Language courses must be protected

Sinn Féin MEP Liadh Ní Riada has said she is deeply concerned about the loss of Irish language courses in Ballyvourney due to the lack of Mna Ti.

The Ireland South MEP, who is from the area, said more should be done to support people who open their homes to those who wish to learn their native tongue.

“The loss of these courses is not only a blow for language learners but for the entire area,” she said.

“Any loss of income or services in a rural area can have a disproportionately damaging effect which has a knock on effect on that entire community.

“One of the reasons we have seen fewer and fewer people willing or able to be Mna Ti is the huge level of regulation around it and the associated costs.

“In order to open their homes people must have regular inspections and a certain amount of space and number of facilities per student.

“While it is of course crucial that learners are safe and comfortable in the houses they are staying in, some aspects of the regulations can be needlessly stringent and either disqualify willing participants or would place prohibitive costs on them to qualify.

“There should be a common sense approach taken to these homes. If a place is safe, warm and welcoming then inspectors should recognise that, even if it doesnt meet the exact letter of the regulations.

“There should also be a scheme for supporting home owners who are willing to take part but can’t afford to make the changes necessary to qualify.

“It’s the least our native language and local economies deserve.”

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