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Irish official EU language

By Brendan McDaid

A North West-based Irish language group today welcomed confirmation that Irish will become the 21st official European language to be given equal status within the EU.

The move, to be formalised on January 1, means that Gaelige can be used during debates and to translate all official documents from the EU.

Irish will be one of three new languages to be adopted on New Year's Day, the others being Bulgarian and Romanian.

An Gaelaras development officer Donnacha MacNiallais said today: "This is something we have been looking forward to and which ensures that Irish has the same status as other national languages.

"It is a very welcome and positive and will add to the growing status of the language and help with the revival."

Mr McNiallais had formed part of a delegation to Europe at the start of 2006 to lobby for official status to be afforded to the Irish language, on a par with English, Spanish, German and other languages.

He said: "This means now for instance that if an MEP speaks in Irish in the European Parliament there will be simultaneous translations to the other members.

"We are also very supportive of the proposal from St Andrews that an Irish Language Act be put into law in the six counties and we will be working on that in the New Year."

In preparation for the new inclusion, the European Commission has adopted a strategy to guide its translation of written texts for 2007 and beyond.

The strategy aims to better identify translation needs and providers, and enshrines multi-lingualism as a core element in the Commission's policy-making and forward planning.

Jan Figel, European Commissioner in charge of education, training, culture and multi-lingualism, said: "The diversity of languages is our common richness and the promotion of this diversity is a clear priority for the European Commission."

Irish translation will start with a workforce of five translators.

For 2007, the cost of translation in the Commission is estimated to be around €302m.

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