These are the responses.
Taoiseach: Leo Varadkar TD - Silence!
Minister of State: Seanadóir Seán Kyne - Silence!
Leader of Opposition: Micheál Mairtín TD - Acknowledgement (in English)!
Gaeltacht Spokesman: Dara Calleary TD - Silence!
Ceannaire Chomhaontas Glas: Éamonn Ryan TD - Respectful Acknowledgment
Marc Ó Cathasaigh TD: - Silence
Do these not display the interest and respect held in the body politic here for the National Language?
There has been a considerable amount of talk and agitation about racial prejudice in our country. This attention is well overdue and there was a lot of pain involved in hearing some unpleasant truths. The 7 Lá program on TG4 last night was very painful to watch as was the interview with the young GAA footballer on Saol Ó Dheas (RTÉ Raidío na Gaeltachta) the previous day.
Of course these painful truths about Irish Society have been known but unreferenced until recent decades. Bias against Travellers was and is in evidence for a long time but more recently that against the Irish from another tradition whether it be African, Asian or South American or indeed other European origins. The attitude of the Department of Justice shown to the conditions of those in Direct Provision is another example. Of course the attitude shown towards women is a longstanding discrimination not unique to Ireland. Are they not all sides of the same coin? (See also Ola Majekodunmi's little YouTube film: 'What does "Irishness" look like?').
Can the attitude towards those who choose to use their Irish as their language of communication with the State be victims of this kind of abuse? I have been trying to conduct business with State bodies since I was able to vote and it has become more rather than less difficult. Sometimes they even ask what my "real name" is! Can it be said that the state shelters an "institutionally linguistically racist" attitude in these matters?
When we live in a state where the Minister of Arts, Heritage & the Gaeltacht is perfectly happy to discuss matters concerning Arts and heritage but not on the Gaeltacht. Is it any wonder the President of Ireland could state (24 June 2016) "...I believe there is a certain cultural problem which controls the system, senior officers of the system and leadership..." which ensures Irish is rarely heard (my translation). This echoes the words of the only Ombudsman in Europe to resign on principle when he said (January 23, 2014) "that there are stronger and more widespread forces in place who have little or no concern for the future of our national language."
It is no wonder that Irish speakers are insulted and/or belittled in private and public, even on the airwaves. Why are you "speaking a dead language!" Indeed as part of a "Language Gestabo" or worse. This disrespect does hurt no less than the "but where are you REALLY from" suffered by our fellow countrymen and women in another context. It also demeans the person administering the insult.
As far back as November 1892 the man who later became our first President expressed his astonishment on how the Irish people "continues to clamour for recognition as a distinct nationality, and at the same time throws away with both hands what would make it so."
Of course it is not quite the same as the racial prejudice but nonetheless as harmful since it also is a denial of basic rights. In the matter of language of course it is easier to abandon it than to abandon the colour of our skin or our sexual orientation.
* Litir chuig na Ceannairí (26 Bealtaine 2020)