Ulster Scots phoneline not used in three years…

If the DUP are serious about taking a rigorously pragmatic approach to government (well someone has to – ed), they might do no worse than look at the government voicemail service for phone calls from Ulster-Scots speakers has not been used once in more than three years. Though the Irish language equivalent only shipped 15 in the same period.. H/T Mark!

Update: Seems the Tele had it first…

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  • gaelgannaire

    I know for a fact that thats not true – a mate of mine is always leaving meassages in tha hamely tongue on that phone line.

  • SuperSoupy

    How much expense is involved is checking a voicemail with no messages? I doubt there’s a department.

  • james orr

    Remember the free availability of copies of the GFA before the Referendum? HMG were handing them out f.o.c. all over the place, and also set up a voicemail service for people to leave their names and addresses to be sent a copy in the post. Both English and Irish versions were available.

    I know of some people who – jist rakin aboot noo – left a voicemail asking for an Ulster-Scots copy… only to discover some months later (from an NIO source) that all such names and addresses had been scooped up into a database “for future reference”…

  • idunnomeself

    I don’t get it, if no one uses it it is zero-cost surely, and at least now when the less used language lobbies claim that we need civil servants to speak Irish or Ulster-Scots the mandarins have some sort of idea of likely demand?

    The tele has a picture of a man sitting twiddling his thumbs beside a phone, do they know this is what happens?

  • Briso

    >The Linguistic Operations Branch of the
    >Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure (DCAL)
    >told the Belfast Telegraph newspaper that a
    >professional translator had been hired for the
    >phone messages received.

    Beyond parody.

  • Oilibhear Chromaill

    The question has to be asked: how pro-active have DCAL been in promoting the hotlines? Have they actually placed adverts in the Irish language media or in the Ulster Scot? Has there been any effort to publicise the hotlines? I can tell you for a fact that I have not heard or seen anything which could be vaguely described as promoting this service.

    So the Ulster Scots speakers can’t be blamed for not calling a telephone number they have never been told about? And the same goes on the Irish langauge side. People aren’t looking to for an excuse to cause themselves grief, they’re looking for a public service in their own language and if it’s not public information – see how the Tele had to apply for the info about the hotline under the FOI Act! – then they’re not going to bother.

    Another black mark for DCAL on account of their irrational and highly questionable approach to providing a service to the public.

  • IJP

    I’m not fan of DCAL, but its failings are precisely the opposite of what Oilibhear suggests.

    The Ulster-Scots “hotline” is a nonsense, brought about as usual by the sectarian carve-up (“themmuns has it, so us’ns must have it too”).

    Ulster Scots’ development/promotion requirements are fundamentally different from Irish Gaelic’s. How many times must this point be proved before it is taken on board?

    And idunnomeself, money was wasted setting up this facility, and is symptomatic of all the other money just thrown away on Ulster Scots for eight years now. DCAL doesn’t even agree with the Ulster-Scots Agency about how the language is defined! A shambles.

    The only good news is we have a more sensible Ulster-Scots Agency Board now, and like Foras na Gaeilge, they should be allowed to get on with the job without DCAL interference.

  • Oilibhear Chromaill

    Just paid a quick visit to the dcal website and under the tab, contact us, tried to find the number for the Irish language hotline or the Ulster Scots version. No sign of it.

    No wonder there are no calls. I hazard a guess that the 15 who called the Irish hotlilne maybe were looking for the Ballywalter Games Fair?

  • OIlibhear Chromaill

    IJP, I don’t know how you get to those conclusions. There’s absolutely no sense in setting up a hotline if you don’t tell people you’ve done so and don’t provide them with the number. That is, unless you want it to fail. So, perhaps, on that score, DCAL have succeeded. Your sectarian carveup argument seems to me to be the single transferableargument of the Alliance Party to all issues, It doesn’t apply here. What could be happening here is DCAL civil servants engineering a story so as to forestall the eventuality under an Irish Language Act of providing services genuinely needed by Irish speakers to them in that language. What better way than to have a ‘story’ planted in the media showing ‘no demand’ for such a service when there patently is. 5,000 people took part in Belfast demonstration on 24 February to make that demand. Several hundredresponded to a consultation on same – 93% wanted an Irish language Act. The response was so positive the first time around that I think that DCAL are scared that they may have to bite the Gaeilge bullet and therefore, we have this story…..

