Monday, June 13, 2005

Irish to Become 21st EU Official Language

RTE reports that "EU Foreign Ministers meeting in Luxembourg today supported the proposal, which is now certain to be formally adopted this afternoon." Dermot Ahern said "This is a real psychological boost for the Irish language. People often said that we would be subsumed into the EU culture. This confirms the fact that there are multiple identities in the EU but each of us is no less nationalistic than prior to us joining." It has also been reported "that the Irish premier Bertie Ahern had to intervene a number of times to secure agreement by all member states." This decision will come into effect in 2007. SF MEP Bairbre de Brun declared that "today's announcement is a victory for campaigners from all over Ireland and further afield who continue to campaign for equality for the language." Fine Gael Dinny McGinley TD said that "this recognition of the status of the Irish language at EU level is welcome, not least as it will reverse that inexplicable decision made by Fianna Fáil in 1972 when they failed to seek official status for the language." ***UPDATE***: SF Dail leader Caoimhghín O Caoláin in an Irish and English press release said "it should be remembered that the Government was unwilling to put this issue forward until it was raised as a major issue during the EU election campaign last year, raised by Sinn Féin, among other parties and groups." ***UPDATE*** MEP DUP Jim Allister however, notes that "what we have here is the outworking of a Gaelic ego-trip by those who thrive on a pretence of being deprived". ***UPDATE*** UUP MEP Jim Nicholson reacted by saying that "given that the estimated initial cost to the taxpayer of EUR3.5 million a year, I feel it is inappropriate for our Government to have backed the measure in Council." More here ***Update*** Paisley said at the House of Commons: "I have just discovered that a translation into the Irish language is to be made available. I made some inquiries, which revealed that no Member of the European Parliament in this term or any other term has ever required an Irish translation to participate in the workings of the European Parliament. The translation will cost £3.5 million every year, and there will be 20 to 30 translators translating into Irish for Irish people who never even asked for it."

STATEMENT BY DUP MEP JIM ALLISTER

"Today's decision to elevate Irish as an official language of the EU is a gross waste of public money for the basest of political reasons. What we have here is the outworking of a Gaelic ego-trip by those who thrive on a pretence of being deprived.
It is also important to note the precedent which such a step will create for other secondary and regional languages. There are 3 regional languages from Spain campaigning for recognition and if Irish becomes an official working language then their case is unanswerable, for they are living, not dead languages. This matter is getting out of hand. All Irish MEPs have English as their first language and for 25 years have found it more than adequate. We already have 20 languages in the EU, all with immense translation costs, now, pressurised by Sinn Fein, the Irish Government has put pursuit of republican ideology above pragmatic common sense and fiscal responsibility."

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Statement by UUP MEP Jim Nicholson:

"Ulster Unionist MEP Jim Nicholson has criticised the Government's
backing for the Irish language being upgraded to official language status in
the European Union.

Speaking from Brussels, Mr Nicholson said, "The push to have Irish
upgraded was a purely political campaign. It will only serve to overburden
a linguistic régime which is already struggling to cope with 20
official languages. Given that the estimated initial cost to the taxpayer of
EUR3.5 million a year, I feel it is inappropriate for our Government to
have backed the measure in Council.

"Given that the UK Government's endorsement of the upgrade comes only
days after the Commission approved £12 million in state aid i.e. British
taxpayer aid to the Irish Language Broadcast fund in Northern Ireland,
we have got to question the priority of Government in investing moral
and financial support in the promotion of the Irish language at a time
when budget constraints are being felt in essential public sector areas
such as health and education.""