Why do teachers need Irish in the Republic?

We’ve a couple of Irish language stories on the go today. First we have a this note received from a fully immigrant teacher from the UK, who is struggling to understand why he has to pass a language qualification that he won’t otherwise need in the teaching of this subject. As he points out, if he doesn’t gain the SCG within five years, he will no longer be considered qualified as a teacher.

The SCG is the Scrúdú le haghaidh Cáilíochta sa Ghaeilge, an Irish language qualification that foreign entrants to the teaching profession in Ireland must attain before becoming permanently employed in their jobs. We are not allowed to do Leaving Cert Irish and can only do the SCG.

As part of the qualification, for which we are given a 5 year time limit to gain it (or be viewed as unqualified by the dept of education here!), we are also to attend 3 weeks of Gaelic summer school, again funded from our own pockets. The refund from the department for this won’t even cover for 1 week tuition.

To be honest, I have just refused to do the thing as I feel it is so unjust and discriminatory – a pro-Irish policy if ever there was one – but the union and the department don’t see it that way. I have also written to the Irish Times about why multi-denominational education has to be the way forward in Ireland. I received the usual anti-British hate mail threatening me.

When one thinks of the four corners of the world where the Irish are to be found, why is it like this in their own country? Why are they so against foreigners?

,

  • Maybe I’ve missed something, but I don’t see it as anti-foreign, it’s a qualification that all teachers have to obtain, but foreign teachers take a seperate route; it’s not like they’re not allowed teach in Ireland full stop.

    I have issues with Irish in school, but I don’t fully believe that making it optional is the solution, I certainly don’t think that the situation is being helped by allowing teachers to teach without it (I believe the rule is there because students can choose to study any subject in Irish, and gain extra points for it, so even if you’re teaching Geography you need to know Irish just in case).
    I don’t believe that the language is dead but there’s a lot of work to be done to save it, easing the qualifications needed to teach isn’t one of them

  • barnshee

    Have a good look at equality legislation in the dear old ROI -years behind the rest of europe but I think you might find that the insistence on Irish may just offend equality legislation –recognition of professional qualifications and all that.

    Try waving Fair employment legislation at them (they really don`t like it up em)

  • I don’t think anyone’s qualification is being ignored, but if I went to mainland Europe with my RoI-recognised teaching qualification but without French or German then where do you think I’d get?

    I’m realistic enough to see that the comparison is hardly level and that those languages are used by the majority of their people while Irish is not but scrapping minimum requirements is not the way to deal with that issue, sorting out the curriculum is.

  • Rory

    On the surface the need to obtain the qualification seems perhaps harsh and even unecessary and one certainly feels for the poor fellow. But I think that Adam is right – if the language is to have any chance at all of surviving it is necessary that teachers have the necessary skills in the language to assist their pupils in its learning.

    It is the national language after all not a foreign language which one may acquire or not.

    I now anticipate a few “Well it sounds bloody foreign to me!” type of responses. Bring it on!

  • CS Parnell

    The real issue here isn’t discrimination but efficacy or otherwise of policies to maintain the “First National Language”.

    First thing to say is that the polcies so far have generally been a failure (compare Ireland to Wales and you’ll see what I mean). Welsh is now growing because there is an economic advantage (albeit one somewhat artifically propped up by the state) in having the language.

    Compulsory education to the age of 16 has also been used but it is Welsh medium education (which is a form of selection that the great egalitarians of Wales refuse to admit exists) has been much more important.

    Maybe the answer is to invest much more in Irish medium schooling and Irish language broadcasting?

    That’s assuming we think the state should be doing this at all (it’s a legitimate question – we’ve dumped every other bit of DeV’;s legacy and tf we have too).

  • Aaron_Scullion

    I can’t stand people who move to a country and then object to the law of the land. It’s perfectly reasonable to expect public servants in Ireland to learn Irish. If you don’t want to, then change career or move to another country.

    That said.. this is going to come up more and more as time goes on. Especially in the Garda.

  • Shore Road Resident

    “I can’t stand people who move to a country and then object to the law of the land. It’s perfectly reasonable to expect public servants in Ireland to learn Irish. If you don’t want to, then change career or move to another country.”

    Is that also your official position on Irish illegals in the States?

  • Carson’s Cat

    Aaron
    “I can’t stand people who move to a country and then object to the law of the land……….If you don’t want to, then change career or move to another country.”

    Change the name of the country and it could be straight from a BNP press release. What do you suggest doing to them if they dont take your advice and ‘get out’?

    As for the earlier comparison about teaching in mainland Europe without French German or other language – it is just so far off the mark its laughable. To attempt to teach a class without knowing their first langauge would be like expecting all of the classes in your local school here to be taught in German. The fact is that classes in the Republic of Ireland are all taught in English.

    As for the fact that a student can get extra marks in a subject if they take it in Irish – its outrageous…… So some Irish student can get into a university course which they may well not otherwise have got the grades for just because they happen to be a good Irish speaker and thus got the grades bumped up a bit in their other subjects for taking them in Irish. Lets hope there aren’t too many medical students who have gained entry that way or it would make a trip to the doctors a little more ‘interesting’.

    “It is the national language after all not a foreign language which one may acquire or not.”

    It may well be the ‘national’ language – but it is not one in which everyday business is transacted. There is no need to know Irish in order to do your daily business, and that includes teaching a class. If the Irish Government wants to change that then its a matter for them. I might quite fancy my neighbouring country speaking a different language as their true first language – would help give a nice clear seperation between NI and the RoI.

  • The guy probably feels frustrated. His attitude does smack of telling the natives what to do. When in England, I don’t tell them they are thick because they support a monarchy.

    The problem in Ireland, as has been said, is not the Irish but the civil servants who have leeched off the policy. It has all been an expensive humbug.

    I am currently helping, in a small way, a lady who has to pass the Leaving Cert in Irish to do teaching. She is scared shitless about the exam next June. Looking over the structure of the paper, which puts undue emphasis on grammar, I don’t blame her. As for the reading: Lig Sin i gcathu is there but the rest is pure bs as gaeilge. It more resembles the Latin paper I did for the Leaving that Irish.

    Shore Road Resident: The illegal Irish are a pinprick of a problem there and it has nothing to do with the case in hand. Do you support the policies of the Vatican state? Saudi Arabia? How about Holland where Muslim immigrants have to watch gay guys groping each other?

    Gardai: I think the foreigners may be expempt. How come so many Chinese were on hand to apply for Templemore?

  • irish

    Its all foreign to me

  • Hmm…

    Why pick on teachers? Couldn’t we save the language much more effectively by making Irish a requirement for all occupations? After all, unless you’re actually teaching Irish, an ability to speak it is irrelevant to doing the job in question.

    For those of us who think this is a particularly silly policy of no practical value in terms of saving the language we can at least console ourselves with the thought that it hardly constitutes indirect discrimination against non-Irish teachers insofar as it may as well be a foreign language to most people with HDips in any case…. 🙂

    There’s got to be something dubious about imposing requirements like this which have absolutely nothing to do with the job in question. Why should maths teachers, for example, have to be proficient in Irish?

  • Change the name of the country and it could be straight from a BNP press release. What do you suggest doing to them if they dont take your advice and ‘get out’?

