Future of Irish to be made key issue for election


DEBATE:WITH JUST days to go before the first election television debate in Irish, on Wednesday, between the three party leaders, language organisations have stepped up their campaign to defend Irish as a core subject for the Leaving Certificate.

Conradh na Gaeilge says it is canvassing all candidates in the election on this issue, and on full implementation of the new 20-year strategy for the Irish language.

Some 300 people from Irish colleges in Gaeltacht regions attended a meeting on the issue last week in Furbo, Co Galway.

Last week, two Fine Gael candidates in Galway West distanced themselves from their party leader’s proposal to drop Irish as a compulsory Leaving Certificate subject. Galway county councillor Sean Kyne and Senator Fidelma Healy Eames have acknowledged there should be a review before any such decision.

The Labour Party has denied a claim by Minister for Social Protection Eamon Ó Cuív last week that it supported Fine Gael’s proposal. Labour leader Eamon Gilmore says his party is committed to the retention of Irish as one of the three core compulsory subjects for the Leaving Certificate. He believes the teaching of Irish “needed significant reform”. “An objective of language policy should be to ensure that students leaving school should be able to conduct a conversation in Irish with their peers. “This is not always the case at present,” he said. He will take part with Fianna Fáíl leader Micheál Martin and Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny in TG4’s three-way debate on Wednesday – the first such televised debate outside Dublin.

The 50-minute debate may be prerecorded, to allow for English subtitles, and will be broadcast from TG4’s Baile na hAbhann headquarters, Co Galway, after the 7pm news.