Robinson: it’s all about stability…

Peter Robinson makes his pitch for the new devolutionary deal with Sinn Fein. For those who thought this was against the run of the party’s policy, this early blogged Irish Times interview on Slugger gives an indication of where they were headed even in late 2002. Essentially, he is selling the deal on the stability he believes it offers:

people can carp, grumble and complain that perfection had not been achieved. Again my judgment was that we had surrounded the process with sufficient safeguards to control any potential abuse, that moving into the Executive could provide the momentum for further progress.

The question remains (as Robinson himself so succinctly put it back in 2002): do we have a system that allows the two parties to operate beyond the need for trust?

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  • oilibhear Chromaill

    It’s all gong and no dinner from Robinson with his talk of stability and making Northern Ireland a better place for EVERYBODY if he’s not willing to support an Irish Language Act with a practical edge to recognise that there’s more than one cultural identity in ‘this here province’.

  • interested

    An Irish Language Act won’t put any dinner on my plate, some new jobs and an improved economy on the other hand…..

    I wonder who’s priorities are in order really oilibhear.

  • jpeters

    whole thing is a bit monsters under the bed

  • Oilibhear Chromaill

    No, it may not put dinner on your plate, directly, but it will make the north a better and more tolerant place in which to live for everybody. People – and business – is attracted by tolerance, by diversity, by respect for culture. That’s what sets places apart. Do you think the like of Google would want a base in Belfast if it were to be a city intolerant of diverse cultures. Google understands the value of respecting diversity and, so, it has an Irish language search engine. If a global giant can see its way towards making a gesture towards Irish, a practical gesture, why can’t the Northern Ireland Executive’s Minister for Finance see the light in a similar way?

  • Mick Fealty

    You angling for a spot in our blogging team Oili? That way you can start the threads on your favourite subject yourself rather than turning all semi related others around to it.

    I’m only half joking. We could do with the reinforcement to our poor Irish language output.

  • interested

    “People – and business – is attracted by tolerance, by diversity, by respect for culture.”

    Really, and nothing to do with Corporation tax or other financial incentives. Businesses are just that, businesses motivated by money and not by ‘cultural diversity’. If companies chose to locate in the Republic it certainly wasnt anything to do with cultural diversity, or how they treat their minorities. It was cold, hard, cash-driven financial decisions.

    To argue that Microsoft will suddenly leap into Northern Ireland if we all run about speaking Irish is utter rubbish. Google can have an Irish search engine, but I dont really see how that equates to passing legislation (costly legislation) where the money could be used for better things instead.

  • DC

    Looks as though Robinson is attempting to re-package the GFA using sugary words pitched for re-sale to Northern Ireland, in order to divert suspicions away from the fact that a ‘fair’ deal was never renegotiated.

    The conclusion being that this could have been achieved many years ago only for the over-reactions of his party to the principle of power-sharing and regional reform of public services.

  • Belfast Gonzo

    Mick, how do you say ‘One trick pony’ in Irish?

  • Oiliféar

    “The last census revealed that the demographic threat to the future of Northern Ireland has disappeared …” Phew! That was close one!

    Nice thinking, Peter, Northern Ireland is its borders, not its people, eh?

  • Oiliféar

    Capaillín cleais céanna.

  • Elvis parker

    I dare say Google were attracted to Dublin by low taxes and an concentration of well educated ENGLISH speaking graduates and an assurance that Irish language enthusiasts could be easily fobbed off by a gesture – like an Irish language search engine
    I’m no fan of Robos but for Republicans to say he needs to demonstrated his committment to cultural diversity is a bit rich. One they spent 30 years particpating in the ultimate denial of diversity – an anti British terrorist campaign. Two it is Republicans that have foolishly made the language into a ‘totem pole’ – if they had not tried to use Irish a weapon

  • OIlibhear Chromaill

    I really don’t see the need to engage with ad hominem attacks from all and sundry here, kicked off as it were by Mick himself. I dare say my comment was as relevant to the thread as any other, more than most. Robinson mentioned the Irish Language Act in his diatribe. The poor Irish language output here is more to do with the fact that as soon as a post on the Irish Language goes up – or through Irish – it attracts trolls to grind their anti-Irish axe with spurious arguments and way off track tangents.

    if people don’t believe that diversity of culture is part of the mix in a successful economy, they have a lot to learn and I really couldn’t be arsed showing the light.

  • interested

    A diverse culture has a role to play, but it is a very minor role indeed, and if you’re rubbish about the Irish Language Act being the route to economic prosperity in Northern Ireland has been exposed then at least admit that.

    Also, why exactly is an Irish Language Act the way to achieve diversity. Why not provide money to help those people who actually have difficulty understanding English. Provide real language services for migrant workers and help them integrate fully into life here. That would show some real diversity, but of course for some, diversity only means chucking some money at either Irish or Ulster-Scots because that is ‘diverse’ enough for them.

    Irish gets money chucked at it by the truckload, and I dont believe either Irish or U-S should be funded actually. If we’er going to have a Language act then a real minority languages act could actually do something positive towards diversity rather than another politically motivated trojan horse of Oirish culture or language.

  • Oilibhear Chromaill

    if you’re rubbish

    It seems that English literacy classes are required by more than immigrants.

    I didn’t say the Irish language was the route to economic prosperity. My point was the Irish language is part of our cultural life and rather than being seen as a burden, which is your view and that of Robinson, it’s an asset, which is what Google believes. And I know whose stock is more valuable….

