False claims of NI apartheid system?

Fintan O’Toole considers (subs needed) Gerry Adams’ remarks on what he claimed to be the Apartheid like conditions suffered by Northern Irish Catholics before 1969.

He begins by laying out the premise:

This could be dismissed as waffle, but it is deadly serious. It has a point. The denial of basic political and social rights to the majority of the South African population was so complete that it forced the African National Congress into an armed struggle. What Gerry Adams wants us to conclude is that the same is true of the situation of Catholics north of the Border. They were left with no choice but to engage in extreme violence and thus the IRA’s campaign was inevitable and justified.

He accepts there were problems:

There was a thick strain of outright bigotry in the unionist ruling class, underpinned by a popular culture of sectarianism. Professional and managerial jobs were filled almost entirely by Protestants. Catholics had the most insecure of footholds on the shipbuilding and engineering industries, and were subject to sporadic bouts of vicious intimidation.

But he goes on to point out that discrimination in South Africa was required by law. Indeed he points out that “the Government of Ireland Act, explicitly prohibited discrimination on religious grounds”.

He goes on to look at other aspects of South African Apartheid:

Were Catholics and Protestants prohibited from having sex with or marrying one another as blacks and whites were in South Africa? No. Twenty-five per cent of marriages in the Catholic diocese of Down and Connor (which includes Belfast) in 1971 were mixed.

Were Catholics denied proper schooling? No. The British taxpayer funded schools controlled by the Catholic church and free second-level schooling was provided for Catholics 20 years before it arrived in the Republic.

Were Catholics prohibited from attending university, as blacks were in South Africa? No. Even in 1959, there were 700 Catholics at Queen’s , and working-class Catholics in Northern Ireland had far better access to third-level colleges than their counterparts in the Republic.

In total, he finds the comparison demeaning to the sufferings of black South Africa:

Putting the suffering of Catholics in Northern Ireland on the same level as that of blacks in South Africa is a hideous insult to the victims of apartheid. But it is also an eloquent expression of a pathological mentality that continues to stymie the peace process.

  • maca

    The following might throw some light on the subject:

    “Hidden Ulster: Protestants & the Irish language” Pádraig Ó Snodaigh

    “The Irish Language in NORTHERN IRELAND” Aodán Mac Póilin

    “Irish Protestant ascents and descents, 1641-1770” Toby Barnard

    “No Rootless Colonists – Na Gael-Phrotastunaigh” is a documentary about the 400+ years of protestant involvement with the language

  • willowfield

    And what do these books say, maca?

    When did English and Scottish settlers stop speaking English and Scots as their “native language”? How come they started doing so again after such a short period?

  • JD

    Hey, Willow. Read them and find out.

  • maca

    Willow
    I haven’t read those books Willow. But other sources I have read highlight the involvement of protestants with the Irish language.
    Your other questions, you’ll have to do the research on that if you’re interested to know the answers.

  • willowfield

    maca

    I’m not denying “the involvement of Protestants with the Irish language”!! Good grief, maca, stay on topic please.

    The issue is Billy Pilgrim’s claim that Gaelic was the “native language” of Protestants. This I am sceptical about. Why would they stop speaking their own language, take up Gaelic, and then a couple of generations later go back to their original language?? It’s not very believable. That’s why I’m asking for some evidence – or at least a bit of explanation and reasoning.

  • maca

    Willow
    Jeepers! I’m on topic. The point is if you reaearch “the involvement of Protestants with the Irish language” you’ll find out about those who were native Irish speakers.

  • willowfield

    OK. Back to square one, then. How significant were these “native Irish speakers”? What sort of proportion of Protestants did they represent? Why will no-one explain? Is it a secret? Why were they “native Irish speakers”? Why didn’t they speak their own language?

  • willowfield

    maca

    You’re saying David Brewster is wrong when he says none of them spoke Irish Gaelic as their first language, right?

  • maca

    Willow
    I would say it is wrong to say none of them spoke Irish as a first language. David might have better information than me though as he would have more reason to research the history of Ulsters protestants. I would have little reason.

  • willowfield

    OK, so how many spoke it as a first language?

    1% 99% 50%

    (This is like drawing blood from a stone! – why the secrecy?)

  • maca

    “how many”
    Davids 05:31 pm addresses that.
    Personally I don’t know how many, probably a small percentage.

    “why the secrecy?”
    Secrecy? Lack of interest.

  • Keith M

    Maca “The native languages are Irish and English. As much as you’d like to reject that it doesn’t change the facts.”. Not a fact Maca, a matter of opinion.

    Native; adj “Existing in or belonging to one by nature”. For more than 95% of the people of Ireland, the native language is English and English only. They generally don’t hear a word of Irish until they are 6 or 7. Then after having been forced to study a language which may be native to the country, but not to the people (a very significant difference) the majority rarely if ever speak the language again, re-establishing that it is not their native language.

    Making false claims for the language, do not help it. Forcing people to learn it don’t help it. The only thing that will help it is to give people a fondness for the language so that they want to learn it. Take Irish dancing. Nobody has ever been forced to learn it, and yet it thrives. Why, because a group of enthusiasts have kept it going and it is seem as a nice extra rather than a something nasty that people HAVE to do, because somebody has decided that against all evidence to the contrary that it is the person’s native language.

    The lanuage should be seen as an interesting part of the make-up of the country and not some nationalist totem-poll.

  • Davros

    Take Irish dancing. Nobody has ever been forced to learn it, and yet it thrives.

