Gan labhairt

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has criticised Aer Lingus for dropping Irish language messages on its new flights out of Belfast.

Fine Gael leader and fluent Irish speaker Enda Kenny asked if the Government, which owns 23% of the airline, was consulted on the issue.

“While Aer Lingus no longer is the national airline in that sense, the Government is a 23% shareholder.

I fly to Brussels with Aer Lingus occasionally to attend meetings and inevitably short formal announcements are made such as, "Failte romhaibh chuig an mBruiseil" (Welcome to Brussels).

I find it extraordinary that Aer Lingus, the carrier of the shamrock throughout the world for many years, would issue an instruction to its flight personnel and pilots that all announcements are to be made in English only.

Did Aer Lingus consult the Government on this matter?”

In replying to Enda Kenny the Taoiseach said

“Why Aer Lingus would believe it is necessary to drop Irish, I do not know. We were not informed and I do not believe it is any great hardship to anybody. In any of the meetings I have had, I heard nobody objecting to the effect that Irish should be dropped".

The Taoiseach said he agreed with Mr Kenny that Aer Lingus is the national airline and its profile should be based around that.

“I do not believe the few sentences would harm anyone and I do not believe anybody would object to them,”

The Taoiseach said that politicians and officials involved in North-South bodies use the Irish language if they are fluent.

“Even those of us who are not are using the Cúpla Focal it is totally accepted by all the parties in the North. Some people of the unionist tradition pride themselves, in respect of their Scottish language and Irish, that they are well able to use their Cúpla Focal and I admire them for that.”

It's an absolute disgrace that Aer lingus would drop Irish messages when flying out of an Irish city like Belfast (Béal Feirste).

Aer lingus carries the shamrock and the national flag on its planes, the fact that they seek to pander to a few bigoted nuts is a shame on them and their great reputation.

A Cúpla Focal never hurt anyone!

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