Thursday, February 24, 2011

Enda's reply!

The answer given by Enda Kenny to the student Francis Whelan on Pat Kenny's show on Irish as a core subject in the Leaving Cert:

"I love the language. What I want to say here is my whole thrust here is to strengthen the language and what I want to do is examine first of all the content of the curriculum and see if it is relevant for future needs. 

Secondly examine seriously the impact of the investment that we are making in the training of our teachers to teach the language. Language is about sounds, music, words, it should be something that should be loved and if it is by primary school children then they don't have a difficulty with it up along the line. 

At the other end Emma, and I will not, I will not introduce the abolition of compulsion until I have finished those assessments and finished them properly. At the other end I will increase the oral Irish marks to 50% which is of an advantage to the people who go to Gaeltacht areas and get that líofacht or blas and also look at the question of increased marks for those who take honours Irish or the ordinary level who intend to go on to third level. 

So far from weakening the language or doing it down, I actually want to strengthen it in the sense that there are hundreds of thousands  of people in this country who spent 12-13-14 years studying this language and cannot put 5 sentences together and we've had 60 years of defence behind compulsion. Irish people have always rejected compulsion. 

Its time for us to grow up on these matters and my belief is if we teach this properly, if we have a relevant curriculum , people love the language and they take it right through to leaving cert  and it becomes much more important for everybody. 

And I respect the views on both sides here Pat. TG4, RnaG, many of the language movements do great work but we should not hide behind the defence of something that has failed.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Ejection of Irish - letter

A Eagarthóir, a chara,
Enda Kenny proposes to eject Irish from the core curriculum at Leaving Certificate level. When asked to explain how the survival prospects of an imperilled language could be improved by lowering its social status, he replied that his policy for Irish in the schools is based on a personal 'hunch.' 
Fine Gael prides itself on basing all its other policies on information and research, but there is no evidence, theoretical or empirical, that a threatened language can be saved from extinction by lowering its social status compared to that of its rival. It just does not happen.

The authorities on the subject tell us that the speakers of high status languages rarely learn lower status languages. Some, of course, do so. They may be motivated by interest or love of the language and of its associated culture, or by national or local sentiment. Such people are at the heart of language maintenance, but in any society they will always be a minority. Majorities of speakers of high status languages learn second languages only where they perceive that language to be essential in their lives.

If the Irish people wish to maintain and restore the language that is unique to Ireland, the living link between past, present and future generations, they must provide the kinds of social supports that were lost through conquest. Those supports include the constitutional and legal standing of the language, the social standing and number of those who habitually use the language, the degree to which the language is perceived to be essential in education and in all other domains of social life, the extent of its use in government and public administration, its visibility and presence in public communication, the prestige of its literature and associated culture and the measure of the social functions that can be performed through the language.

Since 1893, when the language was on the point of extinction, it has been the objective of the national movement, in its widest sense, to ensure survival and restoration of Irish, and on several of the above-mentioned counts Irish is now doing well. But in 1973-75, a part of the national movement, Fine Gael, told us that it would vastly improve the prospects for the survival of Irish if its status was lowered in the state apparatus. We opposed their idea. In the absence of the strongest possible balancing status-supports and interventions, we pointed out that in any society the subordinated language would, in a short time, be driven out and replaced by the dominant language. As they are telling us today, Fine Gael told us then that our critique was 'nonsense'. They went ahead and withdrew the status-supports of Irish in the state apparatus. What was the result?

The Department of Education once operated almost entirely through Irish. Recent research has shown that of the adult population, born in Ireland and of all levels of education, over 9 percent are Fluent or Very Fluent in Irish. Yet, as a result of Fine Gael's removal of the status of Irish in 1973 and its replacement by some voluntary incentives, in the Department of Education, which is the state's primary and most influential cultural agency, and which one must assume has a highly educated workforce, the proportion of staff who can provide a service through Irish is down now to 1.5 percent! That is hardly an advertisement for lowering the status of Irish in the education system.

