Still no website as gaeilge at EU parliament

The European Parliament is the one main EU institution that still does not have a website in Irish six years after the language achieved official status.

Protests have been made to the parliament authorities while an official complaint has been lodged with the European Ombudsman who is expected to report soon.

Donegal MEP Pat the Cope Gallagher has organised members from all the main political parties and they plan to present their case personally to the parliament’s president, Martin Schulz.

Irish speakers and the language have benefited enormously from becoming the 22nd official EU language in Jan 2007, with the number studying it to degree level at Maynooth University doubling to 200 and at Galway University increasing by more than a third to 380.

Much of this has been due to the prospect of well-paid jobs interpreting the spoken word and translating texts and legislation into Irish in the EU’s institutions, mainly in Brussels, Luxembourg and Strasbourg.

Dr Seán Ó Riain, in charge of the European Commission’s Irish language website, said Irish is now heard regularly at meetings of the council and at sessions of the European Parliament.

“All EU institutions now use some Irish in communication with the public, and this has political importance in a country where all new EU treaties must be submitted to referendum,” he said.

On secondment from the Department of Foreign Affairs, he said almost all institutions now have websites in all 23 official EU languages, including Irish, and the European Parliament’s Parlamentarium — the interactive visitors centre telling the story of the EU — also has Irish.

It was agreed that not everything would be translated until 2015. Currently there are some 50 Irish language translators while the plan is to have a list of 38 more available.

This big institutional push at EU level has had a number of effects, said Dr Ó Riain, including a revised national standard for the written language published last year — the first revision in more than 50 years. The EU’s terminology database, IATE, in cooperation with Fiontar of Dublin City University, has produced more than 50,000 new terms.

He says this is second only to Polish among the 12 most recent official EU languages. This is not a database ignored and gathering dust as it receives as many as 900,000 term searches every month.

“It will be increasingly difficult for the European Parliament to hold out against putting up its website in the language,” Dr Ó Riain concluded.

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