Donal Ó Cnaimhsí, a gardener in Glenveagh National Park in Donegal, was threatened with dismissal after he criticised the Government’s Gaeltacht Bill in his capacity as spokesperson for Guth na Gaeltachta.
The Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht wrote to Mr Ó Cnáimhsí claiming that his opposition to the legislation may be in breach of his employment contract.
The Department even wrote to Mr O Cnaimhsí by referring to him in his English name Bonner.
Mr Cnaimhsí had been on paternity leave and only received the letter on July 11th with a request to reply before July 13th.
Senator Brian Ó Domhnaill said he is outraged by the actions of the Department.
“This is a disgraceful attack on an individual’s right to express their opinion. I am calling on the Department to withdraw its threats immediately and to issue an apology to Donal Ó Cnáimhsí. Guth na Gaeltachta is a non-political community organisation which has worked tirelessly in a voluntary capacity for the last number of years for the development of the Irish language and the Gaeltacht.
“From the moment the Gaeltacht Bill was published the Government has attempted to stifle the democratic process in an effort to minimise controversy. The Bill was guillotined in the Seanad last week with just a fraction of the proposed amendments debated and that is likely to be replicated in the Dáil this week.
“I believe it is a deeply flawed piece of legislation that will hamper all the progress we have made in protecting and promoting our national language. Donal Ó Cnáimhsí in his work with Guth na Gaeltachta helped to prepare a number of amendments aimed at improving the legislation.
“Is it a case that any of the 295,000 civil and public servants in the State are not allowed to voice their opinions about any government proposals? I intend to raise the matter on Order of Business in the Seanad this afternoon, calling on the Minister for the Gaeltacht Dinny McGinley to come before the House today. I want to afford him the opportunity to clarify exactly what happened here and to publically withdraw the letter that was issued to Mr Ó Cnáimhsí.”