    As for your false comparison between Irish and Ulster Scots, Irish is a language spoken by thousands in the north every day. I can refer you the recent Millward Brown survey which says that 17% of the population speak/understand Irish. I don’t know what the figures for Ulsters Scots are but I know not even its most stalward exponents Nelson McCausland or Lord Laird speak it and no-one at the Ulster Scots Agency does.

    It’s a funny way you have of celebrating diversity – forcing migrants to attend English classes being on, it appears. That’s really progressive thinking that is.

    Irish doesn’t have ‘money chucked at it’ by the truck load. My contention is that the state gets far better value from the money invested in Irish medium education that it does from most other areas of expenditure.

    I suggest you inform yourself as to the issues before commenting further – and you could also acquire yourself a copy of a good English grammar book.

  • Briso

    Posted by Belfast Gonzo on Aug 23, 2007 @ 01:16 PM
    >Mick, how do you say ‘One trick pony’ in Irish?


  • interested

    I have never stated Irish to be a “burden” and from what I can see neither has Peter Robinson, however, it doesn’t require legislation to develop cultural diversity. And frankly if you’re happy to accept some tokenism from Google you think you’d be happy to accept a lot less than an Irish Language Act.

    As for speaking/understanding Irish – did the survey go into any depth as to what level of understanding they have. Does my knowledge of what Aer Lingus or Toiseach means count me in there too? Most people I know who might be considered to have ‘knowlege’ of Irish wouldnt cover them for more than about 10 minutes if they were actually required to speak it.

    “My contention is that the state gets far better value from the money invested in Irish medium education that it does from most other areas of expenditure.”

    Really? On what basis then? What pound for pound value is there from having yet another sector of educational provision. One single education provider would actually give some value for money.

    I have never, ever, once heard a conversation being carried out in Irish. Maybe they want to develop Belfast’s 17th different ‘quarter’ so that people can use it as some kind of plastic paddy tourist attraction, but in business, commerce or even socially there is little use of Irish other than people wanting to say “cheers” differently when they’re having a drink or talking about “craic”. Hardly the expansive use of Irish which requires Government money to be used to fund it though.

    Educating children in whatever language or culture you choose is indeed your choice, and the choice should be there, but it should not have to be funded by the tax-payer.

    The last refuge of the Irish speaker is of course having a pop at Ulster Scots. I’m no particular fan of the language, but according to you of course its culturally secondary to your ‘superior’ Irish. Why shouldnt there be an Ulster-Scots educational sector then? Surely that would only add to your aim of ‘cultural diverstiy’, or does that only stretch as far as diversity for nationalists?

    I never once mentioned “forcing” anyone into English classes, but dont let your prejudice get in the way of the facts. I mentioned provision for people who dont have English as their first language. They of course are free to take it up or not as they choose. However, it would be a lot more useful to help people from the Chinese community here communicate with their doctor rather than have some spide from West Belfast learn the ‘mother tongue’. Maybe you disagree though.

    As for the grammer issue – pedantry is highly amusing but when typing fairly quickly I dont always get it perfect. However, maybe we would be better off teaching children how to communicate without the need for “txt spk” rather than in Irish.

    I await the next glowing reference of Google being the saviour of minority culture across the globe. Never mind that they want to track every single movement we make on the internet, but you’re obviously a fan so I’ll let you revel in their marvel. They should have you on the payroll btw. I’ve never heard anyone attempt so valiantly to make a multi-national corporation sound like the Salvation Army before! Full marks for effort at least.

  • Ringo

    Google didn’t develop the Google as Gaeilge – anyone can do it with the toolkits. That’s why there was a Klingon one too. Didn’t cost Google a cent.

  • interested

    Ahhh Ringo – don’t burst his bubble. I’m sure Google were just trying to ‘develop diversity’ amongst the Klingon community. After all, the outer space economy is so poor that it needs all the help it can attracting jobs and investment.

    Maybe Klingon medium educational sectors are the answer – apparently they’re a licence to print money!

  • oilibhear Chromaill

    As long as interested persists in his negative and mean spirited attacks on the Irish language, I see no point in debating with him.

  • interested

    Ahh, the old chestnut. Its fine for you and others to paint Ulster-Scots in whatever light you choose – see repeated claims about its language/dialect status, but woe betide anyone who dare question the saintly Irish language and those who claim to speak it.

    If you’re not going to debate anyone who is a bit negative about something you like then you wont have too many debates. You see, debating people you agree with isn’t very much fun and doesn’t tend to last very long.

    Mind you, if you do find something better to defend Irish other than the fact you can search the internet in it then please come back and we can pick up where we left off.

    Anyway, I’m away back to my Kingon search engine.

  • interested

    Oops, for the pedants among you (not necessarily you olibhear), I of course meant Klingon, not Kingon……

    Have to keep on the right side of the language police! 😉

  • George

    “People – and business – is attracted by tolerance, by diversity, by respect for culture.”

    China being the prime example Mr. Robinson. Tolerance…. Oh wait a minute.

    “Google didn’t develop the Google as Gaeilge – anyone can do it with the toolkits. That’s why there was a Klingon one too. Didn’t cost Google a cent.”

    Wasn’t it done by Google employees situated in Dublin, working in their free time?

  • lib2016

    Unionists seem to have realised recently that constantly referring to Britain as ‘the mainland’ has the obvious effect of making the idea of moving there seem more attractive to their offspring.

