A brief glance into UUP thinking…

DAVID Burnside’s recent suggestion that the UUP leave the Executive to join the Opposition looks likes it’s been put on the long finger, if these minutes (below the fold) of UUP meetings earlier this month are anything to go by. Elsewhere in the (admittedly rather dull) document, the party seems keen on pushing the establishment of an Environmental Protection Agency (thus removing Crown immunity from the Dept of Environment run by the DUP’s Arlene Foster) and 15 local authorities (as opposed to the 11 favoured by the relevant Minister, Arlene Foster). There was nothing to report on party reform – the most pressing issue for the UUP – but “but that our attempts in getting articles through to the local press required greater effort”. Hopefully, this post goes some way towards addressing that. On the Irish Language, the UUP sees the “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”. SUMMARY OF OUTCOME OF SPECIAL MEETINGS OF THE ULSTER UNIONIST MLA’S HELD ON TUESDAY 7th and WEDNESDAY 8th AUGUST 2007

UUP Opposition / Corporate Executive Decisions

It was agreed that the Ulster Unionist Assembly Group will keep under ongoing review the Party’s participation in the Assembly Executive and will prepare a submission to the Executive Review Committee to put forward proposals to ensure the creation of a more suitable form of democratic and accountable government for Northern Ireland. Ministers report to Group on Executive Business.

Devolution of Policing & Justice

It was agreed that the relevant parties would meet to prepare a submission on the Devolution of Policing & Justice, due on 17th August. Meeting to be called by Party Leader.

National Stadium

It was agreed to pursue consultations in the Party with key people. Meeting with key people to be called by Party Leader.

Environment & Planning

It was agreed that the Party spokesperson should look at taking the initiative in launching a campaign for an environment protection agency by way of a Private Member’s Bill or a Committee Bill; and to take an interest in the relevant environmental Groups and engage with them on a regular basis. It was also agreed not to move on the Party’s position of a 15-council model.

Performance in the Assembly & Projection of our efforts at Stormont / Party Reform

Performance in the Assembly & Projection of our efforts at Stormont – It was agreed that the Party’s performance in the Assembly had dramatically improved, but that our attempts in getting articles through to the local press required greater effort.

Party Reform – The Party Leader agreed to fully report to the Group again in due course. It was also agreed that the issue of MLAs contributions would be returned to the agenda for a full discussion.

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.

Education

It was agreed that as this was such a wide-ranging topic it warranted a comprehensive discussion; therefore a special meeting should be arranged with a full complement of Members.

  • OJ

    Aren’t there many reasons for wanting to keep the Irish language alive and healthy in the north? I think it’s a nonsense to posit the notion that the only people who want to nurture the language are invested in this goal on purely political grounds. As Noam Chomsky says, ‘The disappearance of languages and cultures is like the destruction of bio-diversity, except more important to us because it is human diversity. It’s cultural diversity and is being destroyed, and that’s a bad thing.’ And isn’t it possible to separate a political desire from a culture aspiration? Isn’t it obvious that a language contains immeasurable information about who we are?

  • nmc

    If the old cost chestnut is to be dragged up yet again, can we Republicans off-set some of the cost against the annual 11th night bonfires, which run into millions each and every year? What about security costs policing the twelfth, especially when Loyalism doesn’t get it’s own way?

    If we’re going to consider this then maybe the rest of the UK should have a say, since their taxes are also being blown. 57 million people in Britain paying millions in taxes for a festival enjoyed by just over half of our 1.7 million people.

    Or perhaps the money that is spent on the twelfth/11th night bonfires should just be spent, and Unionism can stop pretending that they’re losing out on something.

  • George

    GinnFizz,
    but in your quote Hyde was talking about the Saxons, not the Ulster Scots, who I assume Hyde would have considered Celtic too.

    Hyde accepted the place of English, he was more concerned at the loss of the Irish language:

    You can always find quotes:

    “Englishmen have very noble and excellent qualities which I should like to see imitated here, but I should not like to imitate them in everything. I like our own habits and character better, they are more consonant to my nature; I like our own turn of thought, our own characteristics, and above all I like our own language…

    If we allow one of the finest and the richest languages in Europe, which, fifty years ago, was spoken by nearly four millions of Irishmen, to die out without a struggle, it will be an everlasting disgrace, and a blighting stigma upon our nationality.”

