Department for Communities cuts funding for the Líofa Gaeltacht Bursary Scheme

Some news just in from the Department for Communities, under the leadership of the DUP’s Paul Givan.

The Líofa Gaeltacht Bursary Scheme enabled at least 100 people a year to attend summer Irish language classes in the Donegal gaeltacht.

The Líofa programme was set up by former culture minister, Carál Ní Chuilín.

The DfC announced the cut in an email from the Líofa office.

It was sent to the boards of the gaeltacht colleges on 23 December.

The report goes on to note the angry response from members of the Irish Language Community;

Representatives from the gaeltacht colleges said that the bursary funding was worth about £50,000 per year, and enabled those unable to afford to meet the cost themselves to spend time at colleges in the gaeltacht.

The president of Comhaltas Uladh, Dr Niall Comer called the move a “blatant act of discrimination.”

“Comhaltas Uladh of Conradh na Gaeilge considers this to be quite simply a deliberate and cynical attack on the Irish language, without any justification nor reason,” he said.

“Our summer colleges are cross-community and disadvantaged children from both sides of the community have availed of this scholarship scheme.

“This decision will directly impact on hundreds of Irish language learners, from disadvantaged families across the north.

“The minister’s decision must be contextualised in terms of recent political events, where we have, this week, seen almost half a billion pound of public money squandered.”

“Cutting successful schemes aimed at disadvantaged children from both communities is not the answer.”

The department for communities confirmed that the programme would not run in 2017 due to the need to find efficiency savings.

This will no doubt put further strain on the DUP-Sinn Fein relationship as they focus on issues of funding within the Department of Communities and attempt to sort out the fallout from the RHI scheme in 2017.

, ,

  • John Collins

    Well your government had the chance to do that at the time of the Boundary Commission and they blew it spectacularly and it would have been the right thing to do. You are stuck with them now, as nobody GB, EU or ROI are going to agree to a partitioning of the island.
    And as regards forcing the ROI, against its will, to accept your highly disillusioned regions, you must remember that the day for that kind of carry on is long gone.

  • hgreen

    “Do you realise there is a whole wide world beyond NI?”
    You are aware this scheme was for underprivileged kids? Travelling abroad for language training might be out of their reach.

    In most grammar and secondary schools pupils start with two language subjects so not sure what you are on about there.

  • Roger

    Entirely agree.

  • John Collins

    Spain, Portugal, Italy,France, Germany,Morocco, Tuisia, Dubaii are just a resume of the countries I have visited. I found most of the people I needed to deal with in all those non English speaking countries had a reasonable working knowledge of English. The fact is the majority of people who emigrate from any part of this island go to English speaking countries and practically speaking how would any 7, or indeed 12 year, be fairly sure which country he would emigrate to, when he would be in his early twenties.
    It also amazes that I never see anybody, North or South, agitating for increased money or resources for the promotion within schools of foreign languages, except when issues related to anything spent on the Irish Language. In fact many of those going on about European Languages are outspoken Eurpsceptics, although you are not one of the latter group.

  • Dónall

    I wasn’t referring to Unionists Jollyraj. I was hoping to shed some light onto why someone would dedicate 1000’s of words on a political blog voicing their opposition to a language that they purport not to be interested in. In other words why do you waste your time? Why not spend that time learning one of these other languages rather than attacking people for choosing to learn Irish?

    Besides, most multi-linguists that I know from this country boast Irish as one of the many languages they can speak. Any other multi-linguists I know would never berate someone for learning any language as they know the years of hard work and dedication that goes into learning a language and they usually have a love and respect for other languages and for the world’s linguistic diversity.

    This is why I doubt the sincerity of your claims and concerns.

  • Oggins

    I think your are missing an important point regarding learning of languages and the betterment of oneself.

    Generally people who learn Irish/Gaelic do so for a cultural reason. To learn more about their culture.

    If we/you really wanted to better our children, then Spanish, German etc would be part of our curriculum in gaelscoil, state schools and R.C.

    What needs to happen is for unionists like yourself to call this out as it is, rather than muddy the waters regarding the business or travel sense of gaelic.

