Saturday 23 September 2017

McHugh's Irish report card: 'Good progress but must try harder'

Minister for the Gaeltacht Joe McHugh
Minister for the Gaeltacht Joe McHugh
John Downing

John Downing

One year after he pledged to relearn Irish, luminaries in the Gaelic-speaking world have given their verdict on the progress of Gaeltacht Minister Joe McHugh.

"Plenty of ability and good progress - but must try harder," the report card reads.

The kindest verdict comes from Micheál Ó Leidhin, political editor of Raidió na Gaeltachta, who notes that the Donegal TD has made good progress, can converse socially and is at ease even in making jokes and humour. "But he has difficulty expressing himself on political issues like legislation," Mr Ó Leidhin told the online Irish language magazine,, and he recommended another intensive course on professional vocabulary.

Mr McHugh's political rival, Eamon Ó Cúiv of Fianna Fáil, himself a former Gaeltacht Minister, also acknowledges that he has made progress. But he insists that Mr McHugh is unable to publicly debate the issues of his department in the Irish language.

Sinn Féin Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh also acknowledges that Mr McHugh has made progress.

Unsurprisingly, both the opposition parties argue that Mr McHugh has made little progress on behalf of Gaeltacht and island communities, with Mr Ó Cúiv saying that discussing whether the Gaeltacht Minister can speak Irish tells its own sad story.

Everybody speaks of Mr McHugh's likeability but one unnamed person says he is sometimes happy not to understand and express himself in Irish. Against that, he keeps on trying.

Irish Independent

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