20 September 2021
State attack on language rights
Conradh na Gaeilge is calling on the Taoiseach and the Minister for Housing to ensure that the appeal made by the Department of Housing is withdrawn immediately
The decision by the State to appeal a High Court ruling to guarantee citizens’ rights to access the Irish language version of planning legislation shows that there is explicit hostility in the state system to providing language rights. Last May Judge Bronagh O’Hanlon ruled that the State was obliged to provide an Irish version of certain Statutory Instruments required by Siobhán Denvir-Bairéad, Gleann Mór Céibh Teoranta and Gleann Mór Cuan Teoranta in a case they were taking against Irish Water in relation to a development in An Cheathrú Rua.
Announcing her judgment Judge O’Hanlon stated: “There are people in this country, particularly those in the Gaeltacht, or [they] who are not living in the Gaeltacht but who speak the Irish language, who want to use the language on an every day basis. They have constitutional rights to do so and the State has a constitutional obligation to facilitate the use of Irish by citizens on an equal footing with English.”
Commenting on the decision by the Department of Housing Dr Niall Comer, President of Conradh na Gaeilge, said:
“It is disgraceful that the State has decided to attack the rights of the Gaeltacht and Irish language community to deal with the State in the first language of the State. It is appalling that the State system is being used to deny language rights rather than upholding the language rights of the Irish-speaking community. It is even more galling that this appeal by the Department is funded by Irish taxpayers, who, by a huge majority, support the Gaeltacht in recent surveys.
It is clear that there is now a significant difference between the official rhetoric of the State, as outlined in the Government’s 20 Year Strategy for the Irish Language, and the de facto policy of the state system in respect of the Irish language, as reflected in the decision by the Department of Housing to attempt to deny the language rights conferred by Judge O’Hanlon in the High Court. It is terrible, and insulting, that the Department of Housing is showing this lack of respect for the Irish language and that they are working conscientiously to deprive the public of their language rights. This would not occur in any other country in the world in relation to the first official language. I would like to commend Siobhán Denvir-Bairéad and her legal team for the stand they are taking to extract fundamental language rights from the State. They should not, of course, have to do this and Conradh na Gaeilge wish them every success in their campaign.”
Peadar Mac Fhlannchadha, Deputy Secretary General and Advocacy Manager with Conradh na Gaeilge said:
“Public leadership is now needed from our politicians, starting with the Taoiseach, to stop the state system attacking the Irish language and to take ownership of a process to ensure that Irish speakers enjoy full language rights. So called “official support” for the Irish language is of no use while the state system is simultaneously denying our language rights. It is indeed incredible, but true, that Irish citizens will have more language rights from the European Union from the beginning of next year than our State is willing to offer us. This is completely wrong and our elected public representatives, who are elected to uphold our rights, must act immediately. As a first step we are calling on Taoiseach Michael Martin, TD and the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O'Brien, TD to stand up and to show leadership, for the rights of the Irish language community, and to ensure that the appeal from the Department of Housing is withdrawn immediately.”
— Ends —
Peadar Mac Fhlannchadha
Bainisteoir Abhcóideachta, Leas-Ardrúnaí
Julian de Spáinn