Fleadh increased interest in Irish

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The use of Irish during Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann in Derry has led to an “upsurge of interest” in Irish language classes in the city, Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has said.

Ms Anderson made the comment at the ‘Two Windows of the World’ language day conference in the Tower Hotel yesterday where she praised the work of Irish language group, Altram.

The body provides support for Irish language projects in Derry and across the North.

The MEP said Irish language signage erected in Derry during the Fleadh, which brought 430,000 figures to the city in August, helped generate interest in the language.

“The past nine months in Derry have given us plenty to celebrate in terms of the culture and heritage of the city. Most people would agree that the Fleadh Cheoil was the highlight of the year and the emphasis on Irish language through signage and events during the Fleadh has been reflected in an upsurge of interest in Irish classes throughout the town,” she told the conference.

Ms Anderson also said she will continue to campaign for Irish to be more widely recognised in the European parliament.

“I can’t help but feel that there is an attitude, not just in Europe but also in Ireland that all Irish people can speak English so there is no real need to have all the facilities of the parliament available in Irish. I reject this attitude. We are either recognised as having an official language or we are not.

“We must also recognise Irish language services in EU institutions as an opportunity for giving greater status and importance to the language.”