Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

12.04 13 Jan 2021


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More than 1.5 million people are confident in their ability to speak Irish, a new survey has suggested.

The Kantar / Conradh na Gaeilge survey shows 28% of people in the Republic are confident in their spoken Irish ability - while 35% are confident in their ability to understand it.

The survey also shows nearly half of respondents would choose an Irish-language Gaelscoil for their children if available.

Conradh na Gaeilge general secretary Julian de Spáinn told Newstalk Breakfast the numbers may be surprising, but it's what they consistently see in their research.

Over 1.5 million people confident in ability to use Irish language - survey

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He observed: “We’ve done [this survey] consistently over the last five years, and it’s always been between 28% and over 30% of the population saying they have the ability to use Irish… that they’re confident they’d have the ability.

“What’s hugely lacking in the country is the opportunity [for people] to use the Irish they have."

He said the likes of 'pop-up Gaeltacht' meetings, third-level Irish societies and even online use of the language show the interest and enthusiasm for the language is there.

However, he said there are things that could be done to improve the situation and encourage more people to engage with the language.

While there are Irish-language radio stations, Mr de Spáinn suggested a full-time national FM  station for younger people is something that's definitely needed.

He also noted that more use of Irish language on product packaging would also be a positive step, as well as increased funding for Gaelscoileanna.

He observed: “I know you mightn’t believe the facts, but these are the facts.

"We’ve seen consistently that’s what people are saying: they are confident in their levels of Irish to use it and understand it. The challenge is to give them the opportunity to use it more.”

Earlier this year, Irish-language broadcaster Hector Ó hEochagáin said the Irish language needs a facelift - but it is "more alive than ever".

Main image: File photo. Picture by: The Irish Image Collection/Zuma Press/PA Images

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