As from 1st Jan, 2022, the Irish language became an official language of the European Union.
Endorsement sees it achieve full status with all documents published by the EU translated as Gaeilge. This marks the end of a derogation period, which has been in place since 2007. This limited the amount of material published through Irish by the EU institutions.
Since 2015 the scope of this derogation has been gradually reducing, as the capacity for the translation of Irish within the EU has increased. Minister for European Affairs Thomas Byrne says it is a fitting time for this to happen.
“I am immensely proud that this derogation is ending and Irish is now a full, official EU language. This reflects the tireless work that has gone into building up the capability of the EU institutions to operate through Irish.”And it is fitting that it is happening this year, a year when we will also mark the historic 50 year anniversary since Ireland signed the Treaty of Accession to the European Communities”.
The volume of Irish language translations has risen almost six-fold since 2016 – from 8,000 to almost 46,000 by October 2021. While around 200 Irish language staff are now working within the EU.
Minister Byrne says: “This remarkable increase would not have been possible but for recruitment of impressive numbers of Irish-speaking staff to the EU institutions, due in no small part to the efforts of the Departments of Foreign Affairs and Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media.
“The ending of derogation will make the services of the EU more accessible for Irish speakers at home and abroad. As a proud Gaeilgeoir myself, I regularly contribute to council meetings as Gaeilge and I would encourage everyone to make use of their cúpla focal, in every aspect of their life.”I would also invite those with Irish language proficiency to consider a career within the EU institutions.”
President Michael D Higgins has welcomed what he called a “significant day” for the Irish language as it achieved full status as an official language of the European Union from midnight last night. He said it was an important recognition at international level of “our specific identity as a people with a distinctive language of our own that we use alongside all the other languages we use and respect”.
As a full official language, all documents published by the EU will now be translated into Irish.
President Michael D. Higgins described the move as a “significant achievement, and it will be gratifying for many people to know that, every day, the Irish language will now be in use in the European Union”.
In a statement, he commented: “I do not take lightly the many reasons why people do not always feel a strong connection to the language, not least the varied experiences which people may have had in the education system in decades past.
“However, I would suggest that now is the time to make one great effort for the language. Let us go and make a resolution to give it a place in our daily lives at home – i lár an aonaigh, inár ngnáthcaint.”
The EU has 24 official languages.
Irish has been a treaty language since 1973, when Ireland became a member state, meaning only EU treaties were translated into Irish.
The Scots languages, Gaelic and Old Scots, are summarily disparaged by those of a colonial mind. A country’s language is the very foundation of its uniqueness in culture, traditions, heritage and thinking.
“The following video (Irish Gaelic 11 minutes in) provides raw insight into what the struggle for the Irish language has meant”: https://vimeo.com/84692786
This clever letter appeared in the National newspaper a few days ago in relation to the House of Lords. It is a good example of how far away ordinary Scots are from their own language.
“THE wes a guid airtikill in The Naitional (December 29) bi Alyn Smith anent the howpfu outcum o the vott ti wale a nyow Preses fur Chile. Alyn tels uz at thai hauddit a referr whedder ir no ti hae a nyow Constitutioun furby. Thusgates Chile hes a Conventioun at is ti pit forrit sicna document nixt eir. A hae threipit afoir at Scotland suid hae a Constitutiounall Conventioun an ither mair skeillie cheils grie. Than we wul ken whitlik we ir vottin fur whan Scotland hes a referr on hits Benevolence (Independence). Nou Chile ettils at anither gate at we cuid follae. Hae a referr speirin gif we wiss ti hae a Constitutioun drauchtit first an than eftir we can vott ti adop hit ir no. The nyow Constitutioun cuid disyde whit kinna mandate we wuid nott – electioun, referr, ir sempil resilin frae the Treatie o Uinioun. Westminster wuidna be expekkin hit. Mibbies thai wuidna ken the poust o a Scotch Constitutioun at is a kinna lawbiggin bodie. Gif thai say hit isna ane elekkit bodie, naither is the Houss o Lordes. An gif we wir yibbils ti wun griement we wuid be forderin the main emm, ti jyne Chile in the Unit Nautiouns belyve.”
Iain WD Forde