Is sinne,

Pádraig Mac Fhearghusa, uachtarán Chonradh na Gaeilge

Dáithí Mac Cárthaigh, iar-uachtarán

Séagh Mac Siúrdáin, iar-uachtarán

Tomás Mac Ruairí, iar-uachtarán

Gearóid Ó Cairealláin, iar-uachtarán

Áine De Baróid, iar-uachtarán

Íte Ní Chionnaith, iar-uachtarán

Pádraig Ó Snodaigh, iar-uachtarán

Maolsheachlainn Ó Caollaí, iar-uachtarán

Cathal Ó Feinneadha, iar-uachtarán

Donegal Gaeltacht community confronts Fine Gael!

Gráinne Mhic Géidigh addresses the meeting
 Tuairisc ar an gcruinniú i nGaeilge

A large crowd of 150 attended the public meeting organised by Guth na Gaeltachta and Coiste Mhná Tí Thír Chonaill in An Chrannóg, Gaoth Dobhair, on Tuesday 15 February. The meeting was chaired by Éamonn Mac Niallais and he got proceedings underway shortly after 7:00pm. He explained that the purpose of the meeting was primarily to discuss Fine Gael’s policy of ending the compulsory status of Irish in the Leaving Certificate.

After introducing the guest speakers: Dinny Mc Ginley TD (Fine Gael), Pearse Doherty TD (Sinn Féin), Senator Brian Ó Domhnaill (Fianna Fáil), John Duffy and Seán Ó Maolchallann (Green Party) Mac Niallais relayed apologies  from An Tánaiste Mary Coughlan and Councillor Frank McBrearty (Labour). The chairman then read out the statement he had received from Councillor McBrearty. The content of that letter set the tone for the night i.e. vehement opposition to Fine Gael’s policy!

Before hearing from the guest speakers, Mac Niallais outlined the work Guth na Gaeltachta had been involved in since its last public meeting and the impartial role that it was undertaking as a non-political cross-party support group for the Irish language and the Gaeltacht. He explained the critical importance of the Leaving Certificate in the Irish education system as a whole and how Fine Gael’s policy would have a disastrous impact on the role of the Irish language throughout the system, not just for the Leaving Cert.  As a result, the future for the Irish Summer Colleges and the very economic viability of Gaeltacht communities would be severly threatened. This view was strongly echoed by Gráinne Mhic Géidigh who was representing the Mná Tí.

Seán Ó Maolchallann, acting as a spokesperson for John Duffy, outlined the Green Party’s policy  on the Irish language. He finished by saying that their party was 150% opposed to Fine Gael’s policy! Pearse Doherty TD referred to the launch of Sinn Féin’s Irish language proposals outside Fine Gael HQ earlier that day. He expressed his party’s dismay at Fine Gael’s policy and spoke of the terrible economic consequences for Gaeltacht communities.

"...uncomfortable with the
Dinny McGinley TD was the next to speak. He spoke of his personal opposition to any attempt to harm the Gaeltacht or the language.  He emphasised that he remained to be convinced that Fine Gael’s policy would not be harmful to both but that he was waiting to see what the outcome would be of the research and consultation process that Enda Kenny had promised.  He said however that there were many positive measures in Fine Gael’s policy as well and he stressed his own commitment to the language and his efforts to use Irish as often as possible in Dáil proceedings. He stated that he was uncomfortable with the policy but that research such as the Comprehensive Linguistic Survey of 2007 showed that the future of the Irish language was in jeopardy unless radical steps were taken.

Senator Brian Ó Domhnaill was the last of the politicians to speak. He outlined the progress made in recent years: TG4, Foras na Gaeilge, Official Languages Act, EU status and the 20 Year Strategy. He voiced his party’s opposition to Fine Gael’s policy and, like other speakers, referred to the negative economic impact such a change would have on Gaeltacht areas.  

