18/07/14

18/07/2014 : National debate needed about our approach and attitude to learning the Irish language

Minister of State for Gaeltacht Affairs, Joe McHugh T.D., asks the public to join him on his journey to rediscover the Irish language

Minister of State for Gaeltacht Affairs, Joe McHugh T.D., has today (18/7/14) invited the public to join him on his journey as he seeks to improve his knowledge of the Irish language. Minister McHugh wants to start a national debate about the value we place on the Irish language and how we can encourage greater use of the language in our everyday lives.

Minister McHugh said: “I have been criticised in recent days about my lack of proficiency in the Irish language. I fully understand these concerns and I am taking steps to improve my proficiency. I want to reassure the Irish language and Gaeltacht community that I am fully committed to representing their interests.

My situation reflects the reality of many people in this country – someone who loves the Irish language but did not use the skills I was taught in school outside of the school setting. As the newly appointed Minister of State for Gaeltacht Affairs, I intend to use my position to encourage the public to join me on my journey to “relearn” the language, to use the Irish they already have and to improve their skills. In this way, we can try and bring the language into our everyday lives – in other words, we can live the language.”

Minister McHugh hopes that his initiative will encourage people to speak the language, which is the overall aim of the 20-Year Strategy for the Irish Language 2010-2030:

“I hope that my efforts will act as a catalyst to encourage people to use the language. I am determined to improve my own Irish language skills. I intend to keep people informed about my progress via social media and I will be posting useful phrases which people can use in their everyday lives. I hope the Irish language and Gaeltacht community will support me on this journey so that we can work together to increase the everyday use of the language across the country, as set out in the 20-Year Strategy for the Irish Language. In this regard, I wish to acknowledge the various organisations, both inside and outside the Gaeltacht, who are working to promote the language.

I know that many people, young and old, are willing to embrace the language and I want to encourage them to do so through my own experience. As the saying goes, “beatha teanga í a labhairt” (the life of a language is to speak it). I hope that the public supports me in this initiative.”

ENDS

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Press and Information Office
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Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, 23 Kildare Street, Dublin , D02 TD30. Tel: 01 631 3800 / LoCall: 1890 383 000

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