Towards Belfast’s Gaeltacht Quarter…

I’ve little time to blog at the moment, so I’ll just quickly note an excellent public debate at the Culturlann on Wednesday night, on the Gaeltacht Quarter. This is the suggestion, rising out of the Dutton Report that West Belfast seeks to become a more physical expression of the high level of local Irish speakers that are to be found there. The panel included Mairtin O’Muilleoir, Ian Parsley, Nelson McCausland, Sue Ward of the Tourist Board and Jake MacSiacais of Forbairt Feirste. MacSiacais, who is likely to be one of the key drivers of the development was at pains to explain that this is was a tool for the development of the area as a tourist attraction as much a promotion of the language. He drew international comparisions saying ‘where in the world can you go and not know you are in Chinatown?’. The plan involves a very limited area of the lower Falls taking in the Cumman Cluain Ard and the Culturlann itself, and beefing up the visiblity of the language there.

Alliance party man Ian Parsley welcomed the plan, saying that creating a small centre of excellence, should be used to drive language development across Belfast, making reference to Bairbre de Bruin’s hope that the language would flourish well beyond West Belfast. He also believed the self help principle that has driven the Irish language movement was something that others could learn from, suggesting that “only the community will decide if a language will survive or not”.

Nelson McCausland noted that this project had been a good ten years in gestation over which time he had followed its development closely. He remarked that any such ambitious project will necessarily take a considerable time to come to fruition. His only word of caution was to seek its development in such a way that people outside the project’s primary constituency of interest would also benefit. Although he noted there was some small interest amongst individual Protestant learners most remain indifferent to the fortune of the language.

Sue Ward argued that the Tourist Board despite the peace process, there is still some concern over security and safety, and that these are the basic pre-requistes for a successful sell of Northern Ireland in general. It is getting better, but they are constantly on the look out for things to push that development even further. She cited Berlin where the tourists find it easy to discover various of heritages, but the product has to the be there in the first place. She warned however that they were not in business of ‘product’ development.

Excellently moderated in Irish by Fergus O’Hare with instanteous translation provided. Great to get along to an event where Irish is the lingua franca, and yet doesn’t exclude the non speakers. More of the same please!!

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  • erin

    HG,
    you go over the same old rope time and time again, We know you dislike Shinners, I am not a lover of the DUP but I can’t say that everything they do and every policy they put out is wrong or that they are just doing it all for political gain, I actually believe that the DUP although I think are misguided actually do things because they think it is the right thing to do for their community and the people they represent. What is worring about you is that you think you and whatever party you represent are totally in the right and this is scary, you are fanatical in your hatered of SF. How are we ever going to reach a true resolution when there are people out there who think that their stance is totally right and that other people are totally wrong. We all need to except that however misguided we think some people are, that some of them are doing what they think is for the good of their communities.
    Sinn Feins madate speaks for itself, If you don’t believe me search around the web and you will find that they are indeed the third largest party in Ireland.I can’t be arsed digging out the figures but I am sure that the SF voters on this Island amount to one hell of a lot, How can you say that they are all totally wrong. Another thing you are forgetting that the IRA were not the only ones involved in the armed campaign, what about the people, that died at the hands of Loyalist assasins that had been in collusion with the Brits, what about the men, Women and Children, some as young as 12 that died as a result of plastic and rubber bullets, What about the Ulster resistance that Ian Paisley set up, where are the guns that they procured from South africa, I have not seen any mention of them being decommisioned. if you are going to condem the IRA, you need to also condem the other parties, at least the IRA admitted what they were doing unlike the Brits who claimed to be protecting all its citizens. At least Sinn Fein stood by the IRA and what they thought was right unlike the good Doctor who quickly publically disasociated himself when things got a liitle to hot and it was going to efect his votes.

  • Hidden Gem

    erin

    I actually believe that the DUP…, …actually do things because they think it is the right thing to do for their community…”

    Good for you. Is that to suggest that everybody else should?

    What is worring about you is that you think you and whatever party you represent are totally in the right
    Gratuitously insulting and patronising statement noted.

    Once again, you are wrong. You are wrong to say I represent “a party” and you are wrong to suggest that I believe I am “totally in the right”. May be you overlooked the part of my 2:05 posting which highlighted “ a level of humility that shows a recognition of my own failings? My point there was to highlight the fact that you are in no position to patronise me. The hypocrisy of your comments is amazing – predicable now, but amazing none the less.

    …you are fanatical in your hatered of SF…
    Gratuitously insulting comment noted, again.

    I am not fanatical. I do despise the Shinners because they took it on themselves to murder the innocent people of Ireland. If this wasn’t bad enough, they did it my name! yeah, I loath and despise them, but “fanatical”? I don’t think so. The fanatic is the person who is prepared to go out and plant plant bombs in public places for what they believe in. I’m sure you know the sort I mean, 9/11, Omagh, Enniskillen etc

    How are we ever going to reach a true resolution when there are people out there who think that their stance is totally right and that other people are totally wrong.
    You are wrong. Your supposition is without foundation. Though I might rephrase the question and ask, how are we ever going to reach a true resolution when there are people out there who sycophantically accept, without question, anything that a political party tells them?

    We all need to except that however misguided we think some people are, that some of them are doing what they think is for the good of their communities.
    Because your conscience allows you to ignore the atrocities carried out by the Provisional Movement, it does not mean that the rest of us have to. You might be able to turn a blind eye to what they did, but like I said, that’s may be where you and I differ.

