Éire Ghaelach – Éire Shaor
Scratch a Blueshirt, even an ex-Blueshirt, and it doesn’t take long for the Inner Anglo to come out. Ivan Yates, former Fine Gael politico and (recently bankrupt) businessman turned radio presenter, has pin-pointed the cause of Ireland’s economic woes. No, it’s not the euro, or a global economic depression, or (god forbid) unregulated free market capitalism gone wild. No, the cause is… the Irish language!
From the Irish Independent:
“Despite the critical competitive advantage of having a natural English-speaking workforce, we persist with compulsory Irish language teaching and exams. A diminishing 3 per cent of the population converse in our official tongue. Declining relevance of Irish is swept under the carpet. If both Irish and religious studies were replaced by computer studies/information technology learning, we could greatly enhance economic performance. Heresy? Let’s embrace a future of options rather than obligations.”
A “diminishing” 3% of the population speak Irish? When 42.8% of the population stated that they had an ability to speak fluent or partial Irish in the 2006 national census of Ireland (a rise from 1.57 million to 1.66 million people)? When even conservative estimates place the number of native Irish speakers at 8% of the population as a whole?
One only has to look at the exponential growth in gaelscoileanna, Irish medium schools, in traditionally anglophone urban areas over the last two decades which now account for 10% of the schooling population to see that Irish speakers are on the rise. Ivan should know this. After all he sent his children to Irish medium schools to be taught through the Irish language.
If Irish is good enough for the children of Ivan Yates why is not good enough for the rest of us?