Irish Republican News · January 14, 2004
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Campaign grows for Irish in Europe

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams has written to the Taoiseach urging him to secure official status for the Irish language during the Irish presidency of the European Union.

STADAS, an umbrella group comprising representatives of Irish language groups, educators and legal figures, was formed last year to lobby the government on the issue.

The group has already gained the support of all the main political parties in Ireland, including Fine Gael, Labour, the Green Party, Sinn Féin and the SDLP, as well as a number of Fianna Fail members.

Mr Adams yesterday said that more than 30 years ago the Irish government of the day had refused to take up the offer of making Irish an official language of the EEC, adding: ``That was a disgraceful decision which stands as a mark of shame against that government.''

The accession of the new states in May will see the current 11 official languages increase to 20, including Maltese, which has 380,000 speakers - the same number as Irish.

``So far the Irish government, which will hold the presidency of the EU during this transitional period, has no plans to seek official status for Irish, even though Irish taxpayers will provide money to a translation fund,'' Mr Adams said

He added that he had now written to Bertie Ahern urging him to propose a motion to the Council of Ministers to include Irish as an official language of the European Union.

Green Party Leader, Trevor Sargent TD, has also called on the Irish Government to use the ``unique opportunity2 of Ireland holding the EU Presidency to ensure that Irish becomes an official working language of the EU.

He said: ``Every country which signed the Treaty of Rome in 1957, and every country which signed a Treaty of Accession since then, except Ireland, had had their official national languages recognised as official languages of the EU.

``For example, Malta which will join the EU in May has had their national language accepted as an official EU language even though it has less national language speakers than Ireland has.''

``The decision of the Irish Government, in 1972, to exclude Irish, significantly disadvantaged their own people. Though late, it is both possible and necessary to correct the mistake now, and to achieve recognition for Irish as an official working language''.

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