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Keeping Irish as a core subject

February 24, 2011

A chara, – Congratulations to the three party leaders who took part in the debate in Irish on TG4.

Comhghairdeas also to newscaster Eimear Ní­ Chonaola who chaired the proceedings with style and aplomb. The debate was historic in that it was the first ever of its kind in Irish. Indeed it was the first time such an event was even possible with all three party leaders having fluency in the language. Given that none of the three comes from a Gaeltacht or Irish-speaking background it was all the more remarkable.

This bilingual ability in our three candidates for taoiseach is a credit to the individuals themselves. But it has to be said that it also reflects favourably on the school system they came through. For all its faults, our education system with Irish as a core subject to Leaving Certificate level has ensured the survival of the language for our generation. It would be an awful shame if we failed to ensure its survival for the next generation. It is, after all, one of the few things that is uniquely our own. – Is mise,

JOHN GLENNON,
Hollywood,
Co Wicklow.

Madam, – Apart from some exceptions, every Leaving Cert student has both the obligation and the right to follow an approved course in Irish. It is difficult to see how, in practice, one could remove the obligation while maintaining the right in all cases. The National University of Ireland (NUI Galway, NUI Maynooth, UCC, UCD) has Irish as an essential entry requirement while TCD, DCU, the University of Limerick and other third-level institutions do not. It is quite conceivable that at some future date the NUI will abolish this universal requirement. It has the statutory power to do so and could argue, with some justification, that it should not impose a restriction on prospective students not imposed by its competitors. If this were to happen in addition to the implementation of the Fine Gael policy, the consequences for Irish would be very serious.
Indeed, there is every likelihood that the adoption of the Fine Gael policy would hasten a change in the NUI requirement. -

Yours, etc,
JAMES N FLAVIN,
Taylor’s Hill,
Galway.

Madam, – Our would-be taoisigh have been applauded for their fluency in the Irish language following the TG4 debate. However, would it be possible to hold a similar debate in German or even in French before the election? Considering our country’s current situation, a leader who could converse with Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy in their own languages would impress me a lot more than a fluent Irish speaker. – Yours, etc,

Dr JACK DOWNEY,
Old Cratloe Road,
Limerick.

Madam, – Irish is not a core subject. It is a coerced subject. – Yours, etc,

IVOR SHORTS,
Rathfarnham,
Dublin 16.

Madam, – None of the politicians debating the current de facto compulsory teaching of Irish for the Leaving Certificate have been secondary students for quite some time. They would do well to seek the opinions of current secondary and tertiary students. Those with most experience of the curriculum rather than any special Irish language interest group or dinosaur politicians, should shape this debate. – Yours, etc,

DAVID CARROLL,
Bishopstown Avenue West,
Cork.

The Irish Times – Litireacha chuig an Eagarthóir