    …I can’t be arsed digging out the figures but I am sure that the SF voters on this Island amount to one hell of a lot…
    Of course, you’re a Shinner sycophant. In your eyes they can’t do anything wrong. If they said it then it must be right eh? Just out of curiosity, if a minority organisation wanted to justify the callous murder of your friends or family, how many votes would they need exactly? I would say that no amount of votes could justify the murder of innocent men, women and children. However your sick logic seems to suggest otherwise.

    what about the people, that died at the hands of Loyalist assasins
    what about the men, Women and Children…, …that died as a result of plastic and rubber bullets
    What about the Ulster resistance that Ian Paisley set up
    More .whataboutery in the extreme. And so this is conclusive proof that the wrong doings of one justifies the wrong doings of others? They kill one of us and we kill one of them? We might be sick, twisted, treasonous, blood-lustful gangsters but hey, we’re not as bad as the others!

    …if you are going to condem the IRA, you need to also condem the other parties…
    One small point. The IRA is not a political party. However, on the broader point, I reserve the right to criticise any group or individual who claims to represent me. Would you like to deny people that right?

    …at least the IRA admitted what they were doing…”
    …At least Sinn Fein stood by the IRA…
    More Shinner styled ranting. The fact is that the Provos took it on themselves to murder their fellow countrymen. Great men of Ireland? Oh please! In a word – “treason.”

    treason n.

    1.Violation of allegiance toward one’s country or sovereign
    2.A betrayal of trust or confidence.
    3: an act of deliberate betrayal [syn: treachery, betrayal, perfidy]
    IMO, a vote for the Shinners is an endorsement of all the misdeeds of the Provisional movement. Quite simply, I don’t think Ireland needs them. I don’t think Irish society needs them. I don’t think the Irish economy needs them and I certainly don’t think Irish language needs them which, after all, is what this particular blog is about.
    Sinn Fein – shallow and shameless.

  • erin

    what about the people, that died at the hands of Loyalist assasins
    what about the men, Women and Children…, …that died as a result of plastic and rubber bullets
    What about the Ulster resistance that Ian Paisley set up
    More .whataboutery in the extreme. And so this is conclusive proof that the wrong doings of one justifies the wrong doings of others? They kill one of us and we kill one of them? We might be sick, twisted, treasonous, blood-lustful gangsters but hey, we’re not as bad as the others!

    I did not say that HG, What I am saying is that you are all to eager to slag Shin Fein and the IRA off but totally ignore the deeds of others

    …if you are going to condem the IRA, you need to also condem the other parties…
    One small point. The IRA is not a political party. However, on the broader point, I reserve the right to criticise any group or individual who claims to represent me. Would you like to deny people that right?

    I was meaning parties in the armed struggle but you are spot on when you say the IRA is not a political party, so repeat after me The IRA is not Shin Fein, Shin Fein is not the IRA, One is a political Party and the other is an army that once fought an armed struggle but are now following a peaceful path, which acording to the IMC is without criminality ect ect ect and they did all this for civil and human rights and to further the cause of Irish Freedom and with that I will sign off. so rant all you want HG, As I will be moving onto a new up to date topic Slán

  • Hidden Gem

    erin

    …What I am saying is that you are all to eager to slag Shin Fein and the IRA off but totally ignore the deeds of others…

    I repeat. I reserve the right to criticise any group or individual who claims to represent me. Other terrorist groups or political parties don’t make that claim, (with the possible exception of the SDLP), so I save my criticisms for them. You chose to ignore my question. I’ll ask again, but I don’t anticpate an answer. Would you like to deny people the right to criticise a group or individual that claims to represent them?

    …so repeat after me The IRA is not Shin Fein, Shin Fein is not the IRA…
    Gratuitously patronising comment noted.

    Correct me if I am wrong but…., aren’t they both part of the one Provisional Movement? Doesn’t one give political advice to the other? Doesn’t each support the other? Isn’t the difference merely one of semantics? I don’t suppose you’ll bother answering these questions…

    You weren’t forced to stick around. It’s a sad fact that the people you claim to support decided that others shouldn’t be around to post on Slugger.

  • Oilibhear Chromaill

    Given that this thread has gone so far off the original topic, it’s possible that some may want to return. In that case let me direct you to a new blog, being hosted by Lá, at [a href=“http://www.irelandclick.com/blog/gaeltacht21/gaeltacht21.html”]Gaeltacht 21[/a].

  • Hidden Gem

    … Given that this thread has gone so far off the original topic…

    Some people seem overly obsessed with defending their chosen party. They would rather pour out their party line, time after time and all at the expense of staying on topic. On issues that challenge their party line, I believe party activists are directed to steer the conversation off topic. This must have been one of the reasons behind the play the ball rule. Looking back over the entries made on this thread, people will be able to judge for themselves who the biggest culprits are…

    If Oilibhear is commenting on the link above, I doubt very much that the message or tone will be any different. After all, apart from myself and certainly as the thread advanced, it was really only the Shinners commenting. This was nearly always about praising the Shinners. I think I prefer to stay here on Slugger.

  • Oibhéar Chromaill

    By all means stay on slugger, over on Gaeltacht 21 we’ll have an informed literate debate in Irish about the Gaeltacht Quarter – and not about your political hangups re SF.

    It’s typical, however, that you don’t even visit the site before passing judgement. You prefer to wallow in your own prejudice rather than seeing the bigger picture.

    Slán.

  • Hidden Gem

    Oibhar’s blind and bitter sycophantic defence of the Shinners is pitiful. He is wrong to claim that I hadn’t visited the site. Just that – WRONG. Just out of curiosity, I felt I had to see what was so great about that particular link recommended by Oibhar. Just because I dared to suggest that the message or tone wouldn’t be any different from this one, he assumes that I hadn’t been there. No that’s logic for you! But then Oibhar finds logic in supporting a party that justifies the murder of fellow countrymen and uses disingenuously uses the Irish language for political gain. And so the Shinner rants go on and on and on and….

