Irish-Language Rights On The Elections’ Agenda

Conradh na Gaeilge is calling on candidates in the local and European elections to choose a future for the Irish language and to show their support by taking action to promote Irish if they are elected.

With less than a fortnight left before the local and European elections are held in the north Thursday, 22 May 2014, and in the south on Friday, 23 May 2014, Conradh na Gaeilge is asking all voters to question each candidate’s commitment to the Irish language and to record every candidate’s answers with Conradh na Gaeilge by filling out an online survey at

Cóilín Ó Cearbhaill, President of Conradh na Gaeilge says:

“People are currently gathering information on behalf of Conradh na Gaeilge regarding the commitment of candidates in both the local and European elections towards the Irish language, information which will be vital for tying those elected with the commitments they make to the Irish-speaking and Gaeltacht community in the coming days.”

Conradh na Gaeilge will publish and circulate the names of candidates who choose a future for our language among the Irish-speaking and Gaeltacht community in recognition of their official support, and the information will be distributed to the general public as well insofar as is possible before the elections. If a candidate chooses a future for the language, they are informed that they will be expected to take action on behalf of the Irish language as a result of this and that Conradh na Gaeilge will contact them in the aftermath of the elections to discuss various measures to be taken in the interest of the Irish-language and Gaeltacht community.

Conradh na Gaeilge is asking every candidate whether or not he or she will ensure that services in Irish are provided by the local authority for the Irish-speaking and Gaeltacht community to the same standard as services in English are provided, and whether or not he or she is willing to publicly announce his or her desire to end the current derogation on the status of the Irish language in the European Union by the end of 2016.

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

“This is a pivotal time for the Irish language on many levels, and the Irish-speaking and Gaeltacht community need to stand together to ensure the necessary support for the language is forthcoming from our future politicians, in Ireland and in Europe, before they are elected.”

Conradh na Gaeilge is asking candidates in the north whether or not they are willing to publicly advocate for the enactment of an Irish-Language Act through Westminster Parliament to safeguard the language rights of Irish speakers in the north for example, and whether or not European candidates are willing to speak Irish regularly and as common practice in the European Parliament, or to improve their Irish if they are not comfortable to do so with their current standard of Irish. Conradh na Gaeilge is also recommending that all voters ask local election candidates a question pertaining to the language in the area, regarding local bilingual signage, accommodation for Irish-medium schools or Irish-language centres in the locality, or possibly regarding basic services and offices based in the Gaeltacht for example.

Conradh na Gaeilge’s information sheet for the local and European elections is available in its entirety online at

Answers from both local and European election candidates need to be registered with Conradh na Gaeilge via the online survey at or via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by Tuesday, 20 May 2014. END


Julian de Spáinn,
General Secretary, Conradh na Gaeilge
+353 (0)86 8142757 / +353 (0)1 4757401

Síne Nic an Ailí,
Development Executive, Conradh na Gaeilge
+353 (0)87 6546673 / +353 (0)1 4757401

Date: 14 May 2014
For immediate release


Conradh na Gaeilge is the democratic forum for the Irish-speaking community working to promote the language. There are over 180 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-language courses in Dublin, Galway, Mayo, Tipperary, Newry and other locations across Ireland.


  • Nearly 2 million people on the island of Ireland have some level of Irish
  • According to statistics from the Ipsos MRBI for The Irish Times:
    • 93% of the population in the south support the revival or preservation of the language (ESRI & NUI Maynooth for Michéal Mac Gréil, 2009);       
    • 35% support the use of Irish in the north and 53% support the provision of additional opportunities to learn Irish in the north (NI Omnibus Survey);
    • 27% of the population in the south support Irish as the primary language of the state
  • There are over 200 Gaelscoil, between primary and secondary schools, on the island of Ireland
  • The viability of Irish as a community language in the Gaeltacht is at risk (according to the Linguistic Study of the Use of Irish in the Gaeltacht, 2007)
  • Irish has an economic value to the economy, e.g. it’s worth €6 million to the town / city that hosts the Oireachtas (annual Irish-medium festival); it’s worth over €136 million to the economy in Galway annually; the Irish summer colleges are worth over €20 million to the economy
  • Irish offers additional benefits to its speakers/learners, e.g. It makes it easier to acquire a third and fourth language; there are cognitive benefits (i.e. thinking creatively, sensitivity to communication, problem solving); a better understanding of the heritage of the island, etc.


  • Irish became an official language of the European Union on 1 January 2007, but a derogation was implemented regarding that status, initially for a period of 5 years until the end of 2011, and again until the end of 2016, so that not all of the legal documents which must be translated to the other official languages have to be made available in Irish
  • A shortage of Irish language experts was given as the reason for the derogation, but that shortage no longer exists
  • Furthermore representatives from Ireland don’t have the same opportunity to use Irish in the European Union due to a lack of interpreters
  • It is up to the Irish Government to officially submit a request to the European Union not to renew the derogation, and they need to take that decision soon if a recruitment campaign is to be properly administered between now and 2017
  • People are being employed by the EU at present (e.g. 10 posts for Irish-language lawyer linguists are to be filled in 2014), and there would be more than 180 additional jobs to be filled by 01/01/17 if the derogation is ended, at no extra cost to the Irish Government
  • Maltese was adopted as an official language in 2004, and they were successful in removing the derogation relating to the language within 3 years. This was achieved by giving temporary contracts to many Maltese experts to facilitate them learning a third language while working in EU institutions. The third language is necessary to obtain a permanent job as a language expert
  • What additional benefits would arise for Ireland with the ending of the derogation on the status of Irish in the EU?
    • Irish would be on a par with each of the other 24 official languages in the European Union, including Maltese, Estonian and Latvian
    • 183 high value jobs would be made available between now and 2017 (103 translators, 32 lawyer linguists, 42 secretaries and 6 unit heads) at no cost to the Government of Ireland
    • There would be a long-term benefit on the influence of Ireland in the European Union, as a certain proportion of these people would go on to jobs with responsibility for policy areas in the European Union
    • It would improve the status of Irish and the image of the language in the community in Ireland, especially amongst young people of school age and at third level.

Associated Organisations of Conradh na Gaeilge