Committee calls for national anthem guidelines and formal Irish sign language version

Guidelines for using the national anthem and support for a formal Irish sign language version of it have been proposed by an all-party Oireachtas Committee.

However, politicians have stopped short of pushing for Amhrán na bhFiann to be protected in legislation-despite calls by families of the authors of the anthem among others.

The Seanad Public Consultation Committee on the anthem wants schools to improve the learning of it in Irish, English as well as in sign language.

The recommendations follow consultation and the involvement of groups, including representatives of the deaf community, school children and relatives of those who penned the anthem.

Launching the report, committee chairman Sen Paul Coghlan said:

“We have been strongly advised by officials in the department of finance to legislate for this [protections]. But the protocols will be as good as that.”

The committee also decided not to recommend penalties for inappropriate use of the anthem, despite the fact it has gone out of copyright and has been used in commercial advertisements.

“Legislation to protect it is not required at this stage,” said Sen Coghlan.

But Fianna Fail senator Mark Daly disagreed during debate on the report. He and others say legislation would have protected the anthem like the national symbol of the harp as well as the national flag. Relatives of those who authored the anthem agreed.

Conal Kearney, the grandson of Peadar Kearney, who wrote the English lyrics in 1909, wants it enshrined in legislation. Dublin Lord Mayor Niall Ring, whose great uncle Liam Ring, translated the Soldiers Song into Irish in Amhrán na bhFiann, also wants the national song protected in law.

“I hope this is a stepping stone,” he said at the launch today.

The Irish sign language version of the song was compiled by school children from Bishopstown Community School in Cork.

Disabilities Minister Finian McGrath has also said this should be protected in law.

The committee made a number of recommendations which it says will improve knowledge of, the use of the anthem as well as guidelines on when it is sung or signed.

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