Poots has politicised the Irish language…

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Interesting argument from Robert McMillan in the Irish News yesterday, on the DUP Culture Minister’s dismissal of the case for encorporating protections for the Irish Language in a legislative Act (quote continues below the fold).
Update: O’Cuiv to work with Poots to find a way through?

He has gift-wrapped the Irish language and handed it to Sinn Féin. “No, we don’t want it, you keep it” is his message, therefore perpetuating the perception that the 2,000-year-old Irish language was created by the IRA army council, in the days of berets and dark glasses, as a means of annoying Protestants.

Thankfully, politics works on many different levels from the parliamentary level to street level. While Mr Poots and the totality of unionist opinion at the assembly is against the proposed act, ordinary Protestants, and indeed unionists, are learning Irish in Bangor and Holywood and Sion Mills and in many other places. The Irish language is ideally placed as an issue around which people of different traditions can engage with each other and that will continue in spite of yesterday’s (Tuesday) statement.

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  • gaelgannaire

    Mick,

    Perhaps a better story would have been BBC Blas (greatly improved recently) having a pro-Irish Language unionist on, explainig the unionist side of the arguement but pointing out that he himself was strongly pro-ILA?

    The fact that he did it in Irish might also interest some.

  • http://www.sluggerotoole.com Mick

    Believe me gael, I am getting there. I thought this was a good English language article, but I am coming to Blas for the gaeiligeoiri asap.

  • http://www.everythingulster.com beano

    “The fact that he did it in Irish might also interest some.”

    Interest maybe, but few in NI will have understood him.

    I find it silly to claim that its unionists politicising the language. Every word a bullet and all that.

    I think unionists will grow to accept Gaelic in terms of its cultural significance, but not to the point of wasting government money on translating forms and having court proceedings etc. in Gaelic.

  • Nevin

    I thought it was SF that had ‘politicised’ the Irish language debate; it was their cultural weapon of mass distraction. Now Monica McWilliams has joined in the row.

  • RG Cuan

    Tá an ceart, a bheag nó a mhór, ag McMillen agus tá sé thar am go raibh a leithéid de phíosa ar an Irish News.

    McMillen is spot on in stating that Poots’ decision politicises the language even more. This type of opinion piece is well overdue in the Irish News.

    BEANO

    As for your “Every word a bullet and all that” reference, this is a lame excuse and is not relevant to the current debate.

    That phrase was spoken by one member of one party at one meeting over 25 years ago and has no meaning whatsoever for 98% of the Irish language community.

  • Séamaí

    Fair play to McWilliams, i was wondering when Human Rights organisations would start taking on the issue.

    GAEL GAN NÁIRE

    Just listened to Blas and the Unionist commentator you mention, Ian Malcolm, certainly speaks very well on the issue.

    Ba cheart go mbeadh sé ar na meáin níos minice. We should hear more from him.

  • barnshee

    “That phrase was spoken by one member of one party at one meeting over 25 years ago and has no meaning whatsoever for 98% of the Irish language community”

    Indeed not now maybe –but not a cheep from “the Irish language community” at the time and indeed since.
    As for “ordinary Protestants, and indeed unionists, are learning Irish in Bangor and Holywood and Sion Mills and in many other places2

    LOL- in 50 years I have yet to meet a single member of “ordinary Protestants, and indeed unionists, learning Irish”
    Keeep whistling in the dark

  • http://www.sluggerotoole.com Mick

    The disappointing thing about the debate was the arguments in favour where rarely couched in such positive terms as Robert has done above. Indeed it often seemed to be deliberately framed such that it looked more like a pre-planned set piece to draw Unionist cultural bile, in order to make them look like the big bad wolf who turned ‘us’ down.

    But from a pro-Irish pov, this general polarising effect of this kind of set piece play does little to popularise the language beyond its current nationalist strongholds, nor create language welcoming zones in mixed areas.

    Over the last forty years, Irish has flourished north of the border in the face of government indifference or hostility. Engaging government resources has to be done circumspectly, leaving room for the ‘self starting’ culture that ran Belfast’s first Irish medium primary for ten years before finally drawing down funding for a genuinely popular project.

    The paucity of quality discussion in the chamber suggests that it has similarly been underdiscussed within the Irish language movement at large. Letter writing and lobbying campaigns cannot stand in for strong bottom up discussion about what’s good for the language and, just as importantly, what is not.

    I suspect (though I could be badly wrong on this) that the movers and shakers in the movement NI rarely engage with people outside their own largely homogenous nationalist communities. The question I would be posing is how to move the momentum outwards and into the same middle class tranche of people whose kids populate the gaeilscoileanna in Dublin?

    I would suggest that an Act pushed through in these divisive circumstances runs the risk of compromising any such dynamic?

  • http://www.sluggerotoole.com Mick

    barnshee, you should get out more! ;-)

  • An Lochlannach

    Beano wrote: ‘I find it silly to claim that its unionists politicising the language. Every word a bullet and all that.’

    As far as I’m aware that was a line from a Sinn Féin pamphlet written by Máirtín Ó Muilleoir in the 1970s. Things have moved on since then. Irish speakers have done a lot to reach out to Protestants in the North. That’s been the focus of Iontaobhas Ultach’s work since their foundation and the Scottish-Irish initiative Iomairt Cholm Cille has also emphasised the Scottish Protestant Gaelic tradition. Over the years books have been published, exhibitions held, lectures organised all with the aim of showing that the language, any language, does not and cannot have an ideology.

    One of the most depressing aspects of the McNarry/Poots saga, and Beano’s harking back to one line in an 1970s party publication, is that all the good work was in vain. When Sinn Féin said ‘Irish is a republican language’ Unionists reacted angrily. But what are Poots and McNarry saying if not precisely that?

  • RG Cuan

    BARNSHEE

    In 50 years I have yet to meet a single member of ordinary Protestants, and indeed unionists, learning Irish. Keeep whistling in the dark.

    You obviously haven’t really understood the above posts. There are many of a Protestant background who are fluent in Irish, including the comentator mentioned above, Dr Ian Malcolm.
    Other include some of the main players in organisations such as Colmcille and the Ultach Trust.

