Silent protest: students oppose Irish language proposal


SEVERAL HUNDRED students marched on Fine Gael headquarters at lunchtime yesterday in protest at Enda Kenny’s proposal to make Irish optional for the Leaving Certificate.

Demonstrators staged a silent sit-down protest at Dáil Éireann before making their way to the party’s headquarters on Upper Mount Street.

The Fine Gael language strategy, announced earlier this month, will make Irish optional after the Junior Cert following a period of consultation with stakeholders. A petition signed by more than 15,000 opposed to the measure was handed in by Aodhán Ó Déa, Irish language officer with the Union of Students in Ireland (USI).

Mr Ó Déa said: “We are angry about this and we won’t vote for Fine Gael if they continue with this policy. Enda Kenny is not happy to meet with us and we’re telling him that if you’re not happy to meet us, Enda, we’re going to come and meet you and that is why we are handing in this petition to Fine Gael headquarters today.”

Yesterday’s demonstration was the first stage of a campaign against the Fine Gael strategy. Many demonstrators covered their mouths with tape in a symbolic act. One protester said Mr Kenny’s move was a “lazy solution to a problem that has been brewing for years”.

Acknowledging problems with the current curriculum, Trinity College Dublin student Jen Ní Mhathúna said that by getting rid of compulsory Irish, Fine Gael was avoiding the issue.

“It’s a lot easier in the short term to just do away with it and not have to deal with what the difficulties in teaching Irish are. In the long term, it is absolutely detrimental to the language.”