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Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD appeals for recognition of Irish Sign Language

10 November, 2016 - by Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD

Sinn Féin T.D. for Cavan Monaghan and Chairperson of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice and Equality, Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, today opened a debate in the Dáil chamber calling for the formal recognition of Irish Sign Language. Speaking during the course of the debate Deputy Ó Caoláin called on TDs to accept and support the report which was unanimously adopted by members of the Joint Committee and for Government to ensure that legislation to achieve formal recognition be progressed with the urgency that is required.

During the course of his address Deputy Ó Caoláin said;

“I am delighted that our Report on Irish Sign Language is now the subject of a debate here in this House.

“Irish Sign Language, ISL, is a language of the face, hands and body that has been in existence for hundreds of years and developed from within the Deaf community in Ireland. It is one of our two indigenous languages, the other, Gaeilge, being our first official language.

“ISL differs from sign languages in other countries. It is unique to Ireland.

“ISL is a naturally occurring form of communication among deaf people, developed over centuries and, as with all living languages, developing to meet the times and needs of those who are its primary users.

“The right to use one’s own language is an important human right. The right to communicate, to impart one’s thoughts, ambitions, fears, hopes, and ideas is a universal right. The failure to date of ‘independent Ireland’ to accord official recognition to Irish Sign Language has echoes in history for many of us who lament the enforced decline in the use of our first language.

“Minister. There are 5,000 people and an additional 35,000 hearing people using ISL on a daily basis. The World Federation of the Deaf advises that many countries worldwide recognise their indigenous sign languages. Why are we not one of them? Why do we delay and delay?

“I appeal to you Minister, and to this Government, to accept the unanimous recommendation of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice and Equality and to continue your support for the Recognition of Irish Sign Language for the Deaf Community Bill 2016 through all the remaining Seanad stages and then in this House and to facilitate its signing into law by our President at the earliest date possible” concluded Deputy Ó Caoláin.

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