NEWS FROM THE CELTIC LEAGUE
This time last year Joe McHugh, Donegal North-West TD, was made Minister of State with responsibility for Gaeltacht Affairs. There was widespread anger when it was revealed that Minister McHugh had only a basic knowledge of the Irish language, yet he was given responsibility to deal with matters in the Gaeltacht areas. At the time, Mr. Kenny, An Taoiseach, justified McHugh’s appointment on the grounds that Donegal would have been left without anybody in government representing the county, if he hadn’t appointed McHugh. Mr Kenny added that he gave the job to McHugh as ‘he had been around for a while’.
McHugh’s subsequent attempts to improve his Irish have been turned into an RTÉ documentary which was broadcast on 25th July last. During an interview with Kenny in the documentary he stated, in his opinion, that the number of native speakers was growing, and this has raised the ire of Gaeilgeoirí yet again. Cóilín Ó Cearbhaill, President of Conradh na Gaeilge said that Kenny’s opinion that the number of native speakers is growing was wrong.
Amazingly, or maybe not, Kenny made this remark despite a report published by Conchúr Ó Giollagáin just two months earlier in May warning that Irish is unlikely to be the majority spoken language in the Gaeltacht in 10 years’ time unless drastic action is taken. Worst of all, perhaps, the state body in charge of Irish language promotion which commissioned the report, Foras na Gaeilge, blatantly ashamed of the reports findings, attempted to suppress it.
In the forthcoming issue, Carn 162, an article entitled ‘Neo-colonial Ireland is Killing Irish’ analyses the decline in the daily use of Irish in the Gaeltatachaí as the main means of communications and squarely places this downward trend on the inaction of successive governments that have deliberately ignored the fact that there has been a reduction in the number of Irish speakers in the Gaeltachtaí. Apart from the most recent report, mentioned above; 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.
Calls made for the Government to recognise that there is a language and economic crisis in the Gaeltacht have been ignored. Kenny’s government has not only neglected to act in regard to the decline of Irish in the Gaeltacht, his lack of support for the Irish language in general extends into English speaking Ireland.
(This item for Celtic News submitted by the Irish branch)
J B Moffatt (Mr)
Director of Information
THE CELTIC LEAGUE INFORMATION SERVICE
The Celtic League was established in 1961and has branches in the six Celtic Countries. It works to promote cooperation between these countries and campaigns on a broad range of political, cultural and environmental matters. It highlights human rights abuse, monitors all military activity and focuses on socio-economic issues