Hundreds of Donegal people are expected in Dublin this weekend for a march for equality for the Irish language.
Organisers of Lá Mór na Gaeilge expect at least 1,000 people from around the country to meet at the Garden of Remembrance, Parnell Square, at 2pm on Saturday for a march to government buildings.
“There’s a 20-year strategy for Irish which has been on the books for four years, but the government refuses to implement it,” said Danny Brown, editor of Goitse, an Irish-language newspaper in the west Donegal Gaeltacht that supports the march. He said the march also arose from the decision of Seán Ó Cuirreáin, language commissioner, to resign this month because of the lack of government support for Irish-language rights.
“What we’re saying is that people need to get out to voice their anger at the government’s inactivity at a very important time in the history of the Gaeltacht,” Danny said. He pointed to the comprehensive 2009 NUI Galway linguistic of the Gaeltacht that warned the future of the Gaeltacht was in jeopardy unless steps were taken. “If action isn’t taken now, or very, very soon, it’s dead, and it is not going to be brought back again,” Danny said.
For example, he said, just 1.6 per cent of civil servants in the Department of Education are Irish-speakers. “The message that’s going out to Irish speakers and people in the Gaeltacht is that it’s all very well for you to speak Irish among yourselves, but don’t ask to speak it to government bodies, because we’re not going to accommodate you,” he said. “That message has gone out from successive governments.”
The Donegal branch of the campaign, Dearg le Fearg, or “red with anger”, is asking people to wear red on the march as a way “of showing you’re not just celebrating your culture, which we all would be, but it’s also an angry message going out to government”.
Organisers also hope non-Irish speakers will take part. “There are thousands of people around the country who realise the value of the language even though they might not speak it themselves,” Danny said. They are also urging people to encourage friends and family in Dublin to come along as well.
For information on buses leaving Gaoth Dobhair, Na Rosa and Cloch Cheann Fhaola for the march, contact 0876740673.