  • qubol

    “And so the Shinner rants go on and on and on and…”
    Yes HG those rants keep going on and on, don’t they.
    Your anti-Sinn Fein diatribes have become boring and predictable, in all honesty I feel you have nothing to contribute to this debate – your point could of been made quiet reasonably but *you* choose to engage in the Sinn Fein bashing which has killed this debate. Maybe you should make a note of that before you start typing next time.

  • Seán

    How many people live on the Shaws Road?

  • Hidden Gem

    The Shinners are getting to be like the buses on this thread… There’s no sight or sound of them, then two come along at once! A strange coincidence don’t you think? If I were cynical, I might start to think that, in denouncing the Shinners and the Provisional movement as treasonous, I must have struck a raw nerve.

    Furthermore, only a few of the popular ISPs in Ireland offer static IP addresses and those that do usually charge. So it wouldn’t be that difficult for someone to log in a second time under a different pseudonym with a different IP address. This would give the illusion of more people blogging than is actually the case. Maybe I’m wrong and Oibhar, qubol, na and the rest are infuriated that someone might hold a different a opinion, suggesting that the party they support is treasonous. It has been suggested to me that the Shinners designate party activists to the threads on Slugger, insisting their party line is heard. Surely they wouldn’t stoop so low?

    Oibhar, qubol or whoever you are…, your offensive tone has been well and truly noted on this blog. As I have had to say too many times on this blog, I am happy for people to view my entries and judge them as they see fit. The Shiiners will believe whatever ther’re told to be believe and the objective reader will make their own minds up. It appears to me, and I am sure many others as well, that apart from snide and jeering comments, the SF party activists don’t really know how to hold an argument without resorting to offensive or simple dismissive statements.

    FYI, the record of this blog shows that my point was made several times, very clearly. The thread went off topic as a result of entries made by SF supporters. Quite simple, I responded to points made. Would you deny anyone the right to reply? I’m sure that’s only a small consideration when you consider that the Shinners, (the party you try and defend), tries to justify those who treasonously denied the right of life to people it didn’t agree with! Your bitter and twisted rants say more than any Sinn Fein bashing I could come up with.

    Maybe the Sycophantic Shinners will consider the Ad Hominem rule before posting next time. I doubt it but still, we live and hope!

  • ciaran damery

    For those of us who know, speak or study the Irish langage, it becomes a wonderful experience. Although irregular verbs are prevalent, hence making it far more difficult than French or Latin, mar shampla. However, our language is our emblem of Nationally. There are poems, books, ancient Irish mythology and songs written, as Ghailge. It’s impossible to translate many of the aforementioned as the beauty, nuance and culture is bastardized. So this is our culture, our native games, prose, comedy. It entails a lot more that marching where you are not wanted, celebrating
    some sectarian battle in the 1600s or burning effigys of some pope or other. By the way, sould ya translate what I said into Scots/Irish? Or is this jyust another flight of fancy?

  • Hidden Gem

    Ciaran,

    I welcome your contribution which brings the thread back on track as it were. I agree with your view of the language being part of the rich tapestry which makes up our culture. My point all along has been that the language is too important for us to allow it to become politicised. A glance at this thread will show how easily that could happen!

  • hacker

    “One of my friends is a native Irish Gaelic speaker born and raised in Dublin (yes, such people exist). He says that the sound of people from N.I. speaking Irish gives him a headache as it’s so accented, mangled and hard to understand. Apparently it’s like native German speakers listening to Swiss-German.

    So what? The sound of Georgie English is hard for the Kentish to understand. Doesn’t make it any less valid.
    The accents, spelling and even gramatical structure of Irish was never universal. Should be even less so now that it is so rarely spoken.

    Let’s applaud the fact it’s being spoken more often.

  • qubol

    HG: Furthermore, only a few of the popular ISPs in Ireland offer static IP addresses and those that do usually charge. So it wouldn’t be that difficult for someone to log in a second time under a different pseudonym with a different IP address. This would give the illusion of more people blogging than is actually the case. Maybe I’m wrong…

    Yes HG you are in fact wrong.
    Nearly all the popular ISPs do offer static IP’s and even though I don’t have a static IP with NTL I’ve had the same IP for quiet a while now and I’m more than willing to take the Pepsi challenge with anyone saying that I’m a sock-Puppet.

  • Hidden Gem

    Once again qubol is ready to jump off topic at the drop of a hat. OK, technically most of the popular ISPs do in deed offer static IP address. My inference was that this is not done without an extra charge. I think my point was clear enough. qubol remains on the sidelines jeering, sniping and, in this case, being unnecessarily pedantic. qubol should learn that his opinions off topic don’t count for much at all. PLAY THE BALL remember? FYI, if you read my post, my point was it wouldn’t be that difficult for someone to log in a second time under a different pseudonym with a different IP address. This would give the illusion of more people blogging than is actually the case.” This is NOT wrong. Regardless of static or non-static IP address, there are other ways to hide or change your IP address. If I make a mistake, I am happy to hold my hand up. On this occasion, it would appear that is was YOU who was just a little too quick in your attempts to gleefully point out a perceived error on my part. Pride before a fall?

    Meanwhile, back on topic….

    hacker – The accents, spelling and even gramatical structure of Irish was never universal.

    The fact that it’s being spoken more often is definitely worth celebrating but there’s no getting away from the fact that it can be difficult to understand. Huge differences in even the most simple phrases can lead to a lot of confusion, for example the Connacht dialect would tell you Cén chaoi a bhfuil tú? where as the Munster: dialect would tell you Conas tánn tú? Any language has similar variations and I think this adds to the richness of the language. A GQ in Belfast would add to this richness I’m sure.

