Wednesday, 11 December 2013
Fine Gall II
The South's governing Fine Gael / Labour coalition has been criticised for its failure to provide services in Irish by An Coimisinéir Teanga, Seán Ó Cuirreáin, who also signalled his intention to quit in protest. The Commissioner, who has held the post since 2004, questioned whether the Government was serious about the survival of the Gaeltacht, since three-quarters of statutory language schemes have been allowed to lapse since the coalition came to power, with a quarter out of date for three years or more. Mr. Ó Cuirreáin also expressed doubts about the standard of many of the schemes currently in force.
Speaking later on RTE, he said that under the new policy of no longer awarding points for an ability to speak Irish during the recruitment process, it would take "28 years to increase the number of administrative staff with Irish in the Department of Education from 1.5% to 3%."
The current low figure for Irish-speakers may suggest that linguistic skills have been allowed to atrophy after schooling, ironically because civil servants are not required to provide a service through the medium of Irish. In that respect, Fine Gael, whose leader is a fluent Irish-speaker, may typify the basic problem of the State: all learning and very little practical usage. The party has had a history of dismantling protections enjoyed by the language in the Civil Service since the 1970s and recently attempted to make it optional in schools.