Battle lines are being drawn for the coming conflict to protect the Celtic tongue of Ireland from a government that has turned its back on it previous committments to restore the Irish language to its rightful place. There are numerous press reports over the past two days describing the dramatic announcement by Irish Language Commissioner, Sean O' Cuirreain, that he is resigning his post in protest over the governments increasing reluctance to support the tongue of Ireland. In a scathing indictment of the negative impact the Dublin regime is having on efforts to guide Gaelic back from centuries of persectuion, O'Cuirreain was eloquent. There is little that can be added to his own words offered below. The following are excerpts from Commissioner O' Cuirreain's testimony before the Irish Parliament's Joint Committee on Public Oversight and Petitions on 4 December, 2013, during which he announced his resignation. It reads like a Manifesto, a blueprint for engaing in battle to save the Irish Language:
As we begin to regain our economic soverignty it would be a travesty if we were to lose our linguistic sovereignty - a cornerstone of our cultural identity, heritage and soul as a nation. I believe this to be a clear and present danger.
A dangerous precedent emerged for the first time in 2012 where a language scheme was amended to cancel a previously confirmed statutory obligation which would have cost little and been realtively simple to implement.
Would it not be an unfortunate and cynical practice if confirming language schemes were to become a box-ticking exercise rather than an effectice nechanism for developing state services through Irish.
For those generally involved with the protection or promotion of the Irish Language, either professionally or voluntarily, we are in a time of great uncertainty. Never before have I seen in over 30 years experience - as a journalist or Language Commissioner - morale and confidence so low. Despite the enormous good will of a majority of the people of this country, the language continues to drift to the margins of society including within much of the public sector; bringing it back to the mainstream is no simple procedure.
For the full text of the Commissioners testimony, please see the links below.