Non sectarian, or Mickey Mouse?

You get the impression sometimes that councillors say things in the chamber, they clearly don’t think will make it any further… But the sharp ears of the County Down Spectator where there when North Down Borough Council discussed the possible local implications of the Irish Language Act. One sharped eyed North Down reader picked up an interesting exchange, involving two views within one party.

Cllr Alan Graham DUP said “I think it’s very important that this doesn’t simply become a cultural thing or almost a sectarian issue and I think everybody needs to have a common sense approach in this whole thing.”

I wonder if that was before or after his colleague MLA and Cllr Alex Easton DUP said “I believe it’s a Mickey Mouse language”

Presumably Alex also thinks Ulster Scots is Mickey Mouse too – I think we ought to be told!!

There were objections, we understand, to the use of the term from the Alliance benches…

  • The Devil

    oops i see a lible action coming from west belfast

  • Truth and Justice

    Sure No one speaks the Irish Language in North Down its a 90% Unionist area, it would be a waist of time to spend money on it, it is a nonsence it has no support Alex Easton is right in what he says.

  • Articlavian

    “I believe it’s a Mickey Mouse language”

    Am I reading this right? Are you seriously entertaining the possibilty that this is a sectarian remark Mick? If you are you’re another victim brainwashed by the P.C. Police…try stepping into the shoes of a Fountain or Irish Street resident in Londonderry for a day, or a Cluan Place or Suffolk resident in Belfast and you’ll get first-hand experience of b1gotry, sectarianism and violence. To call the Carling Cup in England a “Mickey Mouse Cup” is to infer that it is of little significance. Similarly, to call Gaelic a “Mickey Mouse Language” is to describe how important it is in the island of Ireland, let alone in global terms…it doesn’t even feature on the radar!

  • Concerned Loyalist

    The remark above is mine, I put in a different username I have for another site on the web…

  • USA

    The comment is rude and exposes the speakers own ignorance and prejudice. As a political representative he should be much more sensative to diversity within the society in which he lives.
    He is suffering from the same intolerance that causes people to attack homes throughout the “wee six”.

  • Perhaps the DUP should be forced to wear sackcloth and ashes and be barred from forming part of the Executive until they prove the bone fides of the ‘Democratic’ in their party title and start to respect the rights of their fellow countrymen.

  • willis

    I wonder how you would get on in the DUP if you described Free Presbyterianism as a “Mickey Mouse” denomination?

  • eranu

    the irish language act has to be one of the daftest ideas to come out of our latest ‘agreement’ .
    honestly, what is the point in making government communicate in irish? where exactly does that get us? are we better off somehow?
    there are 0 people who only speak irish and dont speak english…
    if i had to guess id say that the nationalist mind wants to think they are a little bit more ‘like the republic’
    the shinner mind may imagine some way of continuing ‘the struggle’ by weighing down offices in paper work

    unfortunately it can only be a sectarian thing because only the more extreme catholic nationalists are going to request irish, and then you’ll get the silly comments coming back from the other side..

  • verum

    Its all very well railing against the Irish language act and what it might mean, its fine to point out its not exactly spoken by mnay people, it’s alright to point out political correctness / concessions have gone too far – that’s all fair game.

    However,Truth and Justice (what a misnomer!, to dismiss an ancient language as Mickey Mouse just exposes his own stupidity as well as being intended as an insult, plain and simple, no matter how many speak it in North Down.

    Compare Easton’s comments with his party colleague’s.

    Maybe we should run around calling all minor languages Mickey Mouse?

    By the way, could this possibly be the same councillor who, when asked for help by a local business to stop the vandalism and graffitti being inflicted on its premises by the local youths, received a letter back from this esteemed public representative telling the business owners to remove the graffitti as residents had been complaining to him about it!!! I think we should be told!!

    The business owners were Chinese. Any connection I wonder?

  • Truth and Justice

    I think Verum you are making it up as you go along

  • IJP

    Unfortunately I was out of the country when this debate took place.

    Clearly my views would be nearer Graham’s than Easton’s.

    To summarise for information, the Alliance Party position is that if such an act is to be rights-based, it must apply to all languages, not just Irish.

    The issue of the promotion of the Irish language (distinct from rights for those who choose to use it or other languages) is best dealt with on a cross-border basis, as it is part of the common heritage of the whole island and we on this island must do 95% of the work required to secure its future.

