Poots first day

Jim Allister has called on DUP Minister Edwin Poots to stop the present consultation process for an Irish Language Act but Janet Muller of Pobal is claiming injustice.Jim Allister argues that the process thus far has not followed proper procedures:

“I believe the process by which things reached this far has been corrupted by political decisions which rode roughshod over fundamental equality law requirements. I invite you to agree. In consequence, I contend the present consultation process is irretrievably tainted and flawed, being the product of a corrupted process, and thus should be withdrawn.”

Janet Muller argues an injustice on the basis of the claim:

“It is a clear expression of an injustice done to the Irish-speaking community and all of the other indigenous languages in the UK and Ireland have protection in legislation, it is only in Northern Ireland that it is not the case.”

This claim misrepresents the position in the UK and RoI of indigenous languages. The UK government recognises seven indigenous languages through the Council of Europe Charter for Regional and Minority Languages – Cornish, Irish Gaelic, Manx, Scots, Scots Gaelic, Ulster-Scots and Welsh. The Charter is not proper legal protection. Only two have specific legislation – Welsh and Scots Gaelic. In the Republic of Ireland, Irish Gaelic enjoys constitutional and legislative protection while the refusal of the RoI government to sign the European Charter means Ulster-Scots and Shelta do not enjoy the most basic protection.

  • delta omega

    OC & Kensei

    It seems like this collaboration and working together stuff could be contagious, but there is a basis for progression of the language issues based on what is discussed above. The public debate however has to be protrayed carefully as dinosaurs like Allister will jump on the soundbites otherwise. Promote it by starting with getting key docs translated as you suggest, but emphasise that you don’t want everything translated – that is the impression (false or otherwise) that I as part of the unionist community have of the current demands.

    kensei – I think the best we can do is to agree to disagree regarding whether Gerry should use it or not. I am not an intellectual snob, but would suggest that careful treading and promotion by SF members who are fluent, will be significantly more beneficial in the early stages to the acceptance of the language by unionists than by Gerry IMO mishandling the language. I will conced that he has to be praised for trying – I just don’t think that doing it in front of the world’s media is necessarily the right place to practise.

  • lib2016

    If this is going to be the extent of unionist progess in building an inclusive society it will be an even bigger gift to nationalism than the ‘lock up the swings on Sunday’ saga was.

    In the bad old days we used to speak of ‘own goals’ by the paramilitaries. Can anyone suggest a political equivalent to that very useful phrase?

  • Olibhear,

    Klingon is a real language. An artificial, constructed one, admittedly, but no less real for that. And these dudes take it very seriously.

    Hamlet, Gilgamesh and extracts from The Bible have been translated into Klingon.

    Of course, it’s not remotely relevant to the debate on Irish, but I just thought you ought to know…

  • fair_deal

    Delta

    “Promote it by starting with getting key docs translated as you suggest”

    FYI

    This is pretty much the existing approach.

    The UK government is signed up to Part III Article 9 paragraph 3 of the Language Charter:
    “3 The Parties undertake to make available in the regional or minority languages the most important national statutory texts and those relating particularly to users of these languages, unless they are otherwise provided.”

  • I can see all these kids telling each other in school, “I really want to learn Irish because then I can go out and read a bunch of government documents.” This is not the right approach to promoting a language…

  • confused

    To republicans decommissioning and acceptance of the police were huge obstacles similar in scale to unionists accepting Irish as part of the fabric of state.
    If this happens unionists will use it to their advantage because SF will have created a n apartheid. Two communities in one state and this will make ui more impossible than it really is.
    There is no reason for a unionist wishing his children to learn the language.
    It will be seen as divisive and used by nationalists solely for their own advantage particularly in the job market and this in turn will cause resentment.

  • Ziznivy

    “To republicans decommissioning and acceptance of the police were huge obstacles similar in scale to unionists accepting Irish as part of the fabric of state.”

    Er …. the release of prisoners? Allowing unrepentent terrorists into government? Bastardising democracy to allow nationalist parity?

    I think unionists have made more serious sacrifices already.

  • kensei

    “I can see all these kids telling each other in school, “I really want to learn Irish because then I can go out and read a bunch of government documents.” This is not the right approach to promoting a language…”

    No, but a more mature class might use some of the forms as a learning exercise; or they simply might just like using what they have learned in a real life situation.