  • observer

    when are nationalists going to get it into their heads that they have signed up to a system of government that requires Unionist consent.

    I know its hard for them to grasp this, theyd rather just bomb us to bits, but unless we say so there will be NO irish language act

    (and we do say NO btw)

  • Oiliféar

    OJ and George, I can do nothing but agree with you final paragraph.

    nmc, didn’t the British people already have their say about this when Tony promised it to Gerry?

  • Oiliféar

    “unless we say so there will be NO irish language act” – good, that’s the way it should be, but saying no “just because we can” or saying no “just because they want it” is neither very bright, reasonably nor civilised.

  • RG Cuan

    OBSERVER

    The majority of people here are capable of contructive discussion. We don’t need your petty comments.

  • joeCanuck

    Before a government or corporation invests any money they usually do a cost benefit analysis.
    In this case, the benefits, while real, are unfortunately intangible.
    But has anyone tackled the cost side? There are people complaining about a “waste” of public money, but there are many other things such as policing certain activities which could fairly be described as a waste.
    Presumably certain elements of the unionist community wouldn’t even agree to a study of the costs.
    Anyone got any idea?

  • OJ

    Observer, surely any respectable ‘say so’ or, ‘say no’ should be informed with some semblance of reason?

  • Oiliféar

    Tá an anailís chostsochair le teacht san Fhómhar, ar feadh m’eolais. / The cost-benefit report is due in Autumn, as far as I’m aware.

  • RG Cuan

    Sin an rud a thuigim féin a Oiliféir. Beidh sé spéisiúil nuair a thig sé amach.

  • OJ

    Once a language is lost, it’s lost and along with that, as Olifear & George acknowledge, can go so much of what might help us to understand why we feel and think the way we do. There’s some kind of effort to sustain the language in the south of the island which would seem to be faltering, if not uninspirational. I think that if there’s a substantial number of people in the north who want to learn and grasp it, then it’s a horror to let the life flow out of it. I think also, btw, that language is a force of its own and that we, as northeners, are wrongly attaching proprietorial concepts to its continuance. Yes, I come from a nationalist back ground and was lucky enough to attend a school where the language was offered but i can honestly say that my desire to learn the language wasn’t so that i could wear it as a badge of honour. And i can’t honestly believe that grown adults routinely immerse themselves in learning a language from scratch for the sole reason that they can bolster a lack lustre political identity. And actually, if they do, hilarious as it is, you’ve got to hand it to them. God loves a tryer.

  • IJP

    There are many reasons for seeking to maintain and promote the use of Irish. The debate shouldn’t be about that, it should be about how it is best done.

    De Valera’s goal was to boost Irish. But his heavy-handed methods all but killed it.

    In fact, often a better way to develop a language is to enable people who want to to get on with it, while encouraging people to want to. But heavy-handed stuff costing lots of public money, particularly if it serves only as a visible reminder of the divisions in our society, will only be to the detriment of any language.

  • Belfast Gonzo

    How can unionists claim the Act would be a waste of money in light of the ‘waste’ caused by their own cultural activities? The cost of policing parades, for example, far outweighs the positive economic benefits of the Twelfth, eg tourism etc.

    In fact, virtual ALL such cultural activities are a ‘waste of money’ if they are measured in such simplistic terms.

    I really think this is a very weak argument by unionism.

    I’m neutral on any Act at the moment, because I don’t know enough about it to come down on any side, but with unionists offering fairly weak arguments agin it and republicans like OILy demanding it like a child in a tantrum, I’ll probably let this argument pass me by.

  • Oiliféar

    IJP, the DeV approach had it failures, yet today I’m very thankful for compulsory Irish at school. At the time I only just struggled through it and only very recently, through contact with continental Europeans – before I left Ireland and now while living on the continent – discovered that actually it does mean something to me. I’m quite amazed at myself! I’m now adament that the aggressive (narrow) national dimension to Irish is quite irrevelent. And its a liberating revealation! That is at least part of what I hated about it before. Now, for me, it a wider, European dimension that I long for (and that includes our neighbours at home, both those sharing our island and those on the one next door).

