Political Parties North & South Taking A Stand For Irish-Language & Gaeltacht Rights In Europe

Conradh na Gaeilge has compiled a comprehensive chart detailing the answers of European election candidates to questions regarding language rights for the Irish-speaking and Gaeltacht community as an informative resource for the public before they cast their vote this week.

Conradh na Gaeilge called 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 were elected; the resulting bailíodh responses of the European election candidates have been complied online and made available at www.cnag.ie to advise the Irish-speaking and Gaeltacht community of those candidates' commitment to their language rights.

Cóilín Ó Cearbhaill, President of Conradh na Gaeilge says:

“Information regarding the candidates’ attitudes towards the Irish language will be vital for tying those elected with the commitments they have made to the Irish-speaking and Gaeltacht community in the past few months.

“Following their election, Conradh na Gaeilge will contact every candidate that chose a future for the Irish language while canvassing to discuss various measures they can now take as members of the European Parliament or local councillors on behalf of the Irish-language and Gaeltacht community.”

Conradh na Gaeilge is circulating the names of candidates who have chosen a future for our language among the Irish-speaking and Gaeltacht community before the elections, in recognition of the candidates’ official support for the language and to give the public a chance to take the candidates’ attitudes to Irish into consideration when voting on 22 and 23 May 2014.

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

“At least one candidate from every political party, bar one in the south and six in the north, answered the questions put to them by Conradh na Gaeilge, meaning that Conradh na Gaeilge’s chart of European candidates gives a comprehensive insight into the attitudes of independent politicians and political parties alike regarding the Irish language and Gaeltacht language rights.

“With the Irish-speaking and Gaeltacht community now armed with this valuable information, each of us can choose a better future for our language by casting our vote for the politicians who will best protect our language rights, at home and in Europe.”

Conradh na Gaeilge’s entire information sheet for the local and European elections is available online at http://issuu.com/cnag/docs/29ma2014_bileog_toghchan2014_rp or at www.cnag.ie. END

FURTHER INFORMATION:

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

Peadar Mac Fhlannchadha
National Project Coordinator, Conradh na Gaeilge
+353 (0)87 4188050 / +353 (0)91 567824

NEWS RELEASE
Date: 20 May 2014
For immediate release

NOTE FOR THE EDITOR:

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. www.cnag.ie/courses

FACTS ABOUT THE IRISH LANGUAGE FOR CANDIDATES:

  • 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.

THE DEROGATION ON IRISH IN THE EUROPEAN UNION:

  • 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