    It isn’t the way to promote a language, but it might be part of a package. Isolate anything it is likely to be inadequate.

    confused

    “To republicans decommissioning and acceptance of the police were huge obstacles similar in scale to unionists accepting Irish as part of the fabric of state.”

    Well, excellent example, we had to just bite hard and swallow it after getting some compromises we needed.

    “If this happens unionists will use it to their advantage because SF will have created a n apartheid. Two communities in one state and this will make ui more impossible than it really is.
    There is no reason for a unionist wishing his children to learn the language.
    It will be seen as divisive and used by nationalists solely for their own advantage particularly in the job market and this in turn will cause resentment.”

    Reality check – we haven’t just stopped being who we are because everyone is playing game at Stormont, and we aren’t about to give up the things we view as important because it might piss you off. Going to have to learn to live with each other, bits we don’t like and all, sorry.

  • confused

    ziznivy

    I think you underestimate the effect this language will have.
    The devaluing of democratic principles you recall
    are a shame on our political parties when very few stood up to pressures from HMG.
    This language debate will rage for years because of the very strong views.

  • Dewi

    Interested in references to Shelta in this thread…still alive and kicking ? Any links to spoken examples with anyone ?

  • delta omega

    Confused: There is no reason for a unionist wishing his children to learn the language.

    I totally disagree – The RoI as our neighbour is a key economy to do business with. It is always more effective if we can do business in the language of the customer, therefore there is as much a reason to learn Irish as French, German etc and possibly more.

  • No, but a more mature class might use some of the forms as a learning exercise; or they simply might just like using what they have learned in a real life situation.

    Come on, ken!!!!! Government documents!!!!! I think (for once) Olibhear and I are in agreement here. Just because the Council of Europe says something, doesn’t make it right. It looks exactly like the sort of over-formalised, compulsion-based, build-a-bureaucracy model used in the Republic to preside over 80 years of decline in the Irish language.

    If the language isn’t attractive in and of itself, being able to read the Alcohol Harm Reduction Strategy in it isn’t going to make it any more attractive.

    It’s fascinating that the Irish language movement in the North was forced to stand on its own two feet by political reality and actually came up with something that was a lot more attractive and grass-roots driven that what exists in the South. Helped, at least in part, by a vastly more practical exam syllabus in NI. The minute the lure of bureaucratic death (helped by bureaucratic jobs) comes within their reach, they jump at it. Bizarre!!!

  • confused

    Delta Omega
    Move into the real world. There is no business conducted in Irish——- the only language is euro sterling or dollar.

  • kensei

    “If the language isn’t attractive in and of itself, being able to read the Alcohol Harm Reduction Strategy in it isn’t going to make it any more attractive. ”

    Did I say I wanted that? No, you did. In fact, I specifically said I didn’t want everything last thing done. I said I wanted some key documents – probably along the lines of forms that people might actually use and maybe the key documents. Part of it as I said, so that people can use some of the skills in real life, and part of it is tokenism. But symbolism matters, especially here.

    But if the choice came down to all or nothing, most people in the second group you identified would lean towards all. That is the consequence of reactive negativity.

    “It’s fascinating that the Irish language movement in the North was forced to stand on its own two feet by political reality and actually came up with something that was a lot more attractive and grass-roots driven that what exists in the South. Helped, at least in part, by a vastly more practical exam syllabus in NI. The minute the lure of bureaucratic death (helped by bureaucratic jobs) comes within their reach, they jump at it. Bizarre!!!”

    Where is the compulsion? No one would be forced to do the subject as in the South. No one is suggesting making the exam any less practical based. The worst the bureaucracy can do is nothing.

  • Where is the compulsion? No one would be forced to do the subject as in the South.

    I think we’re talking slightly at cross-purposes. Departments would be compelled to spend money on translation regardless of whether or not there is any demand. I have no beef with genuinely key documents being translated.

    symbolism matters, especially here.

    Agreed, but I’d rather spend the money on something that was symbolic and useful at the same time, like actually developing the Irish language, rather than something symbolic and useless.

    The worst the bureaucracy can do is nothing.

