Time For Dublin To Get Serious About Protecting The Irish Language

It is time for Dublin to create a single Department within the government whose only task is to preserve, protect and promote the Irish Language. 

Incompetence and indifference on the part of the government’s approach to the preservation of Ireland’s most valuable cultural asset, the Gaelic Language, is not surprising given that the same department responsible for promoting Gaelic and supporting the Gaeltacht (Irish Language Areas) is also responsible for cooperation between North and South as it “relates to waterways” and among other things, the maintenance of Ireland’s Castles.  The dead soul of the bureaucrat has had its way with the Tongue.

Recent news reports cite the failure of the agency responsible for protecting the language to bother correctly translating into Irish an account of the upcoming commemoration of the 1916 Easter Rising.  The Department of Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht, published on its website an Irish language version of a report on the Rising in Irish that was so poorly written that it was described as gibberish.  Apparently the state funded champions for the preservation of Irish could not be bothered to ensure proper Gaelic be posted to its website and had instead relied on a “Google Translation”.

The Irish Examiner quotes the Irish Language Commissioner Rónán Ó Domhnaill commenting on the translation errors: "The Department of the Gaeltacht, under the language scheme, has a duty to develop bilingual websites and we take it as a given that the Irish language that is used should be accurate and that people should be able to understand it. It is unhelpful and it is worrying and it's a cause for concern for me when that doesn't happen, as is clear in this case."

Some may view the failure to demonstrate competence in Irish as a minor, even amusing gaff, but it goes to the heart of the forces within the government which are undermining the Irish Language.  An egregious example of what former Language Commissioner Sean O' Cuirreain described as follows in an April 2013 interview with Transceltic shortly before he resigned in protest at the lack of government support for the Gaelic Tongue of Ireland “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. The culture of any organization seeps down from the actions of those at the top and if the view from above is that the language is not important this sets the trend and agenda with state agencies staff."

So the language is a thorn in the administrative side of the Department of Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht is it. The Celtic tongue has been spoken in Ireland for over 2,000 years, Irish is one of the oldest written languages in Europe which still survives as a living community language. As well as having official status in the Irish constitution, the Irish language is also recognised as an official language of the European Union. It is time for the Irish Government to create, fund and staff with Irish speakers a department whose exclusive purpose is to preserve the Gaelic language, Ireland’s greatest treasure.




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