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Last Updated: Monday, 13 June, 2005, 14:51 GMT 15:51 UK
Irish language recognised by EU
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Irish is the 21st language to be officially recognised by the EU
The Irish language has been officially recognised as a working language by the European Union.

Ireland's national language is the 21st to be given such recognition by the EU and previously had the status of a treaty language.

Irish Foreign Minister Dermot Ahern said he was pleased by the move, which was announced on Monday.

"This affirms at European level the dignity and status of our first official language," he said.

"This represents a particularly significant practical step for the Irish language, and complements the government's wider policy of strong support for the language at home."

As an Irish speaker, I am obviously delighted that the Irish language has been accorded the status of an official working language of the EU
Bairbre de Brun
Sinn Fein MEP

In the country's 2002 census, 1.4 million of the four million population said they had "an ability" to speak Irish.

More than a quarter of those said they spoke it on a daily basis.

There are a number of Gaeltacht areas in Ireland, where Irish is spoken by more than 80% of people.

The Gaeltacht encompasses the most westerly parts of counties Cork, Donegal, Galway, Kerry and Mayo and their nearby islands.

Sinn Fein MEP Bairbre de Brun said the EU's recognition was a "victory for campaigners from all over Ireland and further afield who continue to campaign for equality for the language".

"As an Irish speaker, I am obviously delighted that the Irish language has been accorded the status of an official working language of the EU," she said.

"Sinn Fein has made the recognition of the Irish language at EU level a party priority and has campaigned long and hard with other Irish speakers and Irish language organisations."


BBC NEWS:VIDEO AND AUDIO
How the language is being promoted across Ireland



SEE ALSO:
Animated series to promote Irish
14 Mar 05 |  Northern Ireland
Row over 'Irish' hurley sticks
06 Oct 04 |  Northern Ireland
Timeline: Ireland
06 Feb 05 |  Country profiles


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