    MICK

    Totally agree that increased outward interaction will only improve the general Irish language situation. Some are attempting this but a more concentrated effort is needed.

    However i also believe that an ILA is an important piece of legislation in today’s world and will not necessarily compromise any attempts to widen the scope of debate.

  • justthoughtidask

    “He has gift-wrapped the Irish language and handed it to Sinn Féin. “No, we don’t want it, you keep it” is his message, therefore perpetuating the perception that the 2,000-year-old Irish language was created by the IRA army council, in the days of berets and dark glasses, as a means of annoying Protestants.”

    This is a hilariously ridiculous argument. “Interesting” only insofar as somebody could put it forward and expect anyone except the wilfuly blind or the stupid to take it seriously.

    Irish language entusiasts have stood idly by for decades, at best disinterested and at worst wholly supportive, while the IRA army council and their cheerleaders have taken ownership of the language without so much as them making a peep of protest.
    Now it’s suddenly terrible that unionists associate the language almost exclusively with extreme militant and sectarian nationalism.
    You really do wonder why that is, wouldn’t you.

    The situation is as it always was. It is up to the enthusiasts, if they are so minded, to de-politicise their language.
    They may well be too late, even if they want to.
    But whatever the stink that surrounds the Irish language, it wasn’t something that unionism put there and it isn’t up to them to remove it.

  • http://threethousandversts.blogspot.com Chekov

    As usual it is the big bad unionists fault for perceiving the language as political and the fact that it is primarily used and promoted by republicans in NI has nothing to do with it!

  • gaelgannaire

    Mick,

    Its a question of marketing.

    Look at this way, both in the North and in the South we could grossly simply peoples attitudes into 3 groups, roughly a 1/3 each.

    Now one third hate it > really dont care.
    Another third are dont care > midly positive.
    And another third are Midly positive > very positive and/or Irish speaking.

    For example. One third of the people of the Republic say that they would chose IME if it where available.

    Do you not think that it is better to concentrate on that third rather than the third who detest the language and associated culture?

    The Irish langauge needs to be solidified in that group. If that means creating Ghettos in other peoples minds so be it, but people who live in ghettos call them communities.

    It is clear that many more people wish to use Irish in their everyday lives that is currently possible due to low concentrations of Irish speakers, they simply dont get the oppurtunity. It is common sense that it is with this group that eforts must be concentrated, and that people should seek to create those oppurtunities and indeed, alternative social networks, like the undeniably successful West Belfast model. To paraphrase Minister Ó Cuiv, there should be a Cultúrlann in every town. I agree, but I also feel there should be a Shaw’s Road in everytown.

    http://www.bailegaelach.com

    It is the third in the middle both sides to the debate are seeking to capture, and naturally, north and south this is where ‘promotional’ and ‘hertitage’ work is centred and it is entirely justified.

    So, whilst efforts in the final third of people, whos hate > dont care about the language are significant, it would be maddness to concentrate efforts in that area.

    I would say the same about selling a political idea or washing powder – You can’t sell meant to vegetarians.

    “I would suggest that an Act pushed through in these divisive circumstances runs the risk of compromising any such dynamic?”

    They won’t push through an Irish language act, but they will push through specific things such as legislation connected to broadcasting and justice.

  • parcifal

    suppose a donor from the USA fronted up the money, as a donation to the NIO to cover the costs of the ILA implementation, what would the arguement then be from the DUP against the ILA?

  • http://allpeopleunite.blogspot.com Abdul-Rahim

    That is exactly what I was going to mention. And as the advantages of Irish medium schools become more and more obvious and Protestants in general become more accepting or their Irish heritage, the Assembly will some day be forced to offer some protection. Either that or some issue will come up in which this is used as the bargaining chip for support.

  • Nevin

    AL, the Ultach Trust would appear to have a very low profile. Does it co-operate with, say, the Ulster-Scots Agency to promote the ‘lesser used’ languages of Ulster?

  • parcifal

    why doesn’t FF offer to pay for it? the ILA costs that is. Can you imagine Bertie saying ” as a gesture of freindship to help our poorer neighbours in da Nort, we offer a generous helping hand”.

  • RG Cuan

    primarily used and promoted by republicans in NI

    Incorrect CHEKOV. Maybe you presume this as, when Irish language issues are discussed by the media, it is Sinn Féin representatives that they call upon for comment. The Irish language community is made up of people with different political views and from numerous backgrounds. A look at the Irish speakers who post on Slugger illustrates this.

    JUST THOUGHT I’D ASK

    What a ludicrously simplistic take on the situation.

    And these ‘enthusiasts’ you mention are members of the Irish language community, not some group of hobbyist stamp collectors.

  • http://www.sluggerotoole.com Mick

    “Do you not think that it is better to concentrate on that third rather than the third who detest the language and associated culture?”

    I understand the appeal of such a circle-the-wagons stratagem, but: a) it breaks down when you need wider approval for a specific government action; and b) it has a inwardly looking dynamic that is likely to prove self consuming in the longer run.

    One sub point. Conventional wisdom runs in Northern Ireland, that you cannot accumlate political capital in your own constituency if you do something that’s popular with ‘the others’, particular around difficult or totemic issues like the Irish language. I would suggest that Ms Ritchie is in the process of turning that one right on its head.

    I am not suggesting the poisonessness around Irish will dissipate quickly or easily. But I fear for its health and its future if it can’t.

  • http://www.sluggerotoole.com Mick

    Nev,

    I know it is very hot on the connection with Scots Gaelic. I’m not sure it is obliged to do everything, everywhere, all-of-the-time.

  • justthoughtidask

    “And as the advantages of Irish medium schools become more and more obvious and Protestants in general become more accepting or their Irish heritage,…”

    Could you just outline those increasingly obvious advantages for us, please.

    And could you give evidence of “Protestants in general” becoming more accepting of their Irish heritage (by which I take it you mean including a growing interest in learning the Irish language).