  • interested

    I feel a huge black cloud hanging over me this morning – I have just found myself in agreement with something said by John Laird.

    SCRAP THEM BOTH!. There are precisely zero people in Northern Ireland who need either the Irish or Ulster Scots phone lines. Fire the translator(s) and hire a nurse or something.

    Oilibhear
    There aint going to be no Irish language Act so forget about it.

  • Gréagóir O’ Frainclín

    Ah ear buouy, Uoolster Scoots iz a vareee impartannt aspeck of Uoolster Scoots cuolturre inn de nordy iron….aka litle britaine.

  • Oh yes there is, Interested, now take yourself and bury your head in the sand.

  • fair_deal

    Til yestreen A niver kent ocht anent thir an A wid tak tent o Ulster-Scotch daeins. Thaur wud be muckle mair tae be daen fur tha leid afore A wid spenn siller oan a speir sarvice bot.

  • interested

    Olibhear.

    And how exactly is an Irish Language Act going to get the cross-community consent it would require to pass?

    It just isn’t going to happen. Plain and simple.

  • Ginfizz

    Hmmm…

    15 calls to the Irish Language phone line in three years. Yet we need an Act?

  • providing services genuinely needed by Irish speakers to them in that language

    Which government services do Irish speakers genuinely need provided to them in that language? How many people are inconvenienced by having to deal with public bodies in – SHOCK! – English? Can you give me a single example of where a citizen has had some ill come to them because their English wasn’t good enough to understand what a bureaucrat said but their Irish would have been?

    I’m not unsympathetic to the Irish language movement especially in the Gaeltachtai but as far as I can see it the movement in Belfast has two aims – one, to look down their nose at those of us who don’t speak Irish as second-class Irishmen and, two, to create a whole host of publicly funded jobs for themselves providing services that nobody wants or needs.

    15 calls in three years! The call for an Irish Language Act is about political correctness and pandering to vocal lobbies; it has nothing to do with meeting the needs of the people of Northern Ireland.

  • Sammy Morse and Gin Fizz conveniently, for their own narrowly defined reasons, have ignored that the ‘hotline’ which is the focus of discussion here was never publicised by the authorities so therefore they should have no complaint that there were only fifteen calls in three years. It’s miraculous that anyone called them at all and they could have been wrong numbers.

    In answer to Sammy’s question, Irish speakers need all the services that are currently available in English to be made available in Irish. Isn’t it strange that unionists would at a time when they’re trying to define a new more inclusive unionism would want to downgrade the language spoken by a significant proportion of the Irish people in Ireland? As for his assertion that it’s about Irish speakers looking down at non Irish speakers as second class citizens, that’s rich. Irish speakers have been treated as second class citizens in the north since the inception of the ‘state’ and Sammy Morse’s post illustrates fairly clearly the mindset behind that discrimination.

  • idunnomeself

    sorry OC, but i think that your speculation that DCAL is behind the story and has an anti-Irish agenda is hilarious!

    Interested
    there isn’t a translator to fire

    IJP
    Money wasn’t wasted, find another hook for your argument!

    F_D
    I read about this service in the Ulster Scot way back, I also remember Pobal publicising it. It has also previously featured int eh Belfast Telegraph! But I am not convinced that the the civil service should publicise it.. this is there so that civil servants have a fall back if they are phoned up in Irish or Ulster-Scots?

  • Irish speakers need all the services that are currently available in English to be made available in Irish.

    Why? I’ll repeat my questions: How many people are inconvenienced by having to deal with public bodies in – SHOCK! – English? Can you give me a single example of where a citizen has had some ill come to them because their English wasn’t good enough to understand what a bureaucrat said but their Irish would have been?

    Who is going to pay for every government document and form to be translated into Irish? Who is going to pay for the simultaneous translation needed? And who is going to get those jobs?

    Isn’t it strange that unionists would at a time when they’re trying to define a new more inclusive unionism would want to downgrade the language spoken by a significant proportion of the Irish people in Ireland?

    I don’t know because I’m not a Unionist. Ask them.

    Look, I’m all in favour of Irish-medium education. I’m not unsympathetic to the Irish language movement more generally, when it drops the sneering superiority. But there is no need for an Irish Language Act in Northern Ireland. There is no significant demand for government services in Irish. There is no-one in NI disadvantaged in any material way by ‘being made’ to use English to deal with public bodies rather than Irish. This is an excuse for jobs for the boys which neither Nationalist party has the balls to come out against because it would be politically incorrect. And I’m not sure that Alliance wouldn’t be in the same boat.

