• July 3, 2015


Speaking from in Brussels this week Sinn Fein MEP, Liadh Ní Riada, has launched one of the strongest criticisms of the Spanish State ’s ongoing discrimination and attacks against users of indigenous and minority languages made by an external parliamentarian for some time.

Her criticism comes ahead of Spain ’s appearance before the United Nations Human Rights Committee a body which has in the past been critical of Spain ’s attitude towards minorities within its borders. The Sinn Féin MEP also called on the European institutions and on states across Europe to protect and promote linguistic diversity and respect the rights of speakers of indigenous, minority and endangered languages.

She has been outspoken on language rights since being elected an MEP and in March staged a symbolic hunger protest at EU attitudes to the Irish language.

She has also been outspoken on attitudes to Irish culture generally recently for greater air time to be guaranteed on Irish broadcasters to home grown musical talent.

Her statement in which she roundly castigated the Spanish state is set out below she pointedly cites current Spanish official policy as ‘proscriptive and discriminatory’ and attitude to language policy that belongs to the days of dictatorship:

“As a Gaeilgeoir and a woman from the Gaeltacht it galls me to see speakers of indigenous or minority languages disrespected and discriminated against. Language help shape our cultures, and brings great diversity and richness to our countries and our continent. Speakers of indigenous and minority languages must have their rights respected.

“Within the Spanish state there is a tremendous diversity of languages, cultures and national identities. Its apparent however that conservative elements within that state wish to hark back to a proscriptive and discriminatory language policy that belongs (to the) days of dictatorship

“European Language Equality Network (ELEN) will present its report on discrimination in the Spanish State at a special hearing of the United Nations Human Rights Council. The report will detail specific cases of discrimination on the grounds of language use against speakers of Basque, Catalan, Galician, Aragonese and Asturian. Cases range from discrimination in the provision of state services, to public humiliation and beatings by police.

“Solidarity is a two-way street. I have received fantastic support from language users and activists across Europe, but especially from the Basque Country, Catalonia and Galicia . I am saddened and angered by the treatment of speakers of indigenous and minority languages by the Spanish State , and I will be calling on the EU to open infringement proceedings against Spain for contravening the Charter of Fundamental Rights.

“I am prevented from using Irish in my work as an MEP, despite it being the first national language of Ireland and an official language of the European Union. I am determined to stand up for my rights and for the rights of Irish speakers and Gaeltacht communities.”

Link to her webpage here.

J B Moffatt (Mr)
Director of Information
Celtic League


(Please note that replies to correspondence received by the League and posted on CL News are usually scanned hard copies. Obviously every effort is made to ensure the scanning process is accurate but sometimes errors do occur.)


The Celtic League was established in 1961 and 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

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