Rights of Irish speakers in hospital

 

Madam, - I refer to the letter from Dr Maurice Guéret, regarding the lack of neurologists in the public health service. Dr Guéret implies that money which could be spent on employing neurologists is being wasted by Minister Micheál Martin on employing Irish language officers.

Is Dr Guéret implying that there is no medical need for the promotion of Irish in the public health service? Do Irish speakers never get ill? I used to visit cancer patients in St Luke's Hospital, Rathgar, on Sundays. In the ward I used to visit there was space for about 20 patients. On average, two or three of those patients were native speakers of Irish, mostly from the Galway and Donegal Gaeltachts, but occasionally one would meet an Irish speaker from Co Waterford. I met at least one patient from Inis Meáin, Co Galway, who spoke no English at all.

People on the west coast are a lot more prone to certain skin cancers than people in the rest of the country. Irish speakers of the older generation, though they usually have a fair share of English, are a lot happier when they can explain their intimate details in Irish. The same applies to that generation in regard to receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession).

Dr Guéret refers to Alzheimer's patients. I have heard that, in certain cases of memory loss, patients can remember only their first language.

The Irish language, as always, is an easy target for those who seem to think that Irish speakers shouldn't have any rights. We had years of plenty during the Celtic Tiger economy. We were improvident, and didn't plan for the future. But we still have millions from the National Lottery. There is no reason why Irish language officers couldn't be employed. Why not go one step further and employ Irish-speaking neurologists?

Irish speakers shouldn't allow themselves to be treated like dirt, even "in the national interest". - Yours, etc.,

SÉAMAS DE BARRA,

Beaufort Downs,

Dublin 14.