Gaeilgeoir - Irish Rights Are Civil Rights!
Gaeilgeoir – Irish Rights Are Civil Rights!

On the back of the announcement by the Fine Gael-Labour coalition government that it is to further degrade the role of Irish-speaking civil servants while undermining the rights of Hibernophone citizens and communities to state resources unless they communicate through the English language comes this thought from the Blether Region, a studiously restrained commentator rarely given to hyperbole:

“Those taking an historical interest in the promotion of Irish since independence will know that one of the key reasons why its position remains so insecure is that although the State has been quite willing to have people learn the language, it has also been reluctant in the extreme to provide them with plausible reasons to speak it. It has failed to provide services, and even broadcasting provision for what is constitutionally the first national language was remarkably slow in materialising.

There has also been a rowing back on what the State expects of its own. Until the Fine Gael-Labour Government of the 1970s, civil servants were expected to have Irish. After that date, Irish-speaking candidates for posts or promotion received a 6% bonus vis-à-vis their competitors.

Now another Fine Gael-Labour coalition has done away with that too, instead settling on a rule that 6% of civil servants be able to speak Irish. One need hardly be an actuary to notice that there is an element of voodoo statistics in the decision, since a 6% boost to an individual candidate’s interview or exam score is clearly not the same as decreeing that 6% of civil servants be able to speak Irish. Nor is this the first time that the present Government has backslid on the language: not so long ago Fine Gael even attempted to make it a voluntary subject for leaving certificate students. In the end it had to withdraw those plans after a public outcry.

It has for many years been the case that it would be difficult or impossible for someone who feels that the Irish language is fairly or very important to vote for a Northern Unionist party.

Now the same thing seems to be happening in the South.”

When even the most politically moderate of observers can detect the entrenchment of institutional discrimination within the Irish state against a significant minority of its own citizens is it not time for others to speak up?

Before it is too late.

9 comments on “Irish Rights Are A Civil Right

  1. The point about language rights being a right was emphasised by a delegate to the International conference of Language Ombudsmen & Commissioner held in Dublin (at the instigation of the Irish Commissioner).

    “We are talking not only about rights here but about the right thing to do!”

    A short report in English on that conference may be found here ( and a really comprehensive report by the “French born, Swiss Resident, teaching in Algeria, Scottish Baroness of Sefardic Jewish Tunisian, Italian, Palestinian Turkish and Maltese descent, I am cosmopolitan by the grace of a diaspora heritage of over 2000 years,” Daphne Romy-Masliah: (
    The actual presentations (mostly in English) may be found on the Coimisinéir Teanga Site (


  2. Reblogged this on Machholz's Blog and commented:
    first national language ?????


  3. Do even the irish themselves understand “The Irish Question?” The UK is bound by the ECRML to protect and develop traditional regional and minority languages. The RoI however is exampt re. Irish, since as the First Official Language of the state, it doesn’t count as a “regional or minority language”. According to the last UK report of the ECRML’s monitoring body, Irish in NI was doing quite well under direct London rule, but since devolution was restored its development has been hampered. In particular the Irish Langage Act (title??) has been blocked. Seems like the Irish of all people are out of step with modern Europe.

    The figure of only a small percentage of civil servants having Irish is both alarming and puzzling to me. Everyone in the Republic takes many years of Irish in school, so even if the teaching is not the best, even if the pupils are linguistically challenged, nevertheless you’d expect maybe 50% or 30% or at lest over 10% to come out of the system with functional Irish. So unless Irish civil servants are recruited from overseas …

    Not that things are perfect by any means in the UK, nevertheless this recent Welsh report might hold some useful ideas …

    Click to access 130926-review-of-welsh-second-lan-en.pdf


    • Some very good points there.

      More than one observer has pointed out the irony that Irish might be better off if it was listed as a protected minority tongue under the Charter rather than as the national and official language of the nation-state of Ireland.

      That says much for how modern Ireland functions or views itself.

      The problem with Irish language education (aside from its inadequacies) is the ghettoization of the language in the education system. Children are expected to learn it in school but then through social, economic, media and political pressures they are inhibited or prevented from speaking it outside the schools.

      That is why Irish-medium schools are so reviled in the popular media and why the Dept. of Education starves them of recognition or resources. Because it is feared they will produce children who will learn the language in the schools and then demand the right to speak it outside the schools too.


  4. an lorcánach

    saw this in yesterday’s free metro –
    …hearts and minds!

    don’t forget – new free (8-page) ‘Seachtain’ supplement in wednesday’s ‘indo’ (apparently since 25/09!)


    • Expect a post on that tomorrow! “Nazis”. Talk about hate speech.


      • an lorcánach

        Great stuff, Sionnach — didn’t seem to be reply in today’s metro; didn’t write myself into paper this time as they never printed reply to something similar few years ago (even when they had more space for correspondence in the two free papers, as they were then) — — check out nuacht rté/tg4 today and the pleasantly fascinated audience listening to Martin Walsh’s Maim talking to the iriseoir Gaeilinne — proud as punch! 🙂 …..Course not shown on Anglophone news!


        • Full post on it here. Hit their Facebook and Twitter feeds questioning why they are publishing letters calling Irish-speaking citizens (and some of their readers) “Nazis”. Maybe this time we can get a reply. Thanks for the headsup!


          • an lorcánach

            Ar fheabhas! – I’ll do that tonight when I get more reliable internet connection – Beir bua, @


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