    Comparing it to BNP policy is rediculous, this rule is not exclusionist, it’s perfectly legitimate. Why would you go to another country and then complain when you’re not qualified to teach there?? All he has to do is take the course, no one is stopping him.

    As for the earlier comparison about teaching in mainland Europe without French German or other language – it is just so far off the mark its laughable. To attempt to teach a class without knowing their first langauge would be like expecting all of the classes in your local school here to be taught in German. The fact is that classes in the Republic of Ireland are all taught in English.

    My point is that a history or geography teacher here wouldn’t use Irish 99% of the time, but there’s always the case that they will need it for students studying in Ireland; as long as students are allowed to learn in Irish (which will exist even if the bonus is dropped), teachers have to be able to accomidate them, it’s that simple.
    Irish is the first language of the state, and yes, it’s hardly used compared to English but stripping back rules like this won’t help that, they need to change the curriculum and give businesses benefits for hiring fluent Irish speakers, signing in Irish etc. (that’s my opinion anyway)

    As for the fact that a student can get extra marks in a subject if they take it in Irish – its outrageous…… So some Irish student can get into a university course which they may well not otherwise have got the grades for just because they happen to be a good Irish speaker and thus got the grades bumped up a bit in their other subjects for taking them in Irish. Lets hope there aren’t too many medical students who have gained entry that way or it would make a trip to the doctors a little more ‘interesting’.

    Do you know how the system works? A student who takes a subject in Irish gets 10% of the marks they failed to get going on their actual answers, so if two people of equal ability did one exam, both getting 70%, the one doing it in Irish would get an extra 3% on top… most of the time it wouldn’t make a huge difference anyway, the most someone can get is 6% extra (because under 40% is a fail). Medicine requires huge points, so an extra 3-6% isn’t going to push people up into A1’s in honours, now is it?

  • Shore Road Resident

    Hey Taigs, I’m only stirring.
    For what it’s worth I think if the Republic wants to make Irish compulsory for teachers than that’s their business and immigrants can like it or lump it.
    It’s just that this is not always a courtesy that Irish people – or let’s be honest, a certain kind of Irish person – seem to extend to their own host countries when abroad.
    It’s also not a requirement that could possibly survive in a united Ireland. A little more recognition of that from the united Ireland lobby might make the subject of compulsory Irish for the sake of the nation a little less laughable north of the border.

  • Carson’s Cat

    Adam
    “Why would you go to another country and then complain when you’re not qualified to teach there??”

    Because the ‘qualification’ he needs is in no way, shape or form related to his ability to teach. It is an exclusionist policy which could be construed as an attempt to keep the ‘foreigners’ out.

    As for the getting extra marks in other subjects if you take the subject in Irish – I dont care if you get 1% extra or 99% extra. It all means that your final score isn’t calculated on your understanding of the subject in hand and ability to express that understanding but is increased because of your knowledge of another, unrelated subject.

  • Because the ‘qualification’ he needs is in no way, shape or form related to his ability to teach. It is an exclusionist policy which could be construed as an attempt to keep the ‘foreigners’ out.

    It’s not exclusionist, ‘foreigners’ and ‘natives’ have to have a good level of Irish to teach; you need to have at least a C in Honours Irish LC to teach, or else this qualification (and a C in honours LC irish is pretty much fluent). ‘Foreigners’ are just as welcome to teach as Irish people, they can’t be given special get-outs though.
    And as I said, this does effect his ability to teach should a student of his wish to be thought in Irish; he may be the best teacher in the world but he’s no good to that student in that circumstance.

    As for the getting extra marks in other subjects if you take the subject in Irish – I dont care if you get 1% extra or 99% extra. It all means that your final score isn’t calculated on your understanding of the subject in hand and ability to express that understanding but is increased because of your knowledge of another, unrelated subject.

    I can see your point, but frankly I don’t think the bonus given is significant enough to worry about; you could also argue the point that being fluent in Irish is indeed a relevant subject, a doctor who can speak Irish has a (albeit slighty) wider range of choices in the place they work, just like a shop manager, journalist etc. etc., teacher too.

  • pid

    The frustrated applicant should respect the rules of the country of which he decided to move to.

    This rule, and many others, are not secret.

    Dragging racism into it is pathetic, as long as it remains open to a member of any race to learn any language.

  • Carson’s Cat

    I am actually somewhere close to the position of Shore Road Resident.

    I dont particularly care if the Irish Government decides that unicycling is a pre-requisite for anyone wanting any particular job in the public sector in Ireland. They can put Latin as a requirement – its a matter for them if they want to discourage qualified and able people from coming to the country and applying for jobs because they dont happen to meet some trumped up requirement. Let them come to Northern Ireland and educate the pupils here – in exactly the same language as they would be doing so south of the border.

    However, I just want to make the point that if there was anything remotely similar to this piece of legislation in place in Northern Ireland then we would be hearing booming Irish voices supposedly coming from the high moral ground telling us how discriminatory we are.

    If Irish people want to lecture us about rights and discrimination then all well and good – but get your own house in order first.

  • gg

    When the all-Ireland republic finally comes about, I wonder if teachers in the current Northern Ireland will be given the ultimatum of learning Irish or losing their job. Will Ulster Scots speakers get equal treatment and lots of extra marks?

    I think that the Republic we all know today (and its language policy) might be a bit different from an eventual all-island one!

  • Irish/Education: Fact is, HDips and Dip Eds and the rest are useless. A friend of mine who teaches in the HDip programme at Trinity told me, some time ago, none of the Education Dept lecturers there are qualified to teach school at any level. Teaching is applied and university lecturers need nothing, just a bunch of publications, which no one reads.
    This whinging Pom should stfu, knuckle down and do the exam.
    The usefullness of the exam is another matter. The biggest winners, besides the politicians and
    property developers, have been the clueless civil servants to whom Gaeilge is just another tool to feather their nests.

    Shore Road
    1. Irish illegals Stateside are in no worse a situation than any other ilegals there. Let them paddle their own canoes. Also, they should not be used to justify illegals into Ireland. Do the crime, risk the time. There are 6,000 on the lam in Ireland right now. Also the ilegal Irish lobby tried to hijack the Morrisson visas etc. They are not the only victims of society/the world/the Great Satan etc.
    2. Irish is not laughable among the Taigs north of the border and most Prods are indifferent to/ignorant of it. The problem is in the South’s leaders which have long tried to use it as a nationalist figleaf. If the Prods want something to laugh/sneer at from the South, they should leave the language alone and maybe go for, off the top of my swelled head:

    1. McDowell and Hsrney fighting for leadership of PDs.
    2. Sinn Fein having the least articulate TDs in Leinster House, a place noted for its lack of eloquence and grace.
    3. The FAI, a walking joke.
    4. The Dart. Traffic snarl ups.
    5. RTE and the printed media.
    6. Irish soapies in English (Ros na Run, the Irish one is easily the best).
    7. Do the next 5,000,000 yourself. (easy job)

  • lillybill

    On the Gardaí –
    The Irish language requirement for Gardaí has been removed. The new rules stipulate that recruits must have attained Leaving Cert results in two languages, one of which must be Irish or English. This allows for ‘native’ Irelanders to have both English and Irish, and non-natives can qualify with English or Irish plus their mother tongue.

