The Minister and the Language


Sir, – Having read the articulate letters, written in English by correspondents whose first language is apparently Irish, I cannot share their apprehension in relation to the minister’s linguistic shortcomings.

Assuming that all those whose first choice of language is Irish would favour even greater Government support for the Irish language, I would suggest that the section of the population that language activists need to win over is the large swathe which uses English for its daily discourse and shows little sign of any intention to change this.

It is probably true to say that the typical 21st century Irish person is likely to be somebody who lives in an urban area, uses the English language and only encounters Irish on official documents and road signs but mainly chooses to look at the English version. It is unlikely that such a person considers the Irish language to be a key part of identity.

Perhaps it might be more productive for the language activists to concentrate on the real challenge facing the Irish language, which is widespread apathy, rather than on the minor linguistic shortcoming in a Minister who is moving to overcome that difficulty and is, by reputation, highly able and well disposed to their cause.

I look forward to the continued efforts of the Irish language lobby to promote Irish in a language of which they have a great mastery and one which their target audience can understand. Yours, etc,


Hermitage Close,

Dublin 16