30 December 2013

Gaeilgeoirí, Gaeltacht agus Gearáin

Ó d'fhógair Seán Ó Cuirreáin go mbeadh sé ag éirí as i mí Feabhra ceal tacaíocht Rialtais don nGaeilge sa Ghaeltacht tá roinnt beag cainte déanta ar an ábhar. Ach tá an dioscúrsa sna meáin Bhéarla teoranta don gcuid is mó do pé acu an bhfuil nó nach bhfuil seirbhísí ag dul do na cancráin sin ar mian leo Gaeilge a labhairt ainneoin Béarla a bheith go paiteanta acu. 
Féachtar arís eile ar an nGaeilge mar chostas, gan aon tuiscint cén fáth go gcaithfí airgead uirthi.
Táimid mar Ghaeilgeoirí ciontach ar bhealach sa tslí is nach bhfuil aon fhís dhearfach curtha chun cinn againn. Ar shlí, is de bharr go bhfuil muid ró ghafa ag dul i ngleic le fir soip agus bréaga atá sin amhlaidh - an finscéal go bhfuil dualgas gach cáipéis a thiontú go Gaeilge mar shampla.
Tá deá mhéin áirithe ag an bpobal don teanga mar a léirigh taighde Mhic Gréil. Tá dar ndóigh sciar glórach den bpobal atá dubh i gcoinne na Gaeilge. Cuid acu, iriseoirí mór le rá, nó ar laghad a bhfuil mórán le rá acu!
Is gá áfach cur ina luí ar an bpobal i gcoitinne nach sprioc seirbhíse as Gaeilge ach modh, modh chun an Ghaeltacht agus pobail eile labhartha na Gaeilge a neartú agus a chaomhnú. Creidim féin gur acmhainn - ar leibhéal pearsanta agus ar leibhéal stáit - í an Ghaeilge. Fearacht acmhainn ar bith, is fiú infheistíocht inti chun í a fhorbairt agus a neartú. Scríobh mé, mar is iondúil, litir nó dhó ag na nuachtáin, ach níor foilsíodh iad. Seo thíos iad:

The resignation of Seán Ó Cuirreáin as Language Commissioner is the logical conclusion of his work over the last ten years, work which has systematically exposed and documented that the State, despite the rhetoric, has not merely fiddled while the Gaeltacht burned, it has poured oil on the flames.
The agencies of the State have imposed compulsory English, thus accelerating the decline of Irish speaking areas. Measures designed to allow for service in Irish, to those whose first and main language it is, were consistently and deliberately subverted.
This has cost us all dear. Other small nations in Europe emerged from the Age of Empires with their languages weakened. However, they recovered and compete successfully on the world stage - if English is such an advantage, where is the Irish Nokia or Skoda?
The reality is that as Irish receded we have become a small provincial part of the English speaking market with no domestic market in which indigenous companies can build up strength.
All is not lost however. The grassroots Gaelscoileanna movement shows that Irish can be taught outside its heartland - and that education in English, Maths and other subjects benefits from bilingual education.
Small companies set up to provide Irish language material to TG4 have, especially in the area of animation, become Emmy winning exporters, for example,  Telegael. Books produced for Irish speaking children by FutaFata have been translated to Chinese and Korean. Irish speaking musicians such as Clannad and Altan have long been a source of attracting tourists to this country.

In a globalised age, it is the local and unique which provides a selling point, not merely to tourists but also in manufacturing and services.
The Irish language and Gaeltacht culture is such a unique resource which can pay rich dividends, if invested in. It is to be hoped that the Government seizes the opportunity this wake up call provides, and addresses the failures of the past systematically and creatively.
Otherwise we will continue to educate our young for export, and rely on the charity of transient foreign direct investment which must be bribed by low taxes.
Those of us who speak Irish will continue to do our part.


