Republic of Ireland MEP told to stop speaking in Irish in EU Parliament – ‘Either you use another language or unfortunately I cannot give you the floor…’

Republic of Ireland MEP was told to stop speaking in Irish in EU Parliament this week during a meeting of the Economic and Finance Committees, despite having asked permission two weeks previously, and providing her own interpreter.

Republic of Ireland MEP Liadh Ní Riada has begun a ‘stailc teanga’ (language strike) lasting until the end of Seachtain na Gaeilge (Irish-language week) as a protest against the derogation on Irish in the EU and to highlight the Irish Government’s lack of movement in securing an end to the languages second-class status. This means she will only speak Irish in my work with the European Institutions as a protest against the derogation. My aim is to draw attention to derogation and to encourage the Irish Language community and the Irish people in general to put pressure on the Government to remedy the situation.

Irish received full status in the EU in 2007 but since that time a derogation has been in place. The European Institutions are not obliged to provide full translation or interpretation services in Irish, as they do with all other official EU languages. Lifting the derogation will mean that 188 jobs will be created at no great cost to the European Union, but with huge ramifications for the Irish language and Gaeltacht communities. To create these jobs the Irish Government needs only send a formal request to the Council of Ministers to end the derogation.

There is a deadline pending however. The Government will need to make a decision on this and request an end to the derogation by the end of this year. If they don’t lift the derogation now there won’t be another chance until 2020.

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