Language Freedom Movement
1966, the Language Freedom Movement was an organization dedicated to the opposition of the state-sponsored Gaelic Revivalof the Irish languagein the Republic of Irelandwith backing by such notable figures as Irish-speaking writers Séamus Ó Grianna("Máire") and John B. Keane.
Meetings of the Language Freedom Movement were disrupted by Irish language enthusiasts.Fact|date=September 2008 In August 1966, a group of protesters forced their way into a meeting, overturned a table and taunted the attendees by singing '
God Save the Queen'.Fact|date=September 2008
In September 1966, the Language Freedom Movement held a public meeting at the Mansion House in
Dublin. Pro Irish language protesters swamped the meeting, waving Union Flags, tearing at a tricolour on the platform and preventing the organisers from speaking.Fact|date=September 2008 A stink bombwas thrown, after which a brawl broke out involving around 10 people.Fact|date=September 2008
Eventually a measure of order was restored when Dónall Ó Móráin, the chairman of
Gael Linn, took the podium and said that the Language Freedom Movement should be given a chance to speak at their own meeting, so long as they listened to arguments from the protesters who had invaded them. The failure of the Garda Síochánato take any action in keeping order at the meeting was subsequently raised in the Dáil.Fact|date=September 2008
The Language Freedom Movement succeeded in getting the question of abolishing compulsory Irish onto the political agenda.Fact|date=September 2008 At the time the Movement was formed, if a student failed Irish in their
Leaving Certificatethey were deemed to have failed the whole exam. This had the effect of closing off access to progressing one's education. The requirement was abolished in 1973, although students are still obliged to study Irish as part of the Leaving Certificate programme. In 1974 Irish was removed as a requirement for entry to the civil service. The Movement's concerns about education were also strengthened at the time by a discriminatory policy in textbook publication. Significant changes in the Leaving Certificate maths curriculum were reflected in two new textbooks produced by the Irish Christian Brothers. However, material for the new honours (higher-level) syllabus was only offered in a government-subsidised book in Irish, while the pass (lower-level) material was published in English. The policy had the effect of introducing additional hurdles, both pedagogical and economic, to a student's educational advancement. The situation continued for several years, until affordable alternative textbooks eventually became available.
The various practical changes in policy seemed enough to assuage supporters of the Language Freedom Movement, which has quietly gone out of existence. However, the controversy may have been revived in 2005 when
Enda Kenny, leader of Ireland's main opposition party Fine Gael, called for the language to be made an optional subject in the last two years of secondary school, in the belief that compulsory Irish has done the language more harm than good. This call drew widespread criticism from some quarters, although others, such as the Reform Movement,an organisation which has the ultimate goal of the re-establishment of Ireland as a part of the Commonwealth and the promotion of a British cultural throughout Ireland, have supported his views.
* R.V. Comerford, Ireland Inventing the Nation (Hodder, London 2003) pp142-152.
* [http://www.scoilnet.ie/lookathistory/Video2.aspx?FolderId=2&Id=500&ref=1 Clip of "7 Days" from 1967] (
Windows Media Player). Report on a public meeting of the Language Freedom Movement at the Mansion House.
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