Letter 18 Meitheamh 2014 (unsent)
I worked on the campaign in 2004 to have Irish made an official working language of the EU. I
worked in a voluntary capacity and I worked in a part-time paid capacity working with Conradh na
Gaeilge who were coordinating the Stádas campaign (Status campaign) in their Ard-Oifig or
Headquarters on Harcourt Street in Dublin for the last few months of the campaign.
If I had have known that it was the longer term aim or aspiration of the main advocates of the
campaign for Irish to command the same number of translators as the big major languages in the EU
within such a short space of time I would not have supported the campaign. Indeed it was clarified
early in the campaign that it was not the intention of the campaign for this to be the case and that only
a relatively small number of Irish language translators would be employed because most documents
produced by the EU were not going to be translated into Irish. I am astounded in recent weeks to hear
that it is now the target of Conradh na Gaeilge and supporters for Irish to command the same
prominence in the EU by way of translators and translation as the major languages do. This 'little
campaign' is honestly one of the most ridiculous campaigns I have ever heard of, not only in Ireland,
but indeed on the earth. Only two out of our fourteen MEP's speak Irish fluently. Only 20,000 daily
Irish speakers live in the Gaeltacht areas in Ireland and it is very rare to come across fluent Irish
speakers in Ireland itself never mind on the continent of Europe outside of the few Gaeltacht areas we
have left, Gaelscoileanna and dozen or so other Irish language pockets elsewhere on the island.
I am glad that Irish or Gaeilge is an official working language of the EU, despite us today only having
two fluent Irish speaking MEP's in the new Parliament. I hope that most of our MEP's who have said
that they will try to re-learn and use the Irish they have do so. Even if many of them decide to do so,
though, that will not merit having dozens more Irish language translators. I am delighted that the
European Parliament website is available as Gaeilge and that like with all other working languages of
the EU that there is now an Irish language European Parliament Twitter account. Although I assume
that there are not many Irish language translators working in the EU I am not certain. I am today with
the limited knowledge of the translation situation in the EU I have again happily content that our
oldest native language in Ireland An Ghaeilge is an official working language of the EU and that the
language can be heard in the European Parliament itself and that we can do a lot of our business as
Gaeilge with the EU and read updates on Twitter in Irish from the Parliament.
I would like to find out how many Irish language translators work on Irish language translation in
Brussels. If there are more than 10 or 15 then I would tend to support a departure from the status Irish
has now in the EU to a more pragmatic change for the language in the EU. If it is a case of "all-or-nothing"
for the Irish language in the EU then I am going to go with "nothing". I hope though that
Irish continues to be an official working language of the EU; that I am correct in my assumption that
we do currently not have a lot of Irish language translators working for the EU today; and that
presuming no or few more are hired.
Le gach dea-ghuí,
Saoririseoir / Independent journalist