    Let’s rephrase this question. What is the total number of adults in Northern Ireland who speak, read and write Irish fluently enough to really be comfortable using public services in Irish? Say discussing a tax arrears problem with the Inland Revenue or discussing a Cat scan with a hospital consultant? Let’s call this x. What figure would you put on x? I’d say 5,000 tops. Absolute tops.

    Now, how many people would need to be employed to implement an Irish Language Act on the scale being demanded? It would employ a very large proportion, if not all of those few thousand people.

    It’s a total A-1 racket, supported by people who’ve been browbeaten their whole lives by gold-fáinne-fascists telling them they aren’t properly Irish becuase they don’t speak Irish. Well they can take that attitude and stick it where the sun don’t shine as far as I’m concerned. I’m as Irish as you are and your need to box me into a Unionist pigeonhole because I don’t agree with you is very revealing.

    Support for the Irish language should be proportionate to the demand for those services. There is no Gaeltacht in NI, unless you count that wee estate up the Shaw’s Road. When in a Gaeltacht, I try and get by with the little Irish I can manage – it’s common courtesy to me. It would also seem common courtesy for the Irish language movement not to close down services I use or steal money from my house deposit fund (or my beer money) to create the fantasy that Belfast or Derry or Newry are bilingual cities when they aren’t.

    Why don’t you spend your time growing another 50,000 Irish speakers? Then you can come back and demand an Irish Language Act and I’ll take you seriously. Oh, silly me, you won’t do that because that doesn’t provide anyone with a cosy civil service job at my expense.

    Sammy Morse’s post illustrates fairly clearly the mindset behind that discrimination.

    Wow! You can read my mind! Impressive. When did you develop those psychic powers, Olibhear? Or, on the other hand, if you don’t have psychic powers don’t talk about my mindset. I disagree with you. Argue on the issues, not what you (mistakenly) think my mindset is.

  • fair_deal

    IDM

    Fair eneuch, A dinnae aye git tha Ulster-Scot. Mine ye as a sez “Thaur wud be muckle mair tae be daen fur tha leid afore A wid spenn siller oan a speir sarvice bot.”

  • George

    Sammy Morse,
    what rights that Irish speakers currently enjoy south of the border would you/Alliance feel should be denied to those living north of it?

    Or if you can’t/won’t name them, maybe you could tell me which of the rights Irish speakers currently enjoy south of the border should be granted to those living north of it?

    I have to say I find your “How many people are inconvenienced by having to deal with public bodies in – SHOCK! – English” really displays an incredible lack of understanding or willful ignorance of what supporting a minority language actually means.

  • what rights that Irish speakers currently enjoy south of the border would you/Alliance feel should be denied to those living north of it?

    George, I’m speaking as an individual here (you can look up the Alliance website if you want to see official policy on use of the Irish language).

    I don’t feel that public bodies in Northern Ireland should be compelled to communicate with members of the public in Irish. And even less in that Ulster-Scots fantasy language for that matter. I kind of went into detail about why not in my 4.41 pm post above (cost grossly disproportionate to any benefit).

    I have to say I find your “How many people are inconvenienced by having to deal with public bodies in – SHOCK! – English” really displays an incredible lack of understanding or willful ignorance of what supporting a minority language actually means.

    Emotive bullshit, George, and two can play at that game. Which services will you close to pay for bilingual government in Northern Ireland? Or will you just raid my mortgage deposit fund by increasing taxes instead?

    And don’t give me that crap about being ignorant of what supporting a minority language means. I know exactly what the minority languages movement says it means and I’m entitled to agree or, in this case, disagree with it. We’re talking about 5,000 people here at absolute most, all of whom are fluent in English, most of whom are first language English speakers and most of whom would have to employed by the state to implement the Irish Language Act!!! Do you think this makes sense?

  • miss fitz

    Did I read the original post wrong, because what I thought it said was that the hotline existed for people who had already made contact with a department and then requested to use their ‘own’ language. They were then referred to the hotline where they could leave a message in that language, the message was translated and an answer fed back to the caller.

    If that’s the case, there was no need to publicise it as it was largely an internal mechanism delivering a service that might have been required. At least we havent found out that it was staffed by 20 people! That would have been a laugh.

