7 July 2005 Edition

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Beatha teangan í a labhairt

Beatha teangan í a labhairt

A chara,

As it appears to be open season on our national language, and easier for people to condemn the Official Languages Act 2003 rather than read it, lets point out a few facts. Section 5 of the Act defines how the State now officially recognises the Gaeltacht ie in our first official language — Irish.

This Act has no bearing, good, bad or indifferent, on festival names, email addresses, websites, advertising, publicity, business signage, leaflets, articles, books, posters or marketing. In fact the only change that will come about is the co-ordination in Irish of Gaeltacht place names on maps and council signposts.

Dingle is not an illegal name, as some are portraying, and will remain in use as long as the public use it.

The Official Languages Act came about as a result of public consultation by Coimisiúin na Gaeltachta from 2000-2002, of which three public meetings were held in Kerry, one of these in An Daingean on 29November 2000, and one statement was relayed very clearly by all those Gaeltacht communities, "that all of these people wish for the Irish language to continue to be the spoken language of the Gaeltacht." (Coimisiún na Gaeltachta 2002 — Tuarascáil)

So, this is how the State recognises the Gaeltacht, and in fairness how else would anyone expect a Gaeltacht, or Irish speaking area, to be recognised!

So why has this become an issue now and not in 2003 before being enacted? And why did Councillor Séamus 'Cosaí' Fitzgerald not bring the changing of Gaeltacht place names to the attention of his constituents in 2003? Would his re-election to Údarás na Gaeltachta have had anything to do with it!

Minister Ó Cuív is not on my Christmas list but I believe he has delivered a fair and measured Act, he's just made a 'dog's dinner' of selling it.

The issue of Gaeltacht place names in Irish has already raised the profile of An Daingean by generating an incredible amount of publicity for the town, both nationally and internationally. An Daingean should now be included in the marketing brand they call Dingle — beatha teangan í a labhairt!

The co-ordination of Gaeltacht place names in Irish on council signposts and maps will not drive tourists away, high prices will. Irish is our national language, she belongs to every single citizen of this State and what we do with her is up to us. But if we cannot accept the State using Gaeltacht place names in Irish, well, we might as well get the wake underway.

le gach dea-mhéin

Roibeard Ó hEartáin,

Baile an Fheirtéaraigh.

Health crisis in Canada

A chara,

In your world news section of the 23 June 2005 issue, you had an article regarding the crisis in health care in Ireland. You did mention the loss of health care professionals from various nations to countries such as Canada to which I feel a response is warranted. While indeed we do receive some individuals from other nations (in particular South Africa & Philippines), Canada, like Ireland, is facing a severe health care crisis in several areas.

We too loose large numbers of health care workers, more than the number that do come from other nations, primarily to the United States, which can provide salaries far in excess to what our publicly funded system can accommodate. Like Ireland we are facing shortages of qualified personnel especially in rural areas resulting in many people having to travel hours just to see a General Practitioner let alone a specialist. Even in larger urban centres most doctors have all but stopped seeing new patients due to the shortage and the work load placed upon them already.

Waiting lists, lack of beds in hospitals and overbooked surgery times are all a fact of life in Canada. The wait times for even basic diagnostic services such as MRIs can range from 6 months to a year which in some cases can indeed be fatal. Canada should not in any way be considered a "have" nation when it comes to health care. In fact, our problems have stretched our system to its very limits putting into jeopardy the very idea and principles of universal health care for all. Changes being considered to "rectify" the situation could very well leave those who can least afford it with substandard and even no coverage whatsoever.

Brad Wilson,

Calgary Alberta, Canada

McDowell's arrogance

A chara,

Is there any limits to the arrogance of Minister McDowell? While Gerry Adams was showing his support to Vincent McGrath, Philip McGrath, James Philbin, Willie Corduff and Mícheál Ó Seighin, the five farmers in Ros Dumhach who were imprisoned for refusing to obey a High Court injunction, he was refused entry to visit the men in Cloverhill Prison. This happened as the Department of Justice, through Minister McDowell, made a decision to refuse entry. After all, isn't it the responsibility of public representatives in a viable democracy to represent members of the public, without having fascists like McDowell curtailing such public representation?

Páraic Baróid,

Ceathrú Thaidhg, Iorras Domhnann, Co Mhaigh Eo.

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1