Irish Language Commissioner Resigns


The Irish language Commissioner Seán Ó Cuirreáin resigned last week from his position after almost ten years, because of what he called the Irish government’s “hypocrisy” in dealing with the Irish language.

The Coimisinéir Teanga, whose role it is to monitor the use of the Irish language by public bodies in accordance with the Official Languages Act said that the policy of insisting that Irish is a mandatory subject for the schools Leaving Certificate, but to deny citizens the right to access services through the language, was hypocritical. The role of Coimisinéir Teanga was created in 2004 when Seán Ó Cuirreáin was appointed and he was later reappointed in 2010.

Speaking to the Joint Committee on Public Service Oversight and Petitions last week, Mr Ó Cuirreáin said that the government’s failure to uphold the “fundamental pillars” of Irish language legislation meant that the State was quickly moving towards a situation where the use of English would become compulsory for citizens wishing to interact with public bodies. Some of the failings of the government referred to by Mr Ó Cuirreáin included measures to ensure the right of citizens to use Irish when interacting with state agencies, such as the non-renewal of three quarters of statutory language schemes for members of the civil service to learn Irish and the lack of services provided through Irish for Gaeltacht communities.

Of course if some of the 1.7 million people in Ireland who claimed to speak Irish in the 2011 Census made an attempt to do so on a daily basis, especially in their contact with public services, then provision may be made to meet this need.



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