    Knickers and twists come to mind reading some of the responses above.

  • Knickers and twists come to mind reading some of the responses above.

    It’s because all this forms the backdrop to the Irish Language Act campaign. In and of itself it isn’t very important, of course, but those opposed to the Irish Language Act will brandish this as evidence of lack of demand, while those supporting an Act will seek to minimise/dismiss it.

    Of course, with the DUP in charge of CAL the odds of an Irish Language Act are remote in the immediate future.

  • George

    Sammy,
    I’m not trying to be emotive, I simply don’t know how you can think supporting a minority language should involve them being barred from using it in any official capacity whatsoever because, after all, they can simply use the majority language instead.

    Firstly, I believe there is a need for an Irish Language Act of some description. Personally I would like Irish speakers to have the same rights regardless of what part of Ireland they live in. Unfortunately, that doesn’t look like happening any time soon.

    But in the spirit of compromise I’ll move on and throw out some suggestions about how we can definitely progress.

    If you disagree on a point of cost then why not move to the middle ground and support it in principle but look to see what level of funds can be made available?

    If there is a few hundred million for a stadium that if truth be told is only needed by soccer enthusiasts, then there should be a few bob in the kitty for Irish language enthusiasts.

    What I’m getting at is that dismissing the minority rights of Irish speakers on the basis of cost isn’t a valid excuse in my view, not when, for example, Northern Ireland has 26 councils, a 108-member Assembly, the lowest % of workers in the UK with hundreds of thousands on incapacity benefit and an annual subvention estimated at 8 billion.

    The First and Deputy Minister are currently berating Brown that 50 billion isn’t enough so a certain amount of money can be made available if the will is there.

    Maybe a start could be made with the department of Education providing a certain level of service as I saw a statistic that 10,000 children in Northern Ireland will be educated through the medium of Irish by 2010.

    It must be possible to achieve a situation in hte coming years where gaelscoileanna can conduct all their dealings with the Department of Education through Irish, for example.

    Maybe a designated percentage of speeches by elected officials could be translated, so the right to speak Irish can be exercised but the cost kept down.

    Bilingual signage in areas that want it is hardly prohibitively expensive either.

    Perhaps also funding of an Irish language TV and radio service.

    The point of support is to encourage the use and continued existence of the language.

    There are many things that can be done to show that Northern Ireland supports and encourages the Irish language.

    This area of Northern Ireland will only truly prosper if all believe it represents them. The Irish language is valued by more than 5,000 people. They have to be shown that they are valued.

  • miss fitz

    George
    Personally, I think the first thing we need to do about the Irish language is decide how it cna be used into the future.

    I went to an all-Irish secondary school in Laois, and learned all my subjects as Gaeilge for the first year.

    Looking back on it, I really question the value of that in todays world.

    My own opinion is that Irish should be seen as a second language, not a first tongue. As such, it should be preserved and promoted, and used in literature, plays, poetry and other pursuits. But to force it into play as a false first language is unprecedented.

    When Irish was widely spoken in Ireland in the early 19th century, it wasnt the offical language of trade or commerce. Indeed when the Gaelic movement came into being, the fist issues it had to struggle with were the lack of resources available. It had to be ‘created’ from almost nothing.

    We’ve come a long way since then, and I have a great fondness for the langauge, but I think that we must accept that we are not mono linguistic and that english is the language of greatest usage. The Irish language is a pleasant past time, but trying to force it into a dominant stance is ‘inventing tradition’ for the purpose of nationalism, and that is the true sub text of the conversation

  • Lord Lord
  • should involve them being barred from using it in any official capacity whatsoever

    George, you should know well enough by now that there are very, very, few things I believe people should be barred from. If an Irish- speaking member of the public and an Irish-speaking civil servant want to use Irish that’s great. What I don’t believe is that public bodies should be compelled to provide services in Irish. And I’m also very dubious that the Irish Language Act is being pushed by the very people it would pretty much guarantee comfortable public-sector jobs to.

    would like Irish speakers to have the same rights regardless of what part of Ireland they live in

    In practice they don’t even in the Republic. Try buying 20 Silk Cut, a Mars bar and a jumbo breakfast roll in Irish in your local Statoil garage and see how far you get (unless it’s the Statoil garage in Spiddle). Legislation can’t make people love a language.

