No Irish, please, we’re Europeans!

by Mícheál Ó Mainnín

A week ago (on 31 October), the Irish-language channel, TG4, celebrated its first twenty years in existence; its advent had been greeted with scepticism by many and the cost of establishing and running the station had been resented by some. While Irish as the ‘national language’ has the status of first official language in the Irish Republic (English being the second), Irish speakers are in a minority; of a total population of around 4.5 million people, some 1.77 million answered ‘yes’ to the question ‘Can you speak Irish’ in the 2011 Census. However, as few as 1% of the population may be habitual speakers of the language, i.e. those for whom Irish is the main home, work and/or community language.

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