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The Irish Language belongs to everyone - Ní Chuilín

10 February, 2015 - by Carál Ní Chuilín

Culture Minister Carál Ní Chuilín has said that the Irish Language belongs to everyone as she launched a consultation on proposals for an Irish Language Bill.

The Minister was speaking in the Senate Chamber at Stormont as she announced details of the 12 week consultation process. Schoolchildren from Scoil an Droichid and Bunscoil Bheann Mhadagáin, performed a number of songs in Irish, during the launch event.

In spelling out the merits of the Bill proposals the Minister said:

“The Irish language is not the preserve of any particular group or of any section of the community; it is part of our shared cultural heritage and it belongs to everyone. There is a necessity to protect the interests of Irish speakers and to put in place a solid foundation which affords everyone an equal opportunity to learn the language, should they wish to do so.

“The strategy on the development of the Irish Language, which I published at the end of last month, seeks to promote a much wider understanding of the language and the consultation I am announcing today will generate a much needed debate on the benefits of placing the Irish language on a statutory footing.

“Evidence has shown that the needs of minority language users are served better when they have the appropriate legislative endorsement. The Welsh and Gaelic Languages’ are protected through legislation which has been passed by the Welsh Assembly and Scottish Parliament respectively and I trust that this consultation will help ensure that this Assembly will realise the benefits of giving legal status to the Irish Language.”

This consultation document contains a wide range of proposals and will allow the public to see the range of provisions which Acht na Gaeilge might contain. 

The proposals contained within the consultation document include:·

- official status for the Irish language 

- the use of Irish in the courts 

- the use of Irish in the Assembly·

- an Irish Language Commissioner 

- the use of Irish by public bodies

- the provision of Irish language schemes - provision for Gaeltacht areas 

- the provision of place names in Irish 

- guarantees for Irish language education.

The Minister said that while she recognised that not everyone would attach prime importance to the publication of this consultation, she asked everyone to look beyond the headline and take time to study what is being proposed.

She said: “There is absolutely nothing for anyone to fear from enhancing and protecting the Irish Language in a way which will enable it to make a lasting and meaningful contribution towards building a strong and united community. It will not in any way threaten or displace the English Language but sit alongside it as a living and vibrant language.

“I encourage everyone to make their views known and contribute to what I hope and trust will be a positive debate and one which is conducted in a mature and constructive manner.”

The consultation closes on Tuesday 5 May 2015.

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