For fifteen years Brussels has been working on an unprecedented challenge: to allow one of the oldest member states to use its national language within European institutions. It’s complete: Irish, the official language of the Republic of Ireland, along with English, joined other 23 EU working languages earlier this year after years of trying to gradually increase the number of translators, lawyers and other commentators.
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“The question of Irish status arose when people wanted to ensure that they could use their mother tongue to access European laws and institutions.”, Explains Emir Ni Brouin, head of the European Commission’s language office. Although this provision is still a problem within Ireland, hundreds of complaints are filed each year against the unavailability of public services in Gaelic.
Problem of work
When Ireland joined the six countries of the European Economic Community in 1972, the language issue was far from a priority. Only the treaties were later translated into Irish, and only became official in 2007. The addition of ten new members in 2004 speeded things up. Because they include Malta, Estonia, Latvia, and Slovenia: all languages are spoken by a small number of speakers.
But the labor problem is rapidly rising, and the initial five years of humiliation, which have been renewed twice, are needed to give the country time to train translators to work on all legal and official texts in Brussels. Candidates, initially, are low. “When I left college 20 years ago, there were only a few choicessottolinea Eimear Ní Bhroin. You can work in Irish media and then go into full swing, or education. “
Translation, 0.2% of Commission Budget
The European Government, universities and institutions are making great efforts to train and recruit adequate staff. There are currently 200 Irish in European institutions, and compared to 58 in 2016, the number of translated pages is increasing: 45,000 in October 2021, five times more than in 2016. This does not worry the commission, which already employs 2,000 translators. 0.2% of its budget (34 349 million) is earmarked for this activity.
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“A whole system needs to be put in place for students to consider these opportunities. While there was already an international interest in the Irish language and culture, the EU brought a new dimension and a new way of using the language.si rallegra Eimear Ní Broin.
“An energetic community of Irish speakers has developed in Brussels. He adds. There are also students studying the language in other countries to qualify for these European positions. Of course, Irish will never have the popularity of French, but for those who grew up speaking the language like me, it is important to see that it is actively used. “ But, as in the other 23 languages we hear in the European Parliament, their use must continue to be supported to ensure their sustainability.
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