Sinn Fein pledge to support the Irish language
Published 15/02/2011 | 13:43
An Irish and Gaeltacht Affairs Minister would be appointed under Sinn Fein's plans to protect the native tongue.
The party lashed out at Fine Gael over its proposal to abolish the compulsory teaching of the subject if put into power.
Pearse Doherty TD said the right to education through Irish should be constitutionally and legally enshrined to protect its existence for generations to come.
"Rather than taking measures that will contribute to the dissolution of Irish, we believe the state should in fact be taking constructive steps to strengthen, support and encourage its growth," said the Donegal South West representative.
Fluent Irish speaker Enda Kenny confirmed last week his party would abolish the subject's mandatory status in the Leaving Certificate.
Flanked by colleagues outside Fine Gael's headquarters in Dublin as a sign of protest, Mr Doherty said if that happens there will be a cut in students taking Irish in school, ending the language as it is known.
"It will have a huge impact on the Gaeltacht economy," he continued.
"There is a €50m local economy there in relation to the Irish colleges in which 25,000 students attend those rural communities every year to learn the language.
"So this isn't just damaging the Irish language, it is damaging to the rural economy."
Sinn Fein proposed the appointment of an Aire Gaeilge agus Gaeltahta in Cabinet, with responsibility to deliver on the 20-year strategy, a new statutory body to have sole responsibility for the development of Irish, and changes to the Irish Syllabus in schools.
"We are demanding Fine Gael reverse this ridiculous assault on the Irish language," Mr Doherty added.
"Sinn Fein will fight Fine Gael tooth and nail throughout the parishes and throughout the townlands on this policy because this is a long term issue that will have serious consequences for our future."