President welcomes Irish as full official EU language

Updated / Saturday, 1 Jan 2022 08:09

President Michael D Higgins described the move as a 'significant achievement'

President Michael D Higgins has welcomed what he called a "significant day" for the Irish language as it achieved full status as an official language of the European Union from midnight last night.

He said it was an important recognition at international level of "our specific identity as a people with a distinctive language of our own that we use alongside all the other languages we use and respect".

As a full official language, all documents published by the EU will now be translated into Irish.

This marks the end of a derogation, in place since 2007, which limited the amount of material published through Irish by the EU Institutions.

President Higgins described the move as a "significant achievement, and it will be gratifying for many people to know that, every day, the Irish language will now be in use in the European Union".

In a statement, he commented: "I do not take lightly the many reasons why people do not always feel a strong connection to the language, not least the varied experiences which people may have had in the education system in decades past.

"However, I would suggest that now is the time to make one great effort for the language.

"Let us go and make a resolution to give it a place in our daily lives at home – i lár an aonaigh, inár ngnáthcaint."

Welcoming the ending of derogation, Minister for European Affairs Thomas Byrne said: "I am immensely proud that this derogation is ending and Irish is now a full, official EU language.

"This reflects the tireless work that has gone into building up the capability of the EU Institutions to operate through Irish - and it is fitting that it is happening this year, a year when we will also mark the historic 50 year anniversary since Ireland signed the Treaty of Accession to the European Communities."

Mr Byrne said the ending of the derogation will make the services of the EU more accessible for Irish speakers at home and abroad.

"Le deireadh an mhaolaithe, beidh seirbhísí an Aontais níos inrochtana do chainteoirí Gaeilge in Éirinn agus thar lear."