Ireland And The European Union
Ireland And The European Union

Another day, another confirmation that the Irish-speaking population of this island nation are not only second-class citizens of Ireland but they are second-class citizens of Europe too. Yesterday the European Parliament voted to extend Rule 147, a unique regulation which targets the Irish language amongst others by denying it the same status as the major national languages of the European Union. The rule severly restricts the translation of EU documents and laws into Irish despite the fact that Ireland has been a member state of the EU since 1973. That a national community in Europe can be subject to such blatant discrimination makes a joke of the claim that the Union represents a “Europe of the peoples”. European legislation will continue to be implemented that directly effects the lives of Irish-speaking citizens but which they will be blocked from reading in their own language. Is this modern, pluralist European democracy? Or is it the retched stink of Old Europe rising once again? And guess what MEPs from what nation abstained themselves from the vote? You can read the so-called derogation motion for yourself here, passed by 493 votes to 128.

[Thanks to Daithí Mac Lochlainn for the heads-up]

8 comments on “EU? Screw You!

  1. michaeleverson932

    Well, yes. But Irish isn’t a major national language. It’s the first official language in our constitution, but since no decision was ever made to make Irish the working language of Dáil Éireann, Irish never gained the social status in Ireland, fiú, to have led to the athbheochán. Are EU politicians really to blame? Is kvetching about the “second-class status” of Ireland in the EU much more than a self-indulgent whinge? Sure, isn’t the question based in valid questions about the actual “status” of the language in our own country?

    I say this as someone who, in some small way, helps to improve the status of our national language by publishing some interesting books in Irish.


    • Some fair points, Michael. I can understand that a new member state of the EU would reasonably undergo a lengthy transitional period where translators and translation services were put in place, where problems and obstacles were overcome. Croatia springs to mind. However Ireland has been a member state for 41 years. Forty-one! Even more shameful is the knowledge that successive Irish governments and Irish MEPs supported the blocking of Irish translation services.

      It is “kvetching” but justifiably so. Discriminated at home, discriminated in the near-abroad that is the EU. An institutional culture of petty discrimination exists in the public bodies of Ireland that now infects the EU yet hardly anyone is aware of it.

      Interesting books in Irish are wonderful. A vital necessity in fact. However what use are they when those who wish to live their lives through the medium of the language those books are published in cannot do so? When they are actively prevented from doing so?

      Otherwise the old, biased accusation of “enthusiast” and “hobbyist” rings true.


  2. michaeleverson932

    Yes, but the EU and its translation staff will not save us. Is linne an fhadb, in Éirinn.


    • Yes, but one needs a holistic approach. There can be no half-way house when it comes to genuine equality between two language communities and those who wish to have a foot in both. Let people freely choose Irish or English or both. But the freedom must be there.

      Frankly I would welcome a referendum on an unambiguous declaration of Irish as the primary language of the state. What we have at the moment is constitutional fudge. I discuss that here.


      • No point arguing with ME, Séamas 😉

        As to the issue, regardless of practicalities, Irish was the one Celtic language accorded any real international status, so in a way it represented all of us by proxy, and therefore we all lose out to some degree.


      • michaeleverson932

        I just think the EU would be happy enough to support Irish as it does Latvian… if we Irish as a whole actually used our language as the Latvians do theirs. The root-and-branch transformation has to happen here.


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