People Hit The Dublin Streets in Droves To Support Irish Speaking and Gaeltacht Communities Marching for Equality
Buses from the four provinces of Ireland made their way to Dublin for Lá Mór na Gaeilge on Saturday (15 February 2014), where 10,000 people gathered at the Garden of Remembrance on Parnell Square and marched to Dáil Éireann to demand their language rights and equality for the Irish language.
Coordinated by Conradh na Gaeilge, Lá Mór na Gaeilge was a celebration of Irish for all the family and a massive march for language rights, attracting both members of the Irish-speaking community as well as those with a love for Irish, and drawing crowds of thousands into the streets to show their support for the language.
Donnchadh Ó hAodha, President of Conradh na Gaeilge says:
“Conradh na Gaeilge extends its deepest thanks to the thousands that took to the streets of Dublin to take a stand for language rights, and to show the Governments north and south just how much support the language enjoys among the general public this Saturday, despite the atrocious weather across the country this past week.
“Every single one of the ten thousand people that attended Lá Mór na Gaeilge was happy and willing to take a stand for the Irish language, to take proactive action to ensure a future for our language. Supporters of Lá Mór na Gaeilge have now put it up to the Governments north and south – are they now willing to take the challenge to choose a future for Irish by acting immediately on our demands?”
In keeping with the Dearg Le Fearg / Red With Rage theme for Lá Mór na Gaeilge, the crowd wore red clothes and waved red flags in a striking symbolic display of their anger and disillusionment with the lack of Government support for Irish on Saturday.
Julian de Spáinn, General Secretary of Conradh na Gaeilge says:
“Gaeltacht and Irish-language communities north and south are not happy with either Government, as their basic human right to use their language is neither being supported nor legally protected sufficiently. The aim of Lá Mór na Gaeilge was to drive the Governments to recognise and appreciate the importance and the value of the Irish language for this country, as well as acknowledging the fact that the majority of people on this island have a love for the language, but Saturday’s march is just the beginning – we will continue to campaign our public representatives until we achieve fairness and equality for the Irish-speaking and Gaeltacht communities throughout the island of Ireland.”
Conradh na Gaeilge organised Lá Mór na Gaeilge following The Language Commissioner Seán Ó Cuirreáin’s announcement that he would be stepping down on 23 February 2014 as a result of the lack of support for the language rights of the Irish-speaking and Gaeltacht community from the Government in the south. The campaign for human rights gained momentum with the publication of a report by The Council of Europe on 16 January 2014 which noted that the growth and promotion of the Irish language in Northern Ireland is being blocked by hostile attitudes in Stormont, and a lack of support for its use in the courts and in education.
Based on the recommendations of An Coimisinéir Teanga and those voiced at public meetings across the country, below are the demands Conradh na Gaeilge agus the attendees of Lá Mór na Gaeilge are calling for 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.
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
Date: 16 February 2014
For immediate release
NOTES FOR THE EDITOR:
Conradh na Gaeilge Demands For Lá Mór na Gaeilge:
- 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.
- 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%.
- 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.
- 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.
- The derogation of the status of Irish as an official language of the European Union should be done away with after 1 January 2017.
- 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