Conradh na Gaeilge is disappointed at the lack of understanding shown by an Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD on the programme Documentary on One: Fine Gaeilgeoir due to be broadcast on RTÉ Radio One today (Saturday, 25 July 2015) at 2.00pm, where the Taoiseach denies that Gaeltacht areas are under pressure and professes the opinion that the number of Irish speakers therein is increasing.
Cóilín Ó Cearbhaill, President of Conradh na Gaeilge says:
“It is clear that the Taoiseach is mistaken if he thinks that the number of Irish speakers in the Gaeltacht is growing, even minimally - the bulk of research and linguistic studies contradict such a statement. There is no question but that a reduction in the number of Irish speakers in the Gaeltacht has taken place; there is a large body of research from various sources that support this, but more importantly, the Gaeltacht community itself recognises the problems that are putting pressure on Irish as the everyday language of use in the community.
“These are the same problems which were identified at local meetings that were held throughout the country as part of the discussion on education in the Gaeltacht in recent months. The Gaeltacht community are seeking support from the Government to solve these problems and to help ensure the continuation of the Irish language as the language of use in the Gaeltacht today and in to the future.”
Conradh na Gaeilge is calling on the Taoiseach to recognise the language and economic crisis in the Gaeltacht and ensure the necessary supports and funding are made available to local community groups that are preparing language plans in the various Gaeltacht areas under The 20 Year Strategy for the Irish Language in the south.
Peadar Mac Fhlannchadha, Advocacy Manager with Conradh na Gaeilge says:
“The Taoiseach also said that Gaeltacht areas shouldn’t be 'Exclusive Reservations' that people without Irish can’t live in. The Conradh believes, however, that a satisfactory structure must be put in place to support people newly living in Gaeltacht areas without fluency, to learn the language, to integrate with the local community there, and to the demonstrate to them the importance of the language to the Gaeltacht. Not only that, but it is essential not to violate the language rights of native Irish speakers in the Gaeltacht, and it is therefore essential also that adequate supports are made available to native Irish language speakers."
According to the Taoiseach’s statement on the programme Fine Gaeilgeoir, the appointment of Joe McHugh TD as Minister for the Gaeltacht had to do with geographical concerns that Donegal would be represented in Government, and it seems that McHugh was chosen for the junior ministry because the Deputy had been around for a while; the Taoiseach also believed it was an important signal for people that someone who had lost his Irish could regain fluency in the language. While Conradh na Gaeilge commends Minister Joe McHugh TD for improving his Irish substantially since he was appointed Minister for the Gaeltacht in July 2014, it is clear from the Taoiseach’s statement that the crisis in the Gaeltacht was not taken into account when Deputy Joe McHugh TD was made a junior Minister last year.