    And it’s ghastly IMO. Wigs, wee girls forced into lurid costumes – the nationalist pony club. The language, the literature, the music – wonderful. Even some of the “celtic art”. But the dancing ? Blech!

  • maca

    Keith
    I disagree.

    “may be native to the country, but not to the people (a very significant difference)”

    Native to the country and therefore to the people.

    “defn: native
    2: belonging to one by birth; “my native land”; “one’s native language” [ant: adopted]”

    Is Irish dancing thriving?? That’s debatable.

  • slackjaw

    Congal Claen

    ‘Knowing that the language has been highly politicized, an admission that the need for Irish as a prerequisite is discriminatory against those who have largely rejected (rightly or wrongly) the language due to it’s politicisation.’

    Well, of course it’s discriminatory against those people, and a whole lot more besides. If you don’t want to learn Irish, you don’t get to join. It applies to everyone, whether you reject the language due to its perceived politicisation, or due to its funny sounding words.

    ‘So for the sake of argument, with the requirement for Irish, someone like Stephen Hawkings, probably the foremost physicist on the planet at present would be rejected in favour of someone who scraped a physics degree as long as he has an Irish qualification which he’ll never ever use in the course of his duties. But you think that’s fine.’

    If the foremost physicist on the planet has a valid teaching qualification for the EU, he wouldn’t be rejected. If I recall correctly, you do not have to have an Irish qualification to be a teacher in the Irish Republic, but you must acquire one. I think you are given a certain number of years to do this.

    I am sure that if Stephen Hawking tired of Stringfellows and decided he really wanted to teach in an Irish secondary school, he would have no problem either studying for the Irish exam. Perhaps he would have to get a new keyboard configured in order to type letters with fadas – I don’t know. Even if that were the case, I’m sure arrangements could be made.

    I admit that the requirement does appear to some people as as idiosyncratic, or anachronistic. But many, if not most states have laws, regulations and requirements that seem so. Is this always a bad thing?

    Lafcadio,

    We are probably more in agreement than you may think.

    However,

    ‘Despite the best efforts of l’Académie, French speakers still say “e-mail” rather than “mél”, “fax” rather than “télécopier” and “ok” as often as “d’accord”…’

    I think you are diminishing the role of l’Académie française quite a lot if you say it is merely a gatekeeper against foreign words. Cardinal Richelieu would not be pleased.

  • willowfield

    maca

    Personally I don’t know how many, probably a small percentage.

    So, you reckon only a small percentage of Protestants spole Gaelic as their native language.

    That would make Billy Pilgrim wrong in his claim about Protestants generally. Which is what I challenged him about.

  • maca

    Willow
    “That would make Billy Pilgrim wrong in his claim about Protestants generally”

    It would if I was right. I could be wrong though, Billy could be right. As I said, I have little reason to research it too deeply whereas Billy or DavidB might.

  • maca

    Slackjaw
    “Well, of course it’s discriminatory against those people, and a whole lot more besides.”

    I don’t agree. It’s a requirement in the ROI, and in the ROI 99+% of students learn Irish. No-one is discriminated against, if they reject the language that’s their own business.

  • slackjaw

    maca,

    It discriminates against those who do not wish to learn or speak Irish. All job requirements discriminate – a fact of life.

    The basis for discrimination is the contentious part. Congal Claen appears to believe that the basis is somehow sectarian or political, and I disagree.

  • davidbrew

    The following might throw some light on the subject:

    “Hidden Ulster: Protestants & the Irish language” Pádraig Ó Snodaigh

    “The Irish Language in NORTHERN IRELAND” Aodán Mac Póilin

    “Irish Protestant ascents and descents, 1641-1770” Toby Barnard

    read’em all maca. O Snodaigh has been pretty thoroughly trashed from as far back as the writings of BICO in the 1970s, and Barnard doesn’t really help much about Northern Ireland. Can’t find my copy of mac Poilin (BTW I’m not intentionally mispelling names, it’s just that I can’t work all these accents onto letters with my limited typing skills). Did’nt find much in it, though.

    “You’re saying David Brewster is wrong when he says none of them spoke Irish Gaelic as their first language, right?”…
    what I said was ” their first language was English or Scots”, meaning the language they used in the home with their family, but that shouldn’t be misinterpreted by willow to imply that for some the majority of their conversation in any one day might have been Irish, just as peter Mayle in Provence probably speaks English to his wife but 90% of his outside conversation is French.I’m quite sure that the Protestants in places like Gweedore and Gortahork spoke Irish to their neighbours as easily as they did English to their rector or landlord.

    The point willow intentionally misses is thatit really only matters if you equate language with ethnicity or politics, and while those may well have been appropriate standards in the past (“SHibboleth”)it doesn’t matter now.

    Geting into a fight over this one is pointless, because the UK is full of hundreds of languages, spoken by our multicultural citizens. Go into any police station and the wall has notices in 30 diferent languages more likely to be needed to communicate with a suspect than irish.

    Frankly willow your indignation on this issue is another example of a person who is liberal on the important issues deluding himself that he isn’t by talking tough on a peripheral one. You posture as a supporter of the Agreement yet you’ve shown on this thread that you actually have a quasi-apartheid mentality in that you legitimise the Union by trying to codfy us into two races- the British and the Iish gaelic speaking. If that was ever true it isn’t today, and Unionists should have the wit not to be drawn into a debate on the infantile terms used by Adams in his attempt to identify with every victim race on the planet.