  • chauncy

    Hidden Gem, you’ve shouted your way through this thread and scared off most of us, who might otherwise be interested in a debate. You haven’t picked up on any of the cues offered to you by other posters, other than to use their posts to allow you to notch up the volume…excessively.

    You come across as a boor – I say that as someone who regrets the politicization and debasement of any language. What have you done to advance your cause here, though, other than to shout everyone down?..Shallow and shameless, HG..

  • Hidden Gem

    “You come across as a boor …”
    Personal and offensive tone noted.

    Like I said on my Aug 21 05:46 PM post, they’re like buses… Now it’s “chancy” taking his place at the back of the queue. You have to admire their determination though! It’s almost a shame their off topic ranting and jeering doesn’t really mean anything. More personal attacks on me I guess…, Ah well, given their inability to conceal their bitterness and the arrogant manner in which they obviously don’t even feel a need to try, I suppose they’re proving what I have thought all along. Sinn Fein and the SSs – shallow and shameless.

    Meanwhile, back on topic…

    I wonder if there are any plans to develop gaelscoileanna in any future GQ. This of course risks opening a can of worms regarding funding. I remember reading somewhere that the Gaeltacht schools are not considered to be gaelscoileanna. I didn’t really understand why this should be. Maybe more informed contributers to Slugger know?

  • Oilibhear Chromaill

    I wonder if there are any plans to develop gaelscoileanna in any future GQ. This of course risks opening a can of worms regarding funding. I remember reading somewhere that the Gaeltacht schools are not considered to be gaelscoileanna. I didn’t really understand why this should be. Maybe more informed contributers to Slugger know?“`

    There’s a number of Gaelscoileanna in the vicinity already, Gaelscoil na bhFál, Gaelscoil an Lonnáin would be two within the ambit of the CG.

    The precise reason why the CG is being targeted here is because of the concentration of Irish language activities and centres already. It’s called synergy.

  • Hidden Gem

    I am still not clear as to why Gaeltacht schools are not considered to be veritable gaelscoileanna. I am sure Oilibhear that you will be able to clarify this…. If the schools are taught and function primarily under the medium of the Irish language, what then is the difference? I thought it may be because they are not established as, primarily for the promotion of the Irish language but rather they offer conventional schooling which is almost coincidently run under the medium of the Irish language. This would mean that the funding for such schools would depend on how they are governed, ie Grant maintained or otherwise… These are genuine queries on my part and should not be considered as anything other than that… If you Oilibhear, or anyone else can enlighten me I would be most grateful.

  • Darren Mac an Phríora

    They are considered Gaelscoileanna, but for some reason when people talk about Gaelscoileanna they seem to talk about those inside and those outside the Gaeltacht, and not them all together.

    Some of the Gaelscoileanna outside of the Gaeltacht are run more through Irish than some within the Gaeltacht.

    The reason why some classes are taught through Englsih is many gaelscoils is that they haven’t got the books in Irish for some subjects and have to use English language books. The situation is getting better though and it is expected, I belive , that within a couple of years there will be books in Irish available for all subjects (except probably English and other languages).

    There is a continuing problem in relation to the size of the Gaeltacht in this subject (amongst others). For example, a report came out a while ago that said many schools in the Gaeltacht are teaching through English. These account for, I believe, schools that are in the offical Gaeltacht but are not really Gaeltacht areas.

    This will change though, as the Gaeltacht boundaries will be getting redrawn within the next year (the first time since the ’50’s I believe).

  • Hidden Gem

    Will any change in the boundaries result in more money for the schools? I wonder. Also, do the schools receive funding entirely or in part from Údarás na Gaeltachta? Of course, I suspect this is purely academic as I doubt money will be made available for any such schools in Belfast. Surely funding for any gaelscoileanna in a future GQ (as well as all other aspects) will have to come from the British government; I’m guessing the schools would be accommodated under a kind of GM type model. I doubt Bertie would be that generous and even if he were, isn’t there something special in the way the Údarás na Gaeltachta is set up?

  • Darren Mac an Phríora

    “Will any change in the boundaries result in more money for the schools?”

    I never thought of that. I hope so!!!

    “Also, do the schools receive funding entirely or in part from Údarás na Gaeltachta?”

    Entirely from the Dept of Education I believe.

    “Of course, I suspect this is purely academic as I doubt money will be made available for any such schools in Belfast.”

    Gaelscoileanna are funded by the British Govt. in the North. Its up to the people there to ensure that they have an Assembly that can take charge of this.

    “Surely funding for any gaelscoileanna in a future GQ (as well as all other aspects) will have to come from the British government; I’m guessing the schools would be accommodated under a kind of GM type model. I doubt Bertie would be that generous and even if he were, isn’t there something special in the way the Údarás na Gaeltachta is set up?”

    GQ? What’s special about Údarás na Gaeltachta?

  • Hidden Gem

    Darren Mac an Phrora

    I am not sure about the specifics but I remember watching a programme about the Gaeltacht on RTE1 a few months ago. Apparently Údarás na Gaeltachta, which deals with the economic and cultural promotion of the Gaeltacht in the South, is run by a board of elected representatives made up exclusively from the Gaeltacht constituencies (unlike other government boards which are made up of nation wide representatives). I was wondering if this would have an impact as to whether or not there would be any funding in part from the South? Local representatives might be reluctant to fund projects “outside” their area if there are no votes in it?

  • OIlibhear Chromaill

    HG, you really need to start somewhere else. What I mean is the Belfast Gaeltacht Quarter is not like the traditional Gaeltacht and will not come under the auspices of Udarás na Gaeltachta. It already has its own board – although it is shadow form at present.

