Jobs for the New Town

The government can give grants, build roads, and offer other inducements to try to get the private sector to create jobs in an area. However, businesses have to take account of many other factors. Therefore it is impossible to guarantee an adequate supply of private sector jobs in the new town. In addition, commercial pressures would force most private businesses to use English to communicate with its suppliers and customers. However, the situation with public sector jobs is quite different. The government can direct that they be re-located to the town. The constitution specifically grants the government the right to order that any activity can be conducted in Irish. The government can direct that all communication between public servants in based in the new town and those elsewhere must be exclusively in Irish. Moreover, as mentioned earlier, the 1993 survey by the Linguistics Institute of Ireland found that:

66% said the government should encourage "Use of Irish within the civil service"

Taking all this into account, it seems obvious that the economic base of the new town should initially be supplied by public sector jobs which do not involve interaction with English-speaking members of the public. There are already many state or semi-state jobs which are either associated with the Irish language and the Gaeltacht, or which require Irish as an entry qualification, so those are the obvious ones to start with. These organisations include An Foras Teanga, Údarás na Gaeltachta, Raidió na Gaeltachta, TG4, the Garda College Irish Language Development Unit, Bord na Leabhar Gaeilge, and An Coimisiún Logainmneachta. Those parts of the Department of Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands which are concerned with the Gaeltacht, the Irish language, museums, nature reserves and sites of historic interest, should also be relocated there.

The Irish defence forces could be a good potential source of jobs. Speaking Irish would not be a disadvantage in carrying out their work. In fact, while serving with the UN in the Lebanon, the Irish army used Irish as a way of trying to keep their communications secure. Speaking Irish could also heighten the ésprit de corps of army units. New recruits to the army are in a strange environment, away from family and friends, which are the ideal conditions for switching to use a different language. They are also under strict discipline. The Irish army used to have an Irish-speaking regiment, although whether it still has one & if so to what extent it is genuinely Irish-speaking I don't know (I e-mailed the army's PR people for information, but they have not replied). There's no reason why an Irish-speaking unit of the self-defence forces (made up of volunteers) couldn't be based in the new town.

The special unit of the Revenue Commissioners which services those who want their tax affairs handled in Irish should be transferred to the new town. Irish-speakers throughout the state should be offered an incentive to have their tax affairs handled by this unit. For example, individuals & small businesses might be offered a half percent reduction in tax in each of three years following the switch, provided they continued with this arrangement for at least ten years.

Some of these organisations may already be using Irish as their working language. Hindley reported that this was the case with the Galway offices of Údarás and An Roinn na Gaeltachta. However, even where that is the case, this is not helping to support a true Irish-speaking community. Concentrating these jobs in a single location will also provide additional jobs in services. For instance, architects, brick layers, plumbers and electricians will all be needed to build the houses and work places.

Irish language activists have been pressing for the Irish-medium schools to have their own administration, separate from the English-medium schools. They are also calling for the establishment of an Irish-medium University. This might not have a campus where students live & study, but might instead deliver lectures through TV & the internet, like Britain's Open University. Even so, it would still need a headquarters. Any such new institutions should be based in the new town.

Organisations like the Geological Survey Office which don't interact directly with members of the public should be relocated to the new town.

All communication between public servants based in the new town & those based outside it should be exclusively in Irish. The expert committee which I have already mentioned should be given the power to identify suitable jobs, recruit and train the necessary people, arrange early retirement or re-training for those who would otherwise be made redundant, and construct an interface between the functions transferred to the new town & the rest of the state sector. It is important that no one suffers economic hardship because their job has been transferred to the new town. It is also absolutely essential that the English-speaking majority of the population are not inconvenienced in any way.

At some point, it will be necessary for private sector jobs to be created. Investment should be sought from non-English-speaking countries, and no company which uses English should be allowed in. In fact, there should be a positive effort to forge commercial and cultural links with non-English-speaking countries.

The effort to create private sector employment could be greatly aided by a special tax régime such as that enjoyed by the Isle of Man & the Channel Islands. In both those cases, special arrangements were negotiated when the UK entered the EEC. However, both lost their linguistic distinctiveness generations ago, so the new town would have a better moral claim to special treatment. The main opposition to this would be caused by the fear of setting a precedent, especially for other small language groups. France, Spain & the UK all contain smaller nations which want to retain their own languages. However, this is offset to some extent by the fact that both Spain & France (especially the latter) would be keen to strike at the dominance of the English language. I am optimistic that some sort of arrangements could be made for lower taxes in the new town.