Ireland's Gaelic added to official roster at EU
 June 14, 2005

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 had already been spiraling 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.
Foreign Minister Dermot Ahern said the Irish language's new EU status would require legislation to be translated into Gaelic, while live translations in Gaelic would be provided at EU meetings if the Irish speaker requested it in advance.
Ahern said the move would go into effect Jan. 1, 2007, after which any Irish representative could be free to speak Gaelic, rather than Ireland's universally spoken English, at EU official functions.
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.
The promotion of Gaelic is widely viewed as a political sacred cow in Ireland, even though elected representatives and officials - like the population at large - almost exclusively use English. In Ireland's own parliament, less than 2 percent of business is conducted in Gaelic.