    Mick will do the other 5% in England, of course… 🙂

  • time will tell

    It’s only Mickey-mouse when Goofey Adams speaks it

  • Verum

    T&J

    I don’t think I could be that inventive!

  • bpower

    IJP

    “To summarise for information, the Alliance Party position is that if such an act is to be rights-based, it must apply to all languages, not just Irish.”

    Can explain what you mean by “rights-based” in this context? Do you think, for example, that people should have the right to deal with government departments in any language they chose?

  • Mick Fealty

    CL,

    I can assure you all I was doing was contrasting the statements of two party colleagues, not passing judgement.

  • BonarLaw

    IJP

    ” as it is part of the common heritage …”

    It certainly is common to Nationalists on either side of the border. However, it is a tag of Irish identity and alien to most Unionists. That’s not to say I can’t appreciate someone elses’ culture but I object to others pretending it is somehow mine.

  • BonarLaw

    IJP

    BTW sorry that you are not standing in N.Down this time.

    The chosen one is repulsive and unable to attract transfers.

  • troglodyte

    for a language that is dead and not spoken by anyone it sure does create a lot of blogging traffic ! some primeval memory perhaps!

  • jamestwo

    truth and justice—– your spelling could do with some work. Are you not ashamed of yourself? Or if you are ten years old then , well done; not a bad effort.

  • Diluted Orange

    Really! When are we going to concentrate on things that actually matter or spend public money on things that actually matter in Northern Ireland?

    In what way will this advance us as a people if things are translated into Irish, or Ulster-Scots for that matter? No-one speaks either language! Surely it would make more sense to translate it into Chinese, Portuguese, Polish or Lithuanian, seeing as there are a lot more people residing in Northern Ireland who actually speak these languages as their mother tongue.

  • joeCanuck

    Just out of curiosity (although topic related), does anyone know if there are any EU regulations giving people the right, for example, to have an interpreter (for an official EU language) available if they have to appear in court?

  • Kloot

    Personally, I can accept that the Irish language is not spoken by the absolute majority of people on this island, and it annoys me quite alot when those seeking to promote the language thing that by having signs in Irish or having every government report available in Irish will in someway keep the language alive…it wont. To keep the language alive you need to get people speeking it. The money would be much better spent by having grants available for local schools or organisations which want to teach the language.

    As for the ‘Mickey Mouse’ comment. It comes across as an intended insult to the nationalist community and as such is in bad taste.

  • smacs

    diluted orange
    Síleann tú go bhfuil cearta teanga maith go leor ag Sínigh,pórtaingéiligh,Polannaigh agus liotúanaigh ach nach bhfuil aon cheart ag Gaeil ar an rud céanna. Dar liom go bhfuil sin rud beag ciníoch. Cád é an deacracht ata agat leis na Gaeil bhochta?

  • Greenflag

    ‘ It comes across as an intended insult to the nationalist community and as such is in bad taste.’

    My god you are perceptive Kloot 🙂 It also BTW gives any Nationalists and Republicans who overheard this gobshite a perfect excuse for replying in like manner when an occassion presents itself . And it will :(And so it goes on and on etc etc .

  • BP1078

    Just out of curiosity (although topic related), does anyone know if there are any EU regulations giving people the right, for example, to have an interpreter (for an official EU language) available if they have to appear in court?

    Don’t know if it’s a EU regulation, but,the answer is “yes”.

  • Michael Shilliday

    IJP, have Alliance costed that policy?

  • Kloot

    My god you are perceptive Kloot 🙂

    Cheers for noticing 🙂 its done my ego the world of good.. next up world economic policy towards 3rd world nations

  • smacs

    maybe DUP Cllr Alan Graham was more perceptive to the Gaelic language because of his folk memory

    “In Argyllshire the name Macilvernock or warnock, MacGille Mheárnaig in Gaelic ~son of the devotee of Ernan~was made Graham ” Bells Ulster Surnames

  • Truth and Justice

    Lets be honest about it the Irish Language is not spoken in North Down, it would be a complete waist of rate payers money if it was spent turning all council notes and signs into Irish, as such the comments of Easton are fair and balanced.

  • Sean

    t&j

    you cant really be serious ? fair and balanced?

