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Status of Irish language will be raised on every door canvassed in the election campaign

26 May, 2004


Speaking in Dublin this morning, Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD said that '"making Irish an official working language is a live political issue for Sinn Féin and we are raising it on every door we canvass in the Local Government and European Union election campaigns." He was speaking at an Irish Language press conference, also attended by 3 Local Government candidates -- Seán Ó Cadhla, Áine Ni Gabhann and Ciarán MacAnnraoi -- where issues, national and local, concerning the Irish Language were raised.

Deputy Ó Snodaigh said:

'The European Union has twenty official working languages. Irish is not one of them. Nine new official languages were introduced on May 1st of this year when the accession countries joined the EU. Again, Irish was not included.

'At present Irish has what is referred to as treaty status, meaning that copies of treaties, such as Nice, are translated. In addition any correspondence with the EU in Irish will be responded to in Irish. However, legislation and law are not provided in Irish.

'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?

'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.

'This is not an abstract demand. It is about securing full equality for Irish speakers and securing the well being of the language for future generations of Irish speakers. Young people would benefit in real and meaningful ways if Irish was given full recognition within the EU.

'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.

'Today, I am urging the Taoiseach to formally request official working status for the Irish language and end what is, in effect, decades of unequal treatment of the Irish language within the EU.

'I would also like to once again congratulate all those involved in the Stádas campaign, which is calling for the Irish government to take the necessary steps to secure recognition. This campaign has done tremendous work so far and has highlighted the issue at a national and international level." ENDS

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