    Wrong! The worst that bureaucracy can do is suck up all the talented people so they won’t do the more interesting things they might do if they weren’t all bureaucrats. That’s the harm the Irish language movement risks doing to itself. And that’s pretty much what’s wrong with the Northern Ireland economy as well.

  • realist

    Ziznivy,

    I know that you have already been red-carded from the Our Wee Country Site due to your extremely offensive views.

    I therefore find it ironic that I an in agreement with your comments on this thread. Is this a relection of the paucity of my own outlook?- I hope not.

  • dave

    realist

    What happens on another site is of no consequences here.

    Whats your point mac ?

    Ziz can post were he likes and clearly is not interested in awards & the spotlight, unlike some.

  • realist

    Dave,

    Ziz is a sectarian idiot who like yourself knows bugger-all squared, as proven by his shameful comments against disabled people.. Like David Jeffrey, I do not seek awards but cannot help it if the trophies come to me-sure it’s only a bit o’ craic…

  • páid

    Sammy,

    “presided over 80 years of decline” – one way of looking at it.
    “stabilised the fíor-Gaeltachtaí, increased vastly the respect and knowledge of Irish, established modern Irish media and 1000s of kids educated through Irish” is another.

    I accept that your ideas of how to promote Irish are well-intentioned. All the same, Irish-language enthusiasts such as me will tend to listen more carefully to the opinions of internationally respected professional sociolinguists who spend their lifetimes studying language shift.

    That’s why we will settle for nothing less than a comprehensive Irish Language Act.

  • dave

    I suppose it would be easy to call Davey Jeffrey a sectarian idiot due to his active role within the Orange Order in Newtownabbey.

  • Reader

    Why not focus on daily realities. The last census was too long ago, and in some senses, confidential. However, both a practical step and a reality check could be carried out at the local level. Each year I receive half a dozen communications from my council – bin collection notifications, rates demands. Many of these are prepared and distributed as mailshots. The effort used in translating those would not be too onerous. Why not let each householder specify in which language they wish to receive their Local Council standard communications! Win all round – relatively cheap, and a reasonable test of demand. If the demand is there, the more complex communications from Assembly level Government could be handled in the same way.

  • Dewi

    Some interesting points here. Things a fair bit further on in Wales where the “official” bilingualism in forms etc is a given but failed to counter a slow decline (not in the numbers of speakers but in the amount spoken). What is proving effective is making Welsh “clywadwy” i.e. heard by everyone. Railway announcements are now bilingual – visitors astonished. At the Millenium Stadium for the Rugby and Wales’s soccer games announcements are made in both languages..(missed a trick when we held the FA Cup here) (Would that go down OK at Windsor Park ?) – It’s getting in people’s faces and them asking themselves “Why can’t I understand my own language” seems to be having some effect.

  • I Wonder

    A friend of mine was asked by Bairbre de Brun (in her former Health role) in relation to a health publication that they were struggling to publish, if it would be published in Irish.

    My friend patiently pointed out that it had been extremely difficult job to attain the funding to have it published in English. She was disappointed that Ms de Brun had not been more interested in the content of the publication rather than the medium.

  • Bastardising democracy to allow nationalist parity…was one of the claims made by Confused to balance out decommissioning.

    The two are entirely unrelated confused – the current powersharing system is in place for the sole reason that, without it, misrule by the unionist majority as occurred between 1921 and 1972 would obtain. The real bastardised democracy took was the rule of this place under unionists for 50 odd years.

  • Ziznivy

    “Ziz is a sectarian idiot who like yourself knows bugger-all squared, as proven by his shameful comments against disabled people.. Like David Jeffrey, I do not seek awards but cannot help it if the trophies come to me-sure it’s only a bit o’ craic…”

    Doesn’t do you justice at all Mac. I’m not going to be drawn into a slagging match. You know fine rightly that my “special needs” comments were just a throwaway remark and ill-judged. If you want to know the truth I haven’t actually moved on in terms of terminology from the time when special needs just meant low intelligence. Shameful as it was to compare special needs people to those disgusting women on the pitch on Saturday.

    I know exactly what your problem is (and I also know that Marty didn’t give a shit about my comments). Bringing it up on this forum is pretty pathetic.

