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93% of people positive about the future of Irish

93% of people positive about the future of Irish

93% of those who took part in a national survey wish to have Irish revived or preserved, according to a report launched yesterday afternoon by Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, Éamon Ó Cuív TD. 

The Irish Language and the Irish People by Father Mícheál Mac Gréil and Fergal Rhatigan is the third report on the attitudes towards, competence in and use of the Irish language over 34 years. 

Fieldwork on the current survey was carried out by the Economic and Social Research Institute in 2007 and 2008. 

In examining general competence in the language, those surveyed were asked to rate their own level of Irish on a scale ranging from fluent to no Irish at all. 

A significant and disappointing finding of the report was that while 47% of Irish-born respondents rated themselves as reasonably competent, only 23% reported using Irish regularly.

Based on the survey’s results, the report identifies challenges facing the Irish language and makes recommendations in relation to developing and strengthening Irish in various areas of daily life, including education, public services, voluntary language and cultural organisations and the media.

Minister Ó Cuív said: “ Some of the findings of the report will come as no surprise to anyone dealing with the Irish language on the ground day to day.   What is most significant here is that the research gives us both factual evidence to support the choices we make in language policy, and detailed insights into particular trends within different groups of people.  By examining results for different age-groups, for example, or in individual regions, research like this helps us to focus initiatives and policy measures more effectively.

“In the 20 years since the last report, the composition of Irish society has changed greatly.  With an estimated 13% of our population made up of non-Irish nationals, the Ireland of today is a far more culturally diverse and vibrant country than the Ireland of 20 years ago. 

One of the findings of this report that I personally find striking is that when you look at the overwhelmingly positive attitude towards the Irish language, there is no difference in outlook between a sample of the total population and a sample of only those born in Ireland. 

It has been my own experience that in general, migrants who settle here in Ireland are open and positive about the Irish language, and many make the effort to learn Irish, particularly if they have children in school here.  Most of the non-Irish nationals who come to Ireland are either bilingual or multilingual and appreciate the benefits of having more than one language.  I am pleased that we now have the statistical evidence to recognise this.”

“Language is a fundamental part of individual and national identity.  It shapes the way we think, the way we communicate and the way we see ourselves and our own place in the world. ”

”Irish has come a long way from being the language of the poor.  As the report shows, 84.4% of the population would welcome an Irish speaker as a member of the family.  Irish can transcend old distinctions such as social class, or age, or ethnicity.  It can bring people together and give us a common ground and sense of kinship as we continue to evolve as a country.”

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