    And please don’t cite this unionist guy as evidence of the Irish language lobby’s new non-sectarianism. It’s a bit like the Ulster Unionist Party holding up Sir John Gorman or the GAA showing off Jack Boothman as evidence that they are “welcoming to the other side” organisations, when they are both littered with bigots.

  • http://threethousandversts.blogspot.com Chekov

    “Incorrect CHEKOV. Maybe you presume this as, when Irish language issues are discussed by the media, it is Sinn Féin representatives that they call upon for comment. The Irish language community is made up of people with different political views and from numerous backgrounds. A look at the Irish speakers who post on Slugger illustrates this.”

    Whether this is or isn’t the case is not really the point. The point is that the people unionists hear either using or promoting the language most are members of SF. It really is up to the Irish Language movement to address this because the language has been considered politicised long before Edwin Poots was around.

    I think it is also instructive that these wonderful outreaching Irish language bodies we are reading about in this thread have never been heard of by most unionists.

  • gaelgannaire

    Mick,

    I understand fully your position and lets be clear I myself have taught Irish in Ballyclare (union jack flying in the school grounds!) and Bangor, I am not dismissing ‘outreach’.

    I have a friend who taught Irish in an Orange Hall in mid-Armagh, apparently no one person ever missed a class.

    These things don’t get reported. Good – I dont want everyone on the Bangor train knowing that I am heading to a State secondary school to teach Irish.

    I appreciate the analogy with the wagon thing, some people said that about the Shaw’s Road, but frankly that turned out to be an acorn which has grown into sound oaktree, and well rooted one at that, safe and confident behind those wagons, safe enough that many Kids in that area are trilinguals.

    But I would have to point out one concern many Irish speakers have, that is to say that some unionists regard the use of Irish as a living language to be a ‘political act’, therefore to ‘de-polititise’ the language one would have to cease ‘abusing’ the language by using it as a living language. If it was not ‘abused’ in this fashion then we could all ‘enjoy’ the ‘cultural’ and ‘herititage’ values of Irish because it would be dead.

    Is that a fair summing up?

    I myself as a habitual Irish speaker since I was a child am not interested in Irish surviving in any form other than a normal transmitted venacular. Therefore I will remain cautious.

  • Nevin

    Mick, I’m thinking of common sense, a ‘shared future’, not an obligation.

  • fair_deal

    On the NIHRC intervention
    1. There is no obligation for an international human rights commitment to be put into domestic law.
    2. The UK’s obligations to the Irish language under international standards have been complied with since 2001 without a Language Act. In terms of compliance the committee of ministers highlighted two issues:
    – develop a comprehensive Irish language policy including measures to meet the increasing demand for Irish language education
    – Increase support for the printed media in Scots Gaelic and Irish
    These could be fulfilled by the statutorily required Irish language strategy.
    4. They might also care to remember there are two languages protected under the Charter in Northern Ireland, not just one but the NIHRC always seems to have selective amnesia when it comes to that.

  • justthoughtidask

    “What a ludicrously simplistic take on the situation.”

    No, the ludicrously simplistic is what is on show here from the likes of you.
    There was not a squeak of protest from the Irish language enthusiasts for decades while the provos used and abused it as a sectarian and cultural club. Now, all of a sudden, the Protestant community are supposed to embrace it and support it just like nothing happened.

    Where were the voices of reason, supposedly so evident here today, when the provos were hijacking their language at will?

    The connection with Scots gaelic speakers and all things Scots Presbyterian is great – except it wasn’t them who were being butchered by the only Irish language enthusiasts on show for 30-odd years.

    Make some overt efforts to claim it back from the provo fascists, and people might just begin to take you and it seriously.

  • Séamaí

    JUST THOUGHT I’D ASK

    Clearly you have no understanding of the Irish language community. You should probably get some proper info before you put finger to keyboard again.

  • Sir Herbert Mercer

    Oh aye Poots has politicised Irish.

    I hate the DUPs and even I don’t buy that. I mean what the hell was Gerry Adams announcing “Tiocfaidh ar la” about? Using his media profile to publicise the Irish Language?

  • gaelgannaire

    justthoughidask,

    “Make some overt efforts to claim it back from the provo fascists, and people might just begin to take you and it seriously”

    Any suggestions on method?

    Do you mean that there should be some sort of protests when Sinn Féin members use Irish?

    I doubt if that will happen as most (but not all) Irish speakers believe that all people should have the right to speak Irish, republicans and working class people included.

    I would have to point out that there are always other spokespeople on these issues available, but the media rarely consult them. Why?

    Even when Dominic Bradley got up to speak in the assembly the BBC jumped away like a blue arsed fly.

    I would also point out if Sinn Féin in some bizarre fashion turned out the Irish language it would affect their vote significantly.

  • http://hIA OILibhear Chromaill

    It’s hilarious reading some of the posts here, not least Mick’s own contribution where he seems to blame Sinn Féin for provoking Unionists to spew forth their ‘cultural bile’. The reality is that unionist politicians resent the Irish language because it shows that this part of Ireland is IRISH. If they were sensible they would say that the British thing to do on this occasion is to support Irish language rights as the British have supported Scots Gaelic and Welsh rights making the language at least part British. No-one’s asking them to spend millions – all they’re being asked for is to show respect. Last week, in the Assembly, when the question was raised by David McNarry in his ridiculously bigoted motion to ban Irish in the Assembly and from Executive correspondence, that point was well made. It costs absolutely nothing to translate the Irish used in the Assembly because those who use it do the translation themselves – even that was enough to sicken David McNarry to his stomach.

    So less of this talk of blaming republicans for the politicisation of the Irish language – as Stephen Farry, from the ‘republican hotbed of North Down, where, according to Danny Kennedy, they can’t spell (because Beannchar is spelt in Irish on Bangor mayoral chain!) – said in the Assembly, it’s unionists who are politicising the language no-one else.

    They may have won the day in the Assembly on Tuesday but it was only a pyrrhic victory for sectarianism and bigotry.

  • justthoughtidask

    “Clearly you have no understanding of the Irish language community.”

    Perhaps if they hadn’t been so content to allow fascist sectarian murderers to do all their talking for them for so long, then some of us might know a little more about them.