    From http://www.garda.ie
    Candidate must have obtained, in the Leaving Certificate Examination:
    (a) A grade not lower than B3 at Foundation Level or D3 at another level in Mathematics, and
    (b) A qualifying grade in two languages, one of which must be English or Irish, as follows:
    English: a grade not lower that D3 at Ordinary Level,
    Irish : a grade not lower than C3 at Foundation Level or D3 at another level,
    Other language : a grade not lower than D3 at Ordinary Level, and
    (c) A grade not lower than D3 at Ordinary Level, in not less than two other subjects
    Or
    The Merit Grade in the Applied Leaving Certificate,
    Or
    Like Grades in another examination, which, in the opinion of the Minister for Justice, Equality& Law Reform, is not of a lower standard than the above.

  • john

    why do the northern irish hate gaelic so much. If britishness is truly so inclusive of us all Scots, English, Welsh and Irish as you Northern Irish claim, why this hatred of the ‘Celtic languages’ (whatever Celtic means). Welsh and gaelic and english are all BRITISH languages. But of course for some of you Britishness isn’t inclusive, is it? Britishness actually means Englishness
    English Parliament, English Monarch, English language and customs. Hence the banning of the use of the celtic languages in schools in the 1880’s, and the effective Anglicisation (sp?) of the UK. Its everyone’s loss if we become a monoculture! Britishness should be more than that.

  • Thanks for that lillybill; I was under the impression that the entry requirements were as you say, but that people without Irish would take extra classes while training in Templemore; I could be wrong though (the reason I think it’s the case is because I’m sure I saw it on RTÉ news and laughed at the fact that Polish/Chinese etc. nationals residing and working here could end up with a better grasp of the language than myself!)

  • blandy

    John

    A good point – it is notable (and somewhat ironic that the only advocates of gealic from within unionism have come from the UVF ! – Spence & Ervine, spence i believe actually speaks it).

    I think is simply because it has become associated with Irish Republicanism and the IRA. Conversely AOH lodges used to play lambegs until the 20’s/30’s when they stopped because they were seen as a ‘prod’ drum.

  • CC
    “If Irish people want to lecture us about rights and discrimination then all well and good – but get your own house in order first.”

    Our house is in order. There’s no discrimination here, the rules apply to everybody. Dropping the requirement for foreigners would be discriminating against locals.

    I presume this teacher is a Secondary teacher? Anyone know? I think the rules for Secondary school teaching could be relaxed … for all applicants.
    However for Primary teaching the rule must remain, after all I only want competent teachers teaching my kids and if they can’t even pass a test such as this they ain’t able to teach.

  • Ash

    This rule should be dropped for anyone wishing to teach. How will a physics teacher fluent in Irish help to keep the language alive? It does appear to be discriminatory to people who didn’t grow up learning the language and since they wouldn’t actually be communicating in Irish at any point (unless they want to teach the language) as long as they are qualified in their own subject, that should be enough.

  • Ash

    I meant to say, I’m talking about secondary school teaching only. An Irish language qualification should be required to teach at primary level.

  • Brian Boru

    I see this as part of the integration process for new arrivals. Sorry.

  • Harry

    By the sounds of this whinging teacher from britain I’m glad he’s pissed off and decided not to do it. Who is he to say we must accomodate him and his prejudices? He is clearly clueless about the reasons for the rules or is so dismissive of them that he thinks they should be overruled in line with the diktats of his narrow mind.

  • Harry

    In fact the attitude of this teacher shows up something one comes across frequently. It’s to be seen in the quizzical look on english people’s faces when they’re in ireland. A certain unsureness, a kind of gentle perplexity and lack of familiarity which the english find difficult to compute.

    The reason for this is because they think ireland should be like britain but are thrown off balance when they find it’s actually a foreign country. The attitude of the teacher perfectly reflects the arrogance and cluelessness of the traditional british mind when dealing with ireland.

  • Keith M

    There a few points here. Firsly the are thousands of state employees that are in jobs that do not require a knowlege of Irish Gaelic, doctors, nurses and (recently) police do not need to pass an exams to do their jobs, and all depend interaction with the public to do their jobs.

    Education is a bit more tricky. Irish Gaelic is taught at primary level, and therefore everyone who wants to teach must have a knowledge of the language.

    Secondary teachers are very different. Here there is specialization, so there should be no requirement for a knowledge of Irish Gaelic unless you are teaching the language itself. The idea that you need to know Gaelic to teach English, Maths, a science, geography etc., is frankly nonsense.

    Obviously schools that teach other subjects through Irish Gaelic would be an exception.

  • Crataegus

    When I read threads like this I ask, “do they really want a united Ireland?”

  • Harry

    The point is to preserve what remains of the language and defend the dying embers of a culture that the british have made every effort to destroy as part of their colonisation. The language is now at its lowest point than at any time during the last 2000 years. It contains the earliest vernacular literature in europe, the laws and history of our people and is the greatest defining characteristic of a nation. The majority of people only stopped speaking it 150 years ago, after the british gave us the famine as part of their strategy to destroy us.

    I frequently see programmes on british TV that talk about their history from 200, 300, or 400 years ago; that talk about Elizabeth I, Shakespeare, Henry VIII or Chaucer. By contrast, the english-speaking Irish can only read back 150 years in their own culture before they must stop before (what to them is) a blank wall of irish. The doorway to the history and thought of their own forbears is closed. Beyond that, the ‘Irish’ culture accessible to them consists of Swift, Edmund Burke and the writings of the United Irishmen. Perhaps our believing that irish republicanism has its roots in Tone and the Dissenters comes largely from the fact that we know little about the writings, actions and thoughts of the gaelic-speaking majority from around that time.

    In any case, those who wish to see the end of the irish language, who object to it as an ‘imposed’ republican narrative or who want rules relaxed to suit their own anglo-viewpoint are ignorant of what exactly they are trying to kill. One also feels they are spitting on the graves of their own not-so-distant relatives.

    We may be able to save the language, even at this late hour. But the whinging self-concerned warblings of another brit blow-in don’t figure too greatly in the larger scheme of defending our culture.

  • J McConnell

    Harry

    > By contrast, the english-speaking Irish can only read back 150 years in their own culture before they must stop before (what to them is) a blank wall of irish….etc.etc

    Some problems with your narrative. Firstly, none of the cities and almost none of the towns in Ireland were founded by Irish speakers. They have been Old Norse, Norman English, Middle and Modern English speaking over the last thousand odd years. Large parts of the South and Eastern part of Ireland have probably been minority Irish speaking for most of the last thousand years, as has has most of Ulster for almost 400 years. So the culture of the English speakers in Ireland is the full patrimony of English literary culture. The Faerie Queene of Edmund Spenser, which was mostly written in Cork more than 400 years ago, is a much a part of the culture of English speaking Irish as James Joyce’s Ulysses, which was mostly written in Trieste almost one hundred years ago.

    Secondly, literature of high literary merit in Irish pretty much died out in the early 17’th century, when the supporting culture collapsed. Leaving Cert Irish will not get you very far when trying to read and appreciate some of the wonderful literary works written in Middle and Old Irish.

    As for spitting on the graves of my relatives – big deal. My recent ancestors of several hundred years ago abandoned speaking Irish for economic and cultural reasons, just like my very distant relatives abandoned speaking whatever hamito-semitic language was current in Ireland more than 2000 years ago to start speaking the proto-Celtic language of the invading Iron Age settlers. Should I spit on my distance ancestors graves because they abandoned their native language for some foreign import ‘forced’ on them by an invading ruling class – in this case proto-Celtic?

