Cork MEP to go on ‘Language Strike’ in Brussels

17 February 2015
By Bryan T. Smyth

Sinn Féin MEP Liadh Ní Riada said that she will begin a ‘stailc
teanga’ today, lasting until the end of Seachtan na Gaeilge 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.

Liadh Ní Riada announced the strike during remarks at the
International Conference on Language Rights hosted in Dublin this
morning by Conradh na Gaeilge.

Ní Riada said:

“For the duration of Seachtain na Gaeilge I will be on a language
strike. This means I 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.

“I have received support from MEPs from many countries and political
groups, and I am calling on all Irish MEPs to support my campaign. I
have invited MEPs that speak Irish to join me on the strike.

“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.

“It saddens me that as a public representative, an Irish person, and a
woman from the Gaeltacht who grew up with Irish, that I cannot use my
own language as I go about my work. It angers me when I sit in
Parliament and I am told at the beginning of each meeting that an
interpretation service is available in each language. Of course Irish
is excluded and ignored.

“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.

“I am hoping for widespread support for my language strike and I would
welcome everyone to take part in the protest and begin their own
strike by only speaking Irish for a period of time during Seachtan na
Gaeilge. They can share details of their strike using hashtag
#StailcTeanga. As well I am asking people to sign a petition calling
on the Government to lift the derogation. Details will be available on
social media.”

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