Watch: Guidelines for national anthem use and support for Irish sign language version proposed

A version of the national anthem in sign language was compiled with the help of Bishopstown Community School.

Guidelines for using the national anthem and support for a formal Irish sign language version of it have been proposed by an all-party Oireachtas committee.

However, politicians have stopped short of pushing for ‘Amhrán na bhFiann’ to be protected in legislation — despite calls from relatives of the authors of the anthem among others.

The Seanad Public Consultation Committee on the anthem wants schools to improve the learning of it in Irish, in English, and in sign language.

These recommendations follow consultation with groups including representatives of the deaf community, school children and relatives of those who penned the anthem.

Committee chairman Paul Coghlan said: “We have been strongly advised by officials in the Department of Finance to legislate for this [protections]. But the protocols will be as good as that.”

The committee also decided not to recommend penalties for inappropriate use of the anthem, despite the fact it has gone out of copyright and has been used in commercial advertisements.

Under the proposals, copies of Ireland’s national anthem should also be issued with all future Irish passports. The committee also wants Irish citizens at home and abroad, as well as new citizens of Ireland, to be encouraged to become acquainted with the anthem to add to a sense of national pride and belonging.

However, Fianna Fáil senator Mark Daly disagreed in a debate on the report.

He and others say legislation would have protected the anthem like the national symbol of the harp, as well as the national flag. Relatives of those who authored the anthem agreed.

Conal Kearney, the grandson of Peadar Kearney, who wrote the English lyrics in 1909, wants it enshrined in legislation. Dublin Lord Mayor Niall Ring, whose great-uncle, Liam Ring, translated ‘The Soldiers Song’ into Irish in ‘Amhrán na bhFiann’, also wants the national song protected in law.

“I hope this is a stepping stone,” he said at the launch.

The Irish sign language version of the song was compiled by school children from Bishopstown Community School in Cork.

The committee made a number of recommendations which, it says, will improve knowledge of the use of the anthem as well as guidelines on when it is sung or signed.

Schools will now be encouraged to hold events on the eve of St Patrick’s Day, where the anthem could be performed in Irish, English, and sign language. This would make schools more inclusive, said committee member Jerry Buttimer.


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