Orange Order, Financial Burdens and the Irish Language

The Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure published the Report of the Consultation on Proposals for an Irish Language Bill on 18th December 2015. It can be read in full here.

Some 95% of the 13,000 respondents were favourably disposed towards the proposal, according to the Minister’s statement, and these submissions are explored in much more detail in the report.

However, a submission from the County Fermanagh Grand Orange Lodge (signed by its County Grand Master, Stuart Brooker) is particularly notable.

The Fermanagh Orange are against the Irish Language being given Official Status in NI. In fact, in their submission they maintain that “Polish should…be given a higher preference for such consideration.

Indeed.

And they don’t like the idea of Gaeltacht areas either. “There are no Gaeltacht areas in Northern Ireland to our knowledge, therefore providing for them is simply ludicrous. We believe that any attempt to establish such areas will simply lead to further disrespect, and suspicion around the whole idea.”

Yet what I found most noteworthy was the recurring theme in the Orangemen’s submission that money is just too tight in this economic climate to be wasted in such a manner.

Here are the Orange in their own words:

On Irish in Courts

  • The cost alone of administering such a system is not practical in times of austerity, when available monies could be much better spent.
  • The financial burden imposed on the system because of this would be untenable.

On provisions to allow Irish to be used in the Assembly

  • The cost of administering such a scheme…in times of austerity is not acceptable.

On an Irish Language Commissioner post being created

  • There is absolutely no need for such a person to put even further pressure on the public purse.

The message from the Orange Order is clear: in these austere times, imposing untenable financial burdens upon the public purse is simply not acceptable.

Got that?

Good.

In November 2015, the Belfast Telegraph revealed that the policing bill for the Orange Order-sponsored Twaddell loyalist camp had exceeded £18.5 million pounds– and it’s still rising.

This is, of course, but one area where the Orange Order’s conduct has proved very costly to the public purse in terms of policing and public order.

Add to that the significant public funds invested in Orange Order events throughout each year.

And, lest we forget, the Orange Order’s new museum was funded with contributions from both the Northern Ireland Executive and Irish Government.

In austere times too….

The matter was discussed in the Assembly chamber yesterday, when the DUP’s Gordon Lyons had this to say to the Sinn Fein DCAL Minister:

 My party has made it very clear that we will not be supporting any Act like that, not only because of how divisive it would be but because of the cost of implementing the use of Irish in courts and in the Assembly and the cost of having an Irish language commissioner.

Without any sense of irony, Gordon’s DUP colleague, Peter Weir, had only minutes previously pushed the DCAL Minister to take action to reinstate funding for musical instruments for loyalist bands.

In austere times.

  • Tochais Siorai

    Fiji is not wrong. His mother is from Rotuma, a Fijian island.

    His father is from Roslea. Ever been there? And from what I’ve heard of Sean Snr, you’d have to be able to run fairly quick if you ever described him as British.

  • John Collins

    I was wrong to say Sean Og’s was Samoan, she is indeed Fijian. I agree some would say Roslea is not British but remember that the Right Honourable, and deeply lamented, Lady Thatcher once said that Crossmaglen was as British as Finchly. So I innocently supposed that Roslea was British as well.

  • Tochais Siorai

    Thatcher said Northern Ireland was as British as Finchley. Not Crossmaglen.

    Deeply lamented. Not by most people.

  • John Collins

    I knew that but I have quoted the old Cross’ thing several times and nobody picked me up on it. I had wrote it so often I was beginning to believe it myself. If fact I was going to write that she had said ‘Cross’, Cullyhanna and Forkhill were as British as Fincley’ but I knew I had no hope with a ‘quotation’ like that.

  • Kev Hughes

    Hi AMG, apologies for the delay with the response but only started a new job on Friday and I’m the office manager (without an office).

    ‘when there’s Irish language protests or parades if they could not fly SF banners or posters so that when we turn on the TV we don’t see the likes of Gerry Kelly, Ni Cullain or whomever with an Irish placard’

    Nice link, I suggest all read it, but again, this can neatly fall into the ‘not accepting SF’s mandate/existence/they’re not going to go away/they are the current expression of Irish nationalism in the North’ bucket that unionism simply refuses to get its collective head around.

    ‘They’d gain that if they’d advanced their goal by making a few small compromises, plenty of self respect in that is their not?’

    Again, why would they compromise with someone you just know is unwilling to compromise. Simply look at the behaviour of political unionism and all of its coat-trailers and tell me whether you honestly think they’re willing to compromise? Plus, why should we ‘compromise’ on that which had been agreed upon tacitly or expressly in the GFA and at St Andrews? What is the hold up and unwillingness to compromise within unionism really about? If your answer is ‘SF’ then see my answer above and consistently about you guys having the problem with accepting SF’s mandate.