After hearing from all the politicians the chair invited questions from the audience. It was clear from the first speaker that Fine Gael’s policy is a very sore point amongst the Gaeltacht community.

Speaker after speaker left McGinley in no doubt that the community is very upset and worried about the Fine Gael proposal. He was asked to explain how his party had arrived at such a decision; had it been carefully considered or was it a populist move designed to attract votes in urban areas?

One of the most robust exchanges of the night saw McGinley admit that he had never been consulted on the formulation of Fine Gael’s Irish language policy. He was also at a loss to explain what specific research had been used by the party in devising its policy. McGinley attempted to calm the audience’s fears by saying that that he hoped proper consultation and research would be carried out before any changes were made to the status of Irish.

Éamonn Mac Niallais asked that Deputy McGinley do as other Fine Gael candidates in the Kerry and Galway Gaeltacht had already done and express openly to Enda Kenny his opposition to this policy.  He brought the meeting to a close after the question and answer session. He thanked everyone for attending and urged everyone to sign the online petition against Fine Gael’s proposal. He also appealed to people to raise the issue of the Irish language with all politicians when they come looking for votes and to attend next Monday’s public meeting in Ionad Naomh Pádraig, Dobhar to raise the issue again.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Independent support for Irish!

Independent candidates for the General Election 2011 expressed their support for the Irish language in a recent letter to the Editors of the national and regional press.

This follows a recent study on attitudes towards Irish as a school subject commissioned by Comhar na Múinteoirí Gaeilge, Conradh na Gaeilge, Gael Linn, Gaelscoileanna Teoranta and Comhdháil Náisiúnta na Gaeilge and carried out by MRBI/Ipsos.

The results of the study indicate support of 61% in favour of the retention of the Irish language as a core Leaving Certificate subject.

The independent candidates from constituencies across Ireland expressed their belief that all students are entitled to learn their national language. They pledged their full support for retention of the Irish language as one of the core subjects at Leaving Certificate level and for maintaining its current status as a minimum entry requirement to third level courses.

The 31 candidates who expressed their support for the Irish language include:

James Breen- Clare

Sarah Ferrigan-Clare

Pádraig O Sullivan- Cork North Central

Paul O Neill - Cork East

Mick Finn- Cork South Central

Diarmaid Ó Cadhla - Cork South Central

John Kearney -Cork  South West

Michael O Sullivan- Cork South West

Michael Healy Rae- Kerry South

John Dillon- Limerick

Séamus Sherlock-Limerick

Dr. Ben Nutty- Waterford

Eamon Walsh- Galway West

Catherine Connolly – Galway West

Mike Cubbard – Galway West

Noel Grealish - Galway West

Michael Kilcoyne- Mayo

Luke Ming Flanagan -  Roscommon/South Leitrim

John McDermott  - Roscommon/South Leitrim

Gabriel McSharry Sligo/North Leitrim

Cllr Seamus Treanor- Cavan/Monaghan

Caroline Forde – Cavan/Monaghan

Ian McGarvey – Donegal North East

Thomas Pringle- Donegal South West

Stephen McCahill- Donegal South West

Eugene Finnegan-Wicklow

Michael J Loftus- Dublin North West

Maureen O’Sullivan- Dublin Central

Christy Burke- Dublin Central

Cieran Perry- Dublin Central

Raymond Whitehead-Dublin South

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Quiet protest for soul of Ireland!

Maybe you missed it on the RTÉ news - if it was on at all - this is the silent protest of students on the place of Irish in our Education System.

TG4 stated that there were 500 taking part, to this correspondent it looks like a greater number.

Needless to say like all students they were unable to remain silent for long!

A friend said "I voted for Fine Gael in the seventies to save the school in Dún Chaoin, they did save it but unfortunately they made Irish optional for the civil service. I cannot vote for them now because I fear they will finish the job!" This point and its results were discussed in a paper by the Language Commissioner earlier this month where he revealed that only 1.5% of the admin in the Department of Education were capable of providing a service in Irish. And this is the Department so many of the policies of all the parties are relying on in their Irish language policies and indeed in the 20 year plan published last December.

