"Fine Gael's policy on the Irish language" stated Malachy Steenson "has not been logically thought through. On the one hand they proclaim their wish to strengthen the position of the Irish language yet, in the same breath, they wish to take away one of the traditional bulwarks that has supported the language for almost 100 years."
"Everybody recognises the perilous state of the Irish language. Everybody recognises the dangers that it may cease to exist as a living community language. Everybody, and every organisation that loves the language and wishes to see it prosper, must be aware of the cultural pressure of conformity from the world dominance of English and the overweening presence in everyday life of the Anglo-American cultural model. The brain drain, and the re-emergence of mass emigration, present a renewed threat to the very existence of the Gaeltacht communities as viable, self-sustaining communities".
"It has long been recognised that language teaching, including the teaching of Irish, has traditionally been a problem in this country. But surely that should make us question our curriculum, our assessment models and our teaching methods rather that attacking the status of Irish as a compulsory Leaving Cert. subject."
"Many people" continued Malachy Steenson "cannot understand calculus or may leave school functionally illiterate. Is this an argument for ending Maths or English as compulsory Leaving Cert subjects? I do not see any mention of these items in the Fine Gael manifesto."
"The Workers Party believes we must nurture and strengthen the Irish language and Irish culture. For this to happen in a meaningful way" concluded Mr Steenson "we need three things: An Gaeltacht beo; government respect and support; plus a modern curriculum, teaching and assessment".
Issued: Feb 17th 2011