    This purely is a political move, anti irish and done to tightened up the big U support in the DUP, at a time where the DUP are being questioned

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    I should like to point out that if Ulster Gaelic dies out then ‘southern’ Gaelic takes over and Ulster loses yet another cultural marker that differentiates it from the rest of the island.

    So for all of those ‘ulstermen’ who do their utmost to hobble what they see as a SF play-thing a slow clap is in order as they would have played their role in homogenizing Irish culture and eroding Ulster identity.

  • Peter Doran

    The ethnic entrepreneurs of elite unionism/loyalism have always tactically deployed sectarian gestures, policies and disciplinary power to secure their grip on political resources while getting their ‘followers’ to look the wrong way (failing to name corruption/class interests). Paisley did it all his life in order to outstrip the UUP as the dominant force in Unionism; Robinson did it in East Belfast with the infamous leaflet setting up Long as the one responsible for the BCC flag decision; and now we have Paul Givan playing the old orange card in an attempt to provoke SF’s base into a knee jerk response that would only result in distracting from the DUP’s isolation on the RHI debacle. The unique thing about the RHI crisis is that it is a policy- and governance-focused crisis that exposes the DUP’s cronyism/clientelism, which passes for an unearned reputation (hubris) for economic competence. Parties and civil society organisatios across the spectrum must do all in their power to name the DUP’s tactics and resist any move designed to drag them into a binary or default Orange-Green spat in the wake of the RHI crisis. The tactical deployment of sectarianism is the DUP’s comfort zone; their lowest common denominator holding together a disparate band of nihilists. This will be a particular challenge for the UUP and APNI leadership when the Assembly is convened after the Christmas break.

  • Katyusha

    I’m just not convinced that’s an essential part of the fun.

    Of course it isn’t. If all you want is fun and games, there are surely better places to go on holiday. It’s to make the experience of immersing yourself in the language fun and interesting, which is certainly not the case if your only exposure to it is in the classroom. The Irish language might not be the most appealing aspect to the kids that are going, but it is the entire reason the colleges exist in the first place.

  • Katyusha

    If the aim of the Department of the Communities is to avoid subsiding tourism in Donegal, they could always establish their own summer colleges in NI. But wouldn’t this also be duplication of services?

  • Oggins

    Aaahhhha! True! We have already lost the Eastern Ulster Gaelic.

    AG, we are talking about a type of people who have a willing disconnect from any Irish links in their history.

    My only hope there is a growing appreciation from a younger audience from both sides of the divide in relation to history and culture.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    And it goes further down the rabbit hole:
    (If you’re really bored like…)

  • Am Ghobsmacht
  • Oggins

    No I am a fan of your blog. I know of big Willie. My old friends would be from his neck of the wood.

    I think the most important aspect is we cannot and should not deny the interwoven nature of the people of Ireland. To deny the Scottish planters influence is to deny your breath air. Though, what did the englisher planters bring us! ? 😉 I jest!!

    The irony is the Ulster province initial was a heartland of the gaelic culture that allowed the spread into the other provinces.

    I think for the Irish and British people to move on, there must be an acceptance of the past, and the recognition that we must move on. I think it is humorous that the people of the south and GB seem to have done this: Queens visiting, Easter rising etc. Unfortunately the basket case of NI is still at logger heads.

    Personally I honestly believe a new republic in which the Irish British Culture is accepted is the best possible step for all persons on the Island.

    I completely recognise that with SF at charge of this agenda, this will never happen, or at least until generations pass on. Two reasons, one is their connection and likes to the past and PIRA, the other is their far left socialism, which I dont always agree with. So there is a missing for a middle right nationalist party.

    Ultimately the discussion for a new ireland is only possible in two ways. Significant want from a large party in the south, or Northern protestants becoming political with a hint of green.

    Ultimately the ball is squarely in the nationalists side, and there is significant lacking to bring it forward.

    Anyways, enough of my ranting. What we need to see is a cultural minister and schoolings that teaches our entwined history. The southern schooling to boot as well.

    You dont know where going unless you know where you came from!!

    Anyway, I always enjoy your blogging and posts. Keep them up.

  • Jollyraj

    “I think your are missing an important point regarding learning of languages and the betterment of oneself.”

    I’m really not, as even a quick reading of my posts should show. Just in case, please see below.

    “Generally people who learn Irish/Gaelic do so for a cultural reason. To learn more about their culture.”

    Agreed. Wholehearedly so.

    My points:

    1. Learning any language is a fantastic investment – but it is an investment.
    2. Learning Irish is also, therefore, a great investment.
    3. In terms of which languages to learn, there are others with higher benefits – in that there are whole countries where people actually speak them.

  • Jollyraj

    “I was hoping to shed some light onto why someone would dedicate 1000’s of words on a political blog voicing their opposition to a language that they purport not to be interested in. In other words why do you waste your time? Why not spend that time learning one of these other languages rather than attacking people for choosing to learn Irish?”

    Perhaps you can show me a quote where I have ‘attacked’ people for choosing to learn Irish. If you’d like to save time, I haven’t – which I hope you will have the good grace to acknowledge.

    Which of my claims do you doubt? That I speak several other languages, perhaps? Well, if that is what you mean we are online – so there’s nothing I could really do to prove it so I suppose you can doubt all you like.

  • Jollyraj

    “The fact is the majority of people who emigrate from any part of this island go to English speaking countries”

    Hmmm….you think lack of language skills (even for those who do have a couple of focal 🙂 ) might be a barrier at all??

    “and practically speaking how would any 7, or indeed 12 year, be fairly sure which country he would emigrate to, when he would be in his early twenties.”

    My point – it’s about giving kids options, JC. You and I agree on next to nothing – though I have a degree of respect for your contributions – but we’ll surely agree on this: no child in the world is going to emigrate to a country where everyone speaks Irish. Thus, as I’ve patiently tried to point out to a few posters who seemingly have very little truck with the real world, it is patently less useful to learn than French, Spanish, Albanian, Mandarin, Russian, Japanese etc etc etc….

  • Oggins

    but to be fair Irish Language is the Media Studies of secondary education – really… very poor. You wholeheartedly agree on the cultural aspect. Not really telling in that statement.

    As I highlighted those who learn irish do it for a cultural benefit and now for a business or travel aspect. We agree. Good its been a while.

    Now on to the other points, if languages were thar important to the development of our kids, they would be pushed in school. There not, but the inadequate schooling is not the point. Your not exactly calling out for this to be addressed.

    What I would like to know is your view on my last two paragraphs above? I feel your advoiding the really topic of discussion. If we were to get some unionists voice calling this out for what it is, it would be a step forward.

  • Roger

    It’s a good argument. Must admit. I said before that I’ve been told there’s a Gaeltacht in West Belfast amongst other UKNI places. I don’t know if that’s propaganda or has a basis in fact.

  • eireanne3

    “there are other (languages) with higher benefits”
    That’s your point of view.
    Others do not agree with you.
    Remember the equality agenda we all signed up to?
    Long ago, nearly 20 years ago?
    Learn to live and let live.
    People who want to will learn Irish and there’s nothing you can do to stop it .
    Nor can unilateral cuts be justified – under any circumstances
    Remember the equality agenda we all signed up to?

  • Kevin Breslin

    Firstly a Gweedore person is more likely to spend their money in “UKNI” than someone from “UKScotland” or “UKWales” or “UKEngland” so to be honest I’m not losing sleep worrying about this.

    Secondly there is equivalent cross border funding sourced from the Republic of Ireland to go to West Belfast, Armagh and Derry.

    Thirdly there is an accountable cross border implementation language body agreed as part of the Good Friday Agreement.

    Fouthly the purpose of the scholarship is to fund education not tourism. I could claim expenses to go to conferences in Alaska or Japan as part of my PhD, a bit more expensive than the Donegal coast. Is that ripping off the UK taxpayer?

  • Jollyraj

    Yes. It is my point of view.

    As to stopping people? Nope, I have no interest in stopping anybody from studying Irish. Nor have I tried to. The more who study it, the merrier as far as I’m concerned. if anything, it is a lack of interest that is behind the slow but sure demise of the language. Hardly my fault.

    As for equality that we all signed up for – yes, I do remember that. And you’re quite right – Ulster Scots ought really to be receiving equal funding, given that if anything it is more widely spoken than Irish around here.

  • Roger

    A PhD sounds fascinating. If I’m allowed ask, what’s the topic? I’ve been to Alaska but not Japan. Liked the former but for a trip suggest the latter.