  • willowfield

    DB

    what I said was ” their first language was English or Scots”, meaning the language they used in the home with their family, but that shouldn’t be misinterpreted by willow to imply that for some the majority of their conversation in any one day might have been Irish, just as peter Mayle in Provence probably speaks English to his wife but 90% of his outside conversation is French.

    I’m not making any such misinterpretation! I’m just trying to find out the facts in the face of apparent stonewalling and vagueness.

    I’m quite sure that the Protestants in places like Gweedore and Gortahork spoke Irish to their neighbours as easily as they did English to their rector or landlord.

    That doesn’t make Gaelic their “native language”, as claimed by Billy P. Any more than, to use your analogy, the “native language” of the retired Englishman in Provence is French.

    The point willow intentionally misses is thatit really only matters if you equate language with ethnicity or politics, and while those may well have been appropriate standards in the past (“SHibboleth”)it doesn’t matter now.

    I’m not missing the point, either intentionally or by accident. I’m just trying to find out the facts.

    Geting into a fight over this one is pointless, because the UK is full of hundreds of languages, spoken by our multicultural citizens.

    I’m not getting into a fight. I’m trying to find out the facts.

    Frankly willow your indignation on this issue is another example of a person who is liberal on the important issues deluding himself that he isn’t by talking tough on a peripheral one.

    Sorry? I’m not indignant, except perhaps at the reluctance of people to share their knowledge on the subject. It doesn’t matter to me politically whether Protestants spoke Gaelic or not. It wouldn’t matter to me whether they spoke Gaelic up until 1970 and then switched to English. But it does matter to me that I know the truth. If they didn’t speak Gaelic as their “native language” then it is wrong to say or imply that they did.

    You posture as a supporter of the Agreement yet you’ve shown on this thread that you actually have a quasi-apartheid mentality in that you legitimise the Union by trying to codfy us into two races- the British and the Iish gaelic speaking.

    Stop talking nonsense. At no point have I ever indicated such a view. Please retract the accusation.

    It is ironic that you make this accusation, given an earlier argument we had in which you haughtily dismissed by unionism because it wasn’t grounded in Protestantism among other abitrary qualifications (conservatism being another).

  • maca

    Slackjaw
    “It discriminates against those who do not wish to learn or speak Irish. All job requirements discriminate – a fact of life.”

    Ok. I don’t really call that discrimination though I see what you’re saying

    David,
    Good books? Are they worth reading?

  • davidbrew

    come on willow, you’ve expended half the internet on blanket rebuttal and unrealistic demands for a standard of proof on a matter that you don’t care about!

    I’m entitled to my analysis of your motives for that viewpoint, and you’re entitled to yours, but I’m not going to be lectured by someone who’s world view stops at Tullycarnet- I remember being told by you last year that Belfast Unionism was more important tham elsewhere. Others can also form their own opinion of this fixation on who spoke what, when and in what quantities- I’ve simply pointed out that people didn’t fit into litle boxes as Adams claims, and you seem to me to want to agree.

    And as you recall, I said that Unionism was many things, but the strand I identified as the most important was the protestant, conservative one. Hardly a contentious point

  • willowfield

    DB

    come on willow, you’ve expended half the internet on blanket rebuttal and unrealistic demands for a standard of proof on a matter that you don’t care about!

    I haven’t made any blanket rebuttals. I have expressed scepticism at the notion that Protestants’ “native language” was Gaelic and asked for evidence (or reasoning) from those making the claim. If yourself and maca are correct, it seems my scepticism was entirely justified.

    I’m entitled to my analysis of your motives for that viewpoint, and you’re entitled to yours

    Of course. Difference is, I KNOW my motives, you can only guess. In this case, you are wrong.

    but I’m not going to be lectured by someone who’s world view stops at Tullycarnet- I remember being told by you last year that Belfast Unionism was more important tham elsewhere.

    Funny I don’t recall ever making such a claim. And I can confidently say that I didn’t.

    Others can also form their own opinion of this fixation on who spoke what, when and in what quantities-

    It’s not a fixation. It’s an entirely valid and healthy desire to learn. I didn’t believe Billy Pilgrim when he said Protestants’ “native language” was Gaelic, but I didn’t dismiss the notion – I asked for evidence; I asked for reasoning. I remained open to the possibility. The inadequacy of people’s replies meant that I had to go on asking. Perhaps why that is why you think it is a “fixation”.

    I’ve simply pointed out that people didn’t fit into litle boxes as Adams claims, and you seem to me to want to agree.

    I never said, and nor would I say, that people fit into boxes. That is quite opposite to my perspective. You’re barking up the wrong tree.

    And as you recall, I said that Unionism was many things, but the strand I identified as the most important was the protestant, conservative one. Hardly a contentious point

    No, that wouldn’t be contentious. But that’s not quite what you said. You condescendingly attempted to invalidate my unionism because it wasn’t grounded in “true” unionist “principles” of Protestantism, conservatism, etc.

  • willowfield

    DB

    come on willow, you’ve expended half the internet on blanket rebuttal and unrealistic demands for a standard of proof on a matter that you don’t care about!

    I haven’t made any blanket rebuttals. I have expressed scepticism at the notion that Protestants’ “native language” was Gaelic and asked for evidence (or reasoning) from those making the claim. If yourself and maca are correct, it seems my scepticism was entirely justified.

    I’m entitled to my analysis of your motives for that viewpoint, and you’re entitled to yours

    Of course. Difference is, I KNOW my motives, you can only guess. In this case, you are wrong.

    but I’m not going to be lectured by someone who’s world view stops at Tullycarnet- I remember being told by you last year that Belfast Unionism was more important tham elsewhere.

