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Demise of Irish a sad reflection on education

ENDA Kenny proposes cutting Irish from the core curriculum at Leaving Certificate level.

The authorities on the subject tell us speakers of high-status languages rarely learn lower-status languages. Speakers of high-status languages learn second languages only where they perceive that language to be essential in their lives.

If the Irish people wish to maintain and restore the language, the living link between past, present and future generations, they must provide the kinds of social supports that were lost through conquest.

Those supports include the constitutional and legal standing of the language; the social standing and number of those who habitually use the language; the degree to which the language is perceived to be essential in education and in all other domains of social life; the extent of its use in government and public administration; its visibility and presence in public communication; the prestige of its literature and associated culture; and the measure of the social functions that can be performed through the language.

In 1973-75, a part of the national movement, Fine Gael, told us that it would vastly improve the prospects for the survival of Irish if its status was lowered in the state apparatus.

We opposed their idea. In the absence of the strongest possible balancing status-supports and interventions, we pointed out that in any society the subordinated language would, in a short time, be driven out and replaced by the dominant language. As they are telling us today, Fine Gael told us then that our critique was 'nonsense'. They went ahead and withdrew the status-supports for Irish in the state apparatus. What was the result?

The Department of Education once operated almost entirely through Irish. Recent research has shown that as a result of Fine Gael's removal of the status of Irish in 1973 and its replacement by some voluntary incentives, the proportion of staff who can provide a service through Irish is down now to 1.5pc!

That is hardly an advertisement for lowering the status of Irish in the education system.

Pádraig Mac Fhearghusa uachtarán Chonradh na Gaeilge
Dáithí Mac Cárthaigh Iar-uachtarán
Séagh Mac Siúrdáin
Tomás Mac Ruairí
Gearóid Ó Cairealláin
Áine De Baróid
Íte Ní Chionnaith
Pádraig Ó Snodaigh
Maolsheachlainn Ó Caollaí
Cathal Ó Feinneadha

Irish Independent