    But then perhaps the fact that they were so content to let this happen tells us all we need to know.

  • An Lochlannach

    Nevin wrote: AL, the Ultach Trust would appear to have a very low profile.

    I’m reluctant to speak on their behalf, Nevin, but I’d say that the low profile is to some extent deliberate – quiet persuasion. As Gael gan Náire suggests, there is a real problem for some Protestants expressing interest in the language. Those living in areas where loyalist paramilitaries are active will understandably feel a bit coy about their Irish language studies. Others may feel uncomfortable travelling to mainly Nationalist areas where classes are held. It’s unfortunate, because when teachers of Irish say ‘I’ve had plenty of Protestant students’ they can’t follow that up with examples or name names. But I can confirm that the Protestant learner of Irish, indeed the Unionist learner of Irish, isn’t a fiction. They are still exceptional in their communities, I admit, but there are a lot more of them than some posts in this thread would suggest.

  • Frank Sinistra

    FD,

    As McWilliams is specifically talking about the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities which makes reference to the Irish language in the resolution and 1st cycle reporting and has never mentioned Ulster-Scots once it is unsurprising she focuses on the responsibilities regarding Irish.

    From Stage 1:

    Commendable efforts have been made through the devolution process in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, to create the conditions necessary for persons belonging to national minorities to participate effectively in affairs concerning them. Devolution has brought with it increasing awareness and demand for recognition of the identity and in particular the language of national minorities, for which there remains scope for further protection, notably concerning the use of Irish.

    As no submission was made under cycle 2 from any Ulster-Scots body but POBAL did Irish is likely to figure in the next report also.

    The British Government will have to explain what they have done to fill the scope for the protection of Irish notably around the Irish language. As McWilliams points out Poots failure puts them on shakey legal ground. Barrack room lawyers should really stay away from issues as complex as EU Conventions if they are just speaking off the cuff, you can’t bluff your way through these topics.

  • gaelgannaire

    justthoughtidask,

    “Perhaps if they hadn’t been so content to allow fascist sectarian murderers to do all their talking for them for so long, then some of us might know a little more about them.

    But then perhaps the fact that they were so content to let this happen tells us all we need to know.”

    I am sorry, you are entitled to your views but there isn’t even any shred of truth or understanding in the above statement.

    Irish language groups have always done their own talking, it is generally taboo for anyone with a visible political profile to have any significant role in most organisations.

    It is not their fault if the only voice unionists can hear is Sinn Féin.

    Ask ANY Sinn Féin member and they will tell you that ‘them Gaelgores’ do their own thing.

  • Frank Sinistra

    Whoops. Can a mod fix that link. Thanks.

  • George

    justthoughtidask,
    can you back up your assertions that the Irish language “movement” was content to allow fascist sectarian murderers to do all their talking for them.

    Could you provide some quotes of representatives of Irish language organisations doing this?

  • justthoughtidask

    “Any suggestions on method?”

    Yes, by starting to make it absolutely clear both by word and deed that the language enthusiasts are not party political.

    And stop blaming the media for your own inactivity in separating yourself from a deeply fascist organisation (incidentally, I don’t think it’s the only fascist organisation in NI, but it happens to be the one related to what we are discussing here).

    Anyone can get their voice heard on the media here, for Christ sake look and listen to some of the idiots that do and the crap they are promoting, if they get off their arse and make and effort. The fact is, you sat back, and still do, content to let the shinners and their instantly recognisable “community activist” front people do all your talking for you. That might give you a clue why they’re still the ones that the media go to first.

    And, while you’re at it, stop patronising and offending Protestants with shit like, “many of them would learn it except their communities wouldn’t allow them”, or, “if only they would accept and appreciate their Irish culture and heritage”, or, “they are being sectarian for not embracing all things Irish”.

    Exactly like the Catholic community, the truth is that most Prods just don’t give a shit about learning the Irish language, or any other one for that matter – and by the way, that is their right.
    Their attitude is, “You love it? Great, fill your boots, but FFS stop trying to force it on me”.

  • RG Cuan

    JUST THOUGHT I’D ASK

    Your reasoning is indeed twisted.

    but FFS stop trying to force it on me

    Please explain how anybody is forcing you to use Irish in anyway?

  • páid

    FFS,

    who is forcing it on you?

  • gaelgannaire

    justthoughtidask

    “by starting to make it absolutely clear both by word and deed that the language enthusiasts are not party political.”

    That is the way it is now but of course everyone has the right to their own political opinion.

    “stop blaming the media for your own inactivity”

    Inactivity? Irish speakers! ….

    “many of them would learn it except their communities wouldn’t allow them”

    I have never heard that said.

    “if only they would accept and appreciate their Irish culture and heritage”

    I have heard that said and I don’t agree. I agree with you, for the most part Gaelic language and culture is nothing to do with unionists for the simply reason they say so.

    “but FFS stop trying to force it on me”.

    No one is forcing you to do anything, that fanstasy frankly.

    Lets be clear, unionists says Irish is nothing to do with them, therefore I accept that, but there is the perception that Irish language activities are overly concerned with unionists, that is rarely the case.

  • justthoughtidask

    George

    Irish language schools in Northern Ireland, almost without exception, allow Sinn Fein to argue their case for them. The Irish language “community” have done the same for years. The perception (and probably the reality), to a unionist is that Irish language enthusiasts are inextricably linked to SF/IRA. In much the same way as nationalists consider the OO to be inextricably linked to unionism. No effort is being made to ‘correct’ this perception. I wonder why.
    BTW, did Barbre de Brun not teach for years in just such a school?

    gaelgannaire
    “many of them would learn it except their communities wouldn’t allow them”

    ‘I have never heard that said.’

    Well, cast your eye back a few posts and you’ll see it written.

    “by starting to make it absolutely clear both by word and deed that the language enthusiasts are not party political.”

    ‘That is the way it is now but of course everyone has the right to their own political opinion.’

    So you concede that it wasn’t always like that. It isn’t far from that to accepting the 30 years damage that you stood idly by and let be done in the name of the Irish language. Next step after that is working out how to undo it. Patronising, name-calling and pretending it didn’t happen certainly isn’t the way.