    Maybe on more mature reflection they will realise that their over reaction to public demonstrations of Irish culture will only have a similar effect given the fact that Irish national culture is thriving and expanding all the time.

    It was good to see Scots Irish links celebrated recently in the local media but there are considerably larger feisanna going on regularly and eventually they will have to be reported, just as the GAA eventually after years of effort is now receiving attention commensurate with the support it receives from the public.

    It is in unionist’s own interests to help build a culture which reflects all the communities who live here rather than hanging onto the failed ‘simply British’ ethos of the UUP.

    If Robinson’s speeches reflect an attempt to move the DUP in that direction then they should be welcomed.

  • Oilbhear Chromaill

    Your position appears to be that you believe the Irish language to be ‘alien’ to Ireland. That’s not merely negative, mean spirited and offensive, it’s plain wrong.

    The Irish language is an indigenous language spoken by thousands of people every day. If you haven’t heard it being spoken, that’s more an indication of the limited social circles in which you circulate than it is a judgement on the widespread use of the language.

    I don’t think it’s particularly difficult to write coherently and accurately in Irish or in English – but that’s the benefit of a bilingual education for you.

    As far as I can make out opposition to the Irish language from the unionist community appears to be founded on ignorance, bigotry and small mindedness rather than this economic canard to which we’re regularly pointed. When someone points out that a global corporation, not the only one, try Microsoft for instance, thinks that the Irish language is worthy of their attention, then they attack google. Shucks, perhaps it’s going to be more difficult than we thought to attract business to this here province.

    You want economic stability, you’d better accept that there’s more than one culture in the north.

  • Dewi

    And 32 Irish medium primary schools…i thank means got a little bit more credibility than Klingon…..

  • Ringo

    [i]“Google didn’t develop the Google as Gaeilge – anyone can do it with the toolkits. That’s why there was a Klingon one too. Didn’t cost Google a cent.”

    Wasn’t it done by Google employees situated in Dublin, working in their free time? [/i]

    I don’t know who did the localisation, but the key word is ‘volunteer’. Simple enough – just translate things like ‘I’m feeling lucky’, although I don’t think Peig ever uttered those words, the miserable wagon.

    Google in Your Language

    Looks like they’ve ditched the Klingon version now though. Doesn’t bode well for Ulster-Scots.

  • Chris Donnelly

    A simple case of Robinson re-stating the pitch to supporters, complete with glossy, bullish rhetoric which always accompanies such statements, no matter the audience.

    A number of important points, however, do arise:

    Robinson crows about securing a veto over Ministerial decisions and explicitly states that the DUP have secured no Irish language Act, the retention of Grammar schools and changes in the number of local councils from the proposed seven councils.

    What is missing?

    Answer: Peter is failing to inform the rank-and-file that Sinn Fein also have a nice, gift-wrapped veto to be wielded whenever desired in the recent future.

    Which is why it may prove a mistake for Peter in this column to have so clearly boasted about what the DUP will be able to prevent, given that the party may come to Sinn Fein’s door bearing such gifts in return for other matters of import to unionists.

    Interesting times ahead….

  • DC

    Co-equally vetoed all the way to Plan B, eh Chris?

    To be truthful, I always had a warm spot for Plan B, what with cultural politics passing for real polity, I would be content with Plan B if it had decision-making mechanisms linked with the voluntary & community sector, professional and trade organisations, representative groups and charities.

    If it helped to freeze out ethnic wrangles and brought peace and integration through making and taking tough policy stances to achieve that then all extremely well and good.

  • interested

    Indeed SF have the equal veto – but there is yet to be an issue highlighted where unionists, or the DUP in particular want to press forward a particular issue that SF would want to block. The only possible one where it could have been a problem in the early days would have been academic selection, hence the DUP sorting that one out pre-devolution.

    They’re unlikely to come crying for an Ulster-Scots Bill in return for an Irish Bill. They certainly aren’t going to come crying for the devolution of policing and justice any time soon. It actually seems that on all the main issues of the day its actually Sinn Fein who will have to sit around waiting for the DUP rather than the other way round. BTW, didnt SF once tell us that there was no possibility of them supporting policing until P&J powers were actually devolved. Care to explain that one to the boys in South Armagh and West Tyrone? No wonder they’re a bit itchy.

    I certainly dont believe the Irish language is ‘alien’ to Ireland, but the fact that it is a language which orignates in Ireland doesn’t make it worthy of funding, nor does it mean that it requres a specific Act to enhance it. It recieves funding already by Government and it is protected by the European Charter, as are all minority languages.

    What escapes those who are pusing for the Irish Language Act is that they seek to make it ‘special’. Why should Irish have a status above other languages, including those which also originate at least in part from this part of the world? They also seek to ignore the fact that Irish does have a political dimention – too many statments from Chris Donnelly’s colleagues have done the case of real language enthusiasts no good at all.

    Remember when you say one day that “every word spoken in Irish is another bullet fired in the struggle” it’s hard to come along the next day and tell us that you’re just interested in Irish as some kind of cultural and linguistic exercise.

    I didn’t attack Google in particular for their attention or otherwise to the Irish language. What I did question was you seeking to make some grand point out of a relatively minor action by a large corporation. Neither Google, Microsoft or anyone else has a particular interest in the Irish language unless it can make them some cash. They’ll ditch English and do it all in Chinese and Indian if that what suits their balance sheets eventually.

    Your valiant defence about these corporations seeking to come to places with great tolerance to culture etc does come into question when its already been pointed out that they conveniently overlook these points when it comes to investing in somewhere like China. Perhaps you would care to deal with that point?