  • Daniel ÓConnell loathed the Irish language, seeing it as backward & uncouth.

    wouldn’t a compulsory knowledge of an Eastern European/baltic states language be more appropriate ?

  • “Daniel ÓConnell loathed the Irish language, seeing it as backward & uncouth.”

    Good for him.

    “wouldn’t a compulsory knowledge of an Eastern European/baltic states language be more appropriate ?”

    Such utter nonsense that we’ll assume you’re taking the piss.

  • Keith M

    Maca “we’ll assume you’re taking the piss.”, I wouldn’t be so presumtive. The last time information was pub;ished Irish Gaelic wasn’t among the top five most spoken languages in this country. With this year’s census, it’s likely to have fallen out of the Top 10. Indeed if you split the various forms of Chinese, Serbo-Croat and Czech/Slovak it mightn’t even hold a place in the Top 20.

    This year’s Leaving Cert included Latvian, Lithuanian, Slovak and Hungarian for the first time. More andd more teachers will be required for these subjects over the next few years). Of course they should be able to speak English as well, but why do they need to know Irish Gaelic?

    Perhaps English plus one other language would be a better requirement?

  • Con

    Ash et al
    Seems to me you are all missing the point.
    “It does appear to be discriminatory to people who didn’t grow up learning the language”
    You do not need to grow up learning the language. You have FIVE YEARS to learn it. If an intelligent educated person cannot learn to speak another language in five years, then I don’t want them teaching my kids. After all, learning another language is not exactly rocket science. If a physics teacher can cope with quantam theory, that suggests to me that their brain is more than sufficiently developed to take on another language.
    In Catalunya, state education is now through the medium of Catalan, non Catalan teachers have to learn it, (provided free by the state – nice touch)I remember hearing a big hue and cry claiming it was discriminatory, how it would lead to a brain drain etc etc. Has not happened. Catalan and Irish have a lot of similarities, at one stage it was on its knees, banned by Franco, eradicated from schools and so on, indeed you can meet folk who are undeniably Catalan, who can speak their language, but cannot write it.
    I accept that Franco did not do as good a job as the Crown in stamping out the native language, and English is the primary language in Ireland, Irish has become almost irrelevant, what I do not accept is the whinges of a person coming to my country, and refusing to play by our rules on a point of principle.
    “To be honest, I have just refused to do the thing as I feel it is so unjust and discriminatory – a pro-Irish policy if ever there was one”
    You could not make this up, and if you did, Mick Fealty, you have a fantastic imagination. Imagine having pro-Irish policies in Ireland! Whats next? Citizenship Tests? Wise up mate. Learn the language.
    BTW Mick, you say a UK teacher, I have to admit to automatically assuming you meant English, (my inherent racism I suppose) you could of course be referring to someone from the Bogside.

  • Keith M
    I’ll presume you’re taking the piss too. A COMPULSORY Eastern European language?? Utter nonsense, as I said.

    “Perhaps English plus one other language would be a better requirement?”

    One foreign language is already a requirement is it not? Indeed when I was in school 2 foreign languages were a requirement up to JC, and 1 of those for LC.
    It’s nonsense to suggest learning an Eastern European language as opposed to more ‘popular’ world languages.

  • Robert

    When a Frenchman and a Belgian were confronted with baseball bats and asked politely to leave the “Maiden city” we are expected to believe that Norn Iron does not need to get its house in order?

  • stavneg

    Reading through some of the post above the debate seems to have gotten a little off the point at times to say the least, so I though I’d add a few points to clarify.

    1. The SCG is a degree level Irish qualification, way beyond Leaving Certificate honours A1 level, in which candidates are expected to be completely fluent in all three dialects and to converse freely about anything from 17th century poetry to modern politics. Like the Leaving Cert there are two written papers, an aural and an oral. All parts must be individually passed. These are a large number of cases of teachers with degrees in Irish who have failed the exam first time, and I have heard anecdotal evidence of failures by teachers who have grown up in gaelteacht areas, who speak Irish at home and who are currently working in Gael Scoile. The exceptionally high standard required to pass the exam has been raised regularly at the INTO annual congress.

    2. The SCG exam is held once a year in April. Repeat exams are held in August. The Department and teachers union provide only minimal assistance. For example only one course was availble this year in Dublin at beginners level. Up to recently even past papers and a syllabus were unavailable.

    3. The SCG is not taken by teachers who have obtained their qualifications in Ireland. It is only tken by teachers who have qualified abroad. This includes not only people from Britain, but any Irish citizen who went to college in another jurisdiction. The Irish language exams taken in Irish teacher training colleges is accepted to be lower than that required by the SCG, which is why many people question the intention of the requirement and see it as exclusionist rather than functional.

    4. Primary qualified teachers from abroad are intially given provisional recognition, and have five years from the date of first registration in Ireland to pass the SCG. No other Irish language qualifications are recognised, and the SCQ is absolutely required for full recognition of primary teaching qualifications. At the end of the five years their qualifications become unrecognised and they will be dismissed from any post they may occupy. No allowance is made for progress in learning Irish. A person may well be completey fluent, have an A1 in the leaving cert etc., but have failed the one of the sections of the exam by a few points.

    5. Teachers without full recognition cannot take up permanent posts of any kind, including special resource posts in non-classroom positions. These would include things like Reading Recovery, First Steps, Math Recovery, and teaching English to pupils who have none. In these specialist roles Irish is never taught. On the other hand it is perfectly acceptable for them to teach mentally and physically handicapped children – challenging jobs for which specialist training and qualifications would be in most other countries.

    6. Teachers without full recognition are not elligible to add their names to the panel of teachers available for vacant positions. (This panel must be cleared before candidates with provisional or pending recognition can apply.) They may, however, work as substitute teachers.

    7. There are currently around 4000 (yes, that’s four thousand) foreign trained teachers on provisional recognition in Ireland pending their SCG. Approximately a quarter of these were born, raised and educated to secondary level in the irish Republic.

    8. We’re generally not talking graduates here, we’re talking experienced teachers well into their twenties, thirties and forties, often married to Irish people and with young families etc. Moving abroad is not an option, and the finding the time and money necessary to complete the study can be a big challenge.

  • stavneg

    So those are a few facts, here are some opinions/questions for debate:

    1. Is the requirement necessary? In many countries specialist teachers are brought in to teach subjects like languages, art, music etc for short periods each day/week. It’s unreasonable to expect every teacher to be expert in every subject, so why not do this in Ireland too? Even in a school with only two teachers, only one should need to have Irish. This should be an administrative matter for principals, not an iron-clad restriction on emplyment.

    2. Why is the standard so high? Is degree level really necessary to teach basic vocabulary to four and five year old? Why not have a grading system allowing teachers with basic Irish to teach at a basic level, and advanced at all levels etc.? It might make things a little more complicated to administer, but it is much more practical.

    3. There is a well publicised shortage of teachers in Ireland. The goverment keeps telling us this to excuse its failure to reduce class sizes to levels promised in the last election. Why not allowed foreign qualified teachers to teach, instantly solving the problem? Well, because the goverment would have to pay any extra teachers, and it doesn’t want to, so the ‘shortage’ is a convenient excuse. The last thing the government wants is to spend more on education.

