In reality the Republic does business in English, not Irish

A letter from Seanán Ó Coistín:

The Department of Justice in Dublin. Officials there could not understand a Chinese man’s citizenship application written in Irish
The Department of Justice in Dublin. Officials there could not understand a Chinese man’s citizenship application written in Irish

William Beattie Smith wrote that the Irish language having a status as the national language in the south “permits employers to discriminate against people who do not speak it: candidates can be awarded extra points for modest fluency in Irish” (‘Irish language ‘rights’ in reality means legally-enforceable special privileges for Irish-speaking nationalists,’ June 11, see link below).

I can assure him and any other readers that that is very much not the case.

Most employers in Ireland do not give a rodent’s posterior about Irish or other languages.

Letter to the editor

Employers will discriminate against people who do not speak English.

The employer he is probably referring to is the Irish state, which despite having a constitution that lays out clearly that Irish is the first official language and English is the second official language, in reality operates in English and does not use much Irish in day-to-day operations apart from in symbolic ways.

The civil service is crying out for Irish speakers but successive Irish governments have been very reluctant to create proper supports for the Irish language in the public service.

Governments do not want to inconvenience public servants to actually learn a language that is by law the first official language.

While it is fine for public servants not to be able to speak Irish, the public service deems it obligatory for everyone to speak and use English. Even people from other lands who moved to Ireland, e.g. Poland, China etc., must prove their ability to speak English.

There was a recent case of a Chinese academic who works in Dublin who applied for Irish citizenship. He had the temerity of applying in the first official language of the state but had his papers sent back to him requesting him to apply in English as the civil servants in the Department of Justice could not understand Irish.

When complaints were made, the same civil servants were left red-faced and had to accept the application in Irish.

Mr Smith should not worry too much about Irish language legislation in Northern Ireland.

If the treatment of Irish by the public service in the republic is anything to go by, the impact in Northern Ireland will be a hell of a lot weaker and unionists who are not keen on Irish will have very little to worry about.

Le meas,

Seanán Ó Coistín, Trier, Germany

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