Looking at Richie Ryan's statement on the introduction of this policy in 1974 it bears an uncanny relationship to the words used by Fine Gael in 2011. Judge for yourselves:

"...“satisfied that by replacing the compulsion which did so much damage to the
Irish language over the past half century with enthusiasm for the language, we
will have people more readily disposed to use Irish.” (Richie Ryan, Minister for Finance 1974)

"We believe that reinventing the way we teach Irish will encourage more students to study the language and engage with it beyond the school system. We believe compulsion has not fostered growth or commitment to the language. We will overhaul the curriculum at second level and we will critically examine the effect of current training methods of teachers to teach. Irish as an optional subject for Leaving Certificate will only apply following consultations on both matters." (Fine Gael Policy 2011)

My friend feels that Enda Kenny would be a good Taoiseach for the economy that is Ireland but that he would sell the soul of Ireland which is priceless. The people would be destitute culturally.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Fine Gael and Irish!

Tá seo scriofa ar Gaeltacht21 anseo An t-aon pháirtí leis an bpolasaí!

Fine Gael is the only party with this Education policy :
"We believe that reinventing the way we teach Irish will encourage more students to study the language and engage with it beyond the school system. We believe compulsion has not fostered growth or commitment to the language. We will overhaul the curriculum at second level and we will critically examine the effect of current training methods of teachers to teach. Irish as an optional subject for Leaving Certificate will only apply following consultations on both matters."

Fine Gael is strongly committed to the development of the Irish language and the Gaeltacht regions. We recognise the value and cultural importance of our Irish tradition and heritage and we are determined to ensure the language and the Gaeltacht regions survive and prosper.

National Strategy:
We are supportive of many aspects of the twenty year strategy for the future of the Irish language and will deliver on the achievable goals and targets proposed.

Fine Gael supports the continued development of Gaelscoileanna and recognises the significant role the Gaelscoil movement has played in reviving the Irish language within and outside Gaeltacht areas. We will also work with Coláisí Samhraidh to attract greater numbers to the Gaeltacht.

We are committed to overhauling the way in which Irish is taught at primary and second levels of education, to ensure teachers are equipped with the right tools to instil a love of the language for all students and the curriculum is designed to inspire students to continue speaking the language after leaving school.

We believe that reinventing the way we teach Irish will encourage more students to study the language and engage with it beyond the school system. We believe compulsion has not fostered growth or commitment to the language. We will overhaul the curriculum at second level and we will critically examine the effect of current training methods of teachers to teach. Irish as an optional subject for Leaving Certificate will only apply following consultations on both matters.

We will allocate 50% of marks to oral Irish exams.

A study on a double curriculum to Leaving Cert will be investigated, one on the current system and a second in communicating Irish. The questions of extra points for third level entry will be investigated.

Fine Gael will double the proportion of Irish students sitting the Higher Level Leaving Certificate exam by 2018.

Job Creation in Gaeltacht Regions: 
Our NewERA and Working for Our Future plans will deliver new job creation prospects to Gaeltacht regions. We will invest in energy, broadband and water infrastructure, creating the modern infrastructure needed to attract and support new businesses and jobs. We will also strongly support the potential for jobs in tourism and marine activities.

National Proficiency Scale:
We will investigate the development of a national proficiency scale for the Irish language. This ten point scale would allow every citizen to have their competence assessed and use modern teaching methods and modern technology to gradually improve their proficiency at a pace that suits themselves.

We are committed to sustaining communities on the islands and will work to improve access to vital services for the islands so that island communities have appropriate access to health care and other social services.

Official Languages Act:
Fine Gael will review the obligations under the Official Languages Act to ensure expenditure on the language is best targeted towards the development of the language.

