Irish President Calls on Dublin to Provide State Services in Gaelic

In the latest salvo in the battle aginst Dublin’s malevolent attitude towards Gaelic, Ireland’s President Michael Higgins has called on senior officials in the public service to uphold legislation guaranteeing the right of Irish speakers to interact with the State in their own language.

The Taoiseach (Prime Minister) is the head of the Irish Government and usually the leader of the majority party.  The current Taoiseach is Enda Kenny of Fine Gael.  Conversely the President of Ireland (Michael Higgins) holds a ceremonial position and is elected by the people of Ireland.  The President's term is seven years with a maximum of two terms.  The President is responsible for signing bills into law, convening and dissolving the Dail (lower house of the Oireachtas, the Irish legislature)  and is Supreme Commander of the Defense Forces.  The Presidency of Ireland provides a "Bully Pulpit" for the current President who has proven to be a friend to the Celtic tongue. (*) John Ruddy

The comments by President Higgins follows on a recent research report sponsored by The Gaelic League (Conradh na Gaelige) into attitudes towards the Gaelic tongue. The report, which is entitled “Céard é an Scéal? Public Opinions Towards the Irish-Language – Annual Analysis 2”, shows over 60% people in the South endorse the provision of all State Services in the Irish Language.  The poll demonstrated significant levels of support for Gaelic in Ulster with 41% endorsing increased opportunities for daily use of the Celtic tongue outside formal educational settings.

In a recent address to a group of language activists in Dublin, Higgins was quoted questioning the goodwill of Dublin elites toward the Tongue.  Higgins lashed out at the Government for its failure to meet increased demands for the establishment of Gaelic Medium Secondary schools, an issue that has surfaced in a number of communities around Ireland. “It is clear that the demand exists for more Irish language secondary schools to give these children the opportunity to continue their education through the medium of Irish, and it is only right that they should be able to do so.” 

Sadly the topic is nothing new. In 2014 Transceltic interviewed Seán Ó Cuirreáin, Ireland's First Language Commissioner,  shortly after Mr. Ó Cuirreáin had resigned in December 2013 during dramatic testimony before the Irish Parliament. The Commissioner stated his decision to resign was promoted by the failure of the current government to support the Irish tongue: “ If you regard public administration as having two sides – the elected political masters who should decide on policy and the executive or administrative element (civil or public servants) who implement it, I was suggesting that there is a large cohort of people within the state sector (mainly senior civil servants) for whom the language has no importance nor is it anywhere on their agenda.  The civil servants, occasionally referred to as the permanent government, hold much sway and can set the agenda in their own way. While there are many who are favorable to Irish and concerned about the language’s future, there are many, many more who simply regard anything to do with Irish as a thorn in the administrative side.”

In 2013 President Higgins  addressed the “International Conference on Language Rights”  in Dublin.   According to RTE, Higgins, who is an Irish speaker, stated that the failure of government agencies to provide full service in the Irish language is a denial of the human rights of Irish speakers. 

(*) John Ruddy, "Manny Man Does The History of Ireland":

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