Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Making the language act safe!

The last two months have seen an extraordinary amount of anxiety about the current Government's lack of interest providing a reasonable, if not an equal status, to the only language that we in Ireland can call our own. This anxiety has been reflected almost exclusively in the Irish language media and largly ingnored by the English language media in Ireland.

The language used by the writers of the Stowe Missal
(13 centuries ago)is still used today in Ireland. 
Will this government hasten its demise?
Three body blows?
It has already made three decisions which lessen the status of Irish in the past six months.
• It demoted the Department as an important and main responsibility of a department with responsibility for community matters to a small subsection of a Department responsible for matters such as arts and heritage.
• It has abolished the obligation to publish legislation in both official languages
• It has decided to emasculate the office of the Language Commissioner by merging it's functions with those of the office of the Ombudsman. This latter decision makes little sense for at least two reasons. The first is that it will not save money in fact - on the admission of the Junior Minister who now holds responsibility for such matters - it will actually cost money (Seanad Éireann Debates, 24 November 2011, Vol.211, No.12). See  also Austerity and Irish language rights on the Human Rights Ireland site!

The Language Act, which was passed after five years of deliberation in 2003, has a clause which calls for a review of the act and this has been been requested on their website but with little publicity in the English Language. The site with the survey questionnaire and forms in English is here: Review of Official Languages Act 2003. The deadline for these recommendations is next Tuesday 31st January 2012.

• See Irish Rights are equal rights - so fight back! (24/1/2012)

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