    COME ON DROGHEDA!

  • Gréagóir O’ Fráinclín

    I can never understand why Unionists are really so vehemently against the Irish language. One of the oldest languages in Europe (about 2000 years). A language that was given credence by Protestant scholars throughout the land in the 19th century, and who recognized it’s immense value to the history and culture of the island. Why do Unionists want to distance themselves from such a language when in fact their far distant ancestors spoke ‘an teanga as Gaeilge’ traveling to and fro between Ireland and Scotland in days before religion and politics mattered.

    (Just a side note: Anyone watch the C4 programmes ‘Face of Britain’ recently. It turns out to be true that the old concept of Ireland, Scotland and Wales are basically Celtic nations with people of the same predominant genetic stock. England of course was found to be different as there was a predominantly Anglo-Saxon trait found in the genes.
    Even the First Minister Dr. Paisley made such a reference recently in an RTE interview when he said that Ulster folk share very much a lot in common with the rest of the people of Ireland. We are of the same genetic stock he said or words to that effect.)

    The Irish language belongs to all on the island. Religion and politics shouldn’t get in the way of our common ancient history.

  • A Reader

    Ziznivy
    Are you sure it was the “real” Realist making those comments earlier on?

    Forza Drogheda!!!
    Forza Milan!!!

  • Ziznivy

    Right enough it isn’t in character for ” mealy mouthed boring plodding diplomat of the year”, but even the biggest twat has to let loose now and again. Those long days being kept must take their toll.

  • gaelgannaire
  • stabilised the fíor-Gaeltachtaí

    That’s a very optimistic reading of the state of Irish in the real Gaeltacht. Didn’t the last census show worryingly low and declining levels of daily use of the language in many parts of the Gaeltacht? I seem to remember something about a precipitous drop in the percentage of daily users between the 11-18 and 19-25 age groups – that many young people in the Gaeltachtaí, once they no longer had to use the language in school, moved to a monoglot English mode of living?

    There’s certainly been a huge growth in the amount of Irish language schooling in the urban South and TnaG presents a cool, young, image, but will these kids still use the language after they leave school? Will they pass it on to their children? No-one knows.

    Saying that language policy in the Republic has been even a qualified success demands a rosy-eyed view of the facts. The Northern language movement has been more successful in recent years, partly because of politics, but partly because it has managed to avoid the deadening hand of the state and remain a genuinely grassroots movement.

    That’s why we will settle for nothing less than a comprehensive Irish Language Act.

    You are making a huge mistake. You are substituting official recognition of the language for a living community of speakers. And you’re going to waste my money doing it. No thank you, páid.

    Things a fair bit further on in Wales where the “official” bilingualism in forms etc is a given but failed to counter a slow decline (not in the numbers of speakers but in the amount spoken). What is proving effective is making Welsh “clywadwy” i.e. heard by everyone

    A lot of this has been in place in the Republic for three generations and has failed to reverse the slow, steady, decline in the language. The economic marginality of the gaeltachtaí for most of that period and the Republic’s economic basket-case status in the same period didn’t help of course. But the big difference is the size of the language community. Welsh, even in its darkest days, retained something like 10-20 times as many daily users as Irish and in large swathes of Wales, Welsh is the dominant language. The same is not true in Ireland and has not been for over a century.

    In Scotland the Gaelic language community was small but to a fair degree protected by its (literal) insularity.

    In Ireland the Gaeltacht is small, scattered, and not particularly isolated, leaving it open to encroachment by large numbers of English speakers – e.g. as the Galway commuter belt spreads westwards into Connemara. The survival of Irish as a living language is much more threatened than Scots Gaelic or Welsh.

    In this context, an Irish Language Act in NI is a complete distraction. But hey, it’s more jobs for the bhoys and at the end of the day, that’s what it’s really all about for a lot of its supporters.

    PS – guilt might make people learn their cupla focal but it’s not enough of a motivator to get them to learn the language properly. People have to want to do it. Learning a language as an adult takes a lot of perspiration.

  • Dewi

    “PS – guilt might make people learn their cupla focal but it’s not enough of a motivator to get them to learn the language properly. People have to want to do it. Learning a language as an adult takes a lot of perspiration.”

