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Irish to be given full official EU language status

Irish to be given full official EU language status http://www.euractiv.com/sections/languages-culture/irish-be-made-official-eu-language-320311

Although it has been an official language of the EU since 2007, Irish will now be gradually upgraded to a full working language of the European institutions.

“Tá gach ainmhí cothrom ach tá roinnt ainmhithe níos cothroime ná a chéile.”

To the less linguistically-gifted, George Orwell’s oft-quoted “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others" maxim from Animal Farm seems particularly apt when it comes to the European Union’s attitude towards Irish.

Even though it is one of the Union’s 24 official languages, Irish has so far existed in administrative limbo, where it has been placed under so-called ‘derogation’. This has meant that the European institutions have not been obliged to provide full translation or interpretation services, as it does with the other 23. Translation is only mandatory when it comes to co-decisions made by the European Parliament and the European Council.

Maltese was placed under a similar derogation when it joined the bloc in 2004, but it too was lifted in 2007, giving it equal footing with the other languages. Maltese is spoken as a native language by around half a million people, while the estimated number of Irish native speakers is around 100,000.

However, on 3 December, the Council announced that it would draft a Regulation that would increase the number of areas in which Irish translation is required, with an aim of ending the derogation phase completely by 1 January 2022. It is likely that the translation services of the institutions will have to be expanded in order to cope with the increasing workload.

EU citizens have the right to use any of the official languages in correspondence with the EU institutions, which have to reply in the same language. Earlier this year, Liadh Ní Riada MEP (Sinn Féin), went on a week-long ‘language strike’ in protest against the “second-class status of Irish”, refusing to speak anything other than her native language when conversing with the institutions.

Each branch of the EU has its own translation service, with the Commission’s DG Translation dealing with the largest workload. It operates on a budget of roughly €330 million per year. In 2014, it processed 2.3 million pages. Estimates have put the total cost of translation for all the institutions at around 1% of the EU’s annual budget, or €2 per EU citizen.

EurActiv.com by Samuel Morgan

I read this yesterday and though GREAT ! I'm not sure that it is certain as there was no other outlet reporting the story. A working language would really help Irish and give a reason for people to use it.

December 11, 2015



It's about damn time.


Will this bring about any meaningful change, though, do you think?


Did making Irish an official language of the EU in 2007 bring about any meaningful change? Upgrading the status of Irish in the EU will bring about more of the same. It will provide more jobs for Irish speaking graduates - in Brussels. It's unlikely that it will have little any significant impact on the ground, either in the Gaeltacht, or anywhere else in Ireland.

If anything, this will strengthen the position of the Caighdeán Oifigiúil, which some people believe will only serve to undermine the dialects.


Honestly, probably not. Though it could encourage more native speakers to use it, especially if they hire a native speaker to do the translation work. Which they should. But it's still the principle behind the government merely paying lipservice to the language, instead of trying to promote it.


But mightn't there be indirect benefits to it? If the direct impact will be jobs for a select few in Brussels, then there needs to be a larger pool of capable Irish-speaking graduates who want those jobs, which could impel the government to revise how they handle education, which could lead to a broader shift, however slight, in attitudes towards the language... the "every little bit helps" principle. One must hope?

Also, Liadh Ní Riada sounds awesome.


This might generate a dozen new jobs - there's no need for a curriculum update to handle that.

My comments might sound a bit negative, but it's not that I'm opposed to move - I am happy that Irish is being recognized. I'm concerned about the issue of make-work - all that translation work for documents that might never be read, but in the overall scheme of things, I'm not sure that that's such a big deal. But in an age of cynicism about politics in general, there's a bit of a whiff of pork-barrel off this, which will cause resentment in some quarters.


FWIW, I started working in translation here in the States soon after the EU added Irish in '07, and once in a blue moon we'd get an Irish request. (Finding qualified Gaeilgeoirí medical translators is... challenging.) Every time, I'd end up having multiple conversations with clients about this language they didn't even know existed, and they would leave astonished. I don't think "passingly curious Americans" is the demographic to save the language or anything, but raising awareness among people who have no serious interest is a major part of changing the way people who do have that interest are received. And when it comes to anything revitalization-related, cynicism about politics is expected, but optimism about common people is necessary, I think. :)


As was the case in the original campaign, status is the primary objective. Irish is, constitutionally speaking at least, Ireland's first language and it is reasonable to expect that the State would see this is reflected at home and abroad.


Only six years to go.


they said it would end the derogation phase completely by 1 January 2022 but things will start before then, like a 6 year program. Still no matter how extensive Irish is used at E.U level we have to use it in Ireland a lot more.


Comhghairdeas! That's good to some extent! Will it rocket the amount of Irish speakers in Ireland? Probably not, but it's one step in the right direction.

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