Gaeltacht Minister's crash course in Irish language pays off
THE new Gaeltacht Junior Minister has obviously returned from his lessons in the Gaeltacht with a very good report card.
Joe McHugh, whose appointment caused a storm last month because he could not speak Gaeilge, took his first public test yesterday and scored a very solid pass.
The Donegal North East TD successfully got through a 10-minute-long interview in Irish on Raidio na Gaeltachta's programme 'Barrscealta', showing that two short intense courses at Oideas Gaeil in Gleann Cholm Chille had paid real dividends.
Mr McHugh has committed himself to continuing to learn Irish, revealing his two civilian drivers who will share travelling the roads with him in the coming weeks are native Irish speakers.
He said he was ambitious to show results in advancing language plans for all the Gaeltacht regions, citing Connemara, Mayo, Kerry, West Cork and Waterford as the regions he will seek to promote.
He told presenter Michelle Nic Grianna that he had enjoyed his classes and urged everyone - even those with just a 'cupla focail' - to speak Irish. And he nominated his favourite Irish word as 'smugairle roin,' or jellyfish, in English.
The appointment by Taoiseach Enda Kenny in mid-July caused fury in Irish language circles as the senior minister in the department, Heather Humphreys, is not an Irish speaker either.
In the course of yesterday's interview Mr McHugh also laid emphasis on his role as a junior minister attached to the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources.
But he also showed himself to be a good sport as he completed his visit to Radio na Gaeltachta's Donegal HQ by taking the "Dushlan Uisce Ur", also known as the "Ice-Bucket Challenge."