“With the correct State support and interventions, Irish language use could increase massively over the next 10-20 years” - CnaG
Conradh na Gaeilge welcomes the most recent Census Results but calls for an immediate Irish language Strategy to plan and chart state support over coming decades
Today’s (22/9/22) Census figures show an increase in people who have indicated an ability in the Irish language. The results also show an increase in those who indicating Irish is their “main language”. The statistics published this morning show:
- An increase in those with an ability in Irish from 184,898 (10.65%) in 2011 to 228,617 (12.45%) in 2021, an increase of 43,719 (23.6%) over the last 10 year period.
- An increase of those for whom Irish is their main language from 4,164 (0.24%) in 2011 to 5,969 (0.32%) in 2021, an increase of 1,805 (43%) over the last 10 year period.
- An additional question was asked for the first time this year: “How often do you speak Irish?” The results for this question have not yet been published by NISRA.
Paula Melvin, President, Conradh na Gaeilge, commented:
“Today’s figures are a clear result of the pioneering work taking place across communities right across the north. From our Irish medium schools, to community and youth groups, to teachers, artists and activists, and many more, the amount of people identifying with the Irish language, using the language and living through Irish is increasing continuously. The trends are clear, and Irish language use is clearly increasing decade after decade. We owe a great debt to all of those working daily to promote and share the language with others. And whilst all figures show we are moving in the right direction, we are acutely aware that much more must be done to bring the language to new learners, new schools and new communities, and that the state itself must step up to the mark and play an active, leading role in the modern-day revival we are experiencing.”
Dr Pádraig Ó Tiarnaigh, Communications Manager with Conradh na Gaeilge, said:
“Conradh na Gaeilge welcomes the 2021 Census figures regarding the use of Irish here. Over the last 10 years 43,719 more people have identified themselves with the language, meaning that almost a quarter of a million people here have an ability in Irish. That is a remarkable achievement considering the societal and political environment the Irish language community finds itself in, not only now, but since the foundation of the northern state. The fact that more and more people, almost 6,000, 43% more than in 2011, now boast Irish as the main language, is its own headline story given the vacuum of language rights and protections here. The Irish language revival that we see unfolding before us is a direct result of grass-roots communities and schools leading from the front, proudly promoting the language and providing opportunities for those who wish to access, learn and use Irish. Over recent years the profile of the language has been amplified again and again by the incredible campaign for an Irish language act, which in turn has led to increased enrollments in adult learners right across the community.”
“These gains have all been made, however, without any strategic guidance or support from the state. We still await the new Irish language legislation and a 2006 legal commitment to introduce an 20-year Irish language strategy remains outstanding. Time and time again we have told our political representatives and state bodies that if we had appropriate, long-term strategic planning and interventions in place, especially concerning the Irish Medium sector, we could expect to see these census figures increase massively over the coming decades. That is the space we now must move into.”
FURTHER INFORMATION & DETAILS
Full details of the 2021 and 2011 census results regarding Irish language trends can be found below: