Welsh language 'risks becoming like Irish'

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Image caption About 874,000 people are able to speak Welsh, according to the Office for National Statistics

Wales must avoid becoming "like Ireland" where few people speak the native language every day, the new Welsh Language Commissioner has warned.

Aled Roberts said he wanted to avoid a situation where many people had the ability to speak Welsh, but did not.

"I want us to focus on plans which will lead to increasing the daily use of the Welsh language," he said.

The Welsh Government has announced new funding in its aim to get one million people speaking Welsh by 2050.

Speaking at the National Eisteddfod, Mr Roberts said: "There is a tendency to focus excessively on status, statistics and the number of speakers.

"Doing so risks us ending up in a similar situation to Ireland, where 1.76 million people can speak Irish, but less than 0.5% speak it every day.

"I want us to focus on plans which will lead to increasing the daily use of the Welsh language."

Image caption Aled Roberts was appointed in April and spent his first few months speaking with more than 500 people around Wales about the use of Welsh

Mr Roberts said he had experienced "positive attitudes and goodwill" towards the language during a recent tour of the country.

However, he added there were a "range of challenges", including a lack of Welsh language teachers and a gap between education and employment opportunities.

"We will work with businesses, charities and organisations to ensure that Welsh speakers who leave the education system, and people who learn the language, are able to use their bilingual skills," he said.

"Through the Welsh language standards, public organisations have a duty to consider the impact of their decisions on the Welsh language."

New language standards regulations for water companies and healthcare regulators are being developed, the Welsh Government said.

Welsh Language minister Eluned Morgan has also announced funding for Prosiect 2050 - a new multi-disciplinary unit - to plan strategy, create initiatives and help maintain Welsh-speaking communities and increase the use of Welsh.

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