An Nuacht is déanaí le

Please show respect for our language

Please show respect for our language

As a constituent of Nessa Childers, I was shocked to read in your paper that our MEP has, it seems, nothing better to do than question the use of Irish in the EU institutions.

Irish is just one of the 25 languages that enjoy a level of official recognition in the EU. Our partners in Brussels have no problem with this, and readily see why Irish people would value the recognition afforded to their language as an important part of their cultural inheritance.  It’s the same reason why Ms Childers’s party colleague and chairman of the Labour Party went to such trouble to set up TG4. Her party leader Eamon Gilmore, a fluent Irish speaker, has always been very supportive of the language.

Those of us considering how we should vote in the forthcoming general election would welcome some clarity that Ms Childers’s attitude to the language doesn’t represent a change of policy on the part of Labour. It’s ironic that this is the first I’ve heard of Ms Childers in Europe since she was elected two years ago. For an Irish MEP to query the status of our own national language among the 25 official languages of the EU plumbs a new depth of cultural crassness and political bankruptcy.  I’m old enough to remember that when her late father Erskine Childers stood for election to the presidency back in 1973, some of his opponents tried to make an issue of the fact that he hadn’t any Irish.

The electorate took a tolerant view of this, recognising that the language wasn’t part of his background and reassured by his own efforts to show respect for the language. Likewise today, no one expects to turn Nessa into a Gaeilgeoir. All we would ask is that she demonstrate a modicum of respect for those who have gone the extra mile to protect the language, and not least for our young graduates in Brussels who are proud to claim her as their own and extend her vista to new frontiers.

John Glennon
Hollywood, Co Wicklow

The Irish Independent - Litir chuig an Eagarthóir 
27 Eanáir 2011

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