Friday, February 11, 2011

The linguistic challenge of the European project

I thought this an interesting remark from an English educated academic on the current controversy initiated by Enda Kenny of Fine Gael.

“We could make it optional for Leaving Certificate; and after a few years we might come to think that it should be optional for Junior Certificate too; and after that – well, what’s the point of bothering with compulsory Irish at primary level, if it’s going to be taken only by a tiny minority at second level?

If we follow this path, we may well find that by the end of this decade Ireland has sold its linguistic birthright and staked its entire future cultural, political, economic on the continuing international dominance of English. 

On the other hand, we can respond by taking seriously the linguistic challenge of the European project; recognizing that Irish belongs not just to Ireland’s but to Europe’s linguistic heritage; taking note of the empirical fact that the more languages you learn, the easier it becomes; insisting that Ireland’s membership of Europe requires us to make foreign language learning a compulsory part of schooling; and seeking ways of achieving more effective learning outcomes.”

Professor David Little, Head, School of Linguistic, Speech and Communication Sciences, TCD

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Public Meetings re Irish in the Leaving Cert

Table of speakers at the Galway Meeting
1.    Over 200 people attended a public meeting in Galway yesterday organised by the Irish Summer Colleges Association(CONCOS).  Election candidates were invited to present their policies as regards the Irish language and the Gaeltacht.  There was very strong dissatisfaction voiced with Fine Gael's policy of making Irish an optional subject for the Leaving Cert.  The Fine Gael candidates present, Sean Kyne and Senator Fidelma Healy Eames agreed to forward a request to party leader Enda Kenny to meet with a delegation of representatives from the meeting.  No answer has been received from Enda Kenny to date  to a previous request for a meeting by Gaeltacht and Language organisations subsequent to a national meeting in Galway on January 21.

2.    Guth na Gaeltachta (Bilingual) and Coiste na mBan Tí i dTír Chonaill are organising a public meeting in the Crannóg in Gaoth Dobhair next Tuesday, 15 February ar 7 o clock.  Election candidates will be invited to come and present their policies on the Irish language, the Gaeltacht and the status of Irish as a Leaving Cert subject. This is an opportunity for the community to demonstrate their strong support for the Irish Language and the Gaeltacht and everybody is invited to attend.

3.    In an IPSOS-MRBI survey on attitudes towards the Irish language, 61% said that Irish should be a core subject for the Leaving Cert(in the 15-24 age group, support for the Irish language was at 65%).

Saturday, February 5, 2011

The first steps!

The first steps towards a viable Irish Language Strategy.

At a public seminar hosted yesterday by Comhdháil Náisiúnta na Gaeilge, experts in language planning, in relation to the Irish language, spoke on the steps which must be taken to implement the 20 Year Strategy for the Irish Language. 

Speaking at the seminar, Chairperson of Údarás na Gaeltachta, Liam Ó Cuinneagáin said: “It is important that the proposed role of Údarás na Gaeltachta is clarified, and that the methods of implementation of the Strategy are agreed.  While the proposed role of Údarás na Gaeltachta is a national one, an tÚdarás will continue to function in Gaeltacht regions only, until such a time as the relevant arrangements have been made to give an tÚdarás a national function”.
The Irish language Commissioner, Seán Ó Cuireáin, spoke of the results which were now apparent from a decision taken in the 1970s, to remove the requirement of civil servants to be competent in both English and Irish, and declared this decision an “abject failure” for the Irish language.  He cited the Department of Education and Skills, which recently revealed that only 1.5% of its administrative staff had sufficient competence in Irish to be able to provide service in that language. “That department is by no means unique and the absence of competence in Irish is common through most Government departments and agencies,” he said. (See more on the Commissioners address : Richie Ryan made language marginal!)

