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EU not against official status being given to Irish - de Brún

8 January, 2004

Bairbre de Brún MLA, former Health Minister in the Six Counties, is supporting the campaign in favour of official working status for the Irish language in the EU. She will be showing support for the campaign at the Forum on Europe in

Dublin Castle today.

Ms. de Brún said: "The Irish Government should be happy to put this motion before the European Council and the Taoiseach as its current chairman. At the moment it is possible to get correspondence from institutions in Irish but

legislation is not translated except for treaties or official documents. Also, there are jobs in EU institutions open to citizens of the Union who have two (or more) official languages of the EU. The Irish citizen is, therefore, disadvantaged because Irish is not included as an official language. I intend putting it to the Forum on Europe in Dublin Castle today that the EU Commission or the other EU member states are not against official working status being given to the Irish language.

"Noel Mulcahy, one of the officials who was pushing for the state's entry into the Common Market 30 years ago, admits that there was a mistake made by the Government with regard to the Irish question at the time that they didn't look for recognition or status for Irish as an official working language of the Common Market. This question also applies to cultural and linguistic diversity and the influence of international status that the language would have on its speakers and learners."

At the meeting of the National Forum on Europe on 23rd October 2003, Bairbre de Brún asked the Taoiseach what steps he would be taking to make sure that Irish would be a working language in EU institutions. Having regard to the document setting out priorities for the Irish Presidency of the EU, she also asked the Taoiseach what steps he was planning to take to, as the programme says: "Preserve the richness of the cultural diversity in Europe in every aspect."

Ms. de Brún also said: "Following the May accession, the European Union will have 20 official languages. This is a good opportunity for the Government of Ireland to raise the question of the status of Irish again and to secure proper status for it. The public of the other countries in the Union or their respective governments, are not against granting that recognition on the Irish language. All that is needed to get full recognition for Irish as an official language of the EU is political will coming from the Government. The European Union will be happy to give official language status if the Government of Ireland would just ask for it." ENDS

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