NB Please see Bill and Explanatory Note attached.
Aontú’s Road Traffic (Amdt) Bill 2021 passed First Stage in the Dáil, and was introduced in the Dáil by Aontú Leader & Meath West TD Peadar Tóibín. Speaking on the Bill in the Dáil, an Teachta Tóibín stated:
“The Irish government sees the Irish language as an ornamental addition to ‘Brand Ireland’. Cúpla focail here and there to pepper speeches, a few photo opps and a language for a few hours in class. The Irish language is an cultural hallmark of our great nation, and is an Aladdin’s cave opening the door to rich cultural tradition stretching back hundreds of years. It’s been the voice of the Irish people for thousands of years. Yet, shockingly, this may be the last generation in which the Irish language is spoken in the Gaeltacht regions. That’s according to the latest census data doing the rounds. The collapse of the language in the Gaeltacht region makes for harrowing reading. Census data shows an 11% annual drop in daily speakers. Only 500 children between 3 and 4 speak the language in the Gaeltacht as a daily language. It is hanging on by a thread at the moment. This is down to the State’s treatment of the language where Gaeltacht children are forced to attend pre-school in English. 94% of principals in Irish language medium schools who want to hire additional Irish language teachers extremely difficult to do so. The wonderful resource that is the gaelscoil is struggles to hang on.”
“A company in receipt of State funding in Donegal told it’s workers only to speak English. How is it in this country, we provide funds to Údarás na Gaeltachta to provide jobs in the Gaeltacht, only for those companies to tell their workers only to speak English? Only recently, did a Chinese couple – out of respect for this country’s traditions – who applied for Citizenship as gaeilge, get told to get stuffed and apply in English. These stories and examples are all too numerous and common all across the country. Compulsory Irish in the education system is talked about, but what about compulsory English for Gaeltacht speakers?”
“This Bill today is a reasonable one, and one that recognises we should give prominence and respect to our Irish language. Currently on signs in this country, both languages are featured on the signage but the English language is given undue prominence compared to our native language. It means by default the English language name of a town or a village is the one that the eye rests on and that stays in people’s minds. This Bill seeks simply to give parity to both fonts on the signage. The government has spoken about doing exactly this but never followed through. This Bill does not mandate immediate change or cost to the state. But rather that all new signs will include the new equalised font. To protect our language its important to raise its prominence, status and visibility.”