Tuesday 13th November 2018. A truly historic day in the Students Union in Queen’s. For the first time ever, Gaeilgeoirí will be represented officially on the Students Union Council, in the form of an Irish Language Officer.
At a meeting of the Students Union Council, a motion was passed by the Counsellors to amend the Constitution of the Union to create a new role in the Students Union, an Irish Language Officer. An Cumann Gaelach came out to support this motion, with several members and non-members speaking passionately in an effort to present to the Council the desire and need for an Irish Language Officer.
Despite having one of the oldest societies in Queen’s – An Cumann Gaelach, founded in 1906 – Irish speakers have never been formally represented on the Students Union Council. Over the past number of years, as interest in Irish has grown both inside and outside of the university, the demand and the need for representation for Gaeilgeoirí has grown as well.
Grian Ní Dhaimhin has been on the Students Council for the last three years and has constantly put the rights of Irish speakers to the forefront of her campaigns. She has helped to give us a voice, and the genuine passion and grá she has for the language is enough to convince anyone of the need for equal rights for all students at Queen’s.
Last year, Liam Hynes, a candidate running for Equality and Diversity Officer solely on the issues of bilingual signage and language rights received 38.5% of first preference votes in the Students Union elections. The desire for representation for Irish speakers was and is there.
It’s impossible to overstate the importance of this new role for Irish speakers in Queen’s. For the first time ever, we are represented. The only way is up from here. The growth of Irish on the campus can only be a good thing for the overall health of the university. Tá an teanga beo, agus tá sí ag dul ó neart go neart.
The atmosphere and reaction in the room when the result was announced was incredible. If you look on An Cumann Gaelach’s Twitter page you’ll see the video of the result being read out, and the sheer relief and elation on our faces. We truly felt on top of the world. The support from the majority of Counsellors for the amendment to the Constitution means so much to Gaeilgeoirí in Queen’s.
The efforts of the members of An Cumann Gaelach over the last number of years to ensure that Gaeilgeoirí get the recognition and rights they deserve have been incredible. The creation of this new role is the culmination of years of hard work, and do you know what the best thing is? There’s so much more to come.