    The real problem is that opposition to an Irish Language Act hasn’t been expressed in any kind of screaming “this is the Pope’s language” kind of way. The problem is that opposition is on rational, thought out, and economic terms. It robs nationalists of any real ability to cry discrimination because there isn’t any.

    Which comes back to Peter Robinson’s point – getting real progress on the issues of the economy and prosperity in Northern Ireland which the DUP seem to be focusing on rather than an Irish Language Act to increase Government spending by a few more millions – as if the public sector wasn’t bloated enough. But hey, lets have a bit more fat in the system if its all in the name of ‘increasing diversity’ – diversity only in the interests of nationalists and republicans of course, heaven help it if you might introduce an act which would help a few recent migrants to the country actually integrate successfully.

  • willowfield

    Robinson catches on eventually. He used to oppose Trimble for saying the exact same thing.

    PS. What’s the difference between “co-equal” and “equal”. Methinks nothing.

  • Dawkins

    “Mick, how do you say ‘One trick pony’ in Irish?”

    “Capaillín cleais céanna.”

    Wow, that’s eight syllables to the English four. No wonder the language never caught on :0)

  • Oiliféar

    “The problem is that opposition is on rational, thought out, and economic terms.” – No, the problem is that when talking about cultural wealth, it cannot be put into numbers and so its loss goes unmeasured and unnoticed. Neither is culture of the sort of mundane matters that are served by reason.

    “What escapes those who are pusing for the Irish Language Act is that they seek to make it ‘special’.” – It’s no more special than Manx, Welsh or Scottish Gaelic which are accorded greater status than what is being sought.

    Its tragic that Irish has been hi-jacked from the Protestant community in the North. Never let it be forgotten that it was the Anglicans of what’s now the Republic and the Presbyterians of what’s now Northern Ireland that saved the language while Catholics from all parts of the island were driving away from it. Don’t forget either that Irish is a living example of the ties between this island and the larger one that predate English involvement here, and in fact represents the Irish linking east-wards. Aside from English, it is the language that connects the greatest number of peoples across these islands. Today it links 4 out of the 8 jurisdictions that make us. Do you not think that its sad that while 3 out of those 4 recognize its importance for us all, and accord it a status equal to that of English (even if only nominally so), that the last piece of the puzzle is kept from being put in place by those who remonstrate so loudly of our unity?

  • Oiliféar

    “Wow, that’s eight syllables to the English four. No wonder the language never caught on :0)”

    Six, but I can get it down to five: Pónaí chleas amháin

    Now, for a double dare: try saying “one trick pony” another way in English, without sound retarded. ;-P

  • Dewi

    “!I certainly dont believe the Irish language is ‘alien’ to Ireland, but the fact that it is a language which orignates in Ireland doesn’t make it worthy of funding, nor does it mean that it requres a specific Act to enhance it. ”

    O come on ! Embrace it as part of your heritage ! – worth more money than the bloody Sunay enquiry anyway !

  • Pónaí aon chleas

    Capaillín aon chleas

    If Interested doesn’t believe that Irish is alien to Ireland, why does he connect it to Klingon…

    As for funding, I don’t believe that the English language should be funded. But it is, in every which way. I’m not looking for pound for pound – but I am looking for adequate funding to do things in Irish which need to be done, broadcasting, education, public services, signage. I don’t think we’re talking about too much money in comparison to the cultural wealth which can be created. James Joyce didn’t come from the air you know. Neither did Heaney and co. Neither did Sean O Riordáin or a host of other writers – and it doesn’t stop there. Much of what Ireland is today owes a debt to the Irish language – and it’s not alone a repayment of that debt but an investment in the future to invest in the promotion of the language.

    That’s what I believe. And I think that the DUP would do well to help make the north a better place in which to live for everybody if they demonstrated a little tolerance towards Irish, even embraced it, rather than playing the Philistine card which they have often played in the past.

    I can tell you one thing – the Irish language today is a great deal more seaworthy than the Titanic was in 1912….

  • observer

    Your position appears to be that you believe the Irish language to be ‘alien’ to Ireland. That’s not merely negative, mean spirited and offensive, it’s plain wrong.

    The Irish language is an indigenous language spoken by thousands of people every day

    – thats just a lie,
    when did anyone last hear bertie ahern , the (real) Irish prime minister, speak in Irish?
    He doesnt, Irish TV is in English as is its newspapers.

    English is the new Irish,its only the Oirish wannabes in NI, lost without any identity, who want to hold on to it for dear life.

  • Dawkins


    “Six, but I can get it down to five: Pónaí chleas amháin.”

    Are you sure you’re counting correctly? “A-mhá-in” has three syllables, as has “cé-an-na”, and “clea-is” has two, one more than “chleas”.

  • George

    “The Irish language is an indigenous language spoken by thousands of people every day

    – thats just a lie,”

    Considering there are approaching 30,000 primary children who are educated through Irish in Irish medium schools, I would say it is safe to assume that it is spoken by thousands of people every day.

    That’s before we take into account the Gaeltacht areas, secondary schools, ex Republican prisoners etc.

    Just because you have no interest in it and most likely know nothing about the Irish language community doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

    The majority of new schools opened in the Republic last year were Irish language ones.

    It ain’t in the healthiest of positions but it ain’t dead yet either.

  • páid

    Dawkins, you write…..