    4. In many deprived areas students have dreadful levels of basic skills in speech, literacy and numeracy, requiring specialist teachers to help them with these. There is no prctical reason that these roles could not be recognised as suitble for teachers without the SCG, only ideological. The whole promotion of the Irish language argument becomes irrelevant when kids at the age of ten can’t say their alphabet or count to twenty.

    5. Why doesn’t the union, the INTO, object to the requirement? Well cosy politics as usual in Ireland. If foreign qualified teachers were all to be fully recognised there would be much more competition in the labour market for primary teachers, resulting in increased standards of service for the customers (pupils and parents) and a generally heavier workload. Like most Irish unions the INTO is very protectionist of its privileges, and is happy to use the SCG to prevent any shake-up of their domain.

    6. Why are Irish trained teachers not required to pass the SCG? They do significantly easier exams. No explanation has been offered for this, but the implication is that the exam has an exclusionary function.

    7. Why is the cost of study, exams etc. at the expense of the teachers? For people trained in Ireland it is free, and given that the cost of all other training etc. has been borne by another state it would seem like a bargain deal for Ireland to get extra teachers for the cost of a few course.

    7. Lastly why are these teachers allowed to teach at all? Why are they not refused any kind of recognition until they have passed the exam? Why can they continue to act as substitute teachers after the grace period has expired? Their ability to teach has not suddenly vanished, and this is yet another aspect that stinks to high heaven, the implication being that foreign teachers are fine to fill short-term gaps for a few years or when our own are having a few days off on the sick, but they shouldn’t be allowed to stay on permanently.

    I myself am Irish, born, raised etc., and I am not a teacher, nor do I want to be. In addition I am fully in favour of Irish being taught to students of all ages. I simply do not see how the SCG requirement has anything to do with the effective teaching of Irish. The requirement hinders the employment of good professionals in Ireland in a specific industry of vital national importance, it helps the government to save money, and it helps the union increase its negotiating power. It also prevents free movement of labour, which is a fundamental right under EU law, discriminates on the grounds of nationality, and worst of all denies Irish children the opportunity to have the education they deserve by prolonging a shortge of qualfied teachers.

  • YankWhoLovesEIRE

    I am in this situation myself. Married to an Irish man, very well-qualified (my BEd is a 5 year course) with an M.Ed. in Dyslexia.

    I’m trying to pass the exam but it seems insurmountable. We’ll see how it goes; it’s bloody expensive!! €300/term for 10 classes.

    Anyway, my only point is that for some odd reason the dep’t has decided that special classes (like Resource) in mainstream schools are okay for foreigners like me to teach, but not Language Support (for students who are learning English) has Irish as a requirement. Que?

    You mean to tell me that an Irish-trained teacher has more qualifications to teach ESL, even though second-language acquisition is not taught in their teacher preparation course at all? So, their Irish is more useful than my M.Ed and years of experience teaching this student group?

    Anti-logic.

    Racism doesn’t even come into it. It’s just pure nonsense.

    I might also add that the professional development offered by Integrate Ireland (Trinity was granted the contract to formulate the ESL curriculum for foreign national students) is a one or maybe two day course. It is completely useless, as is the actual curriculum. From what I can see, the curriculum is merely a watered down version of English for adults.

  • Martin

    As an employment lawyer I have a problem with this. In the UK, at least, and it should be much the same throughout the EU, indirect discrimination (a criteria or practice which in practice will favour one ethnic or national group over another – its called disparate impact in the States) can only be justified insofar as it is objectively justified.

    It is settled case-law in England that it is racial discrimination to require a worker speak English when it is not a requirement for the job. I fail to see why this is not the case in Ireland. The objective justification of requiring, say, a maths teacher to be able to speak Irish when it is not a requirement of the job is extremely hard to fathom. It effectively precludes anyone who is not Irish from teaching in the Republi which is not only (possibly) discriminatory it also breaches EU free movement of labour rules.

  • Martin

    By the sounds of this whinging teacher from britain I’m glad he’s pissed off and decided not to do it. Who is he to say we must accomodate him and his prejudices?

    It’s not him who is saying it. It’s the EU. If you don’t want other Europeans, and that includes Brits, working in Ireland, then leave the EU, repal its racial discrimination directives, and shut up shop to the rest of the world. Otherise shut up.

    The attitude of the teacher perfectly reflects the arrogance and cluelessness of the traditional british mind when dealing with ireland.

    Conceivably the most racist thing I have ever read on this site.

  • YankWhoLovesEIRE

    Martin,
    I’d like to respond to you but can only do so via email as there is a case pending that relates to this issue.
    Please email me your addy and I’ll send you the information.

  • Martin

    Certainly – this briefing note from the ICTU on the Employment Equality Act 1998 makes no bones on the issue –

    Indirect Discrimination – occurs when practices or policies that may not appear to discriminate against one group more than another actually do discriminate or where a requirement of a job adversely affects a particular group or class of persons. If these practice/s, policies or requirement/s are such that the proportion of employees who are disadvantage by the term or criterion is substantially higher in the case of one group or class of persons compared to another group or class of persons then indirect discrimination exists.

    http://www.ictu.ie/html/yrights/brief/employment_equality_act_1998.htm

    Based in this the Irish Language Requirement is unlawful.

    I shouldn’t really be interpreting that act as I am not an Irish lawyer, but I am qualified to speak to EU Law and, as an emination of the State, the relevant authorities are in direct breach of the inditrct discrimination provisions of Council Directive 2000/43/EC of 29 June 2000 implementing the principle of equal treatment between persons irrespective of racial or ethnic origin, and can be sued on the basis of the directive in the courts.

    http://ec.europa.eu/employment_social/fundamental_rights/pdf/legisln/2000_43_en.pdf#search=“eu racial discrimination directive”

    (if you’re interested the relevant parts of the Directive are 17 and 18)

    Assuming the 1998 Act impliments that directive that shouldn’t even be necessary. Based on what I have read here there is no defence. At law this teacher is completely, at law, in the right. There shouldn’t even be a debate.

    Why hasn’t the relevant union taken it up. I’m a bit shocked!

  • YankWhoLovesEIRE

    You’ll never believe this one? Mostly, the reason why the union hasn’t taken it up is that the people who would be affected by this most (foreign teachers) have to be allowed to join the union. You can only join the union if you HAVE A JOB.

    Dur…

    I’d be very interested in talking with you some more about this, as a lawyer/client. Please email me.

  • YankWhoLovesEIRE

    Also, it’s no longer requirement for most secondary teachers: http://www.asti.ie/faq/irish.htm
    Can’t cut and paste text.

  • Harry

    Martin: It is settled case-law in England that it is racial discrimination to require a worker speak English when it is not a requirement for the job. I fail to see why this is not the case in Ireland.
    Because Irish is at death’s door. In England English is not at death’s door therefore a different approach is conceivable. Also this is Ireland, not England, therefore their legal arguments, similar though they may be in some respects, do not apply to our jurisdiction.

    By the sounds of this whinging teacher from britain I’m glad he’s pissed off and decided not to do it. Who is he to say we must accomodate him and his prejudices?
    Martin: It’s not him who is saying it. It’s the EU. If you don’t want other Europeans, and that includes Brits, working in Ireland, then leave the EU, repal its racial discrimination directives, and shut up shop to the rest of the world. Otherise shut up.