  • grumpy oul man

    Yep. Equal funding for ulster scots. True dialects are important but they cant be compared to Irish or Scots Gaelic, both being languages with rich cultures and long historys.
    It is amusing to hear Unionists claim to be concerned over the money being spent on the Irish langauge claiming it could be better spent elsewhere.
    The money being spent on gealteacht bursaries is less than the cleanup cost of a couple of bonfires or would have covered maybe a month at Twaddell.
    Perhaps enough to run 12 boilers for a year in a empty barn somewhere.
    A quick check of your posting history reveals that you seem to be much more concerned with the pittance spent on Irish langauge teaching than the fortune wasted by unionist polticians via RHI.
    Tell playing a flute badly is not a lot of help in the international job market do you think that the money given to flute bands to buy flutes and dressy up clothes should be stopped !

  • grumpy oul man

    John as the man below says grow up.
    Do you have a single actual case where a child has told his rish teacher that he was british so cpuld not learn irish or that a teacher told any child he was not british ( why do i think that you have never ttended a irish language class).
    Some proof please!

  • Reader

    Katyusha: The Irish language might not be the most appealing aspect to the kids that are going, but it is the entire reason the colleges exist in the first place.
    Well – that and the bursaries, of course. Back in my day we had Scripture Union camps, which existed without public funding of any sort, so far as I know.

  • John Collins

    Well I also enjoy our jousts and as Voltaire said, roughly speaking, I may disagree with somebody but I would absolutely defend their right to express those discordant viewers. Anyway there is nothing as boring as talking to people who agree with one all the time.
    However in relation to the use of Irish or lack of it I would like to draw your attention to the case of a young man called Stuart Mangan, available on the net.
    Stuart was a distant relative of mine and a native of Fermoy in Co Cork.
    While the story of this man’s catastrophic sports injury, and how he dealt with it, is widely described on line; what is less widely spoken of is the fact that at 25 years of age he spoke five different languages
    He would have attended the Gaelscoil Dr Hide, in his hometown, where he would have been taught through Irish. It does not seem to have diminished his ability to learn other languages.

  • Neonlights

    Did the letter really end with “Happy Christmas and Happy New Year.” ? That’s worthy of a facepalm for insensitivity / squeezing in the lemon juice to the cut

  • Jollyraj

    I don’t know of Mr Mangan, nor his injury. Certainly my hat’s off to him for his extraordinary linguistic talents and, from the heart, from one sportsman to another and indeed one human being to another, my sincerest sympathies for his injuries.

    I would note, JC, that I don’t feel that learning Irish in any way impedes one’s ability to learn any other language – the reverse is definitely true – it’s simply a matter of how much time one has available.

  • Jollyraj

    “In my experience kids with language skills tend to be good at multiple languages thus benefiting society in the long term.”


  • Jollyraj

    “You are aware this scheme was for underprivileged kids?”

    Yes. And I would love to think that everything possible is being done so that their kids will not in the future also be underprivileged – and I don’t care what their religion or background is. We agree on that (I hope and assume).

    We disagree on whether learning Irish will help acheive that.

  • Oggins

    Jolly any replies to the last two paragraphs?

  • John Collins

    Well I do agree that time is factor. However I feel that at least in the past the manner in which languages was taught did not encourage real love for them. When I started primary schools Irish was ,as some people accurately describe it, drilled to us. The emphasis on grammar was almost insane, whereas a more fun approach to the subject would have yielded. The Gaelscoils, and index mainstream academies, seem to have their attitude and youngsters seem to be happier to learn Irish and index other languages. I also feel the attitude of parents, and in the home in general to the learning of languages is important and of course if the home is to any extent bilingual that is a great start.

  • John Collins

    One advantage in learning Irish initially is that you can remain bilingual by attending an irish speaking group for an hour or two a week, as I have done for years. By contrast most of my Latin is gone, for the simple treason that I never had anybody to speak with in it.

  • file

    Good article on the issue by Emerson today in The Irish Times, but I strongly reject the acceptance of the myth that the Irish language is a nationalist thing, to be compared to and balanced with loyalist marching bands. A language is a method of communication, spoken by people of various religions and political opinions. Serious damage is done to any language when it is seen primarily as a cause, rather than as a method of communication.