  • gaelgannaire

    justthoughtidask,

    Can i ask one thing, you say that Irish language schools ‘allow Sinn Fein to argue their case for them’.

    Two questions.

    1. How would you go about stopping them
    2, Who else is going to do it? The UUP!

    BTW, I reject any suggestion that Irish speakers aren’t entitled to any political opinion they wish.

    “BTW, did Barbre de Brun not teach for years in just such a school?”

    Does Bairbre de Brún not have the right to a job?

    I’ll have to let you go at this stage, I’ll let you take victory here safe in the knowledge that your intellect has defeated me.

    However, I cannot continue ‘debating’ with yourself without breaking the man/ball rule.

  • fair_deal

    I missed the FCNM reference. D’oh.

    However it actually makes little difference as there is no requirement for an act under FCNM either. The UK government should have plenty to say too – the implemetation of the Language charter, expansion of the irish medium sector, the £20m a year, the Irish language strategy and developments like the broadcast fund.

    “makes reference to the Irish language in the resolution and 1st cycle reporting and has never mentioned Ulster-Scots”

    WRONG. The resolution didn’t specifically mention Ulster-Scots but the reporting did. In the first cycle the Advisory Committee certainly mentions Ulster-Scots and recieved Ulster-Scots submissions:

    Link (pdf file)

    “The Advisory Committee has received submissions from both the Irish and Ulster-Scots speaking communities calling for more to be done in support of their culture and in particular their language.”

    It also recommended
    “the Advisory Committee considers that the Government should explore what further steps could be taken to cater for the needs of persons belonging to the Irish speaking community in particular as well as the needs of those persons belonging to the Ulster-Scots speaking community in terms of facilitating access to the media and their ability to create and use their own media.”
    and
    “The Advisory Committee is of the view that the Government should examine with the parties concerned what further measures could be taken to support, in particular, Irish language education but also the teaching of Ulster Scots.”

    Surely the NIHRC would have seen/been aware of the Advisory Committee’s report and its views? Poor organisation or selectivity?

    “it is unsurprising she focuses on the responsibilities regarding Irish.”

    It is surprising (see above).

    Also is the NIHRC not meant to protect/speak up for the rights of all sections of the community? If the CoE has an information gap or a community fails to be sufficiently organised the NIHRC should leave the CoE to remain in ignorance? Is the NIHRC content to see a group excluded from potential protections?

  • sms

    an lochlannach
    poor old Máirtín Ó Muilleóir gets blamed for every thing, even conjuring up cultural bullets to fire at unionists in the 70’s when he was plain Marty Millar and still at school. have another think lochlannach.

    Mick
    the first Irish Language school waited 13 years for funding and not 10. How time flies when your doing things that annoy those sensitive Unionists

  • Frank Sinistra

    FD,

    At least we both understand where McWilliams was coming from now but to be perfectly honest I’m not interested enough to examine the issue in detail. Maybe one of the stakeholders in the issue, an Irish speaker, shinner or stoop, will discuss the nuances of European Conventions and Assembly with you?

  • Turgon

    Once again a debate on the Irish language and once again it has degenerated into the usual row.

    I know and fully understand and support much of what justthoughtidask says. There is absolutely no doubt that the vast majority of unionists of my generation and those older than me only ever heard Irish spoken at IRA funerals, by SF members of being elected and yes that infamous comment about every word being a bullet. It is also true that the only spokespersons most unionists see speaking for Irish or Irish Medium Education are SF members or obvious fellow travellers.

    I also admit that despite having lived the vast majority of my life in Northern Ireland and most of my adult life in Belfast I had, until recently, no idea that there was an Irish speaking community in Belfast.

    I think it is quite clear that SF/IRA managed to politicise the language from the 1970s/80s onwards. This is now a toxic legacy for the Irish Language community. As I have said before they have a powerful ally in SF in that SF can demand (and sometimes get) funding, recognition etc. However, this ally corrupts whatever it touches. Its corrupting hand destroys almost any amount of good cross community work that genunine non political Irish speakers may try to do. Almost but not necessarily all good work.

    Of course McNarry for his own reasons (UUP leadership) has helped in the most recent politicisation of Irish and Poots’s decision became even more inevitable in the current climate. This is not helped by the clear incompetence at Irish of a number of SF members and the comical reports that they have phenotically splet phrases written down to recite.

    On reading this web site for some time now and taking a mild interest in this debate I can see that there are clearly those whose interest in Irish is pretty non political. At the risk of playing the man I would suggest that gaelgannaire and RG Cuan are excellent adverts for a fairly non political Irish, they may well have political views and I do not always agree with everything they say; but unless they are quite brilliant at hiding their true motives they do not seem to want to impose a SF Irish narrative onto unionists.

    I think the point about non political Irish speakers not being on the media is both true and untrue. Yes when the media interview pro-Irish people they tend to be SF. That is probably because the media have rapid access to these people. Also many are very media savvy. The average non political Irish speaker may well not know media types well and may well be less able to drop everything to appear on television / radio.

    So what should the Irish Language Community do to promote and depoliticise the language?

    Well the two posters I have mentioned above do a fairly good job here. The community should also fight its way to every TV camera it can find to sell a non political Irish message. They might just as an example criticise SF for example for using an Irish version of David McNarry’s name (that would surprise him would’nt it). I would also suggest they should (if they can afford it) look at employing a research company themselves to analyse what unionists want to see them do and maybe then looking at employing a PR company to act on some of it.

    Just a few thoughts. Now back to the cave in Ballymenastan.

  • nmc

    justthoughtidask (and others)

    You have lumped all Irish language activists together and condemned them for their politics. One person above mentioned the statement that every word spoken is another bullet etc., a statement made by one person, as being indicative of the motivations of Irish language enthusiasts. As you have seen fit to condemn us all and tar us with the same brush, I will do the same.

    Your community is represented by Orangeism, hence, you are all Orangemen, and you are all equally responsible for Holy Cross and Whiterock.

    This is clearly BULLSHIT – not unlike your own equating of Irish speakers with the Provos and SF.

