Official Languages Bill

 

Sir, – Efforts by Irish language ideologues to legally impose the Irish language on an unwilling public are taken to new heights of lunacy in the recently announced Official Languages Bill.

Items such as the requirement that at least 20 per cent of civil service recruits be proficient in Irish risk being both discriminatory and inflammatory, in addition to being utterly impractical.

Students with learning difficulties are often exempted from studying Irish – does that mean they, along with immigrants will be legally disadvantaged in getting a job in future?

Recruitment in the public sector is already difficult for many roles, given salary and other constraints. Only about 20,000 people speak Irish daily in the country, and less than 100,000 claim proficiency. Anyone who thinks we are going to find enough candidates proficient in Irish every year, in the right location, and with the right qualifications to fill vacant roles must be living in an Irish-speaking bubble.

Any proficiency test will amount to little more that a token recitation of rote-learned phrases, never to be uttered again post-interview. It will do nothing for the language but will stand as a frustrating and oppressive barrier for many, and as provocative and hostile political assault by others.

This legislation is destined to be an abject failure in its ambition of reviving or popularising Irish; much like the head-in-the-sand approach that continues to maintain Irish as a compulsory subject for the Leaving Cert. – Yours, etc,

JOHN THOMPSON,

Dublin 7.