Conradh na Gaeilge and the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) are looking for language rights and equality for Irish speakers from the Government this Christmas.*Seán Ó Cuirreáin, An Coimisinéir Teanga, announced his early resignation last week (4 December 2013) due to the continuous marginalisation of the Irish language in the public administration system and the inadequate implementation of statutory language schemes by public bodies; in the wake of this shock announcement, Conradh na Gaeilge and USI are calling on the Government to urgently address the concerns of An Coimisinéir Teanga in upholding the right of citizens to use Irish when interacting with state agencies, and to ensure measures are immediately implemented to put an end to the policy of compulsory English that is prevalent in state departments and public bodies.

Donnchadh Ó hAodha, President of Conradh na Gaeilge says:

“It is a damning indictment of the Government that the ombudsman for language rights, appointed by the President of Ireland, felt he had no choice but step down from his office at a time where he felt that for every one step forward in the promotion of the Irish language in the public sector, there appeared to have been two steps backwards. Conradh na Gaeilge and USI are calling on the Government to rectify the situation immediately by addressing the concerns of An Coimisinéir Teanga as a matter of extreme urgency this Christmas, and to uphold the language rights of the Irish-speaking and Gaeltacht communities across the country before Seán Ó Cuirreáin steps down in the New Year.”

Feidhlim Seoighe, USI Vice President for the Irish Language says:

“Language rights are human rights – all USI and Conradh na Gaeilge are asking for from the Government this Christmas is that the Irish language gets the equality it deserves from the state. We want the Government to give Irish speakers their basic right to use Irish when dealing with state agencies, not just lip-service, and to assist – not hinder – the Office of An Coimisinéir Teanga in their work upholding the language rights of the Irish-speaking and Gaeltacht community.”
USI and Conradh na Gaeilge are looking for language rights for Irish speakers, the resolution of the issues raised by the Language Commissioner, and adequate resources for the Office of An Coimisinéir Teanga to fully perform its statutory obligations in a satisfactory manner. Conradh na Gaeilge & USI Christmas Wishlist 2013:

  1. That the Official Languages Act 2003 is strengthened, not weakened in 2014; this includes the retention and strengthening of an independent Office of An Coimisinéir Teanga.
  2. That a date is set by which employees of the State dealing with the Gaeltacht community must have fluent Irish, without condition or question – native Irish speakers should not be forced to conduct their business in English with state agencies.
  3. That the recruitment quota for people with competency in both Irish in the public service is increased from 6% to 30% within the next 10 years – under the new system envisaged by the Government, it would take over 28 years to increase the percentage of staff with competence in Irish in the Department of Education and Skills from the current 1.5% to 3%.
  4. That the derogation of the status of Irish as an official language of the European Union is done away with after 1 January 2017.
  5. That the Irish-language and Gaeltacht community is recognised as stakeholders in the implementation of The 20 Year Strategy for the Irish Language 2010 – 2030 in the south and in the Irish-Language Strategy in the north. It is imperative that the crucial high-level structures between authorities and Irish-language community organisations is established immediately.

Conradh na Gaeilge is the democratic forum for the Irish-speaking community working to promote the language. There are over 200 branches of Conradh na Gaeilge and since its foundation in 1893, members of the Conradh have been actively promoting Irish in every aspect of life in Ireland and especially its use in their own areas. Conraitheoirí are at the forefront of campaigns to secure and strengthen the rights of the Irish language community. It is also possible to register as an individual member of the Conradh. Conradh na Gaeilge runs Irish courses in Dublin, Galway and other locations across the country.

The Union of Students in Ireland (USI) is the sole national representative body for students in Ireland. Founded in 1959, USI now represents more than 250,000 students in over forty colleges across