Irish Government supports Dáil Éireann Motion ‘to have the Irish language recognised as an official working language of the EU and its Institutions’: Seán Ó Cuirráin appointed as Language Commissioner
by Davyth Hicks
Dáil Éireann, the upper house of the Irish Oireachtas (Parliament), passed a Labour Party Private Members Motion last night calling on the Government “to avail of the opportunity, given Ireland’s Presidency of the European Union, and the fact that the accession of new members of the EU will result in a recognition of additional languages in the Union, to have the Irish language recognised as an official working language of the EU and its Institutions.”
Today the Irish Government have said that they will now support the Motion.
In a speech to the Dáil last night the Government still appeared uncommitted to official status. Éamon Ó Cuív T.D., Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs said that: "I know people are particularly concerned to see if there is an opportunity to enhance the status of the Irish language in the European Union at a time when ten countries will be joining and nine languages will be added to the existing eleven official and working languages. Some people have wrongly interpreted the fact that the Government have highlighted practical difficulties on the way forward as a lack of will to do so. Nothing could be further from the truth.”
However, Government acceptance of the Motion, jointly tabled with Fine Gael and the Green Party, has been confirmed to Eurolang this afternoon. Speaking to the press the Labour Party leader, Pat Rabbitte, said that: "The government's position was unclear after Minister O'Cuiv's contribution in the debate last night, but government acceptance was confirmed by the Taoiseach on the Order of Business today.
"This unanimous endorsement of the Dail considerably strengthens the hand of the government in raising this issue with the EU".
Mr Rabbitte added that a timeline for implementation is now needed."It is important that the Taoiseach and Minister O'Cuiv should now spell out the specific steps they intend to take to ensure that decision of the Oireachtas to seek recognition of Irish as an official language of the EU is implemented. Mr. Ahern refused this morning to tell me what steps he will take to activate the motion during the Irish Presidency.
"If the government is cynically accepting our motion to avoid embarrassment and refuse to say when they will implement it, it will only compound the earlier neglect to make the simple request to have Irish enshrined as an official EU language".
Minister Ó Cuív also announced yesterday that Seán Ó Cuirreáin, Deputy Head of R.T.É Raidió na Gaeltachta, has been appointed by the President as An Coimisinéir Teanga (Language Commissioner).
A spokeswoman for Conradh na Gaeilge told Eurolang that the organisation "heartily welcomes the appointment of the first Language Commissioner of Ireland. The President of the organisation Séagh Mac Siúrdáin said he was sure that the new commissioners background and vast experience would very valuable to the enhancement and progress of the Irish language". (Eurolang)