President Higgins is currently hosting a series of consultations across the country titled “Being Young and Irish”, and among the concerns being expressed is the importance of equal rights for Irish-speaking citizens and communities in the face of increasing Anglophone discrimination. From the Irish Times:
“ENDING EXPLOITATION of young people at work, gaining accountability of political leaders and recognising the importance of language and cultural identity are among the most important goals if a better Ireland is to be achieved, according to a group of 100 young people who met in Dublin at the weekend.
Addressing the young people at the weekend, Mr Higgins said the submissions already received had been “both practical and very inspirational. The tremendous commitment, reflected in the submissions, to creating an Ireland based on fairness, diversity and respect for human rights has been impressive and very moving. It fills one with, not just hope, but also such a strong sense of what can be achieved by taking charge of change.”
He said the initiative to consult with young people was one part of his presidency’s contribution towards a “transformed Ireland, an inclusive and real republic”.
For Cormac Breathnach (21), from Carlow, the “constant attack on the Irish language” was one of the most pressing issues.
He has just completed a psychology degree in UCD.
“Irish was very important to my family when I was growing up and that has instilled in me a respect for and a love of it. To me, our history, culture, identity and the way we interact with the world is bound up in our language. It is part of us, and if we lose it we lose our identity, our connection to all that.”
He fears that it might become an optional subject at Leaving Cert level, and agrees with a Conradh na Gaeilge suggestion that Irish be split into two subjects at second level – a compulsory spoken, written and grammar subject, and an optional Irish literature subject.”