Irish to become official EU language

June 14, 2005 at 7:35 AM
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BRUSSELS, June 14 (UPI) -- EU foreign ministers have agreed to make Irish the 21st official language of the European Union.

Although Irish is spoken fluently by only a tiny fraction of Ireland's 4 million people, the government has waged a long campaign to have it recognized as an official language of the 25-member bloc.

The agreement Monday will mean that Irish can now be spoken in meetings between EU ministers, that key union legislation must be translated into the Celtic language and that Irish-speakers can use their mother tongue when writing to EU officials. The language joins the official list in 2007.

According to Irish Foreign Minister Dermot Ahern, the new status will create around 30 jobs for translators and interpreters and will cost the EU around $4.2 million a year.

Foreign ministers also agreed to give Spain's main regional languages -- Catalan, Basque and Galician -- a similar status, although they will not become official EU languages.

Topics: Dermot Ahern
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