    I call bullshit

    If he had said “In our jurisdiction the Irish language is hardly used and therefore Irish signs ridiculous” that would be fair and balanced

    However if I said “little ian paisley looks like Alfred E. Newman of Mad Magazine fame” would that be fair and balanced? of course not

  • Londonderry

    Sure it is a Mickey Mouse language though

  • Mick Fealty

    T&J,

    Actually, it is spoken (with a will) in some isolated parts of North Down. But surely the more pertinent (political) question is: what obligation does the Act impose upon the people of North Down? And, given its other responsibilities, is it a reasonable burden?

  • IJP

    bpower

    I believe that any basic rights to deal with Government in any language should be equal, regardless of the language (or, more to the point, the speaker) concerned.

    In practice, I believe our whole political discourse is far too much about rights and about absolutes, and far too little about what is reasonable and practical.

    In practice, a universal right that one should be able to deal with Government in the language of one’s choice would quite clearly be neither reasonable or practical.

    BonarLaw

    Thank you for your kind comments (I think!)

    However, the Irish language is a common heritage.

    The point is often abused by Nationalists, but the truth is that the Irish language wouldn’t be here were it not for Irish Protestants – some of whom, I’ve no doubt, were not Nationalist!

    (By the way, for the record, the chosen one is doing very well attracting voters according to the response on the doorsteps so far.)

  • Sean

    Ahh Derry

    not as much as Ulster Scots

  • IJP

    Michael

    Not for the first time I would ask you to read precisely what is written!

    What’s to cost?

  • IJP

    Truth and Justice

    There is a flourishing Irish Language society in Holywood, many of whose members use Irish daily. There may well be similar in Bangor.

    So Irish is spoken in North Down, and by residents of North Down.

  • IJP

    Mick

    Hadn’t seen your 12:14 – you are quite right of course.

    There is another question though: is legislation necessary, or just better policy?

    The distinction between legislation and policy is very important, as the latter offers far more flexibility but less recourse in law.

    As a Liberal, my preference is always to go as far as you can by adapting policy.

  • Maitiú Ó Garmaile

    The Irish language is a right of everyone on this island. The north has spent enough time catching up on these basic civil rights. It has nothing to do with politics although certain forces will seek to inextricably link them.

    North Down may be a cultureless vacuum in which the majority of local politicians seek to put Irish down. Apathy in this area towards nationalism is understandable. This area have elected Bob McCartney as MP before which doesn’t say much. Irish is a language which can not be said for Ulster Scots.

    Is TRUTH AND JUSTICE sure there are no Irish speakers in North Down. Surely there a few nationalists about the place, not to mention those of a unionist persuasion with open minds who can speak it? Do you know how I know? It’s because I know them.

    Irish should not be seen as alien to unionists, although the DUP would like everyone to think it is. Northern Ireland is not as British as Finchley.

  • Rory

    Given that the majority of DUP representatives seem to have great difficulty coping with the English language it is perhaps understandable that are a little shy of yet another language.

  • Rory

    On the walls of council offices in Haringey in North London signs are posted in a myriad of languages : Urdu, Hindi, Swahili, Mandarin, Polish and many, many more including……Irish.

  • I’ve put some details of the planned Irish Language Act march here if anyone is interested in taking part: http://elblogador.blogspot.com/2007/02/support-your-language.html

  • Nevin

    Is it a good idea to use the Irish language as a political weapon?

    Will public bodies provide language services to meet the needs of all citizens or will some other minority languages be disadvantaged as a result of special provisions being made for Irish?

    Will the Bain proposals on viable schools eliminate many of the Irish language medium schools?

    Will Irish become a compulsory subject on the primary and secondary education timetables?

  • “Will the Bain proposals on viable schools eliminate many of the Irish language medium schools? ”

    I suspect Gaelic medium schools already have an exemption. If not they will.

    “Will Irish become a compulsory subject on the primary and secondary education timetables? “

    No chance.

  • Greenflag

    Nevin,

    ‘Is it a good idea to use the Irish language as a political weapon? ‘

    No it’s not . If the Irish language is to die out as a spoken language it should be allowed to do so with dignity . In the meantime whatever the longer term linguistic outcome those who speak it and love it should not be drawn into the ‘political conflict’ in NI . There’s enough conflictual meat in matters constitutional and pseudo religious to keep all tribes at each others throats for another few generations at the very least !

