Former Irish ambassador to Canada, Jamaica, and the Bahamas, Ray Bassett, is proficient in Gaelic. Nonetheless, he believes the EU's decision to grant it full official and operational status in EU institutions will result in many documents being translated in vain.
Mr Bassett, a eurosceptic who supports an Irexit (Ireland leaving the EU), was speaking after the decision was made on January 1.
“I am Irish and quite sympathetic to the language,” said Mr Bassett.
The EU move is a waste of time and resources, in my opinion.
“What it means is that well-paid officials in Brussels will spend countless hours translating dull papers, pointless bureaucratic procedures, etc., with their result being seen by nobody but the translators themselves,” he stated.
“It is a pointless and costly gesture.”
Mr Bassett said the bloc should avoid unnecessary duplication and minimise the amount of translated documents rather than the reverse.
“The money could be better spent on true Irish language promotion, like more Irish language schools,” he said.
“Demand for Irish language education is booming.
“It could also be used for economic or social development in Gaeltachts.”
According to him, as a net donor to the EU budget, Ireland should be opposing unnecessary projects like these.
In Ireland, the vast majority will see it as an expensive example of another EU blunder.
When Ireland joined the EU in 1973, only treaties were translated into Irish.
Dublin requested Irish as an official and working language in 2005, and it was approved on January 1, 2007.
However, due to a lack of translation workers, the amount of information translated into Irish has been limited.
“The elimination of the derogation of the status of the Irish language in the European Union is a vital milestone in the growth and future of the language,” said Jack Chambers, TD, government top whip and minister for the Gaeltacht and Sport.
“Now that Irish is an official EU language, it will deepen the bonds between citizens and European institutions.
Official Languages (Amendment) Act 2021, enacted by the President of Ireland last week, strengthens the role of Irish in national and European systems of government.
Achieving this goal requires the European institutions and my Department's personnel to put in place the right structures and activities, Mr Chambers added.
“It was a big job, but thanks to strong collaboration between EU institutions, the Irish government, and stakeholders, the European institutions are now able to translate the whole suite of information into Irish, along with other official and working languages of the EU.”