The Republic of Ireland
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According to the statistical trend of the nineteenth century, in which the proportion of Irish-speakers in the Irish population as a whole declined from 23.3 per cent in 1851 to 13.3 per cent in 1901, the Irish language would cease to exist as a spoken language by the close of the twentieth century. That this has not happened is in itself remarkable. However, the extent to which this was the result of the Irish language policy and planning initiatives of Irish Free State and, subsequently, the Republic of Ireland requires consideration. It is necessary to unpack the cycle of institutionalisation (1922-1927), de-institutionalisation (1950 onwards) and reinstitutionalisation (1975 onwards) identiﬁed by others (Ó Murchú and Ó Murchú, 1999; Ó Riagáin, 1988, 1992) with regard to the evolution of the relationships between the Irish language and the Irish nation-state in this period from 1922 up until the 1990s. It is also necessary to interrogate the assertion that state policies ‘have endured almost 80 per cent attitudinal success (surveys), 43 per cent competence success (Census, 1996), 10-12 per cent success in actual use on more than an occasional basis’ (Ó Murchú and Ó Murchú, 1999: 14). The position selected here is that the Irish language policy adopted by the founders of the state in 1922 was formulated entirely by the thinking of the revivalist movement and that it was based upon false premises with regard to the historical, geographical and social reality of the Irish language. It is shown that subsequent policy reviews did not result in very signiﬁcant policy innovations. The policy shifts of the second half of the twentieth century had a cumulative effect upon Irish language policy, resulting in the de-institutionalisation of the language in some areas and, through the creation of semi-state agencies, its quasi-institutionalisation in other areas. Thus, by the close of the twentieth century the Irish language remained the national language and the ﬁrst ofﬁcial language of the Irish nation-state; but for many it was a passive or relict feature of Irish national identity and merely the ﬁrst ofﬁcial language de jure.