its services to live.
The Official Languages Act was intended to stem that erosion. However, it has been undermined by a niggardly implementation or by being ignored.
The Act has been under review for two years now – and is likely to be further weakened when amended. Indeed, the Government has already announced the dismantling of the language commissioner’s independence by subsuming the office into that of the Ombudsman – one of the offices subject to oversight by the commissioner, and an important one at that as it deals with the public.
As I believe the Gaeltacht and the language are important to the future of this country and State, and are part of all our heritage which deserves to be invested in to the benefit of all, I took part in Lá na Gaeilge on Saturday to urge the Government to reconsider and invest in rather than further erode the Gaeltacht.
I was heartened to find myself in a crowd of thousands, which I see as encouragement for the incoming language commissioner in his task of vindicating the rights of Irish speakers, by ensuring that government departments meet their legislative commitments generously and sensibly. I hope too that the Government will also take heed, and implement its promises in the 20-year strategy in a sensible and effective manner. – Is mise, le meas
AONGHUS Ó hALMHAIN,
Páirc na Seilbhe,
Baile an Chinnéidigh,
Co Chill Mhantáin.