    I couldn’t give a flying fuck about the “struggle” and I’m grateful to the English for the poxy luck of being able to speak their language. Like OJ writes above, my reasons for throwing myself back into it as an adult had nothing to do with wanting to “bolster a lack lustre political identity” – or maybe it did, but then it had something to do with wanting to bolster a lack lustre cultural identity.

    Having a girlfriend that studied Irish a thrid-level has helped, and in fact broke down the last of any qualms I had about “every word being a bullet” and so forth – but I’m lazy as sin, and if it wasn’t for those 14 years back in the day, I don’t know if I would have got back up on the horse.

    Don’t think for a second I’m suggesting that Irish should be compulsory in the North! But Down South, I’m very happy with DeV et al. for the choices that they made, and the opportunity that they gave me. What missing now is space and air, without the suspicion of nationalism hanging over every word. I hope that that can change.

  • dismayed

    All those against the act cite cultural, political or financial reasons.

    In this day and age, a refusal on purely cultural grounds is inacceptable unless we wish to adopt a hypocritical attitude concerning equality. In my opinion, this reasoning is purely sectarian.

    It is also facile to link language demands to political aspirations and therefore attempt to discredit them. Yes, we all acknowledge that there are rabid nationalists and republicans out there who consider any advance for the language to be a slap in the face for ‘the brits’ though for the rest of us, language issues are independent of our political persuasion. I imagine it’s the same in Wales and Scotland and unionists now have the ideal opportunity to break the language’s perceived political link by treating it as a purely cultural issue.

    The only truely valid objection is for financial reasons. We all (well most of us :-)) agree that money spent on healthcare and infrastructure, to name but two, is more beneficial. These are no-brainers.

    Belfast Gonzo has raised other government expenses such as parades, their policing bills problem and other cultural events in general. Should we prune them all (Parades, museums, sporting events, etc.) to bring our cost-cutting exercise to its logical conclusion or should we try and have an even-handed approach for all?

    A downright refusal without a valid excuse can only be interpreted in one way.

  • willowfield

    Oilibhear Chromwell

    So the unionist position is, then, that in this part of the United Kingdom, Northern Ireland, citizens should have lesser rights as regards culture and identity than in other parts of the UK? Don’t we all pay the same taxes, more or less?

    Tell us, then, what statutory rights to Gaelic-speakers (more numerous than those in NI) have in Scotland? What rights do Scots-speakers have in Scotland? What rights to Cornish-speakers have in England? And then tell us how the rights of Gaelic-speakers in NI are “lesser” than speakers of equivalent languages in England and Scotland.

  • Dewi

    Willowfield – don’t you think it might be a good thing to allow rights for Irish speakers in Ireland b4 it disappears ?

  • dallas

    Dewi>
    Willowfield – don’t you think it might be a good thing to allow rights for Irish speakers in Ireland b4 it disappears ?
    But there will still be books and recordings, won’t there?

  • Séamaí

    WILLOWFIELD

    You really are clutching at straws at this stage.

    Just try opening your mind and you might even find that the Irish Gaelic community will open up to you.

  • RG Cuan

    The discussion isn’t really about the survival of the language Dallas, it will not disappear.

    You are right though, like all living languages in Europe there are many recordings of Irish speakers. After all, apart from the linguistic studies, there is a national radio station in Irish, two community stations, numerous programmes throughout the country and an entire tv station.

    So we’re not lacking in Irish Gaelic recordings!

  • confused

    There must be an Irish language but one which is unrecognizable to political republicans who wish to use it as a weapon against the Unionist community or as a means to built a state within a state.
    It would give me great pleasure to hear children speak as gaeilge learning it from their mothers just like the welsh who love the language.
    Irish has been in decline for many years despite the efforts of the Irish Government and their educational policies were not successful.
    Such an Act will in a roundabout way strengthen the union because it will be another layer in our apartheid system.
    We already have separation on grounds of religion ,sport, education culture and now language.
    This is amost serious subject and if we don’t get it right it could lay up trouble for the future

  • Turgon

    I know this has become an Irish language thread but what interested me most in the initial post was that the Irish language Act was the onlt issue which did not need discussion and meetings all of which would then involve the Party Leader (he must be really important, a bit like the fat Controller in Thomas the tank Engine).

    In fairness the comments on trying to move to a more democratic and accountable government were a bit interesting.