Speaking at a political debate on the Irish language held as part of the seminar were: Minister Pat Carey T.D., Fianna Fáil; Frank Feighan, TD., Fine Gael; Brian O’Shea, T.D., The Labour Party; Aengus Ó Snodaigh, T.D.,  Sinn Féin; and Dominic Ó Brollcháin, MLA, SDLP.  Among the issues discussed were, Irish as a Leaving Certificate subject, addressing the Irish language in the Civil Service, support structures for the 20 Year Irish Language Strategy and an implementation plan for the Strategy, and the issue of the functions of Údarás na Gaeltachta. 

Arising from the seminar, below are the preliminary demands for election 2011 which Comhdháil Náisiúnta na Gaeilge will discuss with all political parties:

An Ghaeltacht

• An Chomhdháil demands adequate resources and supports are provided to Údarás na Gaeltachta to maintain its enterprise functions in Gaeltacht areas. 
• An Chomhdháil demands every support be given to families who wish to raise their children through Irish, both in Gaeltacht areas and across the country.

20 Year Strategy for the Irish Language

• An Chomhdháil demands the correct structures be established to implement the 20 Year Strategy for the Irish language effectively and efficiently, and that the expertise and skills of the Irish language voluntary sector be utilised fully in this regard.
• An Chomhdháil demands that the functions of Údarás na Gaeltachta be clarified, and ratified in the necessary legislation, and that a timescale be laid down for the enactment of such required legislation, which will give the Strategy a legislative foothold.

Irish in the Education System

• An Chomhdháil demands full support be given to the Irish language as a core subject at Leaving Certificate level, and as a minimum entry requirement to third level courses.
• An Chomhdháil demands that a provision be made in the education system to provide an Irish language curriculum which takes into account the requirements of students who are fluent in the language. 
• An Chomhdháil demands a review of the education system, to find better methods of ensuring all children at both primary and secondary level are fully proficient in Irish. 
• An Chomhdháil demands provision is made to facilitate the requirements of parents in relation to Irish language education. 

Irish in the Civil Service

• An Chomhdháil demands the Official Languages Act 2003 be fully implemented across the entire Civil Service. 
• An Chomhdháil demands the Civil Service be reorganised in order to provide increased services through Irish on a proactive basis. 

Comhdháil Náisiúnta na Gaeilge recommends exercising affirmative action in the Civil Service recruitment process in favour of candidates who are competent in both English and Irish. 

Speaking at the public seminar, Director of Comhdháil Náisiúnta na Gaeilge, Pádraig Mac Criostail commented: “In order to improve the status of the Irish language, it is necessary that Irish language policies, effected by the next Government, have a factual basis, and utilise the measures of best practice from the field of language planning.  The election demands outlined by Comhdháil Náisiúnta na Gaeilge draw on the expertise of the Irish language sector, and on public consultation.  An Chomhdháil will seek assurances on each of the above demands from all parties”.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Richie Ryan decision made language marginal

“An abject failure” is how An Coimisinéir Teanga (Irish Language Commissioner), Seán Ó Cuirreáin, described the ending nearly 40 years ago of the requirement for civil servants to have competence in Irish as well as English, when addressing a conference in Dublin on Wednesday.

Election Poster for Richie Ryan
Former Finance Minister, Richie Ryan TD, made knowledge of Irish optional for civil servants in 1974 when he told Dáil Éireann that his Government was “satisfied that by replacing the compulsion which did so much damage to the Irish language over the past half century with enthusiasm for the language, we will have people more readily disposed to use Irish.”

An Coimisinéir Teanga said that while Ryan’s assertion may have been wellintentioned, history had unfortunately shown it to be fundamentally flawed. The language had subsequently become marginal to the point of insignificance in the workings of many Government departments and agencies.

He cited the Department of Education and Skills, which recently revealed that only 1.5% of its administrative staff had sufficient competence in Irish to be able to provide service in that language. “That department is by no means unique and the absence of competence in Irish is common through most Government departments and agencies,” he said.

