Cllr Áine Smith (FF).

‘We must ensure that the Irish language lives on’

The need for an Irish Language Officer was discussed at length during a recent meeting of Cavan County Council.

It was Cllr Aine Smith (FF) who put forward a notice of motion calling on the local authority to “discuss the need for an Irish Officer in Cavan County Council to help promote the Irish language”.

Opening the discussion as Gaeilge, Cllr Smith highlighted how the Irish language has survived invasions and famine. “Native speakers - young and old - use Irish every day,” she continued.

“There is currently a revival of the Irish language and safeguarding it for future generations will require interventions.”

The meeting went on to hear that the Government’s deadline of securing 250,000 Irish speakers by 2030 was fast approaching “with little to show for it”.

Cllr Smith added that the target could only be achieved through education and the Gaeltacht.

“Irish speakers have often found themselves having to leave Irish behind to speak English; language equality must be achieved and yet there is no Irish language officer in Cavan County Council,” she continued.

“We need a person to steer and unite groups across this county and I for one would love to see more Irish being spoken here in the Chamber. The Irish language is something that we can call our own.”

Seachtain na Gaeilge

Cllr Paddy McDonald (SF) also put forward a motion on the Irish language but in a different context to Cllr Smith’s. He called on Cavan County Council to engage with Conradh na Gaeilge to ensure that a full programme of events is organised for Seachtain na Gaeilge 2025.

Cllr McDonald opened his motion by pointing to Seachtain na Gaeilge, which runs annually from March 1-17. “The local authority has a central role in organising this and it’s time now for Cavan County Council to step up to the plate,” he said.

“I know that Conradh na Gaeilge made efforts to contact this council but to no avail. If we are serious about our language, we should appoint an Irish Language officer.”

Cllr John Paul Feeley (FF) then highlighted the need for an Irish language “strategy” at Cavan County Council.

“I think it’s important to have an Irish language officer in place,” he continued. “And, yes there is a lot we can do to promote the Irish language, certainly that is achieved during Seachtain na Gaeilge annually but we also need to take the necessary steps afterwards.”

Lynda McGavigan, Senior Executive Officer, Cavan County Council, said the position of Irish officer at Cavan County became vacant “only recently” and the local authority has begun a recruitment process to appoint a new one.

“Cavan Library Service has rolled out an Irish language programme for Seachtain na Gaeilge and a pop-up Gaeltacht began here in Cavan Town on March 2, and there is going to be more of this,” she highlighted.

“We know that when we appoint an Irish language officer, that person will be focused on the programme for next year’s Seachtain na Gaeilge,” assured Ms McGavigan.

There was unanimous support in the chamber for Cllr Smith’s and Cllr McDonald’s notices of motion on the Irish language and proposals to ensure it lives on.