Green Party candidate, Michael White
The Green Party has called for a new Irish Language Plan for Donegal to drive the growth and daily usage of the language.
The party calls for the creation of a new Irish Quarter in Letterkenny where Irish-language businesses, restaurants and shops can be located to create a cluster of Irish speakers in an urban setting.
The proposed plan would also see the creation of a new Irish language newspaper, increased supports for Irish language schools and the development of new Irish language courses at LYIT.
“We believe the language needs a shot in the arm,”, says Michael White, Green Party candidate. “With Brexit we are going to be in the ridiculous situation of being the only country carrying out our business in English, while England leaves the Union. We need to commit now to a serious plan to re-Gaelicize daily life in the business and public sectors”.
The Green Party believes that we have to be more ambitious in our approach to the language.
“Conserving and promoting the language is a key element of our policy. Our goal is to make it possible for people to interact through Irish in towns and cities, not just in the Gealtacht.
"When you go to Spain you can watch Spanish TV, read Spanish papers and converse in Spanish when you shop or go to the restaurant or access a government service. That should be our goal in Donegal.
"We should aim to expand the number of fluent speakers by 20% or more within 5 years rather than current disjointed policies where basic maintenance seems to be the objective”.
A core part of the Donegal Green’s language policy is to encourage “urbanisation” of the language, so that is used on a daily basis as a language of commerce in Letterkenny and other urban centres, with the aim of increasing its spread eastward across the county.
"As part of this plan, they suggest the creation of a new Irish Quarter or Ceathrú Gaelige in Letterkenny where Irish-speaking businesses and restaurants would be clustered together to create a critical mass of Irish speakers in the town, with all street signage in Irish only," he said.
He added the party is also suggesting a big investment in Irish language education, with increased funding for Gaelscoileanna and Gael Colaiste in the County, which in turn will feed entrants into new Irish-only courses at LYIT.
“Gael scoil education is already highly prized because our Gaelscoileanna and Colaistigh consistently outperform their English language peers. We want to make Gaelscoil education available to a wider audience, and to encourage the schools to support and coordinate with each other in new Irish language Educational Network for Donegal
"The Donegal Greens also wants to see the creation of a new Irish language daily newspaper, to provide native speakers with high quality news and analysis of national and regional affairs in Irish.
"Underpinning the plan is a call for increased investment in the gaeltacht, recognizing its role as the vital repository for a language and culture whose history stretches back over 2,000 years to pre-Roman Europe.
“We have an unbelievable cultural treasure in the Irish language that we need to cherish”, says White. “Promoting the growth of the language will helps us differentiate ourselves from other parts of the country and attract high value international tourism,” he said.
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