    Funny I don’t recall ever making such a claim. And I can confidently say that I didn’t.

    Others can also form their own opinion of this fixation on who spoke what, when and in what quantities-

    It’s not a fixation. It’s an entirely valid and healthy desire to learn. I didn’t believe Billy Pilgrim when he said Protestants’ “native language” was Gaelic, but I didn’t dismiss the notion – I asked for evidence; I asked for reasoning. I remained open to the possibility. The inadequacy of people’s replies meant that I had to go on asking. Perhaps why that is why you think it is a “fixation”.

    I’ve simply pointed out that people didn’t fit into litle boxes as Adams claims, and you seem to me to want to agree.

    I never said, and nor would I say, that people fit into boxes. That is quite opposite to my perspective. You’re barking up the wrong tree.

    And as you recall, I said that Unionism was many things, but the strand I identified as the most important was the protestant, conservative one. Hardly a contentious point

    No, that wouldn’t be contentious. But that’s not quite what you said. You condescendingly attempted to invalidate my unionism because it wasn’t grounded in “true” unionist “principles” of Protestantism, conservatism, etc.

  • Lafcadio

    Slackjaw – I continue to disagree.. “All job requirements discriminate – a fact of life” this is a red herring – what you are describing as discrimination in all jobs is in fact a requirement that the skill set of the applicant meets the requirements of the job – thus professional rugby clubs will “discriminate” against people who aren’t good at rugby, in favour of people who are good at rugby!

    In the case of the Irish language requirement, it has nothing to do with ensuring a fit for the job, but is an external requirement that has been bolted on to serve a different purpose, whether you believe that is to discriminate on sectarian grounds or as a misguided attempt to protect Irish.

  • maca

    Lafcadio
    “that is to discriminate on sectarian grounds or as a misguided attempt to protect Irish.”

    Or the third option of providing services for a minority in their first language. Many states do this, Canada, Finland, Estonia etc etc. Although, in truth, the Irish way in this case is perhaps not the best way.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Willow.

    “It’s an entirely valid and healthy desire to learn.”

    And the prize for self deception goes to…

  • slackjaw

    Lafcadio

    ‘this is a red herring’

    I was addressing maca’s point. What does this particular ‘red herring’ obscure?

    ‘what you are describing as discrimination in all jobs is in fact a requirement that the skill set of the applicant meets the requirements of the job – thus professional rugby clubs will “discriminate” against people who aren’t good at rugby, in favour of people who are good at rugby!’

    Mais oui. It was the only sense in which I felt Congal Claen’s claim that it was discriminatory could be justified. If it seems faintly ridiculous to you, that is because it is.

    ‘it has nothing to do with ensuring a fit for the job, but is an external requirement that has been bolted on to serve a different purpose’

    Surely it is up to the employer to decide whether or not the requirement is ‘external’.

    The entry requirement to plenty of jobs is education to degree standard, even when very many of them do not require a degree to fulfil the role effectively. The degree requirement serves a different purpose. The Irish requirement is hardly any different.

    Read my previous posts to see what my actual opinion of the present requirement is. I have already said that it is probably not necessary, and that other languages may be more useful.

    If you are hung up on this point:

    ‘Is it discriminatory? – Yes. Good.’

    When I said it was good that it was discriminatory, what I meant was that once you establish that Irish is useful, it makes sense to discriminate to recruit people with this useful skill. Perhaps this should have been expressed more clearly. I apologise for my rhetorical boutade.

  • willowfield

    Billy P

    I see you have chosen not to explain your claim that Protestants spoke Gaelic as their native language, and instead chose to make an insulting remark.

    Why?

    Do I assume from your refusal to explain your reasoning behind the comment that, in fact, you were wrong but are too embarrassed to admit it? That’s rather childish.

    (Incidentally, both maca and DB reckon that those Protestants who spoke Gaelic as their native language were insignificant. DB reckons there were none.)

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Willow.

    What would be the point? It’s a matter of historical record that large numbers of Protestants in the north of Ireland spoke Irish on a daily basis. For many second generation Protestants it was the first language. I think it is fair enough to call it their “native tongue,” though I think it would be foolish to allow the semantics of “native” to obscure the substantial historical reality, particularly when it is so clear.

    I do not have documentary evidence at my fingertips but I do know that the evidence exists to such an extent that no serious historian or linguist disputes it. Books, studies and eminent academics have been cited as having shown as much. I really don’t know how any open mind could remain so dogmatically sceptical. I suppose some people you just can’t reach.

    (I am particularly gratified to have been backed by Davros and Davidbrew on this issue – people whose backgrounds and philosophies differ profoundly from my own, and with whom I disagree almost automatically, yet for whom I have the utmost respect and regard. Ideologically, their unionism is a worthy adversary for real republicanism.)

  • willowfield

    Billy P

    What would be the point?

    It would enlighten me. It would answer my question. It would enhance my knowledge.

    It’s a matter of historical record that large numbers of Protestants in the north of Ireland spoke Irish on a daily basis. For many second generation Protestants it was the first language. I think it is fair enough to call it their “native tongue,” though I think it would be foolish to allow the semantics of “native” to obscure the substantial historical reality, particularly when it is so clear.

    I’m not doubting that some Protestants spoke Gaelic, not even on a daily basis. I’m querying your statement that it was Protestants’ “native language”. Maybe you could define what you mean by this term and that might resolve the discussion?

