Conradh na Gaeilge and Guth na Gaeltacht have welcomed the speech made by the Gaeltacht Minister of State, Dinny McGinley TD, at the Seanad debate last Wednesday (18 January 2012) where the Minister referred to the progress being made on The 20 Year Strategy for the Irish Language; showed strong support for COGG; and stated that his Department will be consulting with recognised language-planning experts such as Professor Colin Williams as part of the consultation process for the review of the Official Languages Act 2003.
Éamonn Mac Niallais, spokesperson for Guth na Gaeltachta said: "Minister McGinley confirmed that Údarás na Gaeltachta will retain its enterprise functions and expressed his hope that the Government will make a decision on the appointment of a permanent, fulltime chief executive of Údarás na Gaeltachta by the end of this month or soon after. This is a massive relief to the Gaeltacht communities the length and breadth of the country that look to the Údarás for leadership in enterprise and job creation in districts that are sometimes marginalised and isolated from the industry and infrastructure of the cities."
Such certainty was not forthcoming on the question of the Irish-Language Commissioner's Office however; the Gaeltacht Minister could not clarify whether or not the Government would, on foot of the review of the Languages Act, reconsider and revoke the decision they made to close the Office of An Coimisinéir Teanga as an independent statutory office, and to transfer its functions to the Office of the Ombudsman as part of its public sector reform plan.
Julian de Spáinn, General Secretary of Conradh na Gaeilge noted: "It gives the Irish-language community confidence to hear that the recommendations of Professor Colin H Williams will be taken into consideration as part of the review of the Official Languages Act, as Williams is a highly esteemed expert on minority languages and he has both recognised and highly praised Seán Ó Cuirreáin and the work Office of the Language Commissioner."
"Minister McGinley indicated that the Government's decision regarding An Coimisinéir Teanga would be realised in the context of the review of the Act, but does this mean that the Government will be guided by the public to reverse this decision, if people advocate that the Language Commissioner's Office should be kept independent in their submissions and in the surveys they are answering as part of the review of the Languages Act?"
Mac Niallais agrees: "The Irish-language and Gaeltacht communities need to know for certain that their views will be listened to as part of this consultation process, and that if they express their trust in the independent office of An Coimisinéir Teanga, they anticipate that the Government will reverse the senseless decision they made to close the Language Commissioner's Office as an independent statutory office in the first place."
Conradh na Gaeilge and Guth na Gaeltachta believe the Official Languages Act 2003 cannot function as it should without an independent statutory Irish-Language Commissioner's Office, and they are calling on the Government to immediately revoke their decision to merge the office with the Office of the Ombudsman. They are also urging the Irish-language community to show their support for An Coimisinéir Teanga by fully participating in the review of the Act and by submitting surveys and submissions before 31 January 2012.
Julian de Spáinn,
General Secretary, Conradh na Gaeilge
+353 (0)86 8142757 / +353 (0)1 4757401
Éamonn Mac Niallais
Spokesperson, Guth na Gaeltachta
+353 (0)87 6387468
Conradh na Gaeilge is the democratic forum for the Irish-speaking community working to promote the language. There are over 200 branches of Conradh na Gaeilge and since its foundation in 1893, members of the Conradh have been actively promoting Irish in every aspect of life in Ireland and especially its use in their own areas. Conraitheoirí are at the forefront of campaigns to secure and strengthen the rights of the Irish language community. It is also possible to register as an individual member of the Conradh. Conradh na Gaeilge runs Irish courses in Dublin, Galway, Mayo, Tipperary and other places throughout the country as well. www.cnag.ie/courses
Guth na Gaeltachta is a non-political, cross-party campaign concerned with the Irish language and the Gaeltacht. This community campaign was founded in the Gaeltacht to inform the public on the effect the proposed cuts for the Irish language and the Gaeltacht would have and to oppose such cuts. This campaign will focus wholly and completely on Irish language and Gaeltacht issues only. www.guthnag.ie
Aontas Phobal na Gaeilge (APG) is an alliance of Irish-language organisations working to promote Irish across Ireland and the world through more strategic language-planning. Aontas Phobal na Gaeilge consists of Comhaltas Uladh, Comhluadar, Conradh na Gaeilge, Glór na nGael and Seachtain na Gaeilge, organisations dealing with different aspects of the promotion of Irish in the community that came together to form a working alliance that would ensure a better provision of services and more value for money.