You have heard of the pub with no beer, but how about the Minister for the Irish language who cannot speak Irish?
This is what happened after the ministerial reshuffle by Irish leader Enda Kenny when it was revealed his chosen Minister fort he Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Joe McHugh from Donegal, only had a very basic knowledge of the language.
The government quickly promised they would send him to basic language school to learn, which only earned them more derision.
Fianna Fáil member of parliament and former Gaeltacht (Irish speaking areas) Affairs minister Éamon Ó Cuív stated he was “shocked and disappointed” that the Irish leader had chosen someone who is not a fluent speaker.
“Having fluent Irish should be an absolute prerequisite for a Minister with responsibility for the language; without it they cannot adequately carry out their duties in Gaeltacht Affairs,” O Cuiv said.
He stated that it showed the Government’s “total disinterest” in the constitutional position of the language.
After Ó Cuív raised the issue in the parliament on Tuesday evening, Enda Kenny promised that McHugh will take a refresher course in the Irish language saying he was “rusty.”
A Government spokesperson said McHugh’s lack of Irish skills was “reflective of the fact that so few of our politicians speak Irish.”
However, critics pointed out that outgoing minister Dinny McGinley, a fluent speaker, was available.
The Irish language Commissioner Rónán Ó Domhnaill said it would be "much more preferable" if McHugh was a fluent Irish speaker.
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