The 3 full time positions of President and Vice Presidents for Education and Welfare and Equality are not the only thing that NUI Galway students will vote for on March 3rd– you’ll also be asked to vote on a new SU position of Vice President for the Irish Language.
The question being posed to students is simple- “do you support the creation of a full time Irish Language Officer?” You’ll then be asked to vote either Yes or No on the proposal.
Eímear Nig Oireachtaigh is the current Irish Language officer at the NUI Galway Students Union. She’s confirmed that if this proposal passes referendum on March 3rd, the SU at NUI Galway will be the first such one in the country to ever hold a full time and paid Irish Language Officer position.
The position that Ms Nig Oireachtaigh currently holds is part time, meaning that elected students are unpaid and must carry out their college degree alongside their SU work.
However, it means that there’s often less time for the position to get the time that it deserves.
“It’s such a huge remit that we’re hoping to just give the officer the time to really commit to it, make Irish more accessible for students, and implement the three-year strategy that passed at council on the 31st of January” explains Ms Nig Oireachtaigh.
The proposal passed at NUI Galway’s Student Council was as followed- a referendum to replace the current part time position of the Irish Language Officer with the full-time position of Vice President for the Irish Language.
The Vice President for the Irish Language will “have responsibility for promoting the Irish Language to the general student body” according to the proposal and will “initiate campaigns on relevant Irish language issues” and “represent members on various University committees.”
They will also organise and chair the university committee ‘Coiste Gaeilge,’ which will be open to every NUI Galway student. They will meet at least three times per semester and they “will work to implement and develop the Union’s Irish Language Strategy” with regular reports on its work presented to the Students Union.
It will tie into the proposed duty of following the Union’s Irish Language Strategy as well as supporting the work of existing Irish language societies on campus.
The Vice President would be working to ensure NUI Galway meets and surpasses its’ bilingual status in three years. The aim is to have a bilingual website, a bilingual menu in SULT bar and Smokey’s, official bilingual media correspondence, emails, and posters and two Irish themed weeks an academic year with two Irish events is planned for the first year alone.
The goal would be to have all Union services eventually available in Irish in order for students to also correspond with the Union in Irish and to give all students a chance to learn and use Irish daily.
There’s already some arguments for and against the position, according to Ms Nig Oireachtaigh. “The main argument for is that we’re a bilingual university and should really be leading the charge on things like this, and that it’s such a huge job” she explains.
“The only argument I’ve seen against it is that there’s better or different ways to spend the money, which I would disagree with because there was a specific budget set aside for Irish after the levy referendum so there isn’t much else, we really can spend it on beyond events and campaigns that don’t always happen because we’re relying on a volunteer.”