    On an aside, with respect to the funding of Irish Language, how much do we spend mopping up the twelfth? Eleventh night? The policing, lost trade to closed shops, lost tourism etc. This seems like another example of Unionist culture being more important, because there are more of you. The twelfth is a thorn in the side of NI, but it goes on because it’s Unionist culture. When Nationalists ask for a bit of respect for our culture, nah. Too expensive. It would be disappointing if it wasn’t expected.

  • fair_deal

    FS

    Fair enough. Have a nice evening.

  • gaelgannaire

    Mick,

    I must humbly submit all of the above contributions ‘justthoughtidask’ has made above and on those contributions rest my case concerning where organisations (outwith those specifically tasked) should concentrate their promotional efforts AT THIS STAGE.

    Turgon,

    I am a wee bit embarrassed.

    But rest assured I will be taking Carál Ní Chuilín’s ridiculous remarks to the highest level of any organisation whatsover that people are willing to listen to me.

    I without reservation or hestitation completely reject that kind of nonsence.

    BTW, to pronounce McNarry as the Gaelic Mac Náraigh one need only transform the English appromiximate ‘r’ employed by Carál Ní Chuilín and tap the tongue againist the roof of the mouth like in a Scottish accent. I hope that you don’t consider this knowledge to be a burden.

  • Gréagóir O’ Frainclín

    I’ve said recently that Unionist like to refer to these islands as ‘the British Isles’, including all of Ireland. Okay then, if that is the case Irish/Gaelic is an ancient ‘British’ language, predating the present political troubles and strife by millennia. Surely it deserves some recognition by Unionists if they respect the ancient cultures of this family of ‘Pretanic Isles.’

  • An Lochlannach

    SMS wrote: poor old Máirtín Ó Muilleóir gets blamed for every thing, even conjuring up cultural bullets to fire at unionists in the 70’s when he was plain Marty Millar and still at school. have another think lochlannach.

    Well I got the date wrong – it probably was the 80’s – but the publication was called (I think) ‘Learning Irish’, was published by Roinn an Chultuir, Sinn Féin and contained an article by Máirtín Ó Muilleoir. We’d have to track it down to check if Máirtín did actually write those famous words – or we could ask him. I remember it being quoted on a TV documentary about the Irish revival in Belfast – which is probably the source of its notoriety.

    I mentioned the quote not to harass Ó Muilleoir but to put in context the remarks made by Beano. The ‘bullet’ remarks were the sentiments of one political activist. Beano and others elevate them into the manifesto of every Irish speaker in the country. That’s my point.

  • Frank Sinistra

    AnL,

    A correct use of google will reveal all. You are wrong. The author keeps getting referred to as a prominent shinner I’ll be surprised if anyone has ever heard of him.

    Padraig xxxx go on, you can google it yourself.

    Mairtin wrote the foreword to the pamphlet.

  • Darren Mac an Phríora

    Perhaps we should settle for an Irish language strategy- not act. But automatic translation should be made available in the Assembly.

  • Nevin

    Gréagóir O’ Frainclín, mind your Ps and Qs ;)

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Turgon

    Interesting post. I think the unionist attitude towards the Irish language is less homogenous than some would like us to believe though – at present I know a handful of people who are learning Irish at night classes, and two or three of them I happen to know are Protestants.

    Not that their religion is either here or there, but I would make the point that while undoubtedly many unionists cannot separate Irish speaking with violent republicanism, it only takes the most cursory scratching of the surface for anyone, including some fairly hardline unionists, to realise that this is an unfair and inaccurate notion.

    I think the vast majority of unionists are potential Irish-speakers. This may seem wildly optimistic, but it has simply been my experience (as in, my real-life experience, which is how I know most unionists, as people, aren’t anything like the visceral bigots and anti-social lunatics I see on TV politically representing them) that the vast majority of unionists are reasonable, sociable people. Just like any other kind of people really. And there’s always a minority that is basically curious, that likes to be intellectually challenged and stimulated – which translates as many thousands of unionists – that might find in the Irish language something to inspire them. Enough for a north Antrim Gaeltacht, I’d say!

    Of course some will always be dour bigots who would rather eat grass than decommission their hatred, but you always get people like that in any walk of life. Some people just can’t be reached, but that’s their loss.

    I suppose what Irish language activists have to do is help more of those curious, intellectually restless unionists to scratch the surface of assumption.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    How to do this? Perhaps this is somewhere where any new northern-organised Fianna Fáil might have an important role to play. Someone like Eamon O Cuiv is an interesting figure – he’s about as hardline a pro-Gaeilge figure as there is on this island, but he’s also someone who has given both barrels to SF on countless occasions. (And if FF do come north, undoubtedly will again.)

    As in, if FF set up in the north it’d be quite possible to see Sinn Féin getting a roasting on the canvas, in the councils and across the Assembly floor IN IRISH. I think that might be one way in which unionists misconceptions about Irish might be dispelled.

    Wouldn’t it be interesting, a few years down the line, if you had a Fianna Fáil representative (who might happen to be a Protestant – perhaps a member of the new east Belfast hurling club….) giving out yards to Sinn Féin in Irish?

    Mightn’t be as crazy an idea as it seems! As I’ve said before: they’re playing rugby in south Armagh and they’re hurling on the Castlereagh Road – we’re entering a brave new world!

  • http://www.sluggerotoole.com Mick

    sms,

    Sorry, in my memory I had down as 70-80/1. But I’m sure you have it more accurately than me.

  • dewi

    Difficult to see where we go unless at absolute least state schools offer Irish as a subject. Very difficult for many to learn when older (I tried French in my twenties – hmmm)
    People talk about choice etc but the only people with the truly liberating choice are bilingual people who have two windows on the world.
    Reading Kee,s Green Flag at the moment which is great but I know I’m missing something by not being able to read the Irish sources (esp. Re famine)

  • justthoughtidask

    Now don’t try and twist what I said. I said the Irish language lobby should indicate clearly that they are not PARTY political.