    ‘”Votes?” – To whom? If they can bring about a situation that advances the Irish language then why would they lose votes? We know that the DUP et al love using the Irish language act as a way of winding up SF.’

    To other parties of course, SF didn’t just appear, remember it was the SDLP before them and the Nationalist party before them. Nationalism has a way of discarding a favoured party for something a bit harder edged. Even look in West Belfast where PbP took council seat and where many there are very unhappy with SF and how they aren’t delivering on a lot of matters.

    The DUP may be using the issue to wind up SF, but lets also be very honest here, they detest all expressions of being Irish, including the language. You may cite the OO and marching bands as being ‘Irish’ but I doubt they see it that way and clearly, large parts of their electorate agree with them.

    ‘The hardliners will never change but this would make it easier for the not so obtuse to come out of the woodwork.’

    I still don’t buy it, and unfortunately, that’s flavoured by our discussion here. You’re a good guy AMG, I enjoy our discussions here as I think we’re fairly like minded people, but all I see is SF used as an excuse. Think entirely rationally here; what you are asking for is SF to keep schtum and then unionism will budge. Ask yourself, why would SF keep quiet about the Irish language? Ask yourself also, what is stopping unionism from budging on the issue? Is it SF alone? SF is simply not going to keep quiet no more than it would keep quiet about wanting a UI. I see cited so often that SF have ‘politicised the language’ but that’s not true as it had been politicised way before the current SF incarnation ever came along. Ask yourself, do you honestly see the UU, DUP, TUV et al actually softening their tone to the Irish language? We’ve seen polls where unionist voters are in favour of the Parades Commission (please don’t ask me to trawl looking for them) and we know most unionists aren’t beholden to marchers, yet that doesn’t mean their politicians share their disposition and have subsequently changed their outlook now, does it?

    ‘They do for the Irish language what Nelson McCausland does for Ulster Scots.’

    Ah yes, the much maligned ‘Ulster Scots’. I’m sorry AMG, but as soon as someone from Ballymena opens his mouth and talks to me, it maligns itself 😉

  • Jollyraj

    It doesn’t mean a great deal to me personally, since I’ve little interest in the language, but if I were an enthusiast I would be furious that terrorists were allowed so long to use it unchallenged for their sloganeering and gloating over the sectarian murders they delighted in committing. Same goes for the Irish flag.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Jollyraj, as someone who finds a rich creativity in English language literature, I’m enraged that the people who dispossessed one half of my ancestors ( not the planter half…) spoke the very same language as Shakespere, Webster and Chapman. Hey, Edmund Spencer and Walter Raleigh (a brilliant poet and historian himself!) even actively took part in the dispossession, which was rather more sectarian (and genocidal) than anything our own troubles could stretch to……..

    All political people hi-jack culture to attract support, but if you begin to reject any culture which has entirely different frames of reference because of what the political people are doing you are on a hiding to no culture at all. What am I saying, after all this is the wee six!!!!! Culture?

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Old Mortality, if you took the trouble to actually go to the West Belfast Gaeltacht you’d find unaffected exchanges in Irish everywhere in everyday life. When you experience it, instead of imagining it at distance through yellow tinted glasses without the experience, it is a vivid natural environment which is naturally inclusivist and socially exciting.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Want to have an education, or medical treatment….. or any sort of community, or culture………”GREAT, but Pay for it yourself”.

    Actually, if you were to look into how the Belfast Gaeltacht and Irish language education developed, the actually did it without funding, paying for it, and more importantly, life-committing to it, by themselves. Not a critique you can actually apply to the founders………

  • MicroLife

    haha comparing learning irish to medical treatment……………………..FAIL

  • Jollyraj

    One hopes you do not pass on your prejudices and chip.

  • Jollyraj

    It is perhaps an interesting aside to note, then, that but for the long and troubled history between Britain and Ireland you quite probably would never have learned English well enough to read Shakespeare in English.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Oh dear, Jollyraj, I suspect that even in Shakespere’s day my actual O’Neill ancestors were perfectly bi-lingual, if only to fight their case for survival against a malicious Dublin administration. As, through another thread of my family tree, one of my distant planter ancestors father and uncle were engaged in the translation of the King James bible, they might also have had a decent grasp of English as well as Lallans, Latin, Greek and Aramaic. But, regarding at least the first mentioned strand of my ancestry, the advantages of the invaders gift of English may perhaps have been somewhat outweighed by the disadvantages of being singled out for genocide. For one thing, finding yourself in an early grave limits the ability of anyone to actually use the language……..

