Connacht Tribune - Gardaí need to go back to school to improve Irish proficiency
An article in the Connacht Tribune reports that "just over 50% of all Garda members in Gaeltacht areas obtained a mark of over 60% in language proficiency tests".
It is quoting from a report in the UK paper, The Times, which the Tribune summarizes as "some 486 Gardaí in stations in Galway, Kerry and Donegal were tested. Of these, just 239 achieved a score of 60% or lower in the test; eight received a mark of 40% or less. Just 9% or 46 Gardaí obtained a mark of 81% or higher, which indicated they are fluent."
The Connacht Tribune quotes Sinn Féin senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh as saying “Gardaí could do with more personnel who can speak Irish but they are the best of a bad lot in terms of the civil and public service,” and says that he "called for the return of Gaeleagras, a Gaeltacht-based Irish language training programme for civil and public servants, which was scrapped some years ago".
I can't find the original report on http://www.thetimes.co.uk, but I have a sneaking suspicion that it might have had a slightly different spin on the matter.
Just a few things. If I'm not mistaken, Ó Clochartaigh is a native speaker of Irish, and still presides over West Galway, and I know that people from Carraroe and the Gaeltacht claim him as one of their own. That said, I've spent time out in Carraroe... There really are no Gardaí there after like 3pm, except on the occasional round.
He ran for election in the local elections in 2004 and 2009, and was not elected (Connemara), and again for the Dáil election in 2011 and 2016 in the West Galway constituency, failing to be elected both times. He was elected to the Seanad in 2011 and again in 2016, but the Seanad is not elected on a geographical basis, and the electorate is restricted (essentially to other elected politicians). Unfortunately, some senators abuse the Seanad by pretending that they represent a Dáil constituency.
(I should clarify that I have nothing against Senator Ó Clochartaigh, it's just the use of the Seanad as a paid apprenticeship until you can get yourself elected to what politicians consider "the real deal" is something that has always bugged me).
You'll see very few Gardaí in rural areas. Even in most towns, the Gardaí are only there for an hour or two a day to do a bit of paperwork. There do be more stationed in the larger towns with district stations which can be sent out in an emergeancy. It's only getting worse thoug.
In relation to this topic though, I'm amazed at how few civil servants have Irish. It's only a language, and just like any other language, it only takes a bit of practice to keep it up.