Kenny ‘used Irish to exclude’

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has come under fire from a Government minister for using Irish to exclude an opposition TD from debate in the Dáil.

Kenny ‘used Irish to exclude’

Equality Minister Aodhán Ó Ríordáin criticised the way Mr Kenny refused to respond to Independent TD Mick Wallace in English during Leaders’ Questions.

Mr Kenny insisted that he would only answer in Irish as it was Seachtain na Gaeilge, even though Mr Wallace said he did not understand the language

The Wexford TD told the Taoiseach: “I apologise, I don’t speak Irish,” as he called for Mr Kenny to respond in English to his complaints about American foreign policy.

However, Mr Kenny insisted that Mr Wallace should use translation headphones for the exchange, despite Mr Wallace saying they did not work.

“Put on your translation system. Can you hear me? Is it switched on? This is our national language and this is Lá na Gaeilge,” Mr Kenny said.

When asked if it was the kind of performance which put people off Irish, Mr Ó Ríordáin said: “Yes, it is, to be quite frank with you.

“The Irish language is very important to me and I use it as often as I can. But to use it to exclude is not what we should do.”

Fianna Fáil’s Dara Calleary told RTÉ that it was the kind of display of “arrogance” from Mr Kenny that put people off politics as well as the Irish language.

Opposition TDs insisted Mr Kenny should have more understanding for people who could not speak Irish.

The Taoiseach was heavily criticised last year when he appointed a non-Irish speaker as Gaeltacht Minister.

Heather Humphreys has now taken Irish lessons, as has Joe McHugh, whom the Taoiseach appointed to the junior role in the department, despite his Irish also being poor.

Jobs Minister Richard Bruton also came under fire last year when he spoke in English in the Dáil on the day dedicated to the appreciation of the Irish language.

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