    I do not have documentary evidence at my fingertips but I do know that the evidence exists to such an extent that no serious historian or linguist disputes it. Books, studies and eminent academics have been cited as having shown as much. I really don’t know how any open mind could remain so dogmatically sceptical. I suppose some people you just can’t reach.

    Disputes what, though, Billy. That is the issue. Because I’m not disputing, nor did I ever dispute, that Protestants spoke Gaelic. I am, however, querying that it was their “native language”.

    (I am particularly gratified to have been backed by Davros and Davidbrew on this issue – people whose backgrounds and philosophies differ profoundly from my own, and with whom I disagree almost automatically, yet for whom I have the utmost respect and regard. Ideologically, their unionism is a worthy adversary for real republicanism.)

    DB said that “no” (i.e. zero) Protestants spoke Gaelic as their first language!!

  • maca

    Willow
    ” maca and DB reckon that those Protestants who spoke Gaelic as their native language were insignificant.”

    I never said they were insignificant!
    I guessed it might be a small percentage but small does not mean insignificant. The percentage could also be much larger than I assume.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Willow.

    Frankly, I don’t believe you are interested in furthering either your knowledge or anyone else’s. The bad faith and intellectual dishonesty that are your hallmarks leave me disinclined to make any effort to take this discussion any further with you. I’m tired of you. Sorry.

  • Congal Claen

    Hi Lafcadio/Maca/Slackjaw,

    I think we’re splitting into 2 camps over this. Maca and SJ think Irish a useful tool for a wide range of jobs. Lafcadio and myself do not. Although I accept that Maca and SJ’s support for the requirement for Irish is out of a love for the language I do not think that this was the reason it was first added. Someone also mentioned that they didn’t think it was a political decision. If so, who other than politicians added the requirement?

    Last thought – how often do you reckon Irish is actually used on a percentage basis for any of the professions mentioned? I would wager it hardly registers above zero. However, I could be wrong and am open to persuasion of the usefulness…

  • willowfield

    maca

    I never said they were insignificant! I guessed it might be a small percentage but small does not mean insignificant. The percentage could also be much larger than I assume.

    OK, I’ll amend my comment to say that maca reckons there was only a small percentage who spoke Gaelic as their first language.

    Billy P

    Frankly, I don’t believe you are interested in furthering either your knowledge or anyone else’s. The bad faith and intellectual dishonesty that are your hallmarks leave me disinclined to make any effort to take this discussion any further with you. I’m tired of you. Sorry.

    It is a poor reflection on you that you would rather engage in personal abuse than engage openly and honestly with me.

    You have failed to define “native language”, which is very unhelpful. Perhaps you are deliberately choosing not to do so in order to impede the discussion.

    In the absence of a definition, I will assume that you mean “first language”. Based on this definition, it would seem that your claim that Protestants (generally) spoke Gaelic as their native language is false, notwithstanding that it was true of a small minority.

    It is sad that you cannot bring yourself to admit when you are wrong.

  • davidbrew

    CG
    In the courts we now have a protocol for busness in Irish and Ulster Scots . I bet that neither is used more than 10 times a year. I’ll bet a lot more that no IRA “non-criminal”(for example) asks for his case to be contested in Irish- even if it’s only in front of a Judge- but especially not in front of a jury. In my profession, it will have no relevance, unlike the case I’m going to have to run soon in Polish with translators provided by you kind taxpayers.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Willow.

    No personal abuse there at all, just an honest statement of my position. I am not here to play the stooge for you. I will not be your fool, or anyone else’s. I am utterly bored by you.

    You have proved time and again that it is pointless trying to have an honest debate with you, so I’m just giving you fair warning that I am no longer going to try.

  • Lafcadio

    Slackjaw – to summarise: we agree that the Irish requirement is disciminatory, but differ over whether this is useful.

    I believe it is not useful for the following reasons, among others:

    1) given that nigh on 100% of Irish people speak English, a requirement to speak another less widely spoken language is redundant
    2) its impact in terms of encouraging Irish to be more widely spoken is negligible
    3) it lends credence to hypotheses of a sectarian agenda

    From what I’ve read, the arguments in favour of it have been.. erm.. over to you! I’m sorry, I’m not trying to be a smart-ar*e, but I really can’t see any actual benefits!

    Incidentally, the degree point you bring up is a false parrallel – degrees are used in this context as a broad proxy for ability or intelligence, and a requirement for one is a means to the end of matching suitable candidates to a job role; this is not the case for the Irish language requirement – it’s kind of like somebody passing all the entry requirements for a job as a bus driver, then being told that they have to be able to juggle to get the job!

    (OK that’s a flippant analogy which will probably be shredded, but I don’t care, I’m off to Budapest for the weekend! A night on a bench in Heathrow beckons…)

  • maca

    CC
    “Maca and SJ think Irish a useful tool for a wide range of jobs.”

    Though where exactly did I say this? 😉
    My whole argument with you was over your claim that the Irish language requirement is sectarian.
    In truth very few jobs require Irish. But the reason why Irish is required for such jobs as the Gardaí or civil service is totally different than for teaching, for example.

    “how often do you reckon Irish is actually used on a percentage basis for any of the professions mentioned?”

    Obviously depends where and what job as usage is not equal throughout the country. Except in the Defence Forces where all standard commands are in Irish and used in every unit in the country.

    Impossible to answer really.

