Some people may be surprised that it has taken until now, but come tomorrow, January 1, 2022, the Irish language achieves full status as an official language of the European Union. And many would equally say, about time too . . .
Ireland joined the then EEC, on January 1, 1973 - just year short of half a century.
According to the Department of Foreign Affairs, Irish, as a full official language, will now require all documents published by the EU will to be translated into Irish.
This marks the end of a derogation, in place since 2007, which limited the amount of material published through Irish by the EU Institutions.
Since 2015, the scope of this derogation has been gradually reducing as the capacity for the translation of Irish within the EU Institutions has increased.
Welcoming the ending of derogation, the Minister for European Affairs, Thomas Byrne, TD, said
"I am immensely proud that this derogation is ending and Irish is now a full, official EU language. This reflects the tireless work that has gone into building up the capability of the EU Institutions to operate through Irish - and it is fitting that it is happening this year, a year when we will also mark the historic 50 year anniversary since Ireland signed the Treaty of Accession to the European Communities.
"In more recent years, the volume of Irish language translations has risen almost six fold since 2016, from 8,000 to almost 46,000 by October 2021. This remarkable increase would not have been possible but for recruitment of impressive numbers of Irish-speaking staff to the EU Institutions, due in no small part to the efforts of the Departments of Foreign Affairs and Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media. As a result, the total number of Irish language staff is now around 200, close to a fourfold increase over the last five years alone.
"The ending of derogation will make the services of the EU more accessible for Irish speakers at home and abroad. As a proud Gaeilgeoir myself, I regularly contribute to Council meetings as Gaeilge and I would encourage everyone to make use of their cúpla focal, in every aspect of their life. I would also invite those with Irish language proficiency to consider a career within the EU institutions. More information about the many career pathways and options within the European Union can be found on our website EUJobs - Department of Foreign Affairs (dfa.ie)."
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