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Proposal to drop Irish language requirement for Gardaí must not go ahead

15 October, 2004

Sinn Féin Donegal Councillor Pearse Doherty has today voiced his concern at reports that the Justice Minister Michael McDowell is to drop the Irish language requirement for membership of the Garda Siochána. He described the proposal as an insult to Irish language speakers and called for it to be rescinded immediately.

Mr. Doherty said:

"The potential increase in the number of Gardaí on our streets is to be welcomed, even if this in itself will not be enough to redress the many problems which exist in relation to deployment, resources and accountability.

"However reports that the Minister is to abandon the Irish language requirement for membership of the Garda Síochána is an insult to the tens of thousands of people for whom Irish is their first language.

"Article 8 (1) of the Constitution states that Œthe Irish language as the national language is the first official language‚. The Department of Justice has consistently acted in deliberate breach of this provision and if they go ahead with this hair brained proposal the result is that members of the Gardaí will be unable to work effectively in many communities across this state.

"Instead of dropping this requirement the Department should be providing widespread Irish language training and ensuring that Gardaí are capable of communicating and working effectively with all those who speak Irish."ENDS

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