    Lafcadio
    Some people appear to not even try to understand the issue.
    No offence, but your attitude is typical of someone who speaks the majourity language. It’s actually very simple to understand that not 100% of the people have English as a first language, even though they may have it as a second language.
    Put yourself in minority shoes, wouldn’t you feel you deserve equality simply by being able to speak your own language in your own country? That is the whole point of the Irish language requirement with the Gardaí, to try to provide services for all citizens in their own language.

  • maca

    Davros, concerning your earlier point about developing Irish language skills in the Gardaí, did you know there is actually an Irish Language Development Unit in the Gardaí?

  • Lafcadio

    maca – I’m not sure that I don’t understand the issue, actually! You speak as someone who is obviously passionate about the language, which is a credit-worthy thing; and I’m not saying that the language shouldn’t be cherished, I said that earlier, but a blanket requirement for every public sector employee to speak the language is not a good way to do it.

    A more flexible regime, whereby applicants in areas where Irish is widely spoken were advised that “..command of the Irish language is preferred..” would be understandable; but the current system is an example of a blunt policy tool trying to do a delicate job, and it has next to no practical benefits.

  • Davros

    Davros, concerning your earlier point about developing Irish language skills in the Gardaí, did you know there is actually an Irish Language Development Unit in the Gardaí?

    I didn’t – thanks maca.

  • slackjaw

    Congal Claen, Lafcadio

    CC

    ‘I think we’re splitting into 2 camps over this. Maca and SJ think Irish a useful tool for a wide range of jobs.’

    Nice bit of binary opposition there. By the way, I never said nor implied that it was a useful tool for a wide range of jobs.

    ‘Although I accept that Maca and SJ’s support for the requirement for Irish is out of a love for the language’

    maca can speak for himself, but I don’t love Irish any more than I love French or English. I entered this discussion to point out that Irish has its benefits and practical uses in the jobs cited, which it does.

    The extent to which you believe these uses are important is another matter entirely, and you are free to make up your own mind without any prompting from me on the matter.

    Lafcadio

    ‘I believe it is not useful for the following reasons…..’

    Good for you. Buenas noches, buen viaje y buen fin de.

  • maca

    Lafcadio
    “but a blanket requirement for every public sector employee to speak the language is not a good way to do it.”
    “…Irish language is preferred…”

    The point is, I believe, that the state is committed not only to promoting the language in every aspect of life but also to providing services in Irish if and when required to all citizens.
    We do have a language minority in this country and they have every right to be able to use their language in every aspect of their lives. And rightly so, in my opinion.
    You’re right, the current way to do it is perhaps not a good way (bit of a failure really) but a flexible system where Irish is simply “preferred” is next to useless if you need to provide services through the language.
    We need to learn from other countries about how to do it. eg Swedish in Finland, French in Canada und so weiter…

  • willowfield

    Billy P

    No personal abuse there at all, just an honest statement of my position. I am not here to play the stooge for you. I will not be your fool, or anyone else’s. I am utterly bored by you. You have proved time and again that it is pointless trying to have an honest debate with you, so I’m just giving you fair warning that I am no longer going to try.

    If you can’t stand over your statements, you shouldn’t make them. Your smokescreen of schoolmasterly condescension doesn’t work.

    In the ongoing absence of a definition, the assumption remains that, by “native language”, you meant “first language”. Based on this definition, it would seem that your claim that Protestants (generally) spoke Gaelic as their native language is false, notwithstanding that it was true of a small minority.

    If this assumption is wrong, you are very welcome to correct it.

  • IJP

    There was no policy of Apartheid in NI 1921-72.

    The fact is that contemporary NI – with its state-funded segregated housing areas, state-funded segregated schooling, state-funded segregated leisure centres, state-funded segregated ‘community projects’ etc etc – looks far more like Apartheid South Africa than it ever has done.

    That is the issue – the fact no one is responsible enough to do anything about it is the core reason that the conditions for conflict remain. Until we deal with it, we’re wasting our time.

  • Oilbhéar Chromaill

    It’s a bit perverse to argue that because the Gardaí have an Irish language requirement, they’re discriminating against Protestants.
    First of all Protestants who attend state schools in the South are all taught Irish, alongside their Catholic fellow pupils.
    In the Northern state, the teaching of Irish was not allowed in state schools by a government who would allow tame catholics take the job but heaven forfend should an uppity Catholic thinking himself as Irish or anything other than a loyal British subject get his feet under a high ranking government official’s desk.
    Sure individual Catholics got high ranking jobs – but can any one point to a single Catholic civil servant who gave the Irish version of his name? Is there a single such civil servant now in the Stormont administration?

    There’s a requirement for Irish in the Gardaí for the simple reasons that there are areas in the south in which Irish is spoken and, also, that Irish is the first official language of the state, according to its constitution.

  • Davros

    In the Northern state, the teaching of Irish was not allowed in state schools by a government

    Was it formally forbidden?

  • willowfield

    Cromwell

    In the Northern state, the teaching of Irish was not allowed in state schools by a government …

    Please provide some evidence for this claim.

  • Oilbhéar Chromaill

    Evidence for the claim. Are you serious?
    I can’t at the moment cite you legislation forbidding the teaching of Irish in state schools but my recollection is that no funding was provided by the Stormont regime for the teaching of Irish within school hours. Was irish taught in the school you attended? if not, did you ask why not?
    The bigger question is this: my belief is that Irishness – not Catholicism – is the main bugbear of unionists/loyalists? After all the Catholic church got on famously with the authorities in the north – priests, not bishops, were shot in 1969….

