Seán Ó Cuirreáin, First Ever Ombudsman Steps Down Today Because of Government Inaction

Conradh na Gaeilge pays tribute today to Seán Ó Cuirreáin, the Irish Language Commissioner, who stepped down today, Sunday 23rd February 2014, because of Government inaction and the marginalisation of the language and the Gaeltacht as a result of that inaction.

Donnchadh Ó hAodha, President of Conradh na Gaeilge, said:

“Seán Ó Cuirreáin is a massive loss to the country but we understand completely the reasons for his resignation. This brave step taken by him should be taken in context. No other ombudsman has resigned due to a lack of action by the Government in Ireland but he felt that he had no other choice because the Government are not willing to guarantee the Gaeltacht community State service through Irish, without condition or question. Basically, the state system is pushing the use of English on the Gaeltacht community and are adding to the decline of the Gaeltacht. Also the Government is not ensuring enough civil servants in the South that can provide services to the public in Irish and in English.”

The General Secretary of Conradh na Gaeilge attended a protest march today, organised by the Gaeltacht community in Conamara, from the Offices of the Language Commissioner to the offices of the Department of Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht. The protest showed their appreciation of the work of the Commissioner that has stepped down and also showed their anger with the Department. They delivered a letter of protest at the Department’s offices.

Julian de Spáinn, General Secretary of Conradh na Gaeilge, said:

“The protest march organised by the Gaeltacht community in Conamara, a week after Lá Mór na Gaeilge in Dublin at which up to ten thousand people marched, shows that the community do not believe that the Government are serious about solving the problems highlighted by the Language Commissioner. They do not want more empty promises or statements that they are listening to their concerns. They want action immediately.”

Based on the recommendations of An Coimisinéir Teanga and those voiced at public meetings across the country, below are the demands Conradh na Gaeilge to ensure language rights and equality for Irish:

  • The Gaeltacht community must be guaranteed State service through Irish, without condition or question, by the end of 2016;
  • State services must be made available in Irish to the Irish-speaking community at the same standard as they are provided in English;
  • A comprehensive rights-based Irish-language act must be enacted in the north;
  • The Official Languages Act 2003 must be strengthened in 2014;
  • The derogation of the status of Irish as an official language of the European Union must not be renewed after 1 January 2017; and
  • The Irish-language and Gaeltacht community must be recognised as stakeholders in the implementation of The 20 Year Strategy for the Irish Language 2010 – 2030 in the south and in the Irish-Language Strategy in the north.

END
 
MORE INFORMATION:
 
Donnchadh Ó hAodha,
President, Conradh na Gaeilge
+353 (0)87 2421267 / +353 (0)1 4757401
 
Julian de Spáinn,
General Secretary, Conradh na Gaeilge
+353 (0)86 8142757 / +353 (0)1 4757401

NEWS RELEASE
Date: 23 February 2014
For immediate release
 
NOTES FOR THE EDITOR:
 
Conradh na Gaeilge Demands:

  1. A deadline must be set by which employees of the State dealing with the Gaeltacht community must have fluent Irish, without condition or question by the end of 2016 – native Irish speakers should not be forced to conduct their business in English with state agencies.
  2. The recruitment quota for people with competency in both Irish in the public service must be increased from 6% to 30% within the next 10 years – under the new system envisaged by the Government, it would take over 28 years to increase the percentage of staff with competence in Irish in the Department of Education and Skills from the current 1.5% to 3%.
  3. Eight years on from the British Government’s promise to legislate for the Irish language as part of the St. Andrew’s Agreement, a clear and agreed timetable for the enactment of a rights-based Irish-language Act needs to be published.
  4. The Official Languages Act 2003 must be strengthened, not weakened in 2014; this includes the retention and strengthening of an independent Office of An Coimisinéir Teanga.
  5. The derogation of the status of Irish as an official language of the European Union should be done away with after 1 January 2017.
  6. The Irish-language and Gaeltacht community must be recognised as stakeholders in the implementation of The 20 Year Strategy for the Irish Language 2010 – 2030 in the south and in the Irish-Language Strategy in the north. It is imperative that the crucial high-level structures between authorities and Irish-language community organisations is established immediately.

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 and other locations across the country. www.cnag.ie/courses

Associated Organisations of Conradh na Gaeilge