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Irish language speakers increase by 7%

Irish language speakers increase by 7%

According to the latest figures released from Census 2011, the number of people who declared they can speak Irish has increased by 7.1% since 2006.  In total 1.77 million people answered ‘Yes’ to the question, “Can you speak Irish?”.

Battle of the Sexes
The ladies are continuing to outnumber their male counterparts when it comes to the Irish language.  Statistics remained identical to 2006, with 44.9% of women, and 37.9% of men identifying themselves as being able to speak Irish.
Daily / Weekly / Less Regular
Of the 1.77M who declared they could speak Irish, 77,185 said they speak the language every day outside of the education system, a further 110,642 said they speak Irish weekly, while 613,236 said they speak Irish less often.
When compared to the statistics gathered in 2006, the number of Irish speakers outside of the education system has grown by 5,037, with weekly speakers increasing by 7,781 and less regular speakers increasing by 27,139 people.
Gaeltacht Areas
The latest figures should the overall population of Gaeltacht areas to have increased by 5.2% to 96,628 people, and of these, 68.5% indicated they have Irish, with 24% speaking Irish every day, outside of the education system, a rise of 2.9% since 2006.  
COMMENTARY: Who said what?
Minister of State, Dinny McGinley, T.D.
“I am pleased to see an increase in the number of people who indicated they are able to speak Irish. This is a positive development in terms of making progress towards the achievement of the targets in the 20-Year Strategy for the Irish Language 2010-2030”. 
“The increase in the number of daily Irish speakers in Gaeltacht areas is good news, particularly since the 20-Year Strategy has set a target of a 25% increase in this area over its lifetime”. 
Ferdie Mac an Fhailigh, CEO, Foras na Gaeilge
 “Choosing to speak Irish is a personal choice and Foras na Gaeilge wants to ensure that an infrastructure is in place for those Irish speakers that allows them to live their lives entirely through the medium of Irish. These range from preschool services through to third level education to interacting on social media and essentially being able to access all services through Irish on a daily basis”.

Trevor Ó Clochartaigh, Senator representing Sinn Féin
“The growth we have seen is in spite of a Government which is neglecting the needs of this community and disregarding the increasing demand for services in Irish”.

“If the Government are serious about sustaining this growth, they need to put their shoulder to the wheel. They need to support and resource the core funded organisations, to improve the delivery of services in Irish, and to begin in earnest upon the implementation of the 20 Year Strategy”.
Kevin De Barra, Acting Director, Comhdháil Náisiúnta na Gaeilge
“We all face a great challenge in the years to come, to raise the current figure of daily Irish speakers from 77,185 to 250,000 by 2030 as set out in the 20 Year Strategy for the Irish language.
For the successful promotion of the Irish language, and to achieve the aims set out in the Strategy, the following actions are necessary. 

  • The Office of An Coimsinéir Teanga should be protected as an independent statutory body.
  • The wishes expressed by the public, under the public consultation of the Review of the Official Language 2003, must be upheld. 
  • A permanent funding structure, based on strategic planning and long-term goals, must be put in place for the Irish language voluntary sector.
  • The implementation plan for the 20 Year Strategy for the Irish language must be advanced, and an appropriate budget must be set out for this”.

Further information and statistics as published by the Central Statistics Office as part of the results of Census 2011, ar available to download at this link.   Census 2011 An Ghaeilge.pdf

© Published on 03 Aibreán 2012

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