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Inaki Irazabalbeitia

Former MEP, Aralar

Inaki Irazabalbeitia

I was born in San Sebastián in 1957.

I was born in San Sebastián on August 1st, 1957. I spend my time away from work between Alkiza and Donosti. Since I took office as a town councilor in Tolosa I also spend quite some time there. I consider myself alkizarra (from Alkiza) more than anything else even though I still go play the barrel to Donosti every January 20th.
I had the privilege to attend school at the ikastola at the beginning of the 60s. Teacher Koro Gonzalez taught me to read, write and count.
When I was eight my family moved to Iruña, a small city at the time. We moved to the San Juan district to be more precise. This neighborhood is densely populated today but those days it was a patchwork of farms, villas and houses giving way to the first flat buildings. My father, a building engineer, participated actiely in the fast growth of the Iruña of my childhood. I attended the school of El Redín, a secular school, as my father did not want me to attend schools run by priests or public schools with Catholic standards . My little brother Jose Ramón was the only one to attend the newly born Ikastola.
We moved back to Donosti at the age of fourteen, to the world of the ikastolas. The Liceo Santo Tomas accepted my brothers and me as students. I spent my last two years of high school at the Instituto Peñaflorida.
In 1974 I moved to Valladolid to study Chemistry, since Gipuzkoa was part of the university district of that city. The city had two main economic activities: FASA, the factory of cars and the university students. There were 5.000 Basque students out of 8.000 total in the city. When workers and/or students rallied out, the whole city felt it.
The 1974-75 school year was busy in many ways.  I started actively participating in politics and I got off with my first girlfriend, Merche, from Segovia. I was elected student representative and work started piling on my desk. On Saturday February 8th the francoist Secretary of Education, Cruz Martinez Esteruelas, ordered to shut the University of Valladolid down until the following school year. He condemned us all, 8.000 students, to waste a whole school year. The student representatives negotiated solutions with the academic authorities and organized a parallel university. But this is another history! In the end they let us take exams in September, but without having received classes at all.
We lost our father in August of 1975 in a traffic accident.  By that time I had already made up my mind to move back to Donostia to continue with my studies at the Faculty of Petrochemistry that was to be open in October. I only passed two subjects the year before but I got tons of experience after everything I went through in Valladolid.  I have very nice memories of my years as a student in Altza (the faculty was located in this neighborhood). Those years were politically very active with strikes, locks-in, demonstrations and so on. Besides, being a new faculty, everything was to be done: the professors were very young, most of them had a very short career; therefore, the atmosphere and student-professor relationship was great, at least with us, the first promotion. I had already been teaching euskara in Valladolid but it was not till 1976 that I started up in the dynamics of the Basque culture. I got to know Elhuyar and the Udako Euskal Unibertsitatea (UEU), two of my big personal projects. In Altza I also met Mariaje, my wife, another of my vital projects.
In 1978 I became a member of Euskadiko Ezkerra but I left it at the beginning of the 80s to devote myself entirely to the cultural militancy.  
I graduated in 1980 and was lucky to start teaching as assistant teacher, an opportunity that allowed me to work on my Ph.D. The University of the Basque Country was just taking off at the moment and I participated as representative of assistant teachers in some of the senates at the university.
In 1986 I defended the thesis: cum laude. I realized I was not really fond of research and I decided to change fields. Thats when I started working at Elhuyar, a professional relation that lasted until 2003. I began as the manager of the informative magazine Elhuyar. Zientzia eta Teknika and from 1996 on I took on the responsibility of the management of Elhuyar leading the conversion process from a company into a foundation.
In 1986 I was elected Secretary General of the UEU where I had also been manager of the area of chemistry and member of the executive commission. I quit in 1991 but have been involved as a  member of the executive commission until 2008.
I practiced rugby all my life, and I still do from time to time. Since I cannot keep my mouth shut and I always keep myself busy I became a member of the Board of Directors of the Athletico de San Sebastián, my club, from 1983 until 2003.
21st century. My kids were not babies any more. It was a period of excitement and hope. They were times of Lizarra-Garazi. However, the senseless arms killed that hope. One thing was clear to me: I did not want my children to live through the same tragic situation I did. So I decided that I had to get involved, jump into politics and try to change things. The birth of Aralar offered me the opportunity. I do not regret the step taken, since I sincerely believe that Aralar and his political work in the past 12 years have contributed to the current situation.
In 2003 I left Elhuyar and devoted myself entirely to the political work as deputy coordinador of Aralar. It was a sweet and sour experience and I realised how difficult it was to sail in the waters of the inner life of a political organisation, much more difficult than in a company. At the end of 2004 I quit and took some sabbatical months.
In October of 2005 I began to work as the manager at the IMH school of engineering  in Elgoibar. I dived into a new world, the dual teaching, and it sure was a very enriching personal and professional experience.
In autumn of 2006 I went back home, the Elhuyar group, as the manager of Eleka. Until the end of 2011 I was a prophet of the linguistic engineering, that is spell checkers, automatic translators and similar. Often I had the feeling that we preached in the desert.
At that time I was also elected twice councilor in Tolosa, in 2007 and 2011. After some time in the opposition I am currently in the government team along with my mates from Bildu and I am in charge of the commission of linguistic politics and education.
In 2012 I went back to work for the party as the  manager of international relations. The job I carried out so far served me as training for my current job at the European Parliament.
I always had a finger in every pieand I still do : Egunkaria Sotzen, Kontseilua, Lurraldea, Elkarri, Lokarri, the magazine Galde, Alkizako Oilategitik Kultur Elkartea… I am also a member of Euskaltzaindia, the academy of the Basque language. When I had more time off I wrote some literature and published a couple of novels and a book of short stories of science-fiction. Nowadays I only have time to practice some sport, grow a small vegetable garden  and little more.


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