No subject

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Tue Jun 14 12:30:53 UTC 2005

Forwarded from Finfacts Ireland Business News -

EU to hire 30 Irish translators at cost of 3.5 million
By Michael Hennigan
Jun 13, 2005, 19:33

The European Union is to recognise the Irish language as an official
working language in the European Union. EU Foreign Ministers meeting in
Luxembourg today supported the proposal, and Irish will now become the
21st official language of the European Union.

>>From January 1, 2007, all significant EU legislation will be translated
into Irish. Plans to extend this to other legislation will be reviewed
four years later. At ministerial level, provisions will be put in place
for Irish to be spoken at council meetings. Irish citizens applying for
jobs with EU institutions, where two or more official EU languages are
required, will be able to put down Irish from January 2007.

The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dermot Ahern said today that the up to
30 translators by the EU will be hired at an initial cost of 3.5m each
year. Ahern said it represented a particularly significant practical step
for the language, and complemented the Government's wider policy of strong
support for Irish in Ireland.

In 1997, an Irish Government Minister was appointed with direct
responsibility for the language but she couldn't speak it. Bizarre but
true! Ireland became a member of the then European Community in 1973 and
renewed the case for recognition of the language following the entry of
ten new members in 2004 and the recognition of their languages.

However, in contrast with Israel's success with Hebrew, the policy of
reviving the Irish language since independence, has been an abject failure
due to lack of a serious commitment at both governmental and society
level. Decades of lip-service and payments of grants has left the language
in a parlous state.

It is simply laughable that the Irish language would be used at EU
ministerial level when most Irish politicians rarely speak the language
apart from a few sentences if at all, at the start of a speech. Irish
language content is also rare in the main Irish daily newspapers and it
has never been a requirement to use Irish when communicating with public

So while this EU measure could be recognised as a belated recognition of
an important part of Irish culture, it is sadly another example of what is
wrong with the EU. Mr. Ahern may not even be able to speak Irish at an EU
meeting, never mind one in Dublin but he welcomes a measure that at least
until Ireland becomes a net payer to the EU Budget, will be paid in full
by German, Dutch and British taxpayers.

Cynicism comes cheap, so here are views other than mine - the words of an
official report that was presented to the Irish Government in 2002:

The establishment of this Commission by the Government in the Spring of
2000 was a ray of hope to the people and friends of the Gaeltacht, people
who for years have been concerned about the obvious decline and gradual
extinction of the Gaeltacht. This Gaeltacht is all that remains of the
large Irish-speaking community which was dominant in this country for
hundreds of years, but has declined continuously in recent centuries.

While the first major action taken by the Free State Government on behalf
of the Gaeltacht was the establishment of the first Gaeltacht Commission
in 1925, the proposals made by the Commission were not acted upon however,
nor were the appropriate resources made available which would have been
required in order to do so.

Seventy-Seven Years Later...

Taking into account the historical erosion of the Gaeltacht and the
further decline in our own lifetime, the Commission is of the view that it
will not be possible to maintain the Gaeltacht as an area in which Irish
remains a community language unless a fundamental change occurs in the way
Irish is treated and in the status of Irish in the rest of the country.
Despite the progress made by individuals and language organisations it is
not evident that any Government has the strategy or understanding to
advance efforts on behalf of the language.

Although the Gaeltacht is the primary concern of this Commission, the
issue of the Gaeltacht cannot be separated from the issue of the Irish
language in the rest of the country. The Commission is not aware of any
Government policy in which the Governments view of the Irish language in
contemporary society is articulated, nor of any vision that demonstrates
that the Government has discussed the role of the Irish language in the
life of the country. Neither does there exist any action plan containing
measurable targets.

The Commission is not aware of any such Government policy or plan. The
Commission is of the view that the State is out of step with emerging
world views on the importance of linguistic and cultural diversity. It is
now recognised that every spoken language is a valuable resource which
provides us with a particular world view a view which is shaped by the
past, which is precious and which stimulates creativity. The death of a
language is recognised as an act of negligence which represents a world
tragedy. If Irish is allowed to die, one of oldest languages in Europe and
Irelands native language will be lost. The revitalization of Irish and all
that goes with it is the sole responsibility of this country.

If its just the intention to keep the language as a national monument, for
use on ceremonial occasions and with the cpla focal being spoken from time
to time, it is unlikely that Gaeltacht people will have much interest in
retaining the language. It is as part of a national policy for the revival
of Irish as a national language that the Commission feels that progress
can best be achieved. The Commission also believes that a unique
opportunity now exists to undertake this work in view of the Good Friday

 Copyright 2005 by

More information about the Lgpolicy-list mailing list