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Adams Urges Official Status For Irish Language

13 January, 2004

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP has written to the Taoiseach Bertie Ahern urging him to seek and secure official status for the Irish language during the Irish Presidency of the European Union.

Mr. Adams said:

"Over 30 years ago the Irish government of the day refused to take up the offer of making Irish an official language of the EEC. That was a disgraceful decision which stands as a mark of shame against that government.

"This year the accession of the new states in May will see the current 11 official languages increase to 20. Maltese, which enjoys 380,000 speakers, is already recognised as an official language of the EU. There are at least that many Irish speakers on this island and many more who have a knowledge of the language.

"So far the Irish government, which will hold the Presidency of the EU during this transitional period, has no plans to seek official status for Irish, even though Irish taxpayers will provide money to a translation fund.

"I have written to the Taoiseach urging him to propose a motion to the Council of Ministers to include Gaeilge as an official language of the European Union.

"I believe this should be done as a matter of principle and because it is also critical to efforts across the island to promote the use and status of Gaeilge." ENDS

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