    Interestingly despite the UUP being in charge of health there was no comment on it.

    Overall the whole thing reads a bit like a coperate plan to move deck chairs on the Titanic, but to have a long think about it first.

    Sorry Dewi, I will try to think up something to say on ILA in a minute unless you just want me to say something daft and biggoted which I can do without thinking.

  • Dewi

    Sorry Turgon (and I got a row from the bosses) but I was really interested – do u think Irish is part of your heritage ?

  • Turgon

    Dewi,

    An interesting question. In honesty no I do not feel Irish is part of my heritage.

    I never really encountered Irish until I went to university except as spoken after SF election victories and at IRA funerals. At QUB it was (to my mind) used as “scent marking” and was eventually removed. As such pratically all my experiences of Irish are negative. I must also say that I have only once heard someone not on TV speaking Irish and that was when I was visiting in the Belfast City Hospital and people at a next door bed were speaking it.

    Over the past few years, there does seem to have been an attempt by some in the Irish language lobby to depoliticise it. Certainly I do think some of the posters here are into Irish as their heritage and not as a stick to bash unionists.

    There are problems of course. For example when the likes of Catriona Ruane runs around demanding stuff in Irish it is hardly likely to make me particularly well disposed to it.

    Correct me if I am wrong but I get the impression that Welsh has grown pretty organically (from a vastly stronger base whatever some here may say).

    Now Welsh can very rightly demand a high status in Wales but it has done a great deal of reaching out in a much less divided society. I really like the idea of Eistofodds as they seem to be cultural with less pretentiousness.

    If I were proposing to the Irish language lobby how to do unionist outreach (an outreach I would be better disposed to than some recent outreach) I would choose clearly apolitical spokespersons. Also I would have a voluntary significant tonning down of the current demands. This would force at least some unionists to accept that it was not just a bash the prods plan. Also a toned down act (or whatever) could then be less controvertial, be accepted and then maybe more would be acceptable in the future. I think it will take quite a while and yes I can see exactly why some might say why should we have to do all that bending over backwards to unionists. Well you should not have to but it will take my generation a long time to forget “every words is a bullet” or whatever it was.

    I am sure that these comments will be very unacceptable to many here but they are a few thoughts. So very long winded but no I do not see it as part of my heritage but if my children did in 20 years would I find that okay? Yes possibly / probably.

  • IJP

    Dewi

    allow rights for Irish speakers

    What’s all this “allow rights” about?

    They’ve got rights. No one’s stopping you speaking Irish, any more than anyone’s stopping me speaking German, Spanish (or Scots for that matter, but let’s leave that one out for now).

    What are my rights as a German speaker? Or a Spanish speaker? Are you arguing they should be any less than those of an Irish speaker? Are you in favour of certain rights applying to certain citizens, but not to others?

    Oiliféar

    Interesting insight.

    I also hope to learn Irish one day. But believe me, seeing lots of my money wasted on it will not bring that day forward. Delivering an accessible educational and broadcasting service, on the other hand, probably would.

    Oíche mhaith.

  • Pounder

    Once again both tribes in this arguement are being terriably stupid. If the Unionists got behind the ILA and got their community involved in the gaelic community the Republicans wouldn’t have the linguistic ammunition anymore because it would belong to all. And from a Republican PoV if they actually reached out to the unionist community to get them involved in Gaelic they’d be one step closer to that “Shared Future” they always har on about.

  • gaelgannaire

    IJP,

    – Delivering an accessible educational and broadcasting service, on the other hand, probably would

    Is that not what an ILA is about? Could these things not be viewed as rights?

    You will undoubtably point out that you believe that an ILA would be about mountains of translation costs etc. There were many submissions made to DCAL on the matter, I didnt notice many Irish speakers demanding absolutely everthing translated, I did however notice quite alot of references to broadcasting and education.

    I should point out that I myself wrote a submission, which contained nothing that could not be delievered in my view by Ministers Ruane and Murphy (subject to the normal ministerial code), reagardless of whatever Edwin Poots does.

  • Article 8 of the Irish Constitution is entrenched however if we change its text for our purposes then the Irish Language Green Paper becomes more like a directive: –

    1. The English language as the national language is the first official language.

    2. The Irish and Ulster Scots language is recognised as the joint second official language.

    3. Provision may, however, be made by law for the exclusive use of either of the said languages for any one or more official purposes, either throughout the State or in any part thereof.

