Quelle surprise! Another letter given the cold shoulder by the Irish Times. I thought it was one of my better ones. Last year’s resolution to get a letter printed in the Irish Times didn’t come to fruition but I’m making a quick start this year. Here’s my first attempt:
In his letter of December 28th Ferdie Mac an Fhailigh, Príómhfheidhmeannach of Foras na Gaeilge, refutes some comments made by your Irish Language Correspondent Pól Ó Muirí on December 20th. It is a sign of a healthy democracy when journalists can write without fear and when those written about can be assured of a fair hearing as well. Another sign of a healthy democracy is when the members of the public can ascertain exactly how their taxes are being spent and can use their vote to express their agreement or otherwise with this spending.
Ferdie Mac an Fhailigh, when refuting Ó Muirí’s statement about annual accounts not being published regularly, states that “[the] sponsor Departments … are in receipt of the relevant material to date from Foras na Gaeilge.” Mac an Fhailigh also goes on to say “that the relevant authorities have ratified all the other usual documents which regulate a body such as ours or we would not continue to have the full support of both the Irish and United Kingdom governments.” In a healthy democracy one of the “relevant authorities” is the public but in this case the public does not seem able to get access to “all the other usual documents”.
It is perhaps understandable that cross-border agencies experience particular difficulties achieving consensus on publications. While it is possible to obtain a copy of Foras na Gaeilge’s Corporate Plan 2005 – 2007 on their website as mentioned by Mac an Fhailigh it is not possible to get the North/ South Language Body Annual Report and Accounts for any later than 2000. Therefore it is not possible for the public to judge whether the millions of euro (“more than EUR8 million” for 2007 as Mac an Fhailigh states) should be considered a strangulation or an embrace.