Spoken Irish in ‘freefall’?

The Irish Independent has disturbing findings on the state of the Irish language in the Republic. The report was compiled back in 2002, before the latest curriculum reforms, by the now defunct Linguistics Institute of Ireland (ITE)., but has not been previously released. It notes for instance that the “percentage of pupils attaining mastery of ‘general comprehension of speech’ in Gaeltacht schools has dropped from 96.3pc in 1985 to 73.3pc in 2002”.It’s not noted in the article, but the rise of Gaelscoilleanna where standards remain high may have been a contributing factor to the fall of standards elsewhere, as more able (and more motivated) students are drawn away from general system. But perhaps the biggest concern is that the twenty per cent drop applies to schools within the Gaeltacht areas as much as to those outside.