September 18, 2023
Tánaiste must support recognition of Catalan, Basque and Galician as official EU languages – Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD

(Gaeilge thíos)

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Gaeilge, Gaeltacht, Arts and Culture, Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD, condemned Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin for saying “it is too early… to take a definitive position” on the Spanish Government’s request for Basque, Catalan and Galician to be recognised as official languages of the European Union, and called for the Irish Government to send a strong and unequivocal message of support for the proposal ahead of the EU’s General Affairs Council meeting tomorrow.

The Tánaiste had been responding to a Parliamentary Question from Sinn Féin’s spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Defence, Matt Carthy TD.

Teachta Ó Snodaigh said:

“It is never ‘too early’ to express support for others being granted the same rights we fought hard to obtain. The Tánaiste ought to know that and send a strong message of solidarity on behalf of Ireland abroad.

“The Spanish Government’s decision to request official status for Catalan, Basque and Galician, is a once-in-a-generation opportunity for the European Union to demonstrate its commitment to multilingualism, and to do so at the behest of the member state concerned.

“The last such move was in 2005 when the Irish Government requested full official status for Irish, which was granted with a derogation in 2007 and took full effect in 2022.

“We know from experience the significance such status at EU level can have by creating career paths and opportunities for speakers and positively changing perceptions of the language. Official status at EU level can be the catalyst for the improvement of language rights at home, which we have seen in subsequent court decisions and legislative change.

“Catalan is spoken by in the region of 10 million speakers across three member states, vying for position as the EU’s 8th most spoken language with Czech, Swedish, Portuguese, Greek and Hungarian, but unlike their fellow European citizens who speak those languages, they are locked out of full participation in EU institutions and decision-making.

“Basque, Europe’s oldest spoken language, has more speakers than the populations of Malta or Luxembourg, while the Galician language community has a larger population than 6 EU member states at 2.4 million.

“All three languages have robust sociolinguistic ecosystems, are rich in literature and culture, with immersive schooling and media infrastructure including dedicated TV stations, and already have official status equal to Spanish in their regions.

“English, not even the national language of any member state, is only official in two member states with a combined population of fewer than 6 million, and yet it not only an official language of the EU, but one of three procedural languages with the highest status in EU institutions.

“If that is possible for English, and if official status has already been granted to 24 languages, including Maltese with as few as half a million speakers, there is no reason why the European Union cannot extend a basic respect and status to the speakers of Catalan, Basque and Galician as well.

“Seizing this opportunity would send a strong message of inclusion, equality and dignity to millions of European citizens, enabling them to take full part in EU affairs.

“Failure to do so, however, would damage the EU’s reputation as a guarantor of rights and defender of minorities, and could potentially set back language rights in Spain for generations by dissuading future governments form making such efforts.

“It should not be understated what a sea-change this request is considering the history of oppression and persecution of regional languages under Franco.

“While much work remains to be done in Spain to resolve the legacy of that period, the European Union and Ireland must play their role in supporting any efforts by the Spanish Government to do just that by demonstrating respect and advancing the language rights of their citizens.”

Ní mór don Tánaiste tacú le aitheantas don Chatalóinis, don Bhascais, agus don Ghailisis mar theangacha oifigiúla AE – Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD

Cháin urlabhraí Gaeilge, Gaeltachta, Ealaíon agus Cultúir Shinn Féin, Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD, an Tánaiste agus Aire Gnóthaí Eachtracha Micheál Martin as a ráiteas go bhfuil sé “ró-luath… chun seasamh cinnte a ghlacadh” ar iarratas Rialtas na Spáinne chun aitheantas a fháil don Bhascais, don Chatalóinis agus don Ghailisis mar theangacha oifigiúla den Aontas Eorpach, agus d’impigh sé ar Rialtas na hÉireann teachtaireacht láidir lom a thabhairt don mholadh roimh chruinniú an Chomhairle Gnóthaí Ginearálta de chuid an AE amárach.

Bhí an Tánaiste ag freagairt Ceist Parlaiminte ó urlabhraí Gnóthaí Eachtracha agus Cosanta Shinn Féin, Matt Carthy TD.

Dúirt an Teachta Ó Snodaigh:

“Níl sé ‘ró-luath’ riamh tacaíocht a léiriú dóibh siúd atá ag lorg na cearta céanna a bhain muid amach de réir streachailt. Ba chóir go dtuigfeadh An Tánaiste an méid sin agus go seolfadh sé teachtaireacht láidir dlúthpháirtíochta thar cheann Éire thar lear.

