Conradh na Gaeilge criticises report
Patsy McGarry Irish Times 1 November 2009
SHOULD MCCARTHY report recommendations to be implemented where Irish was concerned, “it would amount to a discontinuance of the policy of the State since 1922 regarding the maintenance and promotion of the Irish language, both within the Gaeltacht and outside it”, Conradh na Gaeilge has said.
It also pointed out that, not only does the report propose that the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs be abolished, “but in the case of the functions carried out by that department, it is proposed that funding be reduced by 31.7 per cent”.
That would mean a reduction which was “more than three times” that recommended for other departments and a proposed reduction in staff “almost four times” the average proposed for other departments.
In a formal response to the report, Conradh na Gaeilge has called on the Government “to take the 20-year strategy for the Irish language, which is to be published at the end of September, into account before any decision is made regarding the proposals in the report which relate to the preservation, promotion and encouragement of the use of Irish”.
It said that “it would be to the general detriment of the language, and of the Gaeltacht” were functions relevant to either transferred to the Department of Education.
It noted that just 3 per cent of the latter department’s staff were able to provide services in Irish and that this would not be so but for “the fact that the ethos of the Department of Education and Science itself is deficient”.
It said the Department of Education “has been engaged in weakening the Irish language in the education system for some time”. As an example it instanced department attempts “to abolish early total immersion in Gaelscoileanna within the State, although educationalists at home and abroad recognise that it is the best way to teach a second language.”
It continued: “Conradh na Gaeilge is of the view that abolishing the Department of the Gaeltacht would amount to a downgrading of the status of Irish to that of a school subject only, and would signal a readiness to abandon its promotion as a household and community vernacular in the Gaeltacht, and as a living speech throughout the country.”
It also accused the McCarthy report compilers of “a lack of awareness” in stating that all official publications had to be translated into Irish when this applied only to documents such as annual reports.
As an Irish speaker, who has a home in the Connemara Gaeltacht and who has spent a considerable amount of time there over the last 40 years, I find the content of this article absolutely appalling. It is absolutely essential, in the interest of Ireland’s national identity, that the continued use of “An Gaeilge” as the first language of the country is supported and encouraged in Gaeltacht areas and wherever else interest is demonstrated. Tir gan teanga, tir gan anam. ( A country without its language is a country without its soul)