News from Irish Branch of the Celtic League:
Members of the radical Irish language group MISNEACH occupied the Department of the Gaeltacht on Kildare Street, Dublin on 12th April. After figures published in the census last week revealed a dramatic fall in the number of daily speakers of Irish in the Gaeltacht between 2011-2016 the group is demanding a fundamental shift in the approach of the State to our national language.
Referring to the fall in numbers, a spokesperson for MISNEACH said:
“The complete disinterest in the fate of the Irish language by those in power is evidenced by these latest figures published by the Central Statistics Office. The figures are the inevitable consequence of years of austerity which placed the interests of the ultra-rich ahead of those of the ordinary person, and which destroyed the social fabric of the country, particularly in the Gaeltacht where communities have been decimated by unemployment, emigration and neglect from 2008 onwards.
The Irish Government and the Department of the Gaeltacht ought to be ashamed of the manner in which it has abandoned the Gaeltacht for so many years. It is clear that as the social, economic, linguistic and communal emergency deepens in the Gaeltacht, politicians and civil servants seek to absolve themselves of any responsibility.
For the last number of years MISNEACH have been active in organising social events, protests, music festivals and public talks. Recently we mounted a campaign which saw members of the public send letters to the Department of the Gaeltacht lodging their complaint that the recently appointed General Secretary was not proficient enough in Irish to deal with Irish speakers.”
The spokesperson continued:
“The budgets of Údarás na Gaeltachta and the Department of the Gaeltacht were slashed by almost 75% between 2008-15. It is unsurprising, therefore, that the Language Commissioner recently accused the State of contributing to the decline of Irish in the Gaeltacht. Minister Kyne is disingenuous in the extreme in attempting to sing the praises of the 20 Year Strategy. Even if the strategy were correctly applied at this late stage, it does not have the linguistic element necessary to rescue the Gaeltacht from the dire situation which it is in.
Recent comprehensive studies have revealed the extent of the language crisis in the Gaeltacht and have urged a complete overhaul of policy and substantial investment in order to maintain these communities. Despite this, since the introduction of the Gaeltacht Act in 2012 the State is demanding that Gaeltacht communities develop their own language plans, yet at the same time refuse to provide the adequate resources necessary to complete these processes. The mealy mouthed announcement of additional funding by the minister in recent days will not address this crisis when the 75% reduction in funding to the Údarás since 2008 is considered.
We in MISNEACH demand much greater resource allocation than this and a return to the budget level of 2008 for the Údarás, as has occurred in the cases of both the IDA and Enterprise Ireland. Moreover, we demand that the government cease neglecting Gaeltacht and Irish language issues and take effective action immediately to ensure the future of the Gaeltacht.”
MISNEACH believes that if the Irish speaking community and their allies do not fight back at this critical juncture, it will be too late for the language in its core communities.
The spokesperson concluded:
“We call on all Irish language and community groups around the country to unite together and take a robust stand for the Gaeltacht and for the Irish language. We are strongly of the opinion that the strides made by the Dream Dearg in the north need to be emulated in the south and a similar broad front group established to tackle this crisis.”
The occupation was resisted by security staff, Gardaí were called and the protesters ejected. They then continued the protest outside.