Donegal North-East candidate Joe McHugh has said that Fine Gael’s is determined to drive an Irish language strategy that he claims will double the number of students sitting the higher level leaving cert Irish examination by 2018.
This is despite claims to the contrary from up to 50 Irish language groups.
Speaking while canvassing in Na Dúnaibh this week Deputy McHugh said: “Fine Gael believes that the method of teaching Irish must be reinvented to encourage more students to study the language and to engage with it beyond the school system.
“Students must learn to love and enjoy the language, and not simply perceive it as a means to an end for getting into third level. Fine Gael wants to overhaul the curriculum at second level and examine current training methods.
“Fine Gael suggests allocating 50% of marks to oral Irish exams, and is pledging to conduct a study on a double curriculum to leaving cert – one based on the current system and a second in communicating Irish. The question of extra points for third level entry will also be investigated if Fine Gael is elected to government.
“I was born imeall na gaeltachta, and I am very aware of the language’s revival at community level. Obviously any reforms designed to inculcate a love of the language must engage the communities where the language is reviving. It is Fine Gael’s position that any changes will only be introduced after full consultation with all interested parties.
“Fine Gael’s commitment to An Gaeilge is clear and our Party Leader Enda Kenny is absolutely enthusiastic about our national language. Our party’s ambition is to double the proportion of students sitting Higher Level Leaving Cert Irish by 2018.”
Every other party opposes the Fine Gael policy – and 48 Irish language organisations have described it as ‘lunacy’.
In the UK where the government removed the requirement for studying a second language uptake fell from 71% of students to just 24%.