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Sinn Féin Slógadh To Take Place in Kerry this weekend

25 March, 2004

Speaking in advance of this weekend‚s Sinn Féín Slógadh events in Kerry Sinn Féin MLA for West Belfast Bairbre de Brún highlighted one of the key issues to be discussed at the weekend, namely the campaign for Irish to be given the status of Official Working Language of the EU.

Ms de Brún said:

"The European Union has eleven official working languages. Irish is not one of them. From May of this year, when the accession states become members of the EU, an additional nine languages will be recognised as official working languages. Again Irish will not be included.

"Attaining official working status is a relatively straightforward matter, requiring only acceptance by the Council of Ministers. Neither the governments nor the peoples of the other states are opposed to the Irish language having such status. The question is, therefore, who is opposed to the Irish government putting this before the Council of Europe?

"Some critics have argued that providing additional translation would be a waste of money which could be used more effectively in other ways. Yet these same people raised no objection to this money being spent on translation into eleven or even twenty other languages. Only when Irish was mooted did they begin to ask questions about the cost. When one considers the low level of budget increase involved, a more appropriate question would be whether the rights and entitlements of Irish speakers can be denied on such spurious grounds.

"Granting official working status will give Irish speakers equality with their other European counterparts and help the overall development and growth of the language. It will also substantially assist the full recognition of Irish in the Six Counties, where it continues to experience significant levels of governmental and statutory resistance. A positive response by the Taoiseach on this issue would help convince nationalists in the north that at least the Irish government is serious about the commitments given in the Good Friday Agreement to promote the Irish language, and will make British government or unionist resistance all the more difficult. International recognition would have a huge impact on the status of Irish language speakers and learners.

"The Stádas campaign, which is calling for the Irish government to take the necessary steps to secure recognition, is growing more popular by the day. All those involved in the campaign need to be commended for their great work. It is time for the Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, to request the inclusion of Irish in the list of official EU working languages. No other obstacle exists. The time to act is now."ENDS

Editors Note; The Slógadh will begin in Dún Chaoin, Co. Kerry on Friday night and continue through until Sunday evening.

Bairbre de Brún will address the section on the Status of the Irish Language within the EU on Saturday at 11.30.

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