Irish will no longer be the primary language in Gaeltacht communities in ten years, says a shocking new report.
The research, which is based on census figures for 2006 and 2011, was commissioned by State agency Údarás na Gaeltachta,
According to the report, the social use of Irish in the Gaeltacht, which has become more confined to an academic setting, is declining at an even more rapid rate than predicted in 2007.
Research shows that of the 155 electoral divisions in the Gaeltacht, only 21 are communities where Irish is spoken on a daily basis by 67% or more of the population. 67% is regarded as a tipping point for language survival, RTE reports.
Publication of the report was delayed over a year due to a dispute between the authors and the Údarás na Gaeltachta.
Údarás objected to the report’s inclusion of recommendations for preserving the language because the recommendations were highly critical of the government’s approach to Irish in the Gaeltacht.
A compromise was reached with Údarás na Gaeltachta publishing the report without the recommendations, which will be published by the authors separately.
Irish Language Commissioner Rónán Ó Domhnaill told RTE that the findings of the report did not come as a surprise to him.
He said the role of the government in the matter needs to be examined, including the provision of State services through Irish in Gaeltacht areas.
There is no requirement in the Languages Act that the state should conduct business through Irish and Ó Domhnaill says that this should be looked at.
The government will have the opportunity to revisit this as they have committed to publishing a revised Languages Act, he says.
He added that legislation alone cannot solve the problem, but he says what is needed is an environment where the community can feel the state is supporting them in their efforts to keep the language alive.