DUBLIN, Ireland – The European Union is saying “Failte!” – Welcome! – to Gaelic, Ireland’s little-used native tongue.
But while official status is a boost to those campaigning to save the language from extinction, the move comes with a price: It will require the hiring of an estimated 30 Gaelic speakers at a cost to EU taxpayers of about $4.15 million annually.
Translation costs for the EU’s 20 official languages are out of control. In January, officials said the amount was set to pass $1 billion following the entry in 2004 of 10 new EU members chiefly from Eastern Europe.
Critics also say the EU bureaucracy in Brussels, Belgium, has become a Tower of Babel that bogs down decision-making, leading to calls for a drastic reduction in the number of languages used officially.
Ireland had been campaigning for official EU recognition of Gaelic since the first half of 2004, when the Irish held the rotating presidency of the bloc as it expanded from 15 to 25 members – and introduced new official languages ranging from Polish to Maltese.
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