There might be grumbling from some about the Irish language Christmas greeting sign at Belfast City Hall but over 1,000 people have signed up to learn Irish under a new Stormont initiative, and this total is exceeding the target that was set in September.
Delighted Culture Minister Carál Ní Chuilín announced the news that more people are still signing up to become fluent in Irish by 2015 at a progress update gathering at the new £2 million Cultúrlann building in the heart of the Falls Road’s Gaeltacht Quarter.
When Líofa (fluent) 2015 was announced in September many local celebrities and sports people were on hand to sign up as well as 150 PSNI
The minister set a figure of 1,000 people to become fluent by 2015, but now that number has been topped in just four months.
Last week, the minister spoke of how she was currently taking Irish classes and how the Líofa project was a simple idea.
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“There is no agenda about it,” she said.
“We launched Líofa 2015 some weeks ago and our initial target was to encourage 1,000 people from all walks of life across the North to
sign up to becoming fluent in Irish by 2015.
“The fact that we have exceeded our target in less than four months is a great milestone and demonstrates that Irish is indeed a shared language that can be enjoyed by everyone.
“In the classes I’m taking it really is great craic. There are times when it can be difficult, but our teachers don’t pull up a ladder behind them and leave you on your own; they bring you along with them and I’m hoping that people will make Líofa their New Year’s resolution.”
West Belfast MP Paul Maskey, who has signed up for the initiative, said people from a wide range of backgrounds are taking part in Líofa
“We have Joe Brolly (RTE GAA pundit) here at the Cultúrlann, Joe Mahon from UTV and people from across all our government departments
are signing up to this great project.
“Reaching the target so soon after the launch shows the great interest throughout the community in the Irish language. It is also great to see such a wide range of people from different backgrounds sign up to learn,” he said.