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Campaigners will not accept downgrading of Irish at EU level - Bairbre de Brún

20 July, 2006

Sinn Féin MEP Bairbre de Brún has today said that she would ‘vigorously oppose efforts to downgrade the status of the Irish language in the EU’.

Ms de Brún made her comments after proposals put forward for European Parliament provision through Irish fell far short of what could or should be provided.


Speaking today Ms de Brún said:


“Yesterday a large number of campaigners gathered outside the courts in Belfast to highlight the rights of Irish speakers to use the language in public or private life. Meanwhile in Brussels, European officials were proposing measures for Irish language provision that would downgrade and roll back on commitments made last year, when Irish was granted the status of the EUs 21st official and working language.


“The Secretary General of the European Parliament has presented proposals to the EP Bureau which shows a clear intention to significantly downgrade previous commitments given on the Irish language. The proposal is that only the final text of regulations would be translated and Irish language speakers must notify the parliament in advance when they wish to speak in Irish.  None of the practical measures for everyday use of the language in brochures, publications, press briefings, the website and for the agenda for meetings or working documents are proposed.  All of this suggests that these EU officials lack the political will to bring Irish onto a par with other European languages.   

“I recognise that the addition of any official and working EU language is not without teething problems. Indeed after EU Enlargement in 2004, nine new languages were added as official languages and this required much work to ensure compliance. However, reading through the European Parliament Secretary General’s report, it is clear that he has set the bar very low in terms of what the parliament might even try to achieve.

 “As so often happens with such controversial measures, this politically sensitive document was put forward just before the summer break, when EU officials could expect a more limited response to the proposals made as the European Parliament closes for the month of August. However those campaigners who came onto the streets to back the STÁDAS campaign and those who gathered in Belfast yesterday to demand Irish language rights will not accept the downgrading of Irish.

 “Sinn Féin has contacted Irish and European officials to express our concern at this recent turn of events and I will vigorously oppose these measures in the time ahead.” ENDS

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