    No wonder the language never caught on :0)

    Do you always put that symbol at the end of a laughably ignorant sentence?
    From Kerry to Inverness, Dohkins.

    observer, you write

    The Irish language is an indigenous language spoken by thousands of people every day

    – thats just a lie

    No it isn’t, or do you think the whole Gaeltacht thing is just made up? So stop lying yourself, or we’ll just wonder why you’re lying.

    As for NI not having an Irish Language Act, well fine.
    Message to Nationalists: you want Irish identity, language and culture in your State? – you need a United Ireland.

    Another slate slips from the roof of the cold house.

  • observer

    Message to Nationalists: you want Irish identity, language and culture in your State? – you need a United Ireland.

    Another slate slips from the roof of the cold house.
    Posted by páid on Aug 24, 2007 @ 12:43 AM

    maybe you should try killing for it, oh wait , you tried that and taht didnt work either.

  • Comrade Stalin

    People – and business – is attracted by tolerance, by diversity, by respect for culture.

    Aye yer bollix. The majority of Irish people, including me, don’t give a flying what the hell happens to the language. I’ve nothing against it, but to suggest that promoting the language will somehow level some sort of playing field is daft as a brush. Irish people do not care for the language, to the extent that legislation is required to keep to floating. It’s the sad truth.

  • páid

    Hey observer,

    I didn’t kill anyone.

    I didn’t help anyone kill anyone.

    I’ve often argued on Slugger against violent republicanism. Never supported it.

    You owe me an apology.

  • Dawkins


    It was a joke! Did you have a humour bypass on the NHS or what?

    “Symbol” denoting laughable ignorance -> :0)

  • Oiliféar

    Dawkins, I get:

    amhain: A-WOAn (A-VOAn)
    cleas: CLASS
    cleais: CLAsh

    That could just me by superior western accent, but I’m sure there are some on this board who would make a dog’s ear out of a WO-in TRICK PO-IN-IE :o)

    But that leads me to think of something else. If, in the unlikely event of a Irish-language Act, since that appears to be what we’re talking about now, would it be Ulster Irish – or Ulster Gaelic, if more pallatable. If so, I think that would be class (or cleas).

    For Comrade Stalin: “‘People – and business – is attracted by tolerance, by diversity, by respect for culture.’ – Aye yer bollix.” One thing’s for certain, people and business are repulsed by intolerance, blandness and disrepsect for culture.

  • Bigger Picture

    OILibhear Chromaill

    Are you honestly saying that businesses are attracted by respect and diversity?? You really need to give your head a shake mate because that is the biggest load of tosh i have read here for quite some time and nothing but petty tribal ranting at that. To even have to consider Legislation to protect a language shows how weak it is.

    Secondly, i never knew businesses were so heart warming and caring?? I thought the SF always teached about the dangers of big business and the monster of capitalism?? Businesses only care about one thing -profit margins and everything else can get stuffed. How about all this foreign work in India, China and Southern Asia like Burma and Vietnam?? Is this done because these countries have grear respect for tolerance and human rights. NO its done because the labours cheap and the tax breaks are good.

    Harp on about an Irish Language Act if you want but don’t make me laugh by saying it helps the economy.

  • Dan

    At the end of the day, it’s going to come down to peoples desire to pass on Irish that will determine its fate. If you care so much about it, learn it. If you have it already, use it in the home. It’s not complicated.

    At the same time, I recognise the symbolic value that an Irish Language act would have in NI. For that reason, I hope it comes to pass.

    The fate of the language in the long term will be determined by those who truly care for it. Not by people who pay lip service to it but make no effort to use/learn it…or fools who obviously know next to nothing about the language and are hostile to it.

  • Dawkins


    Not trying to teach my gran to suck eggs or anything, but it’s a common mistake for peeps to make. You’re miscounting the number of syllables. You’re tucking the final syllable of “amháin” in behind the main one, hoping no one will notice: A-WOAn.

    But it really is there, mate, your lower case notwithstanding. You form it when your tongue hits the back of your dentures and you nasalize the “n”.

    But don’t be too put out by the wordiness of Irish. French is worse. American English is probably leading the world today, having introduced a great many neat little terms — such as “one-trick pony”.

  • páid

    Sorry Dawkins. Reverse humour bypassed booked.

  • Bigger Picture


    “One thing’s for certain, people and business are repulsed by intolerance, blandness and disrepsect for culture”

    Maybe personally people in businesses are but tell that to the 12 year old Indian child who made your Nike shoes.

    Its about were the potential to make the most money is rather than respect for culture that drives businesses and to think otherwise really shows what a clueless bunch some politically motivated people are

  • jpeters

    pass the act its the british thing to do

  • Dawkins

    LOL @ jpeters!

  • No doubt bigger picture’s vision of the world is true – but only to a point. Otherwise all the world’s manufacturing would be done in sweat shops. Perhaps we should encourage the growth of such an economy here in Ireland. Sell ourselves and our educated children short…?

    I made an observation about Google and Microsoft – both of whom have their European bases in Dublin. Now I have never said they came to Ireland because of the Irish language – but they do want educated people on their staff. And education doesn’t merely mean people skilled in computers but people with ideas. It’s clear to me the more understanding people have of culture, the more open they are to ideas. Not that I expect the tunnel visioned Observer/Interested/Bigger Picture to be able to see that. If the world was depending on their logic, reasoning and breadth of vision, we’d still be trying to light fires in the dark.