    Is the EU telling us this or is it just your interpretation of EU law that is telling us this? So you’er part of the vanguard of the multi-cultural brigade come to give us reasons why we must hammer a nail into the coffin of our own heritage and how we’re unenlightened if we don’t do so? I don’t hear much from you about Irish language and culture – one half of the debate – but everything about industrial employment convenience and English law. Rounded off with the typical ‘Either/Or’ absolutism of the ideological (‘leave the EU’ etc. etc.), as if subtlety and a variety of nuanced choices are not available.

    The attitude of the teacher perfectly reflects the arrogance and cluelessness of the traditional british mind when dealing with ireland.
    Martin: Conceivably the most racist thing I have ever read on this site.

    Really? Perhaps you would like to explain further why you think that. I know I have already done so.

    The Irish language requirement is not a ‘specialist’ requirement; it is the aspiration of the state, as reflected in the status of Irish as first language of the state, that every child and every person who wishes to do so can conduct their business, educational and otherwise, in the language of their choosing, Irish or English. People may not find this very practical and may rail about the limitation it gives to their career choices but you will find that there is a very strong feeling in the country that this aspiration be retained.

  • Martin

    Because Irish is at death’s door. In England English is not at death’s door therefore a different approach is conceivable. Also this is Ireland, not England, therefore their legal arguments, similar though they may be in some respects, do not apply to our jurisdiction.

    Since Ireland joined the EU in 1973 and, along with the UK, accepted the binding nature of ECJ decsions, that’s just legally wrong. Racial discrimination that comes within Council Directive 2000/43/EC is EU law and, therefore, precedents in this field are valid accross the EU. The Employment Equality Act 1998 it appears impliments that Directive in Irish Law (and if it doesn’t then the Directive is directly binding on the Education authorities as eminations of the state anyway so it soesn’t matter) and, under EU case-law, Irish courts as well as English courts are under an obligation to interpret national law in line with a purposive interpretation of the relevant EU Directive. Accordingly both the UK Race Relations Act 1976 and the Irish Employment Equality Act 1998 must now be interpreted in line with Council Directive 2000/43/EC. That’s true in Belgium, Spain, Denmark etc as much as it is in Ireland or the UK.

    but everything about industrial employment convenience and English law

    I have already made full disclosure that I am an English qualified lawyer and cannot comment on Irish Law. I say that I can’t comment on the Irish 1998 Act. I can, however, comment on EU Law.

    Because Irish is at death’s door. In England English is not at death’s door therefore a different approach is conceivable. Also this is Ireland, not England, therefore their legal arguments, similar though they may be in some respects, do not apply to our jurisdiction.

    See my point about EU law, above. The English Law is on all fours with the European Law which also applies in Ireland. There can be no difference.

    From a legal perspective if Irish is, as you put it, at death’s door if that is to be justifiable a reason for indirect discriminaton, then EU law states that the discriminatory measure taken must be the minimum required for acheiving the proportionate aim. Banning physics teachers who can’t speak Irish from English medium schools is not a proportional means of acheiving such an aim – as is required by EU and therefore Irish Law.

    Rounded off with the typical ‘Either/Or’ absolutism of the ideological (’leave the EU’ etc. etc.), as if subtlety and a variety of nuanced choices are not available.

    So far as I see it if you want to be a member state of the EU you apply its laws, get an opt out from the specific law you object to (as the Uk did from the social chapter until 1997) or leave. The ROI has done none of those things and is, in my view, and in the view of most people in the office with experience of cross-border Employment Law I have spoken to, in breach of EU Law.

    People may not find this very practical and may rail about the limitation it gives to their career choices but you will find that there is a very strong feeling in the country that this aspiration be retained.

    Then the Irish Government should respect “strong feeling” of its people and get the directive amanded or abide by Irish law as it has become as a result of Ireland’s accession to the EU.

    I don’t hear much from you about Irish language and culture

    No, because that’s not my field, if the Irish Government want to negotiate a carve out to allow indirect discrimination in schools to save the language then it is open for them to do so. They haven’t. So they are in breach of the law of Ireland as inserted via its membership of the EU.

    Anyway, it appears this argument is partially moot, as the requirement no longer applies to secondary school teachers. Primary schools, where the medium of instruction is partially Irish, probably have an “objective measures” defence as I outline above.

  • Harry

    Clearly you exhibit precisely the attitudes of the English towards Ireland that I spoke of. Transparently so, as many Irish at least I’m sure would agree.
    Schools in Ireland are not ‘English language medium schools’, they are Irish & English language medium schools, as the legal position of Irish and English as first languages of the country testifies. On that basis, all your quasi-absolutist legal jiggery-pokery can no doubt be argued ad infinitum, and not so easily to the advantage of your prejudices as you’d like, I’m sure.
    One could even argue that the Irish state is very open-minded towards English and is accomodating of English language and culture to a huge degree. From that point of view, whingeing about having to learn irish is therefore seen to be little more than cultural thuggery and anglo-centric absolutism pure and simple.

    Anyway we are used to Brits wittering on in quasi-legal mode about how we must submit our culture and country to their self-serving aims and opinions. It’s been going on for centruies. I suggest you take your clipped legal tones, your secretary of state and your army and piss off back to England. After that you can come back and talk to us – nicely – and we’ll see what we can do for you.

  • Martin

    Anyway we are used to Brits wittering on in quasi-legal mode about how we must submit our culture and country to their self-serving aims and opinions. It’s been going on for centruies. I suggest you take your clipped legal tones, your secretary of state and your army and piss off back to England. After that you can come back and talk to us – nicely – and we’ll see what we can do for you.

    I have never said I am English. I’m English Qualified. And whatever my nationality is why should that have a bearing on the issue. I’m a European interpreting, the best I can, European Law in a European jurisdiction. Actually I’m in London and we’re discussing this on the World Wide Web so exactly where I should “piss off” to confuses me..

    What prejudices?

    Like I say, its EU Law, not English Law I am arguing, and no-one ever forced the Republic to join the EU.

    I’ll ignore your personal attacks and assumption that my arguments have no validity because of my etnicity and finally say that the argument centres around schools in which the primary medium of instruction of the subjects concerned is English. Yes, Irish and English are tought accross the country, but in many cases certain subjects are taught in English for reasons of practicality if nothing else. In those circumstances there is no reason why people who can’t speak Irish should teach those subjects anymore than a cleaner fresh off the ‘plane from Poland should..

    Finally I’m going to take the blatant name calling and rudeness of your last sentence as a tacit admission you lost the argument. If you can’t respond civilly to what were civil points raised as a discussion point then don’t bother. If you don’t want fellow members of the EU taking any interest in your affairs then leave and give your subsidies back to the overburdened taxpayers of France, Germany and Britain who would no doubt welcome them.

    In the schools we discuss the English did indeed “piss off” 80 years ago. This is a discussion about the Republic’s education system. If you want a debate about the North I understand that there are no shortage of them elsewhere on this site.

  • Martin

    One thing this debate has taught me, though, is that if the guy who complained initially had not been English but been from any other European jurisdiction the reaction would have been different. I very much doubt that if he had been Dutch, who generally speak great English, the reactions would have been as vitriolic.

