The President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz has agreed to give the go-ahead for an Irish language version of the parliament’s official website, following intensive lobbying by Irish MEPs.
The website, www.europarl.europa.eu, is currently available in 22 out of the 23 official EU languages, excluding Irish.
Fianna Fáil MEP for the North West Pat the Cope Gallagher, who has been pushing for years for the site to be accessible as Gaeilge, said the decision will reverse what has been “a matter of discrimination” against the Irish language.
“I raised the issue publicly in March and charged the parliament of discriminating against Ireland and the Irish language. President Schulz offered me a meeting, and told us that he will now give the necessary instructions to the governing body of the parliament to establish an Irish language version. Hopefully it will be up and running by the end of the year,” said Mr Gallagher.
“There were suggestions from some EU quarters that it could be quite expensive to translate the site and that there was no need to do so, as everyone in Ireland understands English. But everybody in Malta also understands English, yet they have their own website. This is a major breakthrough, and it’s important that it came during the course of Ireland’s EU presidency,” he added.
Fine Gael MEP Gay Mitchell, who also attended the meeting with President Schulz, pointed out that the other institutions of the European Commission and European Council already have Irish language websites available. “The European Parliament is the only directly-elected institution of the EU and therefore has a duty to effectively communicate to all its citizens,” said Mr Mitchell.