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10.43 15 Oct 2018


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Ireland has been granted 'Observer Status' at the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF).

The organisation's 58 members and 26 observers are committed to the French language and francophone culture.

The Minister of State for European Affairs, Helen McEntee, addressed the 17th Summit of the Francophonie in Armenia on Thursday.

She thanked the heads of state and government of the membership for supporting Ireland's application.

The Taoiseach Leo Varadkar submitted Ireland's application for Observer Status earlier this year.

This was also one of the steps set out in 'Global Ireland' - the Government's initiative to double the scope and impact of Ireland's global footprint by 2025.

In her address to the summit, Minister McEntee reiterated Ireland's commitment to multilateralism and recalled Ireland's involvement in UN and European peacekeeping missions.

She pointed out that Irish writers such as Oscar Wilde and Samuel Beckett wrote some of their works in French, and the Alliance Francaise in Dublin is the third busiest in Europe.

The IOF, created in 1970, represents one of the biggest linguistic zones in the world.

Its mission is to embody solidarity between its 84 member states and governments - which together represent over one-third of the United Nations' member states.

This accounts for a population of over 900 million people - including 274 million French speakers.

French is the fifth most widely spoken language on the planet and only one of two languages, together with English, to be spoken on all five continents.

Figures from the 2016 Census show over 10,000 French people live in Ireland - as well as several others who use French as their primary language.


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