  • kensei

    “One thing this debate has taught me, though, is that if the guy who complained initially had not been English but been from any other European jurisdiction the reaction would have been different. I very much doubt that if he had been Dutch, who generally speak great English, the reactions would have been as vitriolic.”

    Perhaps. But I think you’d find that the underlying attitude would be the same – tough, basically.

  • Greenflag

    ‘Schools in Ireland are not ‘English language medium schools’, they are Irish & English language medium schools, as the legal position of Irish and English as first languages of the country testifies. ‘

    Another case of the law being an ass . As I recall I went through school in the Republic through the medium of English apart of course from Irish Class . Apart from a week or two in Connemara two decades ago I can’t recall ever hearing two adults having a normal conversation on the street in Dublin – Chinese yes and also Polish . Thats the reality never mind what the legal position is. What’s needed is for the legal position of the Irish Language to reflect the reality of it’s position in Irish society today . Mabe there are lessons to learnt from Welsh ? Obviously the Hebrew Restoration example is nothing that the Irish people would stomach or pay for . English is a world language and let’s face it the world would probably know nothing next to nothing about Ireland without it .

    Name five great Swedish/Norwegian/Serbo Croat/ Czech / Japanese /Chinese writers who are well known in the English speaking world ?

    ‘One could even argue that the Irish state is very open-minded towards English and is accomodating of English language and culture to a huge degree. ‘

    So what’s your suggestion ? Ban English as the spoken language ? That should aid the national debate ? Would this help to promote Irish ?

    This ‘language debate is more than about English . It’s about an Ireland which now has a large number of people (among whom are some English speakers such as Americans/Canadians/ South Africans and non English speakers such as Polish, Chinese, Lithuanians etc for whom and let’s be honest about this our present ‘Irish language’ policy must seem at times bizarre . And I have more than a suspicion it is .

  • Rory

    Indirect Discrimination – occurs when practices or policies that may not appear to discriminate against one group more than another actually do discriminate or where a requirement of a job adversely affects a particular group or class of persons.

    Since the requirement applies to all, Irish citizens, citizens of the EU and non-EU foreign nationals alike and since that requirement is merely to obtain a qualification in the Irish language, it might be pretty difficult to argue that discrimination exists. I don’t think that an unwillingness or inability to apply oneself to obtaining such a qualification might be sufficient reason to show discrimination.

    But I’ll leave that to the lawyers.

  • Martin

    Rory,

    That would work if one were able to show that Irish people were as equally unlikely to be able to speak Irish as any other group, which frankly is an argument I can’t see many Irish Governments being willing to run with.

    I do think that a language requirement may be a legitimate exclusion (for example if you are not Indian you can legitimately be excluded from working in an Indian Restaurant in London – there’s a carve out in the legislation) its just that so far as I am aware no such carve out exists in the Irish Legislation. There would be all sorts of esoteric legal arguments against of course but in principle it is something that could be done.

    To be quite open, I get on my high horse about unnesessary language requirements because when I was working in France in my Uni Christmas and Easter holidays I was not allowed to join the Ecole du Ski Francais because I didn’t speak the required grade of French. All this having worked a full season in Francophone Switzerland who were far more relaxed. All this despite the fact I was only teaching English speakers.

    Also, so far as I am aware, there is a shortage of teachers in Ireland in many subjects so it simply looks like a closed shop to me.

  • Lorenzo

    Martin:”If you can’t respond civilly to what were civil points raised as a discussion point then don’t bother. ”

    Well said. As an exercise try substituting the word ‘blacks’ or ‘jews’ for ‘Brits’ in Harry’s post above and see what it looks like. If similar invective had been addressed to any group other than ‘Brits’, he would be stamped ‘racist’ and tossed out on his ear.

    Unfortunately Harry’s belligerent attitude is not untypical amongst the language fanatics.
    Eoin O Murchu, political editor of Raidió na Gaeltachta recently wrote (here) the immortal line: […] if English-speakers don’t like it, why don’t they go and live in the land they love?.

    They think they are the only ‘true’ Irish, everyone else can go and ‘piss off’ as Harry so eloquently puts it. Way to go to gain converts to language cause, fellas.

    The SCG requirement is partly a constraint of trade sop to the teacher unions and partly because few politicians dare confront the language-fanatic bully boys.

  • YankWhoLovesEIRE

    It seems Lorenzo has hit the nail on the head.

    At the end of the day, the needs of students (both Irish and otherwise) should outweigh all this political rhetoric and nationalistic agendas.

    The best person for the job should get the job. If an Irish person who was trained in Ireland doesn’t know how (because they were not trained to teach ESL) to teach ESL students, they are wasting our time, the childrens’ time and the taxpayers money. If a foreign teacher has had experience in this area, and is recognised by the DoES to teach in Ireland, surely the Irish language requirement should be waived.

    After all, the DoES is not merely a political wing of the government; it’s purpose is to educate the students. All the students, as is outlined in the Republic’s constitution.

  • Harry

    One has to wonder at the animus Irish culture and the irish language generates against it, consistently. Apparently a foreigner working in London who knows nothing of our country feels entitled to lecture us about our language and politics.

    What is it about Irish culture and Irish people’s native language that has, for centuries, caused all sorts of people to launch tirades against it? Why is it so many people throughout the centuries – in Ireland, England, Australia, the US and Canada – have felt the need to keep Irish culture in check? Have bent their efforts – legally, in the newspapers, in the educational and political spheres – to knocking down and keeping in check native Irish culture or any specific, unique and internally consistent sense of Irish identity? Why is it that now we are now beginning to see this old game in a new form starting to creep onto our shores – an allegedly neutral european working in an office in London telling us that, without an agenda, he supports a legal position against the provision of Irish because it is ‘discriminatory’? Discriminatory in Ireland no less! Apparently this person without an agenda still considers his legal opinion valid on ‘practical’ grounds if nothing else when it is pointed out to him that, legally, Irish has equal status to English within Irish society.

    What is it about Irishness in its unique form – Irish language and Irish culture – that generates such fear and desire to take it apart so consistently through the ages?

  • Martin

    Harry,

    Can you point to any of my posts where I demonstrate a fear or animus of Irish language or culture?

    Indeed how does my point …

    I do think that a language requirement may be a legitimate exclusion …. its just that so far as I am aware no such carve out exists in the Irish Legislation. There would be all sorts of esoteric legal arguments against of course but in principle it is something that could be done

    … demonstrate anything but support for the idea but simply pointing out that, currently, it’s actually, or potentially, against Irish law.

    I’m not against the provsion of Irish. Read my posts properly and you will see I’m against the lack of provision of Maths and Physics. If there are not enough in Ireland then bring them in from elsewhere.

    Given I’m married to an Irishwoman I somehow feel that I know a little, not a lot perhaps, but a little of Ireland. Certainly more than nothing. And givn my kids may be educated in Ireland should we want to move back there I think that ensuring the provision of adequately trained teachers is important. You will also understand why, for the sake of myself and my kids, I am more than slightly concerned about the rampant xenophobia (and, given they have English accents, anglophobia) you display. Or maybe we will stay at home and let you build the ethnically pure paradise you wish for. Wouldn’t want the kids to be regarded as “blow ins” – perhaps they are better off in England. Shame.

    Sort your own prejudices out before slagging off someone who has lived in and knows more of many places than you obviously know yourself and is of a compex background you couldn’t begin to understand.

