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We in Ireland rightly take pride in our healthy debate culture, the noble tradition of popular participation in politics and community activism from which many of the improvements to this country have emerged.
But effective debate depends on the fostering of mutual respect for participants in the debate and on respect for facts.
The comparison by Victoria White ( Irish Examiner, September 24) of passionate advocates for the human rights of the Irish language speakers in Ireland to the totalitarian human-rights-violating Taliban is a ridiculous and regrettable deviation from the rules of civilised discourse. It is the type of rhetoric generally employed by those who have run out of logical fact-based arguments and sought refuge in hyperbole, victim blaming, and abuse.
This week’s discussion of the High Court ruling in the case of Mihai Avadenai and the deficient Evidenzer device has nothing to do with Irish speakers over-zealously looking for language rights. Irish speakers are not are responsible for the state’s failure to provide bilingual forms. The state is.
Reviving Irish is not a task for the state alone. Phenomenal progress is being made by those learning and relearning Irish, at home and abroad, by the thousands of students who invigorate college life with their participation in third-level Irish societies, the 20,000 students who took part in Conradh na Gaeilge’s #Gaeilge24 campaign last year, the tens of thousands of daily speakers of Irish, the hundreds of thousands who participate in Seachtain na Gaeilge events all over the world each year, the million plus who are learning Irish on DuoLingo as I write. But the state’s role is important, as President Michael D Higgins explained in his speech in Coláiste na Rinne last May, when he said: “Déanaimís iarracht níos mó ar son na Gaeilge.”
We welcome those who join us in our efforts and the opportunity to engage with those who may not yet share our perspective. We trust that they will do the same.
Julian de Spáinn
Ard-Rúnaí Chonradh na Gaeilge
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