    Even if the CG were to get Gaeltacht status as it traditionally stands, it wouldn’t necessarily follow that it would come under the auspices of the údarás. For the reasons you suggest perhaps but also because what is envisaged is so different from the traditional Gaeltacht that both would not sit together.

    I like to think of the CG as being a rebranding or reimagining of what we perceive to be a Gaeltacht. This is a uniquely urban phenomenon. Does that help you understand?

  • Darren Mac an Phríora

    A bit problem with Údarás na Gaeltachta is that many of the elected representatives on it don’t actually represent Gaeltacht areas. So we have been having the ridiculous situation where estates in and around , for example, Galway City have been canvassed at election time.

    The sooner the boundaries get redrawn the better.

    I actually emailed the Údarás last week about putting up some signage for an area in Gaoth Dobhair. I was told that Donegal County Council have that power. The Údarás seem to focus on the economy and the language.

    I can’t see West Belfast ever becomming a real Gaeltacht in the short to medium term anyway. Even if it was though, and arrangments under the GFA, for example, could enable an tÚdarás to have it in its remit it would be questionable as to would they want it.

    I heard Eamon O’ Cuív say a while ago that if he had of known how much dragging Foras na Gaeilge would be under because of its position under the GFA he would not have had it included as a cross border body under the Agreement. The same would happen with an tÚdarás unless the Assembly is up and running properly.

    Forbairt Feirste are doing great work there though. Along with Gael-Taca and Gaillimh Le Gaeilge they are the best organisations promoting Irish in the country.

    I don’t know why people from West Belfast with holiday homes in the Gaeltacht don’t learn Irish.

  • Hidden Gem

    Darren Mac an Phrora

    So the Údarás na Gaeltachta board is not made up exclusively of representatives representing the Gaeltacht areas? This contradicts the TV documentary. Despite unpleasant and patronising tone, I actually agree with him when he says “…what is envisaged is so different from the traditional Gaeltacht…,” This is in deed a unique phenomenon and as such there are no rules. If the ethos, purpose and role of the Údarás na Gaeltachta is examined, I believe there is a valid argument for it to become involved both economically as well as culturally. Granted there is no precedent set to date but I am sure, under the GFA, it could be accommodated; greater North-South cooperation and all that. Furthermore, involvement of the Údarás na Gaeltachta would be a more stabilising influence than a GQ dependant solely on the British government who could pull the plug on funding if and when they see fit. I see no reason why West Belfast can’t become a “real” Gaeltacht area.

  • Darren Mac an Phríora

    What is a GQ???

    Yes, at the moment there are areas- and therby councillors- on Udaras na Gaeltachta who do not represent real Gaeltacht areas. Sure there are some Irish speakers in many of them, but they are mostly English speaking areas. As I said this will change within the next year when the boundaries get redrawn.

    If West Belfast was a Gaeltacht area ie. over 50% of people there spoke Irish every day, I would be in favour of Udaras na Gaeltachta being the local authority.

    West Belfast is mostly a SF heartland. Maybe if they can become a bilingual party over the next 10 years, then West Belfast can. I can’t see either of them happening.

    Look at the SF leadership. Most of them don’t speak Irish, or when they do its only on formal occassions (the only time I have heard Martin McGuiness speaking in Irish was in Stormont). I don’t like it, but a lot of young Nationalists look upto SF leaders. They should lead by example if they are serious about the language.

  • Oilibhear Chromaill

    Darren, you’re in danger of allowing your prejudices regarding SF and West Belfast cloud your argument.

    Effective and all as the Udaras is, nobody wants it to be administering the Gaeltacht Quarter (GQ).

    This is a different type of Gaeltacht to the traditional model. It’s entirely new.

    And don’t get hung up on the 50% standard – which isnit in place yet anyhow, not until next year – as there are many Gaeltacht areas which wouldn’t meet that standard but are Gaeltachtai none the less. Only the most small minded would deny there is a substantial Irish speaking community in Belfast, west Belfast particularly. West, North and South Belfast, this year, have won the annual Glor na nGael competition in recent years, beating competition from traditional Gaeltacht communities. So who would deny them a form of Gaeltacht status.

    Gaeltachtaí, either, aren’t a purely 26 county phenomena. There were Gaeltachtai until relatively recently in Tyrone and Antrim.

    As for SF leaders not using Irish – neither do most of the TDs in Dáil Eireann when conducting their daily business, mainly because the English langauge media, enlightened as ever, won’t report them if they use the first official language.

    And you know well that there’s at least one board member of Udaras who could in no way be described as an Irish speaker….

    Is your hangup just about west Belfast or is it about the north in general or does Sinn Fein have to be involved?

  • Darren Mac an Phríora

    I read a report that one councillor an an tUdaras hasnt got good Irish alright.

    The 50% is important, in the South anway. Areas that at present have 40-49% Irish speakers will have another few years to get over 50%. But then if they don’t they are out. That will mean that their road signage will not be only in Irish etc. I love breac-gaeltachaí (bilingual areas). Indeed even the strongest Gaeltacht areas are breac-gaeltachtaí, although Irish is the primary language.

    I admit to only being in West Belfast once. I went into An Chultúrlann and was disappointed that the canteen staff didn’t have Irish.

    I don’t have any prejudices against West Belfast of course. I don’t like SF, but I’m only hitting on them on this because they have a strong leadership based party and are planning to make the party bilingual with 10 years. If their own leaders won’t speak Irish… or worse only use it politically… then that sends out the wrong message.

    Irish is used more in the Dáil, its just unfortunate that we have a thicko for a Taoiseach. Irish may have not been spoken much in the Dáil the last time we had Irish speaking Taoisigh (with the exception of De Valera) but in future it will.