  • Davros

    The bigger question is this

    Smoke. You made a claim that The government in NI did not allow Irish to be taught in State schools.
    Please substantiate or withdraw.

    my recollection is that no funding was provided by the Stormont regime for the teaching of Irish within school hours

    Different matter entirely from a prohibition.

  • maca

    Of course Irish was banned throughout the country at one time. Not sure when the ban was lifted. Any chance it could have been in ’72 when Westminster took over the government of NI, or was it much earlier??

    What was the situation in Scotland? A Scottish acquaintance claims Gaelic was banned in Scotland until not that many years ago. True or False or ?

  • Davros

    Of course Irish was banned throughout the country at one time.

    I’m not convinced by this sweeping claim in respect of NI maca. One member of my family learned Irish quite openly in NI during the sixties.

    p.s- it’s heresy to call NI a country 😉

  • Davros

    Which priests were shot in 1969 in NI OC ?

  • maca

    Davros
    “I’m not convinced by this sweeping claim in respect of NI maca.”

    Well the sources i’ve read clain Irish was totally banned in school when the national school system was formed (1831?).
    How this changed after 1921 & partition I have no idea except that I don’t think Irish was taught in state schools until well after ’72.
    Whether it was banned* from state schools or not during this time is debatable I guess.

    *banned in legislation or simply through a system of denying funding/resources

  • Davros

    I would like OC to justify his claim in respect of times post-partition maca. It may have been specifically banned. But as with a lot of claims by those promoting MOPE it may not stand upto scrutiny.

    Let’slook at a different language – If it turns out funding wasn’t allocated specifically for teaching of Hebrew in schools in the Free State and the ROI would it be appropriate to claim that the teaching of Hebrew was not allowed in the 26 counties with the attendant implication of institutionalised anti-semitism ?

  • maca

    Davros
    You can’t really compare to any other language, it just doesn’t work here. How was the language treated otherwise? Street signs were banned for example (afaik).

    p.s. you can do Hebrew for the leaving cert 😉

  • willowfield

    Cromwell

    In the Northern state, the teaching of Irish was not allowed in state schools by a government …

    Please provide some evidence for this claim.

    Cromwell

    Evidence for the claim. Are you serious?

    Yes.

    I can’t at the moment cite you legislation forbidding the teaching of Irish in state schools but my recollection is that no funding was provided by the Stormont regime for the teaching of Irish within school hours.

    No evidence, then.

    Was irish taught in the school you attended? if not, did you ask why not?

    No, it wasn’t. I assume through lack of demand. One pupil in my year attended Gaelic classes at another school and sat the O-level.

    maca

    Of course Irish was banned throughout the country at one time. Not sure when the ban was lifted.

    Evidence, please. Or retract.

  • Davros

    Davros
    You can’t really compare to any other language, it just doesn’t work here.

    of course it works. There was after all an anti-jewish pogrom, and at least one anti-semitic speech was made by a TD.

  • Davros

    p.s. I’m not for a second claiming that there was institutionalised anti-semitism in the 26. I’m using it as an illustrative example of a ridiculous claim.
    And God knows there have been plenty of MOPE hypotheses … my favourite is that the high % of people with red hair in Ireland is because of those hundreds of years of oppression 😉

  • maca

    Dav, I don’t believe the comparison works at all. It has always been pretty much unionist vs nationalist, catholic vs protestant and Irish vs british in the North. I don’t believe any other language was viewed in the same was as Irish was by the government of the time. IMHO.

  • Davros

    in the North.

    My comparison was with the South- which had antisemitism.

    But the ball is in OC’s court. He could be right, I would like him to provide evidence. There’s been a couple of times here I have withdrawn claims because I couldn’t find supporting evidence. I’d like him to do the same if he cannot prove that the Government specifically forbade Irish Lessons.

  • willowfield

    No evidence then, maca?

    You should retract.

  • maca

    With all due respect Willowfield I will not take seriously any demand to retract from you considering the number of retractions still pending on your side.

    IF you’re interested you could try:
    this essay, wikipedia, essay on national schools[pdf], education in clare essay, ‘Translations’.

  • Davros

    From the first Link:

    The Republic of Ireland is the only wholly politically independent Celtic state.

    I find that dated, dangerous and offensive.

  • maca

    It is, alright.

  • Davros

    The National Schools one looks good- I D/L it for later. Cheers 😉

  • James

    “I find that dated, dangerous and offensive.”

    They have poetic licence

    You guys have way too much time on your hands. No Coronation Street reruns tonight?

  • willowfield

    maca

    With all due respect Willowfield I will not take seriously any demand to retract from you considering the number of retractions still pending on your side.

    Such as …

    With no evidence to back up your claim, maca, I think you should withdraw it. It’s patently made-up nonsense.

    Answer me this: if Gaelic was “banned”, how come it was taught in RC schools throughout the whole period of NI’s existence?

  • maca

    FFS Willow, are you expecting video evidence? The only thing anyone can offer on a WEB FORUM is internet links. If that’s not good enough then stuff your demand for “evidence”.

    “if Gaelic was “banned”, how come it was taught in RC schools throughout the whole period of NI’s existence?”

    1. I said before partition (see my 06:43)
    2. have you any evidence to back up your claim that “it was taught in RC schools throughout the whole period of NI’s existence”?

  • Davros

    They have poetic licence

    I disagree James. The Celt thing may have better press (theme pubs and tacky art) but all I have to do is replace Celtic with a different racial/ethnic classification and it ain’t so innocent…

    the only wholly politically independent Aryan state.

  • willowfield

    maca

    So do you accept Gaelic wasn’t banned in NI?

