HUNDREDS of people turned out in Connemara to mark the last day in office of the country's first Irish Language Commissioner.
Sean O Cuirreain's second term as Coimisineir Teanga ended officially yesterday with a protest by Irish language activists and supporters in the heart of the country's largest Gaeltacht area.
The Slan le Sean protest came in the wake of Mr O Cuirreain's resignation at the failure of the Government to ensure the provision of adequate services as Gaeilge to Irish speakers.
And it followed last week's demonstration in Dublin – attended by an estimated 10,000 people – over the lack of action by government to assert the rights of Gaeilgoiri.
The protest got under way yesterday with a tribute to the work of Mr O Cuirreain during his two terms as the country's first Irish Language Commissioner. Thanking all those attending for their support, Mr O Cuirreain said: "I have always found it ironic that the State, which requires all students to study Irish up to Leaving Cert level, then fails to facilitate them and actually actively prevents them from using the language in dealing with state bodies."
He wished his successor as commissioner, Ronan O Domhnaill, every success in his new role. Mr O Domhnaill has worked for a number of years as political correspondent with TG4. Afterwards, a letter of protest was handed in to the headquarters of the Department of the Gaeltacht in Furbo.