  • Hidden Gem

    I think Oilibhear Chromaill is right to point out that the “Gaeltachtaí, either, aren’t a purely 26 county phenomena”. If and when Belfast is successful in obtaining the status as a bona fide Gaeltacht area, I would argue that it should enjoy all-Ireland representation. This of course will be culturally but I think this endorsement should be shared, financially at least in apart, by the Southern government. This is new ground. There are no rules and no precedents that I am aware of.

  • Darren Mac an Phríora

    I’m happy to go along with that, but it won’t be a Gaeltacht overnight after it has become a Gaeltacht quarter. To claim otherwise will be to dilute the status the real Gaeltacht areas have. We can call it a breac-Gaeltacht now, although I remain to be convinced of how much Irish is spoken. I find the argument that its the capital city of the Irish language in Ireland a joke. I read only today that Lá had a campaign to get the Ard-Oifigí of Foras na Gaeilge established there on that basis. Galway is clearly the bilingual captial of Ireland. Dublin is next. Then Belfast is, but its growth in Belfast will depend on the development of the Peace Process above anything else, to which we all are a party.

    Cork is also doing excellently. http://www.gael-taca.com

    Everything goes in tandem. I’m not saying that you two do, but some people in the Irish language movement have an all-or-nothing approach to the language. For example, a guy from Glór na nGael was on a Dublin radio station a while ago saying that the city should have its own Gaeltacht with shops etc. This to me is an example of that approach. Surely the aim should be to make Irish as visible on shop signage etc. and then look at that.

  • Oilibhear Chromaill

    Don’t you think that the Gaeltachtaí, as they stand, are so diluted that acknowledging Irish speaking communities within urban areas as a form of Gaeltacht will help rather than hinder progress of the Irish language in the Gaeltacht?

    Belfast, to my mind, is the capital city of the revival of Irish in Ireland because it’s the place where the revival has been most active and effective.

    That said, Lá did NOT have a campaign to locate Foras na Gaeilge’s headquarters in Belfast. There was a campaign by Forbairt Feirste which Lá endorsed that the Belfast office of the Foras would be located in the heart of the Ceathrú Gaeltachta, as a catalyst for development etc, rather than in the city centre. There was ALWAYS going to be a Belfast office.

    The growth of the Irish language in Belfast is not dependent on the peace process. It would be a help, for instance, if the ‘care and maintenance’ shackle was removed from Foras na Gaeilge and other cross border bodies to enable them to be properly funded, along the lines of the Arts Council, but, throughout the years, what the Irish language community in Belfast have established is that they are active in the language movement notwhithstanding the peace process. They are, if anything, contributors to rather than dependents of same – which is more than can be said for people in the south who take it for granted, I might add.

    Also, in response to your remark regarding the Cultúrlann, you may have been there on a day when temporary staff were filling in for someone who was ill or whatever but, by and large, all staff in the Cultúrlann have Irish and are more than willing to speak it.

  • Darren Mac an Phríora

    “Don’t you think that the Gaeltachtaí, as they stand, are so diluted that acknowledging Irish speaking communities within urban areas as a form of Gaeltacht will help rather than hinder progress of the Irish language in the Gaeltacht?”

    Obviously everyone acknowledges the Irish language community in Belfast. The concept of what a Gaeltacht is has to change, but I’ve thought about it a lot and I think the way that we generally describe Gaeltacht’s now is the best way i.e areas in which in the Irish language is the primary language for most people. I think that a Gaeltacht quarter would be the best desctiption for what you have now in Belfast. There is also the possiblity that the area would become a Gaeltacht akin to the areas that we generally associate as being Gaeltacht’s nowadays.

    Although I have never been there, I believe that Bóthar Seoighe is a Gaeltacht, is it not? That’s the model on which the rest of West Belfast can be grown on in conjunction with the development by Irish language organisations, activists and speakers in the area.

    “Belfast, to my mind, is the capital city of the revival of Irish in Ireland because it’s the place where the revival has been most active and effective.”

    Its definetly up there with Galway, but I disagree with arguments that its the bilingual capital.

    I knew there was, quite rightly, always going to be a Belfast office of Foras na Gaeilge.

    “The growth of the Irish language in Belfast is not dependent on the peace process. It would be a help, for instance, if the ‘care and maintenance’ shackle was removed from Foras na Gaeilge and other cross border bodies to enable them to be properly funded, along the lines of the Arts Council, but, throughout the years, what the Irish language community in Belfast have established is that they are active in the language movement notwhithstanding the peace process.”

    Exactly, it would help if the ‘care and maintenance’ shackle was removed from Foras na Gaeilge, but this is dependent on the Peace Process. I agree that it shouldn’t be. Eamon O’ Cuív said recently that he wouldnt agree to this component again in hindsight if he had the chance.

    “They are, if anything, contributors to rather than dependents of same – which is more than can be said for people in the south who take it for granted, I might add.”

    I agree that a lot of people in the South in the Irish language movment don’t excercise much creativity.

    The only good organisations by and large in the South are Gael-Taca and Gaillimh Le Gaeilge. I believe that An Clár as Gaeilge are excellent as well- in Shannon anyway- and I’ve heard a bit about Tiobráid Arann le Gaeilge. There are some brances of Conradh na Gaeilge and Glór na nGael that are good as well, but by and large they aren’t at marketing.

    Any Irish language worth his salt knows that Irish speakers in the North are taking the lead. However, if you want to highlight the failures in the Irish language movement in the South you’ll have to do so. There is a dearth of public critcism within the Irish language movement, and this pisses people off. Your critcisms would be welcome by all.