“Tá deis sa chinneadh seo ag Rialtas na Spáinne stádas oifigiúil a lorg don Chatalóinis, don Bhascais agus don Ghailisis, deis nach dtagann ach uair amháin i nglúin, don Aontas Eorpach a thiomantas a léiriú don ilteangachas, agus é sin a dhéanamh de réir éileamh ón bhallstát ábhartha.

“Tharla an bogadh deireanach den chineál seo chomh fada siar le 2005 nuair ar lorg Rialtas na hÉireann lánstádas oifigiúil don Ghaeilge, rud a fuair muid le maolú i 2007 agus a tháinig i bhfeidhm go hiomlán i 2022.

“Tuigimid ónár dtaithí féin an tábhacht a bhaineann leis an gcineál sin stádas ag leibhéal an AE trí slite beatha agus deiseanna a chruthú don lucht labhartha agus dearca dearfach a chothú faoin dteanga. Féadfadh le stádas oifigiúil AE feabhais a spreagadh i gcearta teanga sa bhaile, rud atá feicithe againn sna cinntí cúirte agus athruithe reachtúla a tháinig ina ndiaidh.

“Labhraíonn timpeall 10 milliúin duine trasna trí ballstáit an Chatalóinis, atá san iomaíocht i measc an tSeicis, an tSualannais, an Phoirtingéilis, an Ghréigis agus an Ungáiris le bheith mar an 8ú teanga is mó labhartha san AE, ach i gcodarsnacht leo siúd a labhraíonn na teangacha sin go léir, tá bac orthu lánpháirtíocht a ghlacadh in institiúidí agus déantús polasaí an AE.

“Tá níos mó daoine ag labhairt Bascais, an teanga is ársa labhartha san Eoraip, ná atá ina gcónaí i Málta nó sa Lucsamburg, agus tá daonra níos mó ag lucht labhartha na Gailisise (2.4 milliúin) ná atá ag 6 ballstáit de chuid an AE.

“Tá éiceachóras folláin sochtheangeolaíoch ag gach cheann den trí teanga, atá saibhir ó thaobh na litríochta agus an chultúir de, le scoileanna tumoideachais agus bonneagair meán lena n-áirítear cainéil teilifíse, agus tá stádas oifigiúil acu ar chomhchéim leis an Spáinnis ina réigiúin féin.

“Níl an Béarla, nach bhfuil fiú ina theanga náisiúnta ag ballstát ar bith, ach mar theanga oifigiúil ag dá ballstáit ina bhfuil daonta níos lú ná 6 milliúin idir an phéire acu, ach in ainneoin sin ní hamháin go bhfuil sé mar theanga oifigiúil an AE, ach tá an stádas is airde institiúdach aige i measc an trí teangacha imeachta de chuid an AE.

“Más féidir é sin a dhéanamh don Bhéarla, agus má tá stádas oifigiúil bronnta cheana féin do 24 teanga, lena n-áirítear Máltais nach bhfuil ach leathmilliúin cainteoir aici, níl fáth ar bith nach bhféadfadh leis an Aontas Eorpach an meas agus stádas bunúsach céanna a leathnú do lucht labhartha na Catalóinise, na Bascaise, agus na Gailisise chomh maith.

“Tríd an deis seo a thapadh, sheolfar teachtaireacht láidir ag léiriú cuimsiú, cothrom na Féinne agus dínit do na milliúin saoránaigh Eorpacha agus iad á gcumasú pairt iomlán a ghlacadh i ngnóthaí AE.

“Dá dteipfeadh leis an AE sin é dhéanamh áfach, bheadh cáil an AE mar chosantóir cearta agus mionlaigh millte acu, agus seans go mbeadh céim chun cúil ann do chearta teanga sa Spáinn dos na glúnta toisc go ndéanfar rialtais sa todhchaí a dhíspreagadh iarrachtaí dá leithéid a dhéanamh arís.

“Ní fhéadfar an t-athrú poirt san iarratas seo a chaolchúisiú i gcomhthéacs an stair de dhaoirse agus géarleanúint a rinneadh ar theangacha réigiúnacha faoi Franco.

“Cé go bhfuil a lan obair fós le déanamh sa Spáinn féin chun impleachtaí an ré sin a réiteach, ní mór don Aontas Eorpach agus d’Éire a roil a ghlacadh ag tacú le haon iarrachtaí de chuid Rialtas na Spéinne chun dul i ngleic leis sin trí mheas a léiriú agus cearta teanga a chur chun cinn dá saoránaigh.”

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