Since her appointment to government office in 2014, the Fine Gael politician Heather Humphreys has gained a reputation as one of the worse minsters for Gaeltacht and Irish language affairs that we have witnessed in recent decades. Given the mediocre record of those who proceeded her that is quite an achievement. The greatest criticism has focused on Humphreys’ obvious lack of interest in the concerns of Irish-speaking communities and citizens and her not infrequent attempts to escape any ministerial responsibility for such matters. From The Journal:
“A NUMBER OF Irish language organisations have expressed their dissatisfaction with the Minister for Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht Affairs Heather Humphreys, for declining to meet with them in an official capacity.
In the past several years, the Minister has declined to meet with organisations, saying they are not actually under her remit, but are allocated to the junior minister Seán Kyne.
The Minister has also declined to be interviewed by Raidió na Gaeltachta’s Cormac Ó hEadhra over the issue – which led to a public appeal on the airwaves for the Minister to set aside a date to be interviewed.
Since her appointment in 2014, Minister Heather Humphreys has declined to meet with Irish language organisations such as Conradh na Gaeilge and Údarás na Gaeltachta.
Over the past three years, Conradh na Gaeilge, which aims to strengthen the Irish language through promoting its use, has requested to meet with Minister Humphreys to discuss legislation and funding for the several groups they represent, such as Seachtain na Gaeilge and Foras na Gaeilge.
The Minister has declined to attend…”
Would a minister for education refuse to met organisations representing parents and teachers, or a minister for health decline to met groups advocating for patients and medical staff? Heather Humphreys’ party may style itself Fine Gael but there is nothing Gael about it and never has been. Meanwhile, of course, this is the same minister who has rejected a proposal for a national holiday on April 24th, Lá na Poblachta, because of what she views as “ambiguous language” in the legislative bill put forward in the Oireachtas:
“…to annually promote, encourage, coordinate and fund a programme of events, in commemoration and appreciation of the contribution made to the Irish nation by those who, during the centuries of occupation of Ireland by a foreign power, gave their lives and liberty to pursue the freedom of the Irish nation. It shall also seek to raise awareness and promote discourse, analysis and understanding of the ideals and aspirations contained in the key revolutionary documents and events leading up to the declaration of the Irish Republic at the GPO on Monday 24th April, 1916.”
There is certainly ambiguity on display here but I will leave it up to reader to decide where it lies…