  • Darren Mac an Phríora

    “Any Irish language activist…”

  • Darren Mac an Phríora

    I’ve critcised the irony in Conradh na Gaeilge’s approach with FG in a letter in the Examiner (also in the Kerryman) a while back. I sent off another letter to them a couple of days ago, and an article to Village magazine critcising a lot of the failings in the Irish language movement in the South. Neither of them may be published but some may over the next while.

    http://www.gaelport.com/index.php?page=clippings&id=1242&viewby=date

    Critcising them is not on top of my list, but while they critcise FG, while simulaneouly not engaging with their members on internet chat rooms etc. and possibly target marginal FG consituencies at the expense of turing people off I will.

    I suggest you activists in the North do the same in general about the Irish language movement in the South. Why can’t Irish be as visible in shop fronts in Dublin as it is in West Belfast?

  • Hidden Gem

    The language only stands to benefit people in urban areas using the language and I fail to see how any use of the language, no matter slight or infrequent, could hinder it’s progress. It is in deed time to reconsider our definition of what it means to be a “Gaeltacht”. Belfast enjoys quite a unique circumstance. It functions within a different jurisdiction, it is in an urban setting and, IMO, it is the “Johnny come lately” of Irish language promoters. For Belfast to become a lasting success, it needs to be of sound foundation. Culturally, there is a wealth of knowledge and experience to draw on from the Southern government and financially it should be needs to be open to offers and supported on an All-Ireland basis.

  • Steve Burn

    I have just read all the comments concerning setting up an “Irish Quarter” in West Belfast. It would add a certain flavour to the area and highlight the language no end.

    As for other “Quarters?”

    Believe me, judging by what’s happening over here in England you will have no trouble seeing a Polish, Bulgarian,Somali,Afghan,Romanian and any Tom Dick and Harry Quarter spring up alongside your native one.

    Then we’ll see who has patience?

  • Darren Mac an Phríora

    The important thing is that you differentiate between the good organisations in the Irish language movement and the not so good ones. Work with the good ones, leave the rest of them to do whatever it is they do. I named the good ones above. I’m a committee member of Gael-Taca in Dublin, if you want you can pm me on politics.ie. We’re happy to work with yous. Although the Conradh will as well, and I know they have offices in West Belfast and many brances in the North, there is a bit dichotomy between them North and South when it comes to activim. Although we are a lot smaller than they are we do the same work similar to Forbairt Feirste. Conradh na Gaeilge don’t seem to market Irish outside of Seachain na Gaeilge.

  • Darren Mac an Phríora

    I’m not rascist Steve. I wouldn’t mind seeing other official quarters in Ireland. We argubably already have Chinese, Polish and African quarters already. If they aren’t as connected to be real quarters, they will be some day. Multiculuralism is good, particularly for the Irish language. It reminds monolingual English speakers of their linguistic position.

  • rob

    Like everything else here, one BIG problem for any irish speaking part of Belfast will be “politics”. Though I don’t have any Irish myself I like to see it being promoted and I think a lot of people feel the same way. But if people associate the irish language with Sinn Fein the whole project will become yet another political football and unionists wont support it because it’ll be seen as fenian.

  • Oilibhear Chromaill

    The important thing is that you differentiate between the good organisations in the Irish language movement and the not so good ones. Work with the good ones, leave the rest of them to do whatever it is they do. I named the good ones above. I’m a committee member of Gael-Taca in Dublin

    To be frank with you, Darren, any member of Gael Taca in Dublin – as distinct from GT in Cork – is in a poor position to be deciding which organisation is good and which isn’t in Belfast. You’re not on the ground here so you’re ignorant in the main of what’s happening up here so please don’t presume to be the arbiter of what’s good or not.

    Wasn’t it Gael Taca BAC who instigated the spectacularly unsuccessful campaign trying to counter the alleged influence of English in the Irish language media?

    I suggest Gael Taca BAC achieves a fraction of what’s been achieved in west Belfast before a committee member decides to tell the readers of slugger who he thinks is a good or otherwise organisation in west Belfast.

  • Darren Mac an Phríora

    I’m not au fait enough with Irish langauge activists in Belfast to know how many of them see themslves as part of the SF republican movement.

    However, the Gaeltacht Quarter is supported by the Dept of Heritage and Belfast City Council as well as, I believe, the SDLP, Ian Malcolm and the Irish editor of the Irish News.

    Many Unionists have to stop their sectarian thinking of the Irish language. Do any of them want a list of some of the, for example, TD’s in the South with Irish??? You’d swear only Sinn Féin members spoke Irish.

  • is mise

    “You’d swear only Sinn Féin members spoke Irish.”

    So true. If it wasn’t for them they’d be no irish spoken in west belfast

  • Hidden Gem

    rob

    …if people associate the irish language with Sinn Fein the whole project will become yet another political football…”

    I have made the exact same point several times on this thread. IMO, I think it is foolish to ignore this as there is a real danger that it might happen.

    Darren Mac an Phrora

    “However, the Gaeltacht Quarter is supported by the Dept of Heritage and Belfast City Council as well as, I believe, the SDLP, Ian Malcolm and the Irish editor of the Irish News.”

    This regional support is both welcome and necessary if a GQ is to be achieved in Belfast. It would be interesting to know how people think such a project can or will be self-sustaining. A GQ here can draw on a wealth of knowledge and experience from interested groups, departments in the South. Though some have been more successful than others, I think it’s all good for the future development of the language.

  • Darren Mac an Phríora

    “To be frank with you, Darren, any member of Gael Taca in Dublin – as distinct from GT in Cork – is in a poor position to be deciding which organisation is good and which isn’t in Belfast. You’re not on the ground here so you’re ignorant in the main of what’s happening up here so please don’t presume to be the arbiter of what’s good or not.

