Historic Day for Irish in Brussels
Embargo 10h00 Monday 22 January 2007
Minister for European Affairs, Noel Treacy, T.D., becomes the first member of Government to use Irish in the EU Council of Ministers in Brussels.
Noel Treacy, T.D. Minister for European Affairs, became the first Minister to address the EU Council of Ministers in Irish at the General Affairs and External Relations Council today (22 January). Following a successful campaign by the Government to seek official and working status for Irish, it became one of the 23 official languages of the European Union on 1 January 2007.
The new status requires interpretation facilities for Irish at Council meetings and these were in place today, when Minister Treacy made his intervention at the General Affairs and External Relations Council (GAERC) – the monthly meeting of EU Foreign Ministers. Before contributing to a discussion on the Lisbon Strategy, Minister Treacy, speaking in Irish, alluded to what was a moment in history:
“It is a source of great honour and pride to speak with our partners in Irish, my native tongue and the first official language of our country. This is truly a great moment for the Irish language. Given the importance of the EU to Ireland, it is fitting that we should now be a position to conduct our European work through our national language. I would like to express our gratitude to our fellow members of the Union for their support.
The Irish language is one of the most ancient languages of Europe and holds a special place in the hearts of Irish people. It is a tribute to the EU’s democratic principles that we can now communicate in 23 languages of Europe’s people.
The cultural diversity of the EU is one of its great strengths and today this is reinforced further. I very much look forward to our language becoming a familiar sound here at the Council in the years ahead.” said Minister Treacy.
22 January 2007
Note for Editors
On 24 November 2004, the Government tabled a proposal in Brussels seeking official and working status in the EU for the Irish language. Up to that point, Irish had been accorded the status of a Treaty language. (This derives from the fact that the Treaties are in Irish and that, in the Treaties, Irish is listed as one of the languages in which the text is authentic.) The Government's proposal required the unanimous support of Member States and this was given by the General Affairs and External Relations Council on 13 June 2005 after a sustained lobbying campaign by the Taoiseach, Ministers and Irish officials. Irish became an official and working language of the Union on 1 January 2007.
The proposal provides that key EU regulations (those adopted jointly by the Council and the European Parliament) will be translated into Irish. The possibility of extending the range of documents to be translated into Irish will be the subject of a review to take place not later than the end of 2010.
Interpretation from Irish will also be provided on request at Ministerial meetings and at the European Parliament. Certain other practical benefits will also flow from this decision, including Irish being one of the languages taken into account for the purposes of recruitment to the EU institutions.
The Irish language made its debut at the European Parliament last week when Brian Crowley MEP became the first MEP to speak in Irish in the ParliamentTop