Will Polish be the 3rd official language of Ireland?

Some advice - it's a beautiful but tough language to tackle
Poles are certainly making their mark in Ireland. The masses have integrated very well into Irish culture and daily life especially since the colossal exodus after May 1st 2004, the day Poland acceeded to the E.U.

In addition, independent Polish newspapers and magazines have sprouted alongside Irish newspapers' supplements to attract the growing Polish market; shops and restaurants provide an abundance of pierogi and bigos; Catholic masses in Polish keep immigrants adhering to their traditional faith; government agencies, banks and most other major economic institutions have literature, website pages translated into Polish; cultural centres provide spaces for people to touch base and source useful information on work and entertainment.

Now it seems like the next step is to make Polish an official language in Ireland.
“We are the most numerous ethnic group, hence we should be granted more rights, like, for instance, the right to use our mother tongue in offices”, says Marcin Wrona, publisher of a Polish community magazine “Sowa” (“Owl”). Marcin is one of the new class of Polish-Hibernos spearheading the campaign for Polish to be considered an official language in Ireland. But he's wrong, Poles are not the largest ethnic minority in Ireland - the British are.

It's difficult to assess the amount of Poles who reside in Ireland - officially it is accounted as around 200,000, though the Polish media would have us believe it is half a million. The latter have come under criticism for misleading many potential Polish emigrants that Ireland is a land of milk and honey. The reality for those who arrive with poor language and work skills can be very different. All in all those who travelled to Ireland are satisfied with the monthly salaries, which can work out the equivalent to what they would earn in 3/4 months back home.

This situation however leaves this Paddy in a somewhat embarrassing and ironic situation - I am way better at Polish than my own 'native' language.

And to answer the question posed in the title - well, I doubt it.

Indeed, Irish itself only became recognised as an official E.U. language (23rd) on January 1st this year. This is in spite of the fact that Irish is actually the first official language in Ireland under Article 8 of the Constitution. According to the national census carried out in 2002, 42% of the population have the ability to speak Irish, though only 3% of the population speak it on a daily basis.

Polish workers defending their rights in Dublin

The Polish population in Ireland have little or no lobbying power in Irish politics and are not unified in the sense of even fighting for each others worker rights. Marcin's quest is far-fetched and unlikely. If he wants to do something worthwhile, invest energy in exposing bastard Irish employers exploiting his hard-working countrymen and women.


varus said…
Waht about the ideas of assimilation? If each new group fights to remain seperate and does not intergate fully, then pretty soon we have a potential Bosnia on our hands. If the people eant to settle permantly in Ireland, then they should bond with their new country and not try and change it. That is not to say that they should forget their Polishness, as diversity is a kety part to any society. However, they should be carefull that they don't risk spliting the demography to greatly as this will in the long run only lead to resentment, fear and friction.
Damien Moran said…
Yeah, I don't get what he means by "the right to use our mother tongue in offices." I doubt there are language police officials in Ireland going around corporations baching you over the head if you don't speak Hiberno-English.

It seems like a clever ploy to get media attention for his magazine - conscious or not, I don't know.

But it is a very silly request and campaign.
Damien Moran said…
MacKozer, a Polish blogger in Ireland has taken up this subject from my posting so it's interesting to keep a track of the debate over there on what poles and Irish think of Marcin's campaign:
Beat Sawicka said…
“We are the most numerous ethnic group, hence we should be granted more rights, like, for instance, the right to use our mother tongue in offices”, says Marcin Wrona.

That's the Polish understanding of democracy for you: the majority has more rights than the minority. This is why the country is slowly turning back into a one-party police state.

Well, it's only been 18 years... These things take a little time to leawrn.
Damien Moran said…
Hey Beat,

A lady with your surname is plastered all over the news here - I presume you are not related to the Gdansk PO election candidate who was caught red-handed accepting a bribe by the de-facto parmilitary CBA force. Major faux-pas just a few days before the election.

Yes, the Kaczynskis are moving Poland into a very dangerous direction. In a few days we will see if their reign in power has been cut short. Indications prior to the Tusk-Kaczynski debate were that PiS may be able to form a majority government, but all polls since then have given PO a major step up.

So will PiS broker a deal with PO - unlikely.

Will PO broker a deal with LiD- unlikely.

Will PO get a majority - unlikely.

So you know what that means - small party interests may play the balancing act. That could be LPR (though that is also unlikely, thankfully) or the more likely candidate, PSL.

I'm scratching my head, as are many others I meet and talk to.

The most interesting thing from the perspective of Poland though is the turnout rate. Have the Kaczynskis, through their autocratic style of rule, done enough to mobilise the masses to come against them?

Sunday will reveal all.
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