  • SeaanUiNeill

    https://archive.org/details/makingirelandan00greegoog

    Oh dear, how many times do I have to keep pointing out, alongside poor Alice, that the developing “two people” (Gael and Gaill) culture of medieval Ireland was aborted by the English invasion. Barnshee, you might try reading Brendan Bradshaw’s excellent study, “The Irish Constitutional Revolution of the Sixteenth Century” where his first chapter, “The Medieval Legacy” gives a most accurate image of a deevloping Renaissance Irish culture on the brink of its unravelling.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    You live and learn!!!! I’d thought that the indigenious peoples of these lands had their own languages, but I suppose they may just have developed the English language entirely independently……..

    As my grandfather used to say, “And the King’s a Dutchman……’

  • SeaanUiNeill

    I seem to remember that someone quite authoratative once said “man cannot live by bread alone……..”

    Not much point in having a healthy body if you are simply an automotan without a language in which to formulate any ideas, Micro………..

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Kev
    I don’t think we’re ever going to see eye-to-eye on this one.
    Simply put SF’s association with the language makes it very difficult for us to spread the word(s) of Gaelic and I say this as someone who would like to spread the word(s).
    It’s that simple.

    There would be no flood of repentant unionists but it would start a thawing process of sorts and this thaw is to me a holy grail.

    Once that starts then the rest will fall into place regardless of what the DUP or TUV do.

    I was very hopeful when NI21 started using it on their literature/billboards (and disappointed when the wheels fell off) so now all we have in terms of political association with the language is SF (and some other republican groups probably).

    It’s a curious situation where I use Linda Ervine’s classes as evidence of how some unionists are willing to embrace Gaelic (when I was there they were talking of new classes opening in places like Monkstown and other unionist areas) and conversely some nationalists commentators (not you) see it as evidence of “well, SF can’t be doing that much damage then, all is well”.

    Can I recommend Kev that you take a trip to one of their classes in the East Belfast mission (or classes elsewhere), have a cup of tea and mention the points of this discussion.
    If you aren’t willing to concede that SF’s association with the language makes it difficult for a certain group of people to learn when that certain group of people who are learning it tell you that it’s so then, well, that’s that.

    We might as well call it day.

  • barnshee

    Never tire of pointing out
    Strongbow was invited in– hence no invasion and –being Norman there could be no “English” invasion

  • barnshee

    And the Irish who emigrated to America Australia New Zealand spoke Irish and were understood by all?

  • Kev Hughes

    AMG

    ‘Can I recommend Kev that you take a trip to one of their classes in the East Belfast mission (or classes elsewhere), have a cup of tea and mention the points of this discussion.

    If you aren’t willing to concede that SF’s association with the language makes it difficult for a certain group of people to learn when that certain group of people who are learning it tell you that it’s so then, well, that’s that.

    We might as well call it day.’

    Oh I concede that it makes it hard for unionism to get on board with the Irish language, but I want you to concede that unionism has a neurosis with SF and has become inward looking, obstructive, obtuse and as such isn’t covering itself in glory when dealing with this matter which it is clearly wrong on.

    Again, you are using SF as an excuse here and you decided to avoid answering my points raised. It really ties in with what Chris discusses of unionism being unwilling or simply unable to acknowledge ‘the Other’. Again and again, all hues of unionism simply can’t get their heads around the fact that SF may actually be right about this, that their use of the Irish language is merely inflammatory in your minds alone and would be perfectly normal absolutely everywhere else.

    There is no contrition on the fact that unionism has played a very large part, on its own, of disowning a language that its forefathers spoke and try and place this at the door of nationalism.

    I would love to go to the classes in East Belfast, I suppose I may when back home one day later in the year, but I will remind them all that the excuse of ‘SF members speak Irish so we find it difficult to get others to want to learn it’ is pretty pathetic and hasn’t stopped them from learning it themselves. I will remind them that many of their forefathers turned their backs on the language probably in an effort to disassociate themselves from being construed as ‘irish’ once partition came about and that they cannot complain that those who value the Irish language may not be of the same political persuasion as them but that this does not make the Irish language inherently anti anything.

    I work in Luxembourg, live in Germany, I get a bus or train and I hear about 7 languages. Are people afraid or annoyed when they hear something else being spoken? No, it’s just how it is. If I’m being honest, I actually quite like hearing it, conversing here and there when I can in English, ok German and pretty awful French (don’t start me on Luxembourgish itself).

    You’re in trouble when you start to sound like you’re on the side of little Gregory about the use of Irish by SF, AMG.

  • Jollyraj

    You, personally, weren’t around in Shakespeare’s time, were you?

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Bless you Jollyraj, how should I answer that? It perhaps depends on how seriously you take Reincarnation……or even a serious historical perspective on cause and effect……

    Luckily for me my ancestors were around then, however. But I was around in 1968/9 and had some direct expereince (in the PD) of the centuries long fall out from the invasion and plantation in the ongoing genocidal attitudes of fellow citizens such as Ronnie Bunting Sr and his puppet-master, the late Lord Bannside…..

