Senior PSNI officer earns Irish award
One of Northern Ireland's most senior police officers has been awarded a fáinne airgid, or silver fáinne, after taking part in Irish language classes offered by the PSNI as part of the Líofa 2015 project.
Tuesday, 19 June 2012
Deputy Chief Constable Judith Gillespie was presented with her award by Culture Minister Carál Ní Chuilín at the police college in Garnerville, east Belfast, on Tuesday evening.
"The Police Service of Northern Ireland has a considerable number of Irish speakers amongst our officers and staff," Deputy Chief Constable Gillespie said.
"It has been encouraging to see the interest in both learning Irish as a complete novice and from those who have studied or have some knowledge of the language and want to take it further.
"I personally feel there is significant benefit in learning a second or even a third language. It enriches understanding and allows us to have a greater appreciation of the culture and heritage across all of the communities of Northern Ireland."
Communication is one of the most important aspects of policing and we must make every effort to engage meaningfully with all communities.
Deputy Chief Constable Judith Gillespie
The minister launched the Líofa project last year, aiming to encourage 2015 people from all walks of life to sign up to become fluent in Irish by 2015.
The PSNI signed up to the project after already running Irish language classes for many years.
Minister Ní Chuilín said: "Deputy Chief Constable Judith Gillespie is associated with ongoing efforts to modernise the north's police service and make it fully representative of our society.
"I am now delighted to be presenting Judith with the silver fáinne. This is a tremendous achievement and Judith's example is one which I hope many more in the PSNI, and wider society, will follow."
A number of local personalities from the worlds of media and sport are also taking part in Líofa 2015, including Cliftonville footballer Barry Johnston and Derry GAA legend Joe Brolly.
Among perhaps the more surprising participants is Londonderry DUP councillor April Garfield-Kidd, who told UTV after she signed up that "a few eyebrows had been raised".
She added: "It's just another European language I want to get a bit more fluent in - I would encourage everybody to go out and learn, because language is all about connecting with people."