Government ‘worst since foundation of State’ for supporting Irish

Garda Irish language strategy a role model for all departments to promote rights

The Coalition may have been successful in exiting the economic bailout but it is the worst Government at promoting the Irish language since the foundation of the State, protestors have claimed.

Members of Conradh na Gaeilge and the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) held a vocal and colourful demonstration outside Leinster House today 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.

Some demonstrators wore Santa outfits, all wore Santa hats, with red T-shirts bearing the legend: "Níl uaim ach mo teanga féin a labhairt" (All I want is to speak my own language).

Red tape across their mouths represented the failure of the State to allow them to speak their own language.


During the protest they shouted slogans including "Enda Kenny, end of Gaeilge" and "Cearta teanga, cearta daonna" (language rights, human rights).

Posters included “Act now on Irish language” and “Fine GAEL??? Tribe of the IRISH???”

Feidhlim Seoige, USI vice president for the Irish language, said the resignation of the Irish language commissioner showed how unsupportive the Government had been. Previous governments had been "half successful" in their attempts at resurrecting the language.

But “this is the worst Government towards promotion of the Irish language since the beginning of the State”.

The campaigners said they had only two requests for Christmas - language rights and the language commissioner.

They want the Government to meet Irish language commissioner Seán Ó Cuirreáin before he leaves office in February, after the surprise announcement of his resignation last week over the State’s failure to act on its legal obligations to the first national language.

Conradh na Gaeilge general secretary Julian de Spáinn highlighted the commissioner’s warning about the Government’s plans for a maximum of 6 per cent of new public service recruits to have Irish.

It would take 28 years to increase the 1.5 per cent of people in the Department of Education who provide a service in Irish to 3 per cent and 3 per cent “would still be woefully inadequate”.

And he praised the Garda Síochána as a role model for all Government departments to follow for Irish language development.

Mr de Spáinn said the Garda Commissioner met the Irish language commissioner to work out how they 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”.

Niamh Ní Chróinín, a Trinity College Irish student said Irish has not been treated as fairly as English even though both are our national languages.

Ms Ní Chroinin is also president of the 1,200-member Trinity Irish language society, one of the largest student societies in the college.

“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.

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran is Parliamentary Correspondent of The Irish Times