    As well, the question has been asked “Who other than SF was going to speak for us”. The answer: If you don’t want to appear inextricably linked to an extreme nationalist/fascist party, then speak for yourselves.

    Yes, of course Barbre de Brun is entitled to work, I cited her as just one example of the SF/Provo/Irish Language linkage.

    Nationalists continually denigrate and insult unionists and expect them to accept it with good grace. But as soon as a unionist utters a few home truths about some aspects of nationalism then they are immediately labelled as stupid/bigoted/unimaginative/etc.

    A smart non-sectarian unionist would by definition want to play fiddly-dee music, gaelic games, speak Irish and be the stock begorra Irishman/woman.
    Such fascist, xenophobic crap – take a good look at yourselves FFS.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Just Thought I’d Ask

    “But as soon as a unionist utters a few home truths about some aspects of nationalism then they are immediately labelled as stupid/bigoted/unimaginative/etc.”

    I’d suggest you be a bit more circumspect when using words like “fascist” – a word you have scattered around here like confetti.

    “A smart non-sectarian unionist would by definition want to play fiddly-dee music, gaelic games, speak Irish and be the stock begorra Irishman/woman.”

    A smart, curious, interested (and almost by definition interesting) person of any background should be interested in the staggeringly rich cultural legacy we have on this island. After all, people from all over the world with no connection to Ireland are.

    A person, regardless of background, who was interested music, wouldn’t refer to Irish trad as “fiddle-de-dee” music. By definition, they’d be music lovers, and would therefore be more respectful of an ancient, vibrant genre. The use of such nomenclature is a mark of ignorance in the user, nothing more – whether that user is unionist or otherwise.

    Nor would a smart, non-sectarian person of any background use a term such as “stock begorrah”. Such 19th century, old-style-imperialist stereotypes exist only in the bigoted imaginings of those who basically despise Ireland and wish this island ill for the future.

    “Such fascist, xenophobic crap – take a good look at yourselves FFS.”

    “Fascist” and “xenophobic” are not synonyms. You should be ashamed of the way you have used on this thread fascism, that great scourge on humanity, as a mere term of abuse.

  • Darren Mac an Phríora

    There is a fanatical element in the Irish language movement though.

  • justthoughtidask

    “But as soon as a unionist utters a few home truths about some aspects of nationalism then they are immediately labelled as stupid/bigoted/unimaginative/etc.”

    Stands as truth.

    Fascist and xenophobic sums up the provos well. Irish language enthusiasts were happy to let this outfit and their fellow travellers and apologists speak on their behalf for decades. While, incidentally, the same outfit were indulging themselves in the butchery of their Protestant and unionist neighbours. By the company you happily keep shall you be judged. A rich culture and heritage indeed.

  • http://hIA OILibhear Chromaill

    There is a fanatical element in the Irish language movement though
    Talk about the pot calling the kettle black….

    It seems to me ironic if not extremely hypocritical that the DUP and other unionists, Just Thought I’d Ask, seem very het up by a comment made by a republican 25 years ago, when the bullets were flying at the height of conflict, a remark taken out of context as it actually could be read that this was actually a call to eschew arms for culture/language.

    After all this week, during the new era of peace and powersharing, the DUP are berating an SDLP minister for cutting off funding for a still functioning, loyalist, paramilitary, sectarian illegal organisation which is engaged in extortion, vice, drug dealing/smuggling, other and varied forms of criminaility, so called community policing including tarring and feathering.

    By the company you happily keep shall you be judged. A rich culture and heritage indeed.

    Indeed.

  • justthoughtidask

    ” Just Thought I’d Ask, seem very het up by a comment made by a republican 25 years ago,…”

    I never once mentioned Marty Miller’s comments. Were you keeping the minutes at the last executive meeting by any chance?

    “After all this week, during the new era of peace and powersharing, the DUP are berating an SDLP minister for cutting off funding for a still functioning, loyalist, paramilitary, sectarian illegal organisation which is engaged in extortion, vice, drug dealing/smuggling, other and varied forms of criminaility, so called community policing including tarring and feathering.”

    Yes, there for all to see, Sinn Fein and the DUP ganging up on an SDLP minister because she is intent on cutting off government money to a bunch of gangsters.

    Birds of a feather will always eventually flock together.

  • http://hIA OILibhear Chromaill

    It wasn’t Mairtin Ó Muilleoir who made that comment. That’s a fact. The other fact is that Sinn Féin are not ganging up on SDLP’s Margaret Ritchie as they are backing her. But don’t let that get in the way of your attack on the Irish language community…..

  • justthoughtidask

    “The other fact is that Sinn Féin are not ganging up on SDLP’s Margaret Ritchie as they are backing her.”

    Rubbish! They slipped it to the media today that they were going to back her, and then joined with the DUP in the executive meeting to try and shaft her over minutes that she and the two ulster unionists refused to endorse as accurate. Martin McGuiness is now saying “…she’s lost the run of herself”. Strangely almost the exact phrase that Robinson is using.

    The new axis of evil, SF the DUP and the UDA.

  • Darren Mac an Phríora

    “Talk about the pot calling the kettle black….”

    You mean? Oilibhear you are a typical, foolish, pro IRA/SF muppet- who also speaks Irish. People don’t take your like seriously anymore.

    If the SF position regarding Ritchie is true, well then SF are worse than I thought. Not surprising, though, terrorists share the similar sick psychological minds.

  • RG Cuan

    TURGON

    Thanks for your comments, i try my best. And the points you put forward are well made and reasonable. The complete opposite to the contributions of JUST THOUGHT I’D ASK.

    DARREN

    Bíodh ciall agat agus coinnigh do thuairimí áiféiseacha agat féin le do thoil.

  • páid

    So how should a Nationalist, non-republican Gaeilgeoir like myself regard Sinn Féin?

    Well, don’t expect us to be automatically hostile! Many SF members are genuine Irish language speakers and supporters. Bairbre de Brúin, Pearse Ó Dochartaigh, Gráinne Nic Éidigh to name but three.

    But you meet the occasional Proddy speakers and they’re just as good. Protestant Gallic and Welshmen are treated like cousins-in-arms!