    Wasn’t it Gael Taca BAC who instigated the spectacularly unsuccessful campaign trying to counter the alleged influence of English in the Irish language media?

    I suggest Gael Taca BAC achieves a fraction of what’s been achieved in west Belfast before a committee member decides to tell the readers of slugger who he thinks is a good or otherwise organisation in west Belfast.”

    Well we have done a good lot. And SECONDLY, I never made out that I was an arbiter of what is happening in Belfast. If you read my posts you would see that I was talking about the South. Please point out where I made out that I claimed to be an arbiter of what is good and what is not in Belfast.

    Yes, our Secretary sent off letters for a while regarding Béarlachas. I didn’t agree with it, but he takes it seriously so I went along with it.

    I don’t know how it was spectacularly unsuccessful. It highlighted the issue. That is all he hoped for.

    “I suggest Gael Taca BAC achieves a fraction of what’s been achieved in west Belfast before a committee member decides to tell the readers of slugger who he thinks is a good or otherwise organisation in west Belfast.”

    Sounds rather defensive, considering that I didn’t point out any bad organisations in West Belfast.

  • Steve Burn

    Good constructive comments Darren,you sound like a nice bloke or should I say a good “cara”.
    My Irish only extends to “republican speak” and over the years that has virtually gone too.However, I believe an “Irish Quarter” on the Falls will no doubt develope and those who wish to help it along will all muck in regardless of the Orange/Green card being played.
    My only concern is your use of multiculteralism in the equation. It doesn’t come into this debate and my comments regarding other areas springing up were to let you know what happens when it runs away with itself.
    I believe it doesn’t work in England but it may work in Ireland although I was amazed to see Afghan women begging in Dundalk when we arrived on site for work in 1999.
    Many speak Irish in West Belfast already although it is certainly used more in political circles and that’s no secret. It’s when other cultures arrive that we have seen problems over here and I wonder whether the population of that part of Belfast would be so open armed with multiculteralism if it was seen to oppose and criticise the existing way of life.
    The only thing that really offends me in these debates is “racist” and “homophobic” comments when all people are trying to do is highlight what happens when you open your doors to other cultures and one day you realise you are being chased down the street because you turned right instead of left and entered “their area”. Does that ring a bell in Belfast. It does with me. Any area that promotes Ireland in any way has my backing. But please don’t be blinkered in thinking others from far away think along the same lines because they don’t.Bradford and East London are typical examples and are light years away from anything good like an “Irish Quarter” just off the Falls.

  • Hidden Gem

    I would disagree with those who believe muticulturalism doesn’t work in England. I think it does work in England and if anything, it has worked too well, as England often stands accused of having sold out it’s unique culture. Sure, there are towns with a strong community tensions but we’re in no position to pass judgement on that now, are we? But towns like Bradford and East London are dwarfed in number by the number of towns made up of several substantially sized minority communities that are living side by side with little race hate crime at all. Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham are a few such towns. I see no reason why it would be any different here. However this is all academic if the neighbouring community to a GQ feels threatened and uneasy at the prospect. This is where education has a role to play and that requires money. Where is the money to come from? PPPs?

  • Darren Mac an Phríora

    I didn’t know it was going to happen today!!! Great news!!!

    I would look at it as my own little Gaeltacht if I lived there, but it would be a mistake in my view to market it as a Gaeltacht- as opposed to a Gaeltacht Quarter- not until the language grows big time.

    Jake Mac Siacais from Forbairt Feirste put it well to UTV today, but TV3 made it out like it was a full Gaeltacht. That will make it be ridiclued.

    http://www.utvlive.com/newsroom/indepth.asp?id=76553&pt=n

  • Hidden Gem

    IMO, there is merit in a debate surrounding Gaeltacht or simply GQ. For me, an important point which I don’t see being addressed is the question of finance. In this era of greater North-South cooperation, there is a wealth of knowledge AND finance to be had from the South. I doubt it will receive all the necessary support if it is seen as a “West Belfast Irish” area. For it’s long term success, I think it needs to be bigger than that and that means money.

  • Norn Iron 4ever

    Do people in West Belfast actually use the language in conversation? Any time I’ve been on the Falls I’ve never heard it spoken!

    Our distinctive Norn Iron dialect should be promoted more. Look at how proud people in the English regions are of Geordie, Scouse or Yorkshire dialects- and Ulster English is much more distinct in terms of vocabulary and grammer than any of these.

    That said I’ve no problem with the area being designated a Gaeltacht Quarter- What difference will it make really?

  • Seán

    West Belfast needs social housing FAST.

    After the dismal coverage the GQ got on TV3 some more marketing is needed to attract people to the Quarter- and IT IS NOT a Gaeltacht.

    Of course, many people will be turned off returning to the area from the poverty there.

    Are SF addressing that issue?

  • Y Cymro

    I recently visited the An Culturlann Centre twice and I really enjoyed the place. Initially I was treated cordially but frostily until I asked them to translate Gaelic into English and then I would translate into Welsh. We had discussion about both languages and the development of both. I was a bit dissapointed with most of the Irish language books having no word for Wales although I did get a translation.It seems that it is cool to be Celt and this is certainly reflected in Wales where there is an increase in Welsh language schools. I hope the same thing happens over there.Defeintely worth a visit.

  • Rob

    Oh boy!! I remember Ecce Romani in school!!
    And it’s actually…

    Ecce! In pictura est puella, nomine Cornelia. Cornelia est latae.

    Flavia doesn’t come into the story for at least another couple of sentences!!!

    Oh dear God, I think I’ll go have a lie down…