Fianna Fáil Senator, Lorraine Clifford-Lee has raised her concerns regarding the protection of the Irish language in light of the British referendum vote to leave the European Union.

The Senator raised her concerns while speaking on the matter in the Seanad earlier this week.

“Brexit continues to be one of the biggest political and economic threats to our country and we need to take a strong stance on protecting and maintaining our cultural identity while remaining a proud member state of the European Union,” added the Senator.

“When Ireland became a member of the European Union in 1973, English was already a notified language. Ireland was therefore in the position to identify our own special language as Irish.

“There are currently 24 official languages in the European Union, while 80% of the work of EU institutions is done through English and the remaining 20% is conducted in French and German. According to a recent publication, the Commission has already started using French and German more often in its external communications, as a symbolic move after Britain voted to leave the EU.

“Britain is the only country that notes English as their official language and as soon it completes the process to leave the EU, English could lose its status. Therefore, there will be no official English speaking member state.

“There is a very real fear that Ireland will come under severe pressure from other member states to change our official language from Irish to English to ensure its continued use in EU institutions. The Chair of the EU Parliament Constituency Affairs Committee, Danuta Hübner recently warned of the same prospect.

“It is most obvious that Ireland will come under increasing pressure to replace our native language to ensure wider use of English, but we must rigorously defend to preserve the status of the Irish language within the European Union.

“The Government must safeguard the Irish language as our official language in the EU which could now come under significant threat in the wake of the British exit from the European Union.

“I will continue to raise the matter until I get adequate assurances from Government that we will not demote Irish as our elected language to facilitate other member states,” concluded Senator Clifford-Lee.