  • maca

    “So do you accept Gaelic wasn’t banned in NI?”

    Based on what? You haven’t made any case yet.

  • James

    “I disagree James.”

    Okey doakey.

    Don your boogie shoes and ….

    Party on.

  • maca

    Morning Willow, so, have you any evidence yet to back up your claim that “it was taught in RC schools throughout the whole period of NI’s existence”? Or is that ‘patently made-up nonsense’?

    p.s. the claim was actually ‘state schools’ so this discussion is an aside.

  • slackjaw

    maca

    I am not too sure what constitutes a ‘state school’ in Northern Ireland terms, but while unaware of the precise details of state funding for Catholic schools in NI pre 1970s, I think it is correct to say that Irish was taught in most, if not all NI Catholic grammar schools. Both my parents learned Irish in school.

  • maca

    SJ, I’ve no doubt it was taught there. But Willows claim is that it was taught “throughout the whole period of NI’s existence” and since he demands evidence or retration of our claims I am asking the same 😉

  • Davros

    I came across this, which might be of interest, a couple of nights ago :

    “From early in the seventeenth century there were significant numbers of Irish speakers among both Episcopalians and Presbyterians in Ulster, some of these adherents being Irish-born and others Gaelic speakers among the recent planters from Scotland. Over subsequent centuries, ministry in Irish was a constant feature of Presbyterianism, and not only in Ulster: in 1719, the Synod of Ulster had to deal with a request to provide preachers for Scottish Gaelic and Irish speakers in Dublin. The Synod’s interest in Irish was at its highest level in the period 1710-20 when, among other arrangements, provision was made for the publication of a catechism in Irish. If the Irish/Gaelic mission subsequently dropped out of the limelight for some generations, it remained important at ground level, and returned as a headline preoccupation with the ‘second reformation’. Presbyterians were particularly active in the evangelical mission to Irish-speaking Catholics in the second quarter of the nineteenth century.”

    R. V. Comerford. 2003. ” Ireland: Inventing the Nation.” London: Hodder Arnold, pp 130-131

  • Davros

    Incidentally David, Prof Comerford gives Ó Snodaigh’s book as a reference.

  • maca

    Go raibh maith agat a Davros!

  • davidbrew

    Quite true dav, though you should know that the resbyterians of Dublin and Munster have always been a very different breed- theologically and ethnically,with a shameful reluctance to embrace Calvinism and the Westminster Confession; and the Irish speaking missionaries were-and I know I’m in danger of being branded politically incorrect in the way I express this, but I can’t find an easy way to say it differently-not dissimilar to the missionaries sent to India or China , who were taught local languages to communicate with “the natives”. Their times; their attitudes.

    So while you are quite right, before Willow heaves into view with a plethora of pedantry, it doesn’t actually prove that Ulster presbyterians were monolingual Irish speakers though I think you and I agree about widespread usage in rural Ulster in the 17th and 18th centuries in conjunction with English.

  • maca

    “it doesn’t actually prove that Ulster presbyterians were monolingual Irish speakers though I think you and I agree about widespread usage in rural Ulster in the 17th and 18th centuries in conjunction with English.”

    David
    Rather than “monolingual” would you mean” bilingual but with Irish as their first language”?

  • Davros

    I know I’m in danger of being branded politically incorrect in the way I express this, but I can’t find an easy way to say it differently-not dissimilar to the missionaries sent to India or China , who were taught local languages to communicate with “the natives”. Their times; their attitudes.

    Seems even more complicated than that David – the literacy issue makes it incredibly complicated.
    I’m finishing tidying up a scan on a section relevent to this issue and will be sending maca a copy. If you drop me an e mail I’ll happily bcc you a copy. Excellent book.

  • willowfield

    maca

    Based on what? You haven’t made any case yet.

    Based on the fact that you have no evidence that it was banned. It’s not up to me to provide evidence of something that didn’t happen! The burden of proof lies with the prosecution.

    Davros

    significant numbers of Irish speakers among both Episcopalians and Presbyterians in Ulster,

    What does that mean? A few thousand? 10%? I still remain utterly unconvinced by Billy Pilgrim’s claims that the “native language” of Ulster Protestants was Gaelic. The fact that “significant numbers” spoke Gaelic (even as a first language) does not demonstrate that, in general terms, Ulster Protestants were Gaelic-speakers as their first language.

  • Davros

    Why not write to Professor Comerford and ask him ?
    I have found that academics are usually happy to oblige.

  • maca

    Willow
    “Based on the fact that you have no evidence that it was banned. It’s not up to me to provide evidence of something that didn’t happen! The burden of proof lies with the prosecution.”

    Not so here. I was arguing that it was banned and provided internet links to back that up, you asked if I now accepted it wasn’t banned which implies you must have provided some evidence or “made a case” which you did not.
    You’re also making a claim, which is contrary to common knowledge, though have nothing to back that up.
    “The burden of proof lies with the prosecution.”

    The “defence” must make it’s case too.

  • willowfield

    What links?

    (And my “claim” is not contrary to common knowledge. It is not “common knowledge” that Gaelic was banned in NI! That’s a preposterous claim.)

  • Alan2

    “There’s a requirement for Irish in the Gardaí for the simple reasons that there are areas in the south in which Irish is spoken and, also, that Irish is the first official language of the state, according to its constitution.”

    Not for much longer. The requirement is to be recommended as being removed to increase recruitment from ethnic minorities and other sections of the Irish community (ie Unionists / Protestants) where the Irish language is not commonly used.