When the provision of services to citizens in Irish is discussed, there seems to be a tacit assumption that this is a pure cost, and a redundant one to boot as "they all speak English anyway".
It would be more correct to view it as an investment in maintaining the linguistic and cultural diversity needed for a flourishing knowledge economy.
That the Gaeltacht is a valuable resource has already been amply proven. Examples abound: Even the most vocal critics of its founding now admit that Telefís na Gaeilge (since renamed as TG4) has been a resounding success. It has demonstrated innovation and spawned a network of award winning independent producers such as Telegael, who export their animation skills. Aer Árann, primarily founded to serve the PSO to the Aran Islands, now has flights to the UK and further afield. Oideas Gael has a flourishing cultural tourism business in Donegal, built on the foundation of Irish Language classes, but branching out.
Clannad, Enya and Altan - formed by Gaeltacht influences - have long been attracting tourists to Ireland.
It is not in dispute that English is increasingly the language of technology and business. However, even here the bilingual speaker has an advantage. Increasingly, it is the second language speakers of English who are driving business - and this leads to an idiom which the native speaker of English may miss or find confusing; the bilingual will see the nuances more clearly.
Ironically, British retail chains appear to have realised that Irish is good for business, and have bilingual signage in their shops. Similarly, the Irish Independent is funding a weekly Irish language supplement, and your own paper has the excellent Bileog page.
The outgoing Language Commissioner Seán Ó Cuirreán has highlighted what needs to be improved, and made constructive suggestions as how this might be achieved. It is to be hoped that the Government takes the opportunity of the current review of the Official Languages Act to improve it and invest in the Gaeltacht to all our benefit.


Ní le lucht labhartha an Bhéarla amháin atá an cás seo le déanamh, ach leo siúd atá sa Ghaeltacht freisin. Duine a bhfuil Gaeilge acu de bharr taisme a beirthe ann. Daoine a thuigeann go maith go bhfuil cónaí orthu i bpobal imeallaithe agus gur dris cosáin rompu é gan máistreacht a bheith acu ar an mBéarla, fiú má tá post le fáil acu abhus. Cloisim daoine ag trácht ar phobal na Gaeltachta a bheith "leisciúil" toisc gan an fhlosc céanna a bheith orthu ag éileamh seirbhísí Gaeilge agus atá ag díograiseoirí  cathrach, daoine a bhfuil cinneadh comhfhiosach déanta acu Gaeilge a shealbhú agus a bhuanú dóibh féin. Cáintear aos óg na Gaeltachta as an easpa díograis céanna.
Seafóid cruthanta atá anseo. Fearacht duine ar bith eile, is mian leis an duine óg Gaeltachta dul ar aghaidh san saol. Is mian leo post maith a fháil. Mar an gcéanna, is mian le tuismitheoir Gaeltachta an deis is fearr a bheith ag a dteaghlach.
Is pobail tuaithe atá i gceist; áit ar comharsan go minic iad na Gardaí agus feidhmeannaigh Stáit eile ar gá plé leo - agus Gaeilge a "bhrú" orthu. Is minic iad spleách ar iliomad bealaí ar an Stáit céanna, mar a léirigh scéal léanmhar Guth na Gaeltachta, guth atá nach mór balbh anois de bharr dúmhál Stáit, is cosúil. 
Fostaíocht eochair feabhas sa Ghaeltacht. Is léir nach féidir bheith ag braith ar Údarás na Gaeltachta a bhfuil díth acmhainní orthu. Is léir freisin, dá fheabhas iad Raidió na Gaeltachta agus TG4 nach féidir a bheith ag tógáil ar fiontair chun seirbhísí a chuir ar fáil do lucht labhartha na Gaeilge amháin. Creidim,  ach an oiread agus atá a leithéidí de dhíth don Stáit i gcoitinne, gur comhlachtaí beaga ag cuir seirbhísí agus earraí déantúsaíochta ar ard luach agus caighdeán ar fáil atá de dhíth.
Tá samplaí ann cheana - cuid acu luaite agam thuas, ach freisin leithéidí FolláinPotadóireacht na Caolóige. 
An cheist anois conas is féidir linne, ar cás linn an Ghaeilge, tacú leis an athbheochan eacnamaíocht sa Ghaeltacht, agus an cás do seirbhís as Gaeilge ann a threisiú.

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