Thursday 27 October 2016

If we really value Irish then we have to work harder to protect it

Rónán Ó Domhnaill

Published 30/05/2015 | 02:30

A signpost in Timoleague, County Cork
A signpost in Timoleague, County Cork

The findings outlined in the linguistic study won't come as much of a surprise to those of us living in the Gaeltacht.

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Nevertheless to see the future of the language laid out in such stark terms is particularly poignant and difficult.

It would be difficult to argue that the study that is overly pessimistic.

When we look at opinion polls for example we seek to identify a pattern of support for various parties. Likewise what this study demonstrates, with few exceptions, is a pattern of continuous decline.

This should concern all of us who want to see the Irish language survive and thrive.

The results bring into focus the challenges we face in creating vibrant communities where our own language, which has been passed on from generation to generation, can coexist with a powerful, dominant global one.

No single measure or approach can address the problem.

Many Gaeltacht communities are developing language plans at present. But in a sense this is being done in a vacuum.

Language legislation alone cannot be offered as a panacea.

A revised language bill is due for publication and, if and when that happens, there should be a requirement that state employees working in the Gaeltacht, or providing services in the Gaeltacht, have the ability to conduct their business through Irish.

Is it realistic to expect Gaeltacht communities to value the language if the State is unable or unwilling to commit to the provision of services in Irish to the very same communities?

Leadership requires vision, intent and actions and when the State does show that it values Irish in a national sense that in turn demonstrates to Gaeltacht communities that Irish has a central role in society.

If we value the language as a nation, as studies and opinion polls show we do, then we need to support it.

Irish Independent

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