    What I’m getting at is that dismissing the minority rights of Irish speakers on the basis of cost isn’t a valid excuse in my view, not when, for example, Northern Ireland has 26 councils, a 108-member Assembly, the lowest % of workers in the UK with hundreds of thousands on incapacity benefit and an annual subvention estimated at 8 billion.

    I think we’re talking at cross-purposes here – what you term a right I would term a duty on the state. No-one’s rights to speak Irish with anyone who wants to speak it back is being infringed. The NI State funds Irish-medium education where there is demand (we might argue about whether the required level of demand is sufficient, but the principle at least is accepted).

    As for the fact that this country is an economic basket-case, well, you must have read enough of my posts by now to know what I think about that. But saying that wasting lots of money is a good reason to waste even more money does not make sense to me.

    The First and Deputy Minister are currently berating Brown that 50 billion isn’t enough so a certain amount of money can be made available if the will is there.

    Shameful and pathetic, especially compared with your part of the island. But, the words of Marty and the Doc are not yet Gospel. Not yet, anyway.

    Bilingual signage in areas that want it is hardly prohibitively expensive either.

    But a tremendously difficult issue in NI because of territoriality. Sad, but true. Desectarianising Irish and the perception of Irish is an area where the Irish language movement has made some progress, but where we all need to make more progress.

    Perhaps also funding of an Irish language TV and radio service.

    No need – TnaG has extensive terrestrial coverage and is carried by all the cable providers IIRC, RnaG might benefit from an FM repeater covering Greater Belfast but I think coverage in most of the rest of NI is good anyway, Radio Ulster’s Irish programming adds local flavour. But there’s no need for us to spend too much money providing a media infrastructure when the South has a perfectly good one we can use. Perhaps CAL might think about funding the commissioning some Northern made TV programming for TnaG? Lots can be done here without legislation and without imposing an over-burdensome statutory bilingualism on public bodies.

    The Irish language is valued by more than 5,000 people. They have to be shown that they are valued.

    Piffle. Sorry to be so blunt. If they value it, they can get off their backsides and learn it. Language learning as an adult is 10% brainpower and 90% sheer bloody hard work. I learned Turkish as an adult and it was incredibly hard work at times but presevering with and mastering the language was one of the most satisfying things I have ever done in my life.

    If people really valued Irish they would put the effort into learning it – and many do. Fair dos to them. But many others like to wrist off about it when they can barely mumble a Dia Duit, at least on this side of the border. Well, that’s just about flag waving and point scoring. They’re free to do that if they want, but they can do it with their own time and money, not mine.

  • Lord Lord – thanks. Best Moaner in a while, that.

  • miss fitz

    Sammy
    Seriously, have you ever tried to buy a Mars Bar and 20 Woodbine in a garage in Spiddal and tried it in Irish? You’d still be waiting.

    I spent most of my teenage summers in Ros a Mhil and went back with my children years later. (Note: never go back)

    I was left with a very definite impression that the language was little more than a commodity consumed by students and scholars, and the day to day activities of the area were most definitely as Bearla

  • Wilde Rover

    Miss Fitz

    “Seriously, have you ever tried to buy a Mars Bar and 20 Woodbine in a garage in Spiddal and tried it in Irish? You’d still be waiting.”

    Sadly true, it would seem. I can remember when Spiddal was the “border” of the Gaeltacht. Now that dubious honour seems to rest with Indreabhan a few miles to the west, or has it moved further west now? Going out not with a bang but with a whimper.

    The arguments by those who are for artificial life support for Irish are undermined by the lack of substantial growth in the use of the language through those means, specifically the policies of successive southern governments post independence. One could argue that if a people aren’t bothered to maintain part of their culture no amount of legislation will save it.

    Similarly, the arguments against this type of legislation are undermined by the lack of a poly-lingual culture.

    It’s not as if people north (and indeed south) of the border (or indeed across the water) are weighed down by languages in the same way people on mainland Europe are.

    The problem in the Anglophone world is one of arrogant laziness, the conceit that someone will understand eventually if you speak loudly and clearly in English.

    And it is this conceit that prevents Anglophones from reflecting on whether or not everyone understanding you but you not understanding anyone else is really such a good idea.

  • I spent most of my teenage summers in Ros a Mhil and went back with my children years later.

    The one good thing that can be said about Ros a Mhil is that it has a ferry going out to the Arans!