While not advocating a return to “compulsory Irish”, Mr. Ó Cuirreáin said some form of “half-way house” approach needed to be found if compulsory English was not to become the norm for the public in the conduct of all business with the State.

“The State invests heavily in the teaching of Irish and requires schoolchildren to study its official languages – a standard practice in other countries. Yet, it fails to adequately facilitate the subsequent use of Irish by those who have acquired it. Joined-up thinking is missing in the current approach”
he said.

Mr. Ó Cuirreáin said he hoped the new 20-Year Strategy for Irish launched by the Government with cross-party support would introduce fundamental reforms. He suggested that a modern, holistic, and structured approach was required to transform the teaching of Irish to such an extent that all students would acquire basic fluency through the education system. It would follow that those who had achieved such fluency should be facilitated in using the language with ease afterwards in their dealings with state organisations.

“This is a realistic and inspiring vision, and, in fact, the only way of getting value for money for the significant investment made in the teaching and promotion of Irish to ensure its long-term survival in the life of our nation” he said.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Enda to complete work of statutes!

"....if any English, or Irish living among the English, use the Irish language amongst themselves, contrary to the ordinance, and thereof be attainted, his lands and tenements, if he have any, shall be seized into the hands of his immediate lord...." Statutes of Kilkenny 1366.

The final irony in all this is that the Statutes
of Kilkenny were in fact written in Norman
A recent issue of Fonse, the weekly supplement in the Irish Independent has secured commitments from all the main parties except Fine Gael on mantaining the current position of the Irish language in Ireland. Fine Gael uniquely have committed to abolishing the status of the national language in secondary schools. They have been unable to establish a scientific reason for this and still less have been unable to to explain the contradictory position described in the party's official policy with the laudable vision of their leader:

Enda Kenny: (2006)
"My vision of Irish in our education is simple. I believe we should equip our people particularly our young people, with a real, useful and a communicative knowledge of the Irish language!"

Official Fine Gael Policy: (2007)
"All students to be offered a choice as to whether to study Irish after the Junior Certificate"

It doesn't require inordinate intelligence to see where these two statements disagree. It reminds one of the law stated in the Statutes of Kilkenny and in a way completes the destructive work of those notorious laws down through the penal laws, their own abandonment of insisting on the neccessity of knowledge of Irish in the civil service in the seventies and eighties. (This latter has led to the inability of 98.5% of those in the Department of Education unable to work in the national language - a frightening statistic which harks back to Pearse's name for the English education system in Ireland as the "murder machine.")  In this regard seee "Richie Ryan decision made language marginal" on address by the Language Commissioner.

Foinse have secured commitments from Labour, Sinn Féin and the Green Party that they will not change, nor permit change and in some cases will augment and strengthen the position of our national language. It is presumed that Fainna Fáil too, as the party which produced the 20 Year Plan for the Irish Language could hardly be so duplicitous as to abandon it...or could they?

Alone the Fine Gael Party stand with no such commitment.

There are of course economic implications in this attitude, not least in the multimillion business in Coláistí Gaeilge throughout the last stubborn bastions of vernacular Irish use in the country. In implementing this policy this industry will be eliminated, destroyed with nothing to replace it. There are other  considerations to as alluded to in a scientific study of Dr John Walsh in his recent work: Contests and Contexts: the Irish Language and Ireland’s Socio-Economic Development. (See critique by Lorna Siggins in Irish Times.) Do Fine Gael have such a complete scientific basis for their policy?

Every time we abandon another defence of our language we abandon ourselves. Fine Gael do not  quite obviously get this. The leaderr of the Union of University Teachers asked some years ago:
"Would any other country propose, that its national tongue not be compulsory in its exam system?"

Fine Gael will in abandoning the last vestiges of support for Irish in its native land complete in a short time complete the work commenced by the English in 1366 and will ensure that "exclusive use of the English language," and who knows include as did the Satutes the use of Irish "when naming children..."

The final irony in all this is that the Statutes of Kilkenny were written in French!