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de Brún expresses concerns on attempted roll back of Irish language services in EU

2 October, 2006

Sinn Féin MEP Bairbre de Brún has expressed concerns that the European Parliament may roll back on a number of its commitments on provision for Irish as an official and working language of the European Union by January 2007.

Speaking today Ms de Brún said:

"As a Gaeilgeoir and an Irish MEP I would find any backsliding on implementing the decision to make Irish an official and a working language of the European Union unacceptable.

"On October 5TH the Constitutional Affairs Committee of the European Parliament is to have a first discussion on the question of amending the Rules of Procedure of the parliament. There is a concern amongst some that there will be fewer services for Irish in the European Parliament eventually than for other languages with the same legal status. This would be a huge departure from the present legal situation.

"The Irish government was prompted by a strong public campaign including street protests to seek official and working language status for Irish last year. Now that that status has been agreed it must be defended.

"What is now required is for the Irish Government through its MEPs to step in and defend the rights and entitlements of Irish language speakers and indeed people across Ireland. The Government must demand that there be no roll back on the previous agreements. Previous mistakes in seeking the correct status in the past must not be compounded by any lack of energy or drive now.

"Over the coming weeks and months Sinn Féin will be fighting to ensure that the European Parliament sticks to its obligations. I recognise that there will be teething problems but any lack of political will on behalf of the Parliament is unacceptable. We can only imagine the uproar if French, English or German language commitments were rolled back on - so why should Irish be treated any differently?" ENDS

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