Cllr Michael Cholm Mac Giolla Easbuig is set to focus on change and international links with Scotland and the Basque Country this year after being re-elected as Cathaoirleach of Donegal County Council’s Coiste na Gaeilge.
The AGM was held on Friday past in Ard an Rátha. Cllr Nóirín McGarvey was elected as Leas-Cathaoirleach.
Cllr Mac Giolla Easbuig said: “I look forward to another year of hard work, and to really spearheading some radical and visible changes in relation to the Council’s Irish language work and profile with both the people of the Gaeltacht and the Irish language community, and indeed the wider community across the county who are very supportive of the language and wish to see more support for the language.”
His goal is to build stronger links between the Council’s Coiste na Gaeilge and both Údarás na Gaeltachta and the Language Planning Officers in the county. “I also want to see a closer engagement with Irish language groups such as An Dream Dearg and Misneach, and also fostering links with both the Gaelic speaking communities in Scotland and in the Basque Country, from whom we can learn so much ourselves,” he said.
“The language can’t be properly promoted or protected unless we realise that we must decolonise our mindsets and institutions. As the great Gaeltacht writer, republican and socialist Máirtín Ó Cadháin put it, recovering our language is an integral part of recovering our country. James Connolly, our socialist leader of 1916, while not an Irish speaker himself, knew how capitalism was not the friend of the Irish language when he wrote: “The Gaelic Leaguer realises that capitalism did more in one century to destroy the tongue of the Gael than the sword of the Saxon did in six”. Modern day neo-liberal economics has the same impact on the language.”
Cllr Mac Giolla Easbuig added that language survival and promotion is not a purely cultural activity. Nor should the language be reduced to an ornamental ‘cúpla focal’ status at the beginning of speeches or events.
He said: “Our language needs protected and promoted as a language we use in our work, in our local shops and local businesses, in our community, and in our daily lives among friends and family. Supporting the language also requires supporting jobs in the Gaeltacht, housing in the Gaeltacht, proper infrastructure, and support for our Gaeltacht island communities.”