    The case being put by unionists against the Irish language, that it’s ‘divisive’, is essentially one of bigotry. If that were true, it would be divisive to oppose apartheid, segregation, nazism. I’m for the Irish language. It’s the bigoted attitude of unionists which makes it divisive.

  • interested

    OILibhear Chromaill
    Good to see you’ve stuck with the debate anyway.

    “As for funding, I don’t believe that the English language should be funded. But it is, in every which way.”

    That’s a ridiculous point. If you are saying that English is ‘funded’ because road signs are in English its simply a matter of communication in the most efficient way. If I want to know where to go I need a road sign and the fact that the sign is in English does not count as funding of the English language.

    You mention Irish signs as something which “needs to be done”. Why? Why do we need Irish signs? A sign is a method of directing someone to their destination – there is no need to have that sign in Irish, either financially, for efficient direction of people or culturally. There is no real cultural value in a road sign, unless of course you want to re-inforce some point about Northern Ireland’s Oirishness…… and that would never be the case.

    There may be a case for Irish language broadcasting – but it already happens! Listen to Radio Ulster or watch the Irish language programmes on tv. I’ll be happy to bet that they don’t have the viewing figures of Eastenders, but then you probably count that as state funding of the English language.

    We dont “owe a debt to the Irish language” but we should respect what it has done, the real history of those who spoke and promoted it here and value it as a cultural and linguistic tool.

    This claim that the DUP or unionists don’t tolerate Irish is of course rubbish. Irish receives funding and it receives airtime, it receives promotion in many different ways, all of which are tolerated by unionists. Maybe Irish enthusiasts could take a look at where the tolerance problems really lie when their attitude to Ulster Scots is examined – see this thread already where without any shred of evidence or backup it can be mocked, called a dialect or simply ‘English with a Ballymena accent’ and that’s deemed as perfectly acceptable. As I’ve said, I’m no particular fan of U-S, but there is some kind of cultural snobbery when it comes to Irish and the belief that it is more a ‘legitimate’ culture. That, it would seem, also extends to other minority languages in Northern Ireland where we see people quite happy to have an Irish Language Act, but see those from ethnic minorities struggle to integrate in society because they don’t have resources to help them with language difficulties.

    That doesn’t create the kind of ‘cultural diversity’ you want though, because you can have any kind of diverse culture you want, as long as its Irish culture.

    Deal with the issues you raise – a while back the Irish language was going to transform the economy, but now that’s been proven to be rubbish we have to do it because of its “cultural wealth”. Culture should be enhanced, but there’s more to culture than Irish – are you prepared to spend as much on painting, dance, poetry and the other aspects of ‘cultural wealth’ as you are on Irish? Or, again is there some kind of cultural hierarchy? Or is it just that there’s another ‘edge’ to Irish which goes beyond the cultural and into the political….. Make up your own mind.

    “I can tell you one thing – the Irish language today is a great deal more seaworthy than the Titanic was in 1912….”

    And exactly what kind of fairly crass point is that supposed to make?

  • interested

    “It’s the bigoted attitude of unionists which makes it divisive.”

    Of course, its all the nasty bigoted unionists fault. My oh my, why didn’t we realise it earlier.

    It could be nothing to do with the fact that we had the representatives of the republican movement telling us that “every word spoken in Irish was another bullet fired in the struggle”. That kinda made Irish a little hard to embrace for a unionist when you were told that by doing it you were undermining your own political philosophy. Yet we made it divisive apparently. Hmmmmmmmmm

    “If that were true, it would be divisive to oppose apartheid, segregation, nazism.”

    Dangerously close to Godwin’s law there I think. How on earth you link the promotion of the Irish language to the anti-apartheid movement is anyone’s guess. And trying to claim that Foras na Gaeilge are some kind of latter day Oscar Schindler is frankly as disgusting as it is laughable.

  • I don’t think it’s a debate interested – because your points are largely spurious.

    For instance your point about opposition to the Irish language being founded on reason rather than kneejerk unionism is belied by the UUP position as spelt out in another thread but I’ll repeat here.

    Irish Language

    It was agreed to support the motion with the inclusion of a suggested amendment, put forward by Roy Beggs, to include the words ‘St Andrews’ in the text. The motion is as follows:

    This house considers that arrangements for suitable recognition of the Irish Language were made in the practical implementation of the Belfast Agreement, and that present agitation for an Irish Language Act is an attempt by republicans to use the language as a cultural weapon in their ongoing struggle against unionism. As such, their proposals should not be supported.

    Your respect for people of other cultures amounts to forcing English down their throats.

    the point I made about the Titanic is simply this. When the Titanic set sail in 1912 it was regarded as unsinkable and a palace on the ocean. Irish, you say, is as good as a dead language yet its spoken by thousands every day and is likely to be around for generations, despite the best efforts of the anti Irish brigade.

    Appearances can be deceiving. Is that a crass point?

    As for the Ulster Scots, they’ve done the damage themselves. the recent publication by the Ulster Scots Agency of an all English cd, The Songs My Father Sung, loyalist songs such as The Sash etc, indicates that Ulster Scots is being hijacked as a hardline Protestant culture project.