    Absolutely true about adult learning being difficult which is why Irish should be compulsory in every primary school on the island.
    It’s strange there’s been a big row on the Isle of Skye of all places on “making” in-migrant children learn Scottish Gaelic in primary school.
    In Wales it’s compulsory and becoming “normal” – languages don’t threaten anyone and dunderstanding heritage and culture from all viewpoints helps.
    I would agree about the bureaucracy Sammy except why are Irish speakers more creative than non-Irish speakers – wouldn’t everybody be liberated by having to provide no bureaucracy at all ?

  • is why Irish should be compulsory in every primary school on the island.

    No-one is talking about that in NI and for good reason. You wouldn’t have to be the Kaiser Chiefs to predict a riot in those circumstances. Irish learning should be available to anyone who wants it for themselves or their children but compulsory for no-one. Northern Ireland is not Wales, your solutions will not necessarily work here.

    wouldn’t everybody be liberated by having to provide no bureaucracy at all ?

    That’s taking it a bit far, but as little as possible, and as few laws as possible, yes please. Unfortunately, I seem to be in a small minority with those viewpoints…

  • Dewi

    “is why Irish should be compulsory in every primary school on the island.

    No-one is talking about that in NI and for good reason. You wouldn’t have to be the Kaiser Chiefs to predict a riot in those circumstances. Irish learning should be available to anyone who wants it for themselves or their children but compulsory for no-one. Northern Ireland is not Wales, your solutions will not necessarily work here.”

    ….I never said it would be easy…but weren’t some of the “original” settlers Scottish Gaelic speaking (or is that a myth ?) – reclaiming our heritage ? And teach Ulster Scots in all Catholic schools as well….

  • I never said it would be easy…but weren’t some of the “original” settlers Scottish Gaelic speaking (or is that a myth ?) – reclaiming our heritage ?

    And then we’ll all skip across the fields arm in arm before having a cup of tea in Corrymeela… look, I know this is the week where Paisley and McGuinness indulged in a bit of mutual backslapping, but let’s try and remain within the bounds of reality here! Compulsory Irish teaching in NI would result in serious rioting (it does not take a genius to work this out), nor is anyone here talking about it either.

    And teach Ulster Scots in all Catholic schools as well….

    If anyone attempts to teach Utter Shite to my children, I will riot!!! What next Рspecial grants for the Portavogie Ulst̩r-Scotch-tacht just so the UVF can claim parity of esteem with the Shinners.

    No, no, no, no, no, no.

  • Wilde Rover

    I was told years ago that a small number of Orangemen are fluent Irish speakers. Does anyone know if that’s true?

    I’ve always thought that’s the most interesting conversation in Irish (now lamentably rusty) I’ve never had.

    If they do exist, then the British government should use the money to form them into a Flying Column and send them on a pub crawl of the Republic. Their mission would be to speak entirely in Irish, with the exception of renditions of The Sash and GSTQ.

    Following their successful shock therapy mission, they should be given full state honours at Aras an Uachtarain, and the Republic would be forever indebted to its neighbours to the north.

    I know, I know. Crazy talk.

    Let’s get back to talking about translating documents written in unintelligible jargon English into documents written in unintelligible jargon Irish.

  • páid

    Sammy,
    any reasonable person studying the precipitous decline of Irish in the 80 years before independence compared to the 80 years after independence could only conclude that the language was saved from extinction as a community language by the intervention of the Irish State.
    Mistakes were made, blind alleys were gone down, but we have survived when 100s have died.

    Yes we have problems with language transmission but like the Welsh, we are tackling them.

    “You are substituting official recognition of the language for a living community of speakers.”

    It’s not either or, Sam.

    Study the sociolinguistics. And you will find that around the world, the fact that a language is used officially by State organizations and bureaucracies gives it status.

    And we will get that status, and WE will spend OUR money getting it, just as we spend OUR money on YOUR language.

  • Dewi

    Sammy – reality is odd – but hell I went to a Welsh speaking primary school where my history lessons comprised Alfred and his stupid cakes and reading about cricket games on the fields of Eton – honest !!! I would have rather had some Gaelic lessons myself…surely would have helped me understand these islands better….anyway Nos da !!!