    As is said so often on this site try playing the ball rather than the man. It’s more rewarding.

  • Harry

    You demonstrate hibernophobia and your legal position is incoherent. Legally it is simply wrong, regardless of what prejudices you have absorbed from the uninformed ‘experts’ surrounding you in your office. Thus it is you who displays hibernophobia not I who display anglophobia. Why, I wonder, do you want to enter a country proceeded by a carpet of invective laid down by you against the native culture, unalloyed by any other demonstration of concern for or interest in the peculiarity of our culture? Do you seriously think your self-concern about yourself and your children overrules the right of Irish people to defend their culture against precisely the kind of self-regading destruction of Irish that your attitude bespeaks? Why do you not praise the opportunities for integration that the present privileged position of English in this society affords you and others without having to insist on absolute cultural supremacy for your own cultural preferences?

    Apparently you seem to equate a desire to protect Irish culture with a backward insularity – a very typical attitude, and strategy, of many anglophilic cultural supremacists towards Irish. In my experience Britain is a much more insular country culturally speaking than Ireland.

    All in all the things you say reinforce the view that your are an ignorant man on the subject of Ireland and its culture.

  • Greenflag

    ‘Read my posts properly and you will see I’m against the lack of provision of Maths and Physics. If there are not enough in Ireland then bring them in from elsewhere. ‘

    Now that makes sense . On another thread Harry complains about the lack of research and venture capital and the trained people who can expand indigenous high tech industry in Ireland . Seems to me he wants to have his cake and eat it too ?
    It’s been my personal life experience that those who excell in the sciences and mathematics tend to not do so well in languages and vice versa . Whether out of interest or ‘genetics’ or just natural inclination it doesn’t matter . To subject say an English speaking American or even an English speaking German or French Physics teacher to months/years of Irish language learning in order to hold a teaching post in an Irish Secondary school is absurd . It’s also depriving Irish Physics students .

    ‘ What is it about Irishness in its unique form – Irish language and Irish culture – that generates such fear and desire to take it apart so consistently through the ages? ‘

    Harry here’s a surprise I’m Irish and I would like to see Irish continue to be taught to Irish students at both primary and secondary schools . But you don’t do the language any good by being an ‘eejit’ about it ! I think you mentioned ‘common sense ‘ on another thread . Some application of this uncommon trait in your posts here would be in order .

  • Martin

    Harry,

    Legally it is simply wrong, regardless of what prejudices you have absorbed from the uninformed ‘experts’ surrounding you in your office.

    Why???? Would you like to quote case law and statute as I have?

    Given that my position has been accepted by the Irish authorities and so, despite the invective here, the Irish requirement is no longer required in Secondary schools in the Republic you will forgive me if my view of my own professional abilities is not exactly shaken to the core by your suggestion that my view is incoherent.

    I’ve practiced Employment Law in Britain, the US and Belgium and been involved with cross-channel employment law issues with colleagues in Dublin and, frankly, I’m happy with my own abilities in that respect. That doesn’t really matter as you haven’t backed up your “incoherence” point. Show me why my view is incoherent and I’ll reconsider. You might like to drop an email to the Irish Attorney General while you’re at it as he takes the same view with respect to secondary school teachers.

    I hope my kids learn Irish, even use it at home should they wish, but I simply don’t think knowing Irish is a should be a requisite for teaching science or Maths. Mathemeticians often are not necessarily great linguists and there might not be enough Irish speaking science teachers. I hope my children learn Irish but I also hope they can do their multiplication and division as well. If that requires a teacher from the freaking moon so be it. My own maths teacher was a Czech refugee.

    Finally, regarding your point about “insularity” From personal experience persons of colour certainly are less, shall we say, “troubled” on the streets of London than in Ireland. In 2001 8% of the British population is foreign born –

    http://www.statistics.gov.uk/cci/nugget.asp?id=1312

    That’s about 5 million people, as many people who live in Ireland as a whole. So I’ll also take your point about British “insularity” with a pinch of salt.

  • The World’s Gone Mad

    ‘In my experience Britain is a much more insular country culturally speaking than Ireland.’ – your experience is obviously fairly limited.

    Apart from the statistics and arguments that Martin has laid out to you with eloquence and patience in the face of your prejudices perhaps you should go and visit London, the capital, to find that cultural insularity. I lived in Peckham in south-east London for a few years – within a couple of hundred yards from my house was an Irish pub (the Wishing Well for anyone that knows SE15), Indian, Dutch, Chinese and French restaurants, a Jamaican bakery, Nigerian cafes, Turkish take-aways, various African and Asian shops. A multitude of different races of all colour and creed who despite, or because of, their differences managed to live together without any racial tension. As true evidence of the English cultural supremacy, an annual Irish festival is held on Peckham Rye Park. I can guarantee this wouldn’t be the only Irish festival in Britain, nor are the Irish the only culture well-catered for with festivals. After all, the Notting Hill Carnival (which has little to do with village greens, warm beer and cups of tea) is the largest street carnival in Europe.

    I don’t know – is there an Irish equivalent of Peckham or the Notting Hill festival? When the capital of Britain is arguably the most multi-cultural city in the world can you really say that Britain is culturally insular? From Windrush onwards, wave after wave of immigrants and their culture have enriched British life. Hopefully, they will get a chance to do the same in Ireland without hinderance from monoculturalists and their paranoia.

    And by the way, your ranting and raving in the 2nd paragraph at Sep 15, 2006 @ 02:37 PM did you no favours whatsoever.

  • barnshee

    And what about the black north?- where Irish is derided as the language espoused by the catholic republican murder gangs?
    No prod would consider the language as other than a weapon of these murder gangs.

    Try running your call centres in irish—start with Dell– better still try teaching your population outside Dublin 4 to SPEAK COMPREHENSIBLE ENGLISH

  • Frustrated Democrat

    Why are the IRISH and SCOTS IRISH languages dying – because people in general don’t want to speak them. They are are happy with a language that is understood in most of the western world and in much of the rest as well.

    Why should a few dictate to the many, let them die and spend the money spent teaching them on more useful pursuits.

  • Martin
    “in many cases certain subjects are taught in English for reasons of practicality if nothing else. In those circumstances there is no reason why people who can’t speak Irish should teach those subjects anymore than a cleaner fresh off the ‘plane from Poland should..”

    This doesn’t make any sense. In national schools 1 teacher is responsible for teaching his/her class the range of subjects including Irish (as far as I know). Therefore each teacher must have a knowledge of Irish as well as they other required subjects if they are to teach them.
    Secondary school is a totally different situation of course.

    IMO, this is a very simple situaiton. To teach in national schools knowledge of Irish is a basic job requirement and all this talk of discrimination (racial or otherwise) is nonsense.

  • p.s. since my son has just started school it’s important to me that his teacher is qualified for the job which means he/she should have a good knowledge of ALL the subjects he/she must teach. I would have thought any parent would feel the same.

  • Puzzled Jackeen

    Harry, your tirades are doing no favour to the Irish language.

    I have a friend who was working as a primary school teacher who was worried about the issue – she’s Canadian. She isn’t worried about it anymore as she’s now working in a secondary school.

    As I understand it the discussion so far, she may have had a case under EU law for indirect discrimination. (Note: I said *may*, because no legal advice was taken.)