  • jpeters

    no seriously!

    think about it make irish part of the system, just like welsh and scottish, give it support, british democracy has always a pluralist system (ie scottish legal system, welsh speaking army units). In reality has these regional differences make the UK less cohesive? No off course not, even with the regional assemblies i can’t see any real drive to independance in Scotland and Wales in the near future, and langauge promotion won’t be the cause of that anyway. SO its clear that British democracy has a clear history of promoting diversity and fulfilling the cultural aspirations of its peoples, why not here? There are no more old ladies on trollies in scotland and wales than here! Its the british thing to do

  • Bigger Picture


    It is true that certain companies like Google and Microsoft base in Dublin and it is the skilled workers that make this possible, the same way the biggest financial market in Europe is based in the City of London. In the same way indeed that many big companies base in overseas markets to try and cut costs both in red tape and labour. These companies are not seeking the best culturally diverse nations in which to set up, instead they look at markets were there is the maximum possible room for growth and that will happen regardless of any political situation that is happening. I think the amount of US commercial goods being produced in China really shows that.

    Now i ask you were is the tunnel vision in my argument?? Business is set up in Dublin in many cases instead of the UK or mainland Europe, but i wonder does this have anything to do with the lowest rate of corporation tax in the continent?? Coupled with a skilled workforce who are IT literate it makes the perfect base. What you have to realise is that culture doesn’t matter to these people and if the incentives were not there i doubt whether there would be as near the same investment.

    Now in return OC all you have done is explain that people who are more tolerant have better ideas and call me a bigot to boot. All i have done is show you that a language act will not make the slightest difference to any economy. You are trying to push forward an Irish language agenda and glam it up by saying it would help the economy which is complete nonsense. I have also not attacked it from a unionist perspective i have mearly tried to show you how your ludicrous argument falls down. Feel free then to find nothing better to respond with than calling me a bigot again when i have simply tried to explain how an economy actually works for you. I suppose my Economics degree really does count for nothing….

  • interested

    Apparently my points are spurious, but your issue that an Irish language search engine was high level debate…. well.

    Now, you accept that language can be used as a cultural weapon and make some accusations about Ulster-Scots possibly being hi-jacked. Maybe those are valid criticisms, but you cannot make then and at the same time claim that there are no political overtones to Irish that the Irish language has been in no way used to further political aims.

    I never claimed Irish was “a dead language” – about the fourth or fifth time you’ve tried to claim things which have never been said – maybe you need those English lessons.

  • observer

    if people want to speak irish let them, there is no need for legislation, this is the UK , we speak english here , must like Ireland and the real Irish.

    the Oirish really are such a bore.

  • jpeters

    what a sensitive cultural observer you are! : )

  • Good Grief

    Having worked for a variety of IT companies in finacial services, and worked in the area of business development I can give you a cast iron guarantee that the argument that an Irish Language Act would appeal to multinationals is something which you, OC, have dreamt up to support your aspirations for the future of the Irish Language.

    A previous comment by Chris D suggested that SF are ready to play the veto card against the DUPes whenever the opportunity arises. Put simply the DUPes have set out their stall to maintain the status quo, SF seek to effect most change. Whose veto in these circumstances becomes most useful ? The DUPes i would suggest ?

  • A degree in economics is worth damn all if it can’t see the real Bigger Picture. It’s not just a question of low corporation tax – because if it were wouldn’t every country be doing it?

    I have made the point that the Irish languge forms part of the cultural context here in Ireland and even if multinationals realise it or even if they don’t, when they locate in Ireland, they’re locating in a country with the oldest living language in Europe, with a long history of learning and culture. The Irish language is still part of our lives here, even the lives of the very ignorant on this site. I’m talking about you, Observer and your Oirish digs. Maybe they don’t even see the link – but then again there are none so blind as those who WILL not see.

    The political overtones of Irish are those invested in it by narrow minded unionists (not necessarily an oxymoron) and Irish speakers who pursue their lives as Gaeilge have no need to make apology for it.

    Go back to where I started this debate – and it’s interesting to note that its still going even though some, Mick included, didn’t think it would go off in this particular direction and for so long – if the DUP want to make the North a better place in which to live for all the people, I don’t see how it would be a burden to them or to society if they give an Irish Language Act which increases, for instance, the amount of Irish on the airwaves.

    The big test for unionism is whether they’re willing to take on board that even if they have a political majority, it doesn’t entitle them to exclude and marginalise the culture of the minority.

  • barnshee

    “I don’t see how it would be a burden to them or to society if they give an Irish Language Act which increases, for instance, the amount of Irish on the airwaves. ”

    I`m all for it– the Irish TG4 is brilliant– shows all the old western movies I saw as a child
    Such wonderful Irish speakers as Randolph Scott Audie Murphy et al. Funnily enough I can understand every word –even the ads are understandable (its the other items I can`t make head nor tail -of the klingon stuff.)

  • Bigger Picture


    Ah so i see you have decided then not to argue against any points that i made and are simply calling me a bigot once again. If you look at what i have said and stopped worrying about the “narrow mindness of Unionists” you will see that i have attacked and destroyed your observation that Irish is good for the economy, as it damn well isn’t. As Good Grief as stated above as well. I haven’t attacked the language on a political level or how it’s overtones. I have merely pointed out the MASSIVE pitfalls in your argument and when you realise this you manfully play the victim card.

    I will listen to calls for an Irish language Act when there are sensible arguments for doing so and not the economic bolix that you have typed on this site.

  • jpeters

    what about my earlier point want to come back on it? I’m not a keen economist but i don’t think there is any room for economics anyway in this argument

  • Bigger Picture


    One of OC’s founding arguments was that it would be good for the economy, such crap.

  • Where did I use the ‘b’ word in my last post? I have no interest in a purely economic argument. My interest in economics is due to its link with culture and politics. I fail to see why a more ignorant society, that in which the Irish language is not supported by the state, would be a more appealing society to business, not necessarily multi-nationals, than one which is bilingual, open to diverse cultures, tolerant.