  • SeaanUiNeill

    My dear fellow, you’ve obviously not spent any time in Irish American circles on the West Coast. You’ve not lived until you hear Irish spoken in the Minnesotta Irish dialect. And Cuman Gaeilge na hAstráile’s work around Melborne and Victoria is an interesting variant on teh normal Australian experience.

    As someone naturally “counter-entropic” (see Ernest Gellner, “Nations and Nationalism” for the term) I’m no fan of the global melt-down into a shapeless “slush-English language” culture that stomps out every other flourishing expression. Why just English?

    And the fact remains, as with here, English is the language of a conquering and genocidal elite that historically dominated these lands by displacing those living there and effacing their culture, and English was certainly not the “first” language spoken there…………

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    “but I want you to concede that unionism has a neurosis with SF and has become inward looking, obstructive, obtuse and as such isn’t covering itself in glory when dealing with this matter ”

    My God yes!

    No trouble admitting that whatsoever old bean.

    There is no contrition on the fact that unionism has played a very large part, on its own, of disowning a language that its forefathers spoke and try and place this at the door of nationalism.

    nationalism certainly didn’t help but it certainly can’t be blamed entirely, granted.

    “I would love to go to the classes in East Belfast, I suppose I may when back home one day later in the year, but I will remind them all that the excuse of ‘SF members speak Irish so we find it difficult to get others to want to learn it’ is pretty pathetic and hasn’t stopped them from learning it themselves.”

    The arguments may seem pathetic but it doesn’t make them any less true, if people give baffling explanations for baffling behaviour then so be it.

    “I work in Luxembourg, live in Germany…”
    My in-laws are Croatian.
    I have to be careful not to use ‘Serbian’ words or grammar when speaking to them and others as for them and their relatively recent conflict they have negative connotations with Serbian despite them understanding 99.99% of it.
    An in-law’s children had to change their surname because it sounded ‘too Serbian’.
    They know I have a bias for some Serbian words on account of language courses I did in the past but nonetheless I have to respect that certain words push certain buttons.
    Sad but true.
    Regarding the spectrum of unionists and the willingness of some to take on the language:
    Imagine unionism like a rev-meter or speedometer in a car with laid back unionists and gaelic students on the low end of the scale and ‘no-surrenders’ on the higher side of the scale.
    As things are now the needle/gauge for Irish language acceptance only goes so high e.g. around the 20kmph mark.
    Were the negative association dropped then we’d see this needle move up a bit.
    Certainly not till the 100kmph mark but certainly a wee bit and that wee but might be all that’s needed to progress things a bit.
    Rather than be frustrated at the obstreperous nature of the car engine and refuse to travel faster it would be better to use whatever tools you have at your disposal and expedite the engine’s acceleration process and increase the car’s speed.
    Right, I’ve started using Serbian language references and car metaphors, I’m out!
    We’re probably going to go round in circles now Kev.

  • Kev Hughes

    I think you’re right AMG, I don’t think we’ll ever see eye-to-eye on this one, but the discussion/debate was a good one and I do appreciate your opinion, you’re on my list of ‘sane’ people here!

    I’ll let you know when I’m next home, would be nice if we could both go and see Linda’s course together, if you’re up for taking a whacko such as myself? 🙂 I promise a pint of porter or other premium drink before or after and I can be vouched by John FitzJameshorse as relatively sane (John, hope you’re keeping well btw!)

    Also, how are you finding Serbian and Croatian? How have you learned them? Was it solely through relatives/in-laws or with additional study methods?

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    You’re on!
    In a farcical ‘completing of the circle’ I find myself partial to Guinness’s imitation of independent porter that is based on Guinness’s original porter.
    Wether Mrs Ervine would appreciate us & porter as an audience is another matter but I’m willing to give it a stab.
    Croatian is as hard as I am lazy, which I believe is the case with most languages…

  • Kev Hughes

    ‘Croatian is as hard as I am lazy, which I believe is the case with most languages…’

    True that. I have found Duolingo of great assistance, but I don’t believe they have Serbian or Croat available yet, though they do have Irish, which always amazes me. Seriously, they had it available before something like Russian, which always makes me suspect that there is always some Irish guy/girl who has the ear of these guys (likewise at Rosetta Stone) and got the project green lighted over admittedly larger languages by usage and populace!

    A pint of plain for you is no problem, let’s stay in touch.

  • barnshee

    Did users of Irish language blow up Unionists?
    Did users of the Irish language shoot Unionists?
    Did users of the Irish language ever do anything to anyone, anywhere, anytime, ever?

    Did the above use the Irish language in court?