    As are Manxmen and Cornishmen who keep the faith.

    As for Unionists well what can I say?

    You speak Irish, your an Irish speaker.
    No better or worse than anyone else.

    Poblachtánaigh means republican.

    Aontachtóir means unionist.

    You might discriminate, but the Irish language holds neither in higher esteem than the other.

  • http://hIA OILibhear Chromaill

    I am no muppet, Darren. But then again what would you know.

    Lá Nua reports today that the Culture Minister, Edwin Poots, has decided to axe the Irish Language Broadcast Fund. The report has not been confirmed – or denied – by DCAL.

    It’s worth noting that a Millward Brown survey endorsed the work of the Fund to aid the production of Irish language programmes and a Deloittes report commissioned by DCAL/DFP indicates that the fund is achieving the objectives set for it when it was announced by Paul Murphy in April 04 (this is despite that before the fund started work, its funding was cut by 40% (£12m to be spread over 5 years rather than 3)

    This is really putting it up to SF/SDLP. Can they stop this Mad Bull minister who has set it as his personal mission to undo what little good has been done for the Irish language community since the GFA.

  • AnnaL
  • Harry

    According to Mark Devenport on the day the ILA was scrapped, the scrapping of funds for the UDA by Richie was a much more important event. Seemingly the media and a lot of politicians since then have sought to convince us of this same thesis by creating a couple of mini attention-seeking crises around Richie’s decisions and the preposterous small-town kerfuffle over altered minutes.

    It seems to me that the scrapping of the ILA was in fact of much greater importance than either of these subsequent headling-grabbing events and an effort seems to be underway to minimise the effect of Poots’ profoundly antagonistic decision so as to take the heat out of any reaction to it. It also helps Sinn Féin that such administrative distractions are put in place following Poots’ decision in order to further deflect attention from the fact that after 30 years of war they can’t even negotiate some official support for the language never mind bring a united Ireland any closer.

    The scrapping of the ILA was an event of much greater significance than the one-horse-town waffle that’s currently clogging up the airwaves. I would hazard a guess that a great deal more people agree with me on this than are being represented on this issue by the choreographed media-political circus.

  • Dewi

    As important Harry and very sad – although the content of any proposed Act as important as its existance.
    It’s the court thing that still really annoys me – and that Unionist motion to ban the use of Irish in the Assenmbly – just seems so bizarre in 2007.

  • Harry

    More important Dewi and not comparable. Who in their right mind would compare the right of 45% of the population to have what they consider to be their cultural inheritance officially protected and promoted with a decision about a mere 1.2 million in funding being witheld from one group of proven hard-men? Yet this is precisely the parallel we are being invited to draw, or more so we are being told that the decision over the 1.2 million pounds is much more important than the decision over the cultural expression of 800,000 people. Thus even in the reportage we are being given a clear message about who is in charge in n. ireland and what is and is not important.

    An interesting piece appeared on politics.ie today about the rights of Irish speakers. It was by Seánod:
    “the truth of the matter is that the “enforcement” is usually of English against Irish rather than the other way around. One example from my own case. We sought either an Irish language, or a bilingual birth certificate for our daughter, who is being raised in Irish (by me) and English (by her mother). This would reflect the nature of her identity as a person. When we would not accept the “enforcement” of an English-only birth certificate we were threatened with a fine. We asked for the same rights that Irish speakers (and even non-Irishspeakers) have in the rest of Ireland, the same rights as Welsh people. An English-only policy is being forced on us because we had the misfortune to be born into a part of Ireland where any expression of Irishness has become “controversial” or “politicised” or whatever other euphemism people come up with… Irish speakers in the 6 counties have never really had any sense of respect shown by the state here. That is what we seek.”

  • Dewi

    Excellent post Harry – personal view is that it’s part of the 53.4%’s heritage also…which makes the mindset behind the decision difficult to comprehend.
    For the umpteenth time however a real Irish Language Act would have to go through Westminster to have power over bodies based in the countries of Britain. That’s a technical point.

  • Darren Mac an Phríora

    Poots won’t get away with ending the broadcasting fund.

    An Irish language strategy- which includes automatic translation in the Assembly- will work.

    He will never get awar with ending the broadcasting fund.

  • barnshee

    “Irish speakers in the 6 counties have never really had any sense of respect shown by the state here. That is what we seek.”

    Er Respect is nearly always associated with the word EARNED it is not awarded aunomatically

  • http://hIA OILibhear Chromaill

    I think the establishment through dint of hard work – and in spite of threats of jail and worse from unionist governors and their paramilitary fellow travellers – the Irish language community in the north has built large numbers of schools and has ensured that the Irish language is growing in the north at a time it’s declining in parts of the Gaeltacht, I think that’s enough to earn respect.

    However I wouldn’t like to mention what has been ‘earned’ by unionist politicians with their disgraceful sectarianism and anti Irish bigotry which was on display over the past few weeks.

  • IJP

    I’ve seldom read a more inaccurate article.

    The language was already politicised, and frankly SF would do well to shut up about it. Trooping off to the Brits just heightens the embarrassment.

  • http://hIA OILibhear Chromaill

    I’m heart sore from reading how SF have politicised the Irish language – it’s not nearly politicised enough as if it were it would be higher up the agenda. Imagine SF being accused of politicising the Irish language by a party which is attempting to politicise the Bible -through its insistence on ‘creationism/intelligent design’ being taught in schools as science. Or the party which believes homosexuality is an abomination and that it’s wrong to allow consenting adults of the same sex to share a room in a God fearing guest house if the landlord feels they may use it for carnal purposes.

    Sinn Féin need to shout this one from the roof tops, this is a far more serious issued than the pin dancing being engaged in over Margaret Ritchie’s alleged departure from ‘procedure’.

    The UUP/DUP have disgraced themselves once more. But they are no strangers to disgrace.

  • Gaelgannaire

    Ar scór ar bith,

    Beidh agóid ann taobh amuigh oifigí DCAL amárach ag meán-láe ar Sráid Eabharc, i mBéal Feirste.

    Beidh Poots ar chruinniú ag an am cheánna.

    Bígí ann!