Irish as an official and working language of the EU

The European Commission and the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht held their third conference on Irish as a full official and working language of the EU this week.

The aim of the conference was to raise awareness of the many job and travel opportunities within EU Institutions that are available to young graduates. Because it’s an official and working language of the EU, job opportunities are available for Irish translators, interpreters, and proofreaders.

Katherine Licken, Secretary General of the Department, said it will provide “high-quality employment” and it is “important for the Government that Irish is a full working language in the EU”.


According to Licken, the aim is to “promote” the Irish language and to provide “a sufficient number of qualified graduates” to work in the EU Institutions.


Licken acknowledged the amount of interest shown in this topic due to the number of representatives from the EU Institutions present at the conference.

A high-quality knowledge of Irish is of course required to work at EU level, though, first-class training for those interested is available. Aside from the array of job opportunities, internships available in all EU Institutions were discussed – for these a knowledge of at least two official EU languages is required.

Earlier this year, a new internship scheme, funded by the Government, was announced for Irish language graduates to work within three EU Institutions – the European Commission, the European Parliament, and the European Council – over a five-month period. The internship provides graduates with valuable training in the field of translation and the opportunity to work in a multilingual, highly professional, and skilled environment.

The overall theme of the day was working together as a Union to reach Ireland’s aims for the Irish language within the EU. Rytis Martikonis, Directorate-General for Translation in the European Commission said: “We are in this together and it works.” Mr Martikonis acknowledged that it “remains a challenge” to reach these aims, however, current “results are promising” and there has been an increase in Irish speaking staff within the EU Institutions.

Irish became an official and working language of the EU in 2007, though, the aim is to end the derogation of the language by 2022.

The conference was conducted in Irish and it was unusual to see Irish interpreted to a room full of EU staff of various languages. The conference illustrated the importance of Irish as our national language and the significance of maintaining and using Irish by future generations.

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