    For a large minority in Ireland the Irish language is important and a part of their national /cultural identity. Likewise for a large minority in Ireland the ‘union’ with the UK
    is important and a part of their national/cultural identity.

    Why don’t we all just accept that and move on to a political solution which can accept both without disparaging or denying either ?

  • Reader

    Nevin: Is it a good idea to use the Irish language as a political weapon?
    Easy to avoid. Let each council spend money on Irish services in proportion to the number of Irish speakers in the council area. Then publish the accounts. See what the next census says…

  • Truth and Justice

    Firstly im not in the DUP, secondly i hate the way Nationalist use the Irish Language as a stick to beat Unionists with the reality is North Down is a Unionist area with no or very little support for the Irish Language so why try and force it down peoples throats, keep it in the areas it has support, i understand a reporter from the News leter found it very hard to find anyone on the Falls Road who can speak it, and thats why it is a joke.

  • 21stcenturyirishman

    if you want to speak Irish go ahead and speak it, if you want to speak Russian, be my guest. but please don’t ask me to pay for your nonsense hobbies.

  • kensei

    “Firstly im not in the DUP, secondly i hate the way Nationalist use the Irish Language as a stick to beat Unionists with the reality is North Down is a Unionist area with no or very little support for the Irish Language so why try and force it down peoples throats, keep it in the areas it has support,

    In the case of there being little or no support for the Irish Language in the area, then the council should get proportionally less requests. There are perfectly sensible solutions to this.
    If you want to avoid it, it should be very easy to do. This isn’t “forcing it down peoples throats”.

    What you are suggesting is to disadvantage some people because of where they live, and to confine the language to ghettos.

    Why exactly is it a threat to you anyway?

  • Rory

    Seems a lot of people are concerned about having Irish “forced down their throats” which amusingly has echoes of the Tunbridge Wells man’s response to the demand for gay rights, “I have nothing against homosexuals, I just don’t want them forced down my throat”.

    I remember at a party two decades ago being congratulated on my spoken English “for a Northern Irish person”, by a supercillious Oxbridge twit.

    “I ought to”, I replied,” it was the language your forebears taught mine at the point of a sword”.

  • T.Ruth

    I suspect that Councillor Easton is concerned that huge sums of money will be spent on promoting a form of the Irish language that bears no relation to that originally spoken in Ulster in ancient times. The Irish taught in Northern ireland schools now is an artificial construct, produced at the whim of Mr.de Valera that well known supporter of all things Celtic. It has no roots in antiquity and is in a very real sense a Mickey Mouse language, often used as a means of increasing community division-a bit like so called “contentious” parades..People like Nelson Mccausland on the Unionist side might be accused of doing a similar revisionist job on Ulster Scotch to the detriment of a proper understanding of that language. I would recommend that Slugger comission a piece from Dr.Ian Adamson on this subject. His book “Cruthin” the Ancient Kindred(published 1974) would be a good starting point for those with a genuine interest in real Ulster Gaelic and Ulster Scots.
    Meanwhile I am thankful that Mr.Easton,(hugely respected for his efforts in his work as an MLA) continues to represent North Down constituents like myself who do not want to pay to indulge the Celtic fringe in its use of a language as a tool for community division.I would also appreciate from contributors some historical evidence that there ever was any significant Celtic presence in Ulster-i await with interest the response of the experts.
    T.Ruth

  • IJP

    Maitiu

    The Irish language is a right of everyone on this island.

    What the hell does that mean?

    Why the Irish language? Why this island?

    Should Irish people in Glasgow not be entitled to use Irish if they so choose? Should Polish people in Dublin not be entitled to use Polish?

    We really have to get beyond meaningless phrases.

    Truth and Justice

    North Down is a Unionist area.

    No it isn’t.

    It has Unionists living in it, yes. So has West Belfast. It also has Nationalists living in it. And then there are the people who elected six Alliance Councillors, one Green Councillor and one Independent Councillor at the last local elections.

    All of us really have to get beyond this tribal mentality. An “area” can’t have a political designation, only the people living in it can, and even then it’s rarely universal.

