Sinn Féin spokesperson for the Irish Language, the Gaeltacht, Arts and Culture and Chairperson of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on the Irish Language, the Gaeltacht and the Irish-Speaking Community, Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD, has this morning written to the French Ambassador, Vincent Guérend, to demonstrate his concerns regarding the policy announced by the French Government this week to reduce the number of hours a student is permitted to study per week at school through the Breton language.
Litir ag tacú le hoideachas trí mheán na Briotánaise seolta go hAmbasadóir na Fraince - Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD
Tá litir seolta ar maidin ag urlabhraí Gaeilge, Gaeltachta, Ealaíon agus Cultúir Shinn Féin agus Cathaoirleach Comhchoiste Oireachtais na Gaeilge, na Gaeltachta agus Phobail Labhartha na Gaeilge, Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD, go dtí Ambasadóir na Fraince, Vincent Guérend, ag léiriú an t-imní ata aige mar gheall ar pholasaí fógartha ag rialtas na Fraince an seachtain seo laghdú a dhéanamh ar an líon uair gur féidir le daltaí scoile tabhairt faoin oideachas trí mheán na Briotanaise in aghaidh na seachtaine.
Below is the text of the letter he wrote: / Seo thíos téacs den litir a scríobh sé.
Cher Monsieur l’ambassadeur,
I hope this letter finds you in good health.
May I firstly congratulate you on your appointment as Ambassador to Dublin, and I hope that you have been made to feel welcome despite the impact of the pandemic on our ability to meet in person.
I am writing, however, to express grave concern on behalf of Sinn Féin at the recent decision of the French Government to severely limit the ability of students to engage in education in the Breton language.
Breton, together with Irish, forms part of a common Celtic heritage stretching back centuries and millennia – a heritage recognised in Article 75 of your Constitution – that it is the privilege and good fortune of France and Ireland to keep alive and celebrate.
As Sinn Féin’s spokesperson on the Irish language, Gaeltacht, Arts and Culture, and as Chairperson of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on the Irish language, Gaeltacht and Irish-speaking community, I take a personal interest in the preservation and promotion of this unique linguistic bond that ties our communities across the Celtic Sea.
Immersive education is the only way to ensure the survival of these cultural jewels as vibrant living languages and literary traditions.
The decision to reduce the number of hours students may study through the medium of Breton in schools is an attack on speakers of all Celtic languages and on the human rights of regional and minority language communities. With the election of Emmanuel Macron to the Presidency of the French Republic, there were high hopes when he pledged to ratify the European Charter for Regional and Minority Languages, that work was finally underway to rid France of its negative reputation as a State which treated its linguistic diversity with contempt, disrespect, and oppression. This policy change, which appears to have taken place without consultation or public debate, suggests a return to the bad old ways, and causes many to lose that hope.
I am writing to you to call on the French Government to reconsider this policy, and to fulfil its Constitutional commitment to the linguistic heritage of Breton, Basque, Catalan, Corsican, Alsatian and the other languages that enrich the cultural landscape of France. I would also welcome an explanation as to this decision and its implications for the heritage of all Celts.
Is mise, le meas,
Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD