The Conradh na Gaeilge delegation speaking on the Draft 20 Year Strategy for the Irish Language at the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Arts, Sport, Tourism, Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs meeting in Leinster House at 2.00pm on Wednesday, 20 January 2010, is recommending that a proper fully integrated and graded course for the Irish language is provided in schools; that equal status be given to Irish on bilingual road signage; that the public service adopts a recruitment policy that encourages the employment of competent bilingual members of staff; and that the new language authority noted in the Draft-Strategy continues to support enterprise and create employment in the Gaeltacht areas.
Pádraig Mac Fhearghusa, President of Conradh na Gaeilge says: "It is absolutely essential that Irish is taught effectively throughout our education system, and Conradh na Gaeilge is recommending that a proper fully integrated and graded course for the Irish language, from pre-school to third level, be put into effect without delay. Conradh na Gaeilge is also advocating that continued support and resources should be made available to An Chomhairle um Oideachas Gaeltachta agus Gaelscolaíochta (COGG), the body for Irish-medium education and schools in the Gaeltacht, and the teaching of Irish generally throughout the State's schools, to implement such a course."
Conradh na Gaeilge stresses the importance of effective teacher-training to ensure the aims of the Strategy are realised, and that the use and normalisation of the Irish language amongst trainee teachers should be encouraged through the teaching of subjects through Irish in trainee colleges and through spending the initial weeks of the course in the Gaeltacht, for example.
Conradh na Gaeilge also emphasises the importance of increasing the visibility of Irish in order to normalise and promote the language among the general public. One way of doing this is to give Irish equal status to English on bilingual road signs so that the text in Irish is as visible and as readable as the same text in English on every new sign in future.
Julian de Spáinn, Conradh na Gaeilge General Secretary says: "The public will have a vital role to play in the implementation of the Government's 20 Year Strategy for the Irish Language and Conradh na Gaeilge feels it is imperative that Irish-language institutions are responsible for the Gaeltacht and Gaeltacht communities as part of the Strategy's promotion of the language.
"In terms of our language and culture, the people of the Gaeltacht are entitled to special recognition; the long-term sustainability of the Irish language in the Gaeltacht would be at risk if the general public treat the language with indifference and if the state refuses to accept its importance. Conradh na Gaeilge believes that it is crucial that the new Authority noted in the Strategy continues to have a responsibility for the creation of employment in the Gaeltacht areas, as Údarás na Gaeltachta has done to date, and that adequate resources are provided for the Authority to do so."
Conradh na Gaeilge is advocating the implementation of a public service recruitment policy that would ensure every state department has sufficient staff competent in Irish to provide satisfactory services through Irish. Translation costs would be greatly reduced if civil servants were proficient enough to translate documents internally as opposed to outsourcing work.
Conradh na Gaeilge hopes the Joint Oireachtas Committee presentation will encourage a cross-party agreement on the 20 Year Strategy for the Irish Language and ensure the continued support of the Strategy in coming years.
Pádraig Mac Fhearghusa
President, Conradh na Gaeilge
066 7124169 / 087 2901154
Julian de Spáinn
General Secretary, Conradh na Gaeilge
01 4757401 / 086 8142757