  • kensei

    “I suspect that Councillor Easton is concerned that huge sums of money will be spent on promoting a form of the Irish language that bears no relation to that originally spoken in Ulster in ancient times. The Irish taught in Northern ireland schools now is an artificial construct, produced at the whim of Mr.de Valera that well known supporter of all things Celtic. ”

    Actually, no, you are factually incorrect. The Irish spoken and taught in Ulster maintains distinctions from other dialects including the official dialect of the state.

    Secondly living languages evolve and change, which is why we aren’t speaking old or middle English. If adopted by the state requires a standardised version and given the politcal nature of adopting one, it is likely to pull in aspects of a couple in order to neutralise the issue. Ulster Irish has been influenced by these changes and contact with other dialects, but that is an entirely natural process. Other languages evolve and change to, including official revisions. Scottish Gaelic has had a few more drastic changes.

  • Dan

    Some of you clearly don’t understand the difference between a minority language and a DEAD LANGUAGE.

    That, or you are letting your bitterness get the better of you.

  • chancer

    Truth and Justice must be one of the few public representatives of the DUP who are not actually a member of the party.

  • POL

    However if I said “little ian paisley looks like Alfred E. Newman of Mad Magazine fame” would that be fair and balanced? of course not

    Dont know about being fair and balanced, but a remarkable resembalance methinks.

  • Globetrotter

    “I would also appreciate from contributors some historical evidence that there ever was any significant Celtic presence in Ulster-i await with interest the response of the experts”.
    T.Ruth

    Not an expert by any means, but surely place names are a bit of a clue as to who populated an area? Or was Ulster a barren desert before the planters came to civilise it?

  • Crossgar Native

    T.Ruth
    “I suspect that Councillor Easton is concerned that huge sums of money will be spent on promoting a form of the Irish language that bears no relation to that originally spoken in Ulster in ancient times. The Irish taught in Northern ireland schools now is an artificial construct, produced at the whim of Mr.de Valera that well known supporter of all things Celtic.”

    Rubbish, the Irish taught and spoken in County Down is that dialect native of the county. As promulgated enthusiastically by William Neilson, a Protestant minister born in Saintfield who established a thriving Academy in the village for the teaching of the language in the late 18th erly 19th century!
    Irish was spoken as a native tongue in Loughinisland and areas outside Castlewellan up until the early 1940s! The language is our own and is part of our shared heritage, regardless of religion or politics. It deserves our support.

  • Fab 5 Freddy

    The problem with this language is that the Unionist community believe it is used for political reasons. The quote ‘Tiocfaidh ar la’ has been used in an aggressive manner for years, A recent case of the Teacher using this phrase to a Police officer in an intimidating way and refusing to co-operate led to her arrest, now its the whole human rights bandwagan again, ‘can’t speak my on language’, ‘feeling degraded and humiliated’ etc etc If someone wants to learn/speak ‘Irish’ thats all well and good but to bring out an act and to spend God knows how much Public money on it is scandal.

  • Crossgar Native

    Freddy.

    You seem to be confusing freedoms with active promulgation. There is a demand for the ‘Irish’ language, as you put it (why the “_”?), to be promoted, protected and encouraged.

    The methods in which this is being pursued throughout the island is to :
    1)Make services available on demand through the medium of Irish,

    2)Create job opportunites for people wishing to use language, both inside and outside the Gaeltacht areas,

    3)Foster a social scene where young people such as myself can meet and use our Irish in the way we would like – in an everyday social setting,

    4)Encourage its place on school curriculums

    5)Reform the way it is taught to reflect the vibrancy and renewal which has come about in the last 5-10 years.

    Spending money on council services is not the spearhead of this campaign, the resources involved will be relatively insignificant. I fail to see why the promotion of what should a shared aspect of our culture prokes such derision/fear/outrage from some quarters

  • Rory

    Be careful, POL. Alfred E. Newman would be well entitled to sue.

  • Concerned Loyalist

    I wonder how you would get on in the DUP if you described Free Presbyterianism as a “Mickey Mouse” denomination?

    Posted by willis on Feb 09, 2007 @ 05:08 PM

    Just as Gaelic is a “Mickey Mouse” language, Free Presbyerianism is a “Mickey Mouse” denomination if you equate it to the overall picture of Protestantism globally…I am not much of a church-goer so would identify myself as a Loyalist first and a Protestant second, but I am a member of a Presbyterian congregation and don’t really feel there is a need for the breakaway Free Presbyerian Church…