  • jpeters


    acknowledged not an economist so don’t know, what about the legitimate act of a pluralistic democracy towards a minority in aid of their cultural aspirations, done in a way which has been tried and tested in other parts of the country which don’t happen to have an excess of oul biddies rotting away on hospital trollies?

  • Can Mr Bigger Picture explain to us all how the Irish language could be ‘bad’ for the economy? If he believes my arguments that it can only be a good thing for the economy to have a stable society in which the culture of all is respected and supported are ‘crap’ – such an apt synopsis of his thinking – I feel it’s incumbent on him to say argue, credibly, how the Irish language would be ‘bad’ for the economy.

  • Ringo

    Just because you can speak Irish, or even contrive to do so in Belfast, doesn’t make you part of the Irish language tradition, any more than someone from Cobh claiming that they are Masai because there is a wildlife park with giraffes and cheatahs down the road. It is artificially supported, and based on nothing other than a desire to show how ‘not British’ you are.

    It is clear as day that the opposition to the bill is rooted in opposition to the likes of Olibhear, not against the language per se, which quite frankly hasn’t the remotest hope of becoming anything other than symoblic in NI. The problem is those that are trying to dictate the symbolism.

  • jpeters

    surely if you are correct in saying that irish is a way to somehow rebel (which i doubt) againt the british adimistration an act would hardly be the way to go about it. The act would be british legislation and recieve the queens acent. Surely nothing could be more british and nothing could show more that persuance of irish cultural aspirations was now thoroughly non political.

  • Bigger Picture

    I never stated that it would be bad for the economy far from it, any society that is stable and is working well is bound to attract business. OC’s argument was however that that the imposition of an Irish Language Act would actively encourage businesses to come to NI. No it would not. As i have already stated Businesses go were the incentives are best regardless of what kind of despot regime is running the country. More business now more than ever is in Asia due to abundant cheap labour and tax inceentives. Dublin with the lowest rate of corporation tax in europe, an IT literate population and English speaking (not a dig on the Irish language argument) is attracting it’s fair share of professional businesses.

    Mr OC’s argument is – “enact the Language Act and businesses will come because we are more tolerant!”

    Rubbish. Businesses will go were the room for them to grow is the biggest and they will not sacrifice any profit margins for setting up in a country that is more tolerant than others.

    I have NOT at any stage said an Irish Language Act would be bad for the economy, rather it just wouldn’t make the economy better like OC was suggesting.

    Now OC i feel i have argued credibly my point all along in relation to this. Whether you are more tolerant or not as country doesn’t matter to business because as long as the incentives are there business will go. Just look at Communist China and its growing economy despite being a dictatorship with one of the worst human rights records on the planet. Tolerance does not equal a big economy, just in the same way as intolerance doesn’t lead to a small economy.

    Now OC you will see that my argument in this matter is not political but economic, the same as it has been all along. I have not sought to argue it from a political stance because i’m not that interested in the Irish language as a political debate-to me its just a political football used by politicians to further show their differences with each other. Ulster-Scots as well.

    Now i would welcome you to say why it would definatley help the economy to have Irish as a language. I have said it doesn’t help, not bad. you tell me how it would help over to you…


    Interesting point and well worth looking into.

  • observer

    they’re locating in a country with the oldest living language in Europe —

    its such a living language that the Irish prime minister doesnt speak it, the main TV channels dont broadcast in it, the newspapers dont print in it

  • jpeters

    its still a cultural aspiration though and a legitimate one. Its their culture. If you think is subversive pass the act. Hardly a rebellion doing something the queen has put her name to plus you get to be a democrat, looking after the needs of the minority in a dispassionate way, the act can’t help or hurt you any way

    ps would basque be older?

  • Dan

    Ignore observer ffs. It’s just a troll and a poor one at that.

    As far as Ulster Scots goes, it’s not on par with Irish. That’s not a jab at U-S, but the reality. There’s no dispute that Gaeilge is a language. A language with three main dialects. The same can’t be said for Ulster Scots.

    Irish Gaelic was the language of the majority on the island of Ireland up until the early to mid 1800s. Was Scots (which branched into Ulster-Scots if you will) even the main language among the Planters? Or was it English?

    etc etc

  • Tiny

    “I can refer you the recent Millward Brown survey which says that 17% of the population speak/understand Irish.”

    There is a hell of a difference between being able to hold a conversation in Irish and claiming to understand it, what percentage of the ‘Souths’ population can hold a conversation in the native tongue, 17%, I doubt it?

  • observer

    “I can refer you the recent Millward Brown survey which says that 17% of the population speak/understand Irish.” –

    saying “Tiocfaidh Ar La” is probably what constitutes as speaking irish for the Oirish in Northern Ireland.

  • Given the level of ignorance from tiny and Observer, I don’t think it’s worthwhile engaging in their futile and spurious pointscoring exercise. the Millward Brown survey stands on its own and its results, it seem, have hit a chord or dischord.

  • Dan

    Only about 3% of the ROIs population use Irish as their PRIMARY language. Certainly, the % would go up significantly if you included those who are fluent but who don’t use Irish as their main language.

  • jpeters


    And the point?

  • Dan

    Well, draw your own conclusions. What are the chances 17% of the population in NI speak or understand Irish when you look at the situation in the Republic. Most Irish speakers reside there, after all.