  • Dawkins

    If a chap doesn’t believe in God, can he still say “hello” in Irish?

    And if someone says “Dia dhuit” to me, a godfree chap, what’s the polite but non-hypocritical response?

    And yes, I’m mixing it :0)

  • RG Cuan

    DAWKINS

    Of course you can. There are a few ways to say hello other than ‘Dia Diut’. Take for example ‘Is é do bheatha’, meaning ‘your life’, which is also used in Scottish Gaelic.

    TURGON

    I’m sure most Irish speakers here will appreciate your comments.

    The fact is that there are many able and impressive spokespersons for Gaelic who are not linked to political organisations but it’s only the political parties who get the media attention.

    For instance we have a daily newspaper in Béal Feirste (with a Unionist columnist), a community radio statio and the Irish unit in the BBC. Why are these people not asked to comment on languages issues instead of Sinn Féin etc?

    There is also a group that tries to promote Irish on a cross-community basis, Iontaobhas Ultach/Ultach Trust, and Colmcille that promotes Gaelic links between Ireland and Scotland.

    Maybe it’s simply a matter of getting this information across.

  • Dawkins

    RG,

    Cheers. But how should I respond to “Dia dhuit”?

  • Dewi

    A unionist Column RG Cuan. That’s excellent to hear. Who writes it ?

  • RG Cuan

    Fadhb ar bith, no problem, Dawkins,

    Well the formal response is ‘Dia ‘s Muire Duit’ but you could just say, how are you?, ‘Cad é mar atá tú?’ instead.

    I sometimes day ‘Na Déithe Duit’ – the Gods instead of God – for the craic.

    Dewi,

    Lá Nua’s Unionist columnist is a fella called Ian Malcolm, very good writer. His column is in the paper every Thursday.

    Lá now have a new website with a pdf flipper version of the paper, all for free! http://www.nuacht.com is their web address.

  • Dawkins

    RG Cuan,

    “The gods be with you.” That I like! :0)

  • Dawkins

    RG,

    One more thing, your “Is é do bheatha.” Do I pronounce it as Shay-duh-vaha?

  • RG Cuan

    That’s right Dawkins, more or less like SHAY-DUH-VAHA.

    Ádh mór!

  • Smithsonian

    I have no problem with Gaelic as a language. It is part of my culture or to be more precise part of my ancestors culture.

    I do however have a problem with people who demand the use of a language as a right. I understand this to the position of Gerry Adams and Sinn Fein. Perhaps posters here could clarify?

    The implications of such a position is that all government bodies would be required to respond in the language of first communication (presumably Gaelic speakers would chose to do so in Gaelic). This would require significant numbers of translators to be available in case of need. It would also oblige doctors, nurses, police, bus drivers, taxi drivers and others interfacing with the public to be able to converse in the language.

    The importance of effective communication in many areas but particularly with regard to diagnosis of medical problems is well documented.

    I have sympathy with Turgon’s position but would start a little earlier. The ILA is premature. Supporters must first win hearts and minds and only then seek legislation to ensure that the wishes of the people are respected and appropriate additional funding (over that which is strictly necessary) is allocated.

    To my mind all additional resources should be directed towards the 25% of the population who cannot read and write in any language as this seriously affects their health and economic options.

    The ILA is a political red herring introduced by SF and the DUP to distract their electorate from the more serious problems facing our government.

  • Dewi

    25% of the population who cannot read and write in any language…that must be an over estimate Smithsonian.

  • RG Cuan

    It would also oblige doctors, nurses, police, bus drivers, taxi drivers and others interfacing with the public to be able to converse in the language.

    Totally incorrect. Irish speakers are only asking for increased recognition and provision in the media, education and general public life.

  • Smithsonian

    Dewi

    These links might be useful
    Literacy NI

    also
    Failure of literacy despite £40 million

  • Smithsonian

    Dewi

    Nearly 25% of adults in the province have problems with everyday tasks like reading instructions on a medicine bottle, research has shown.

    Link

  • Dewi

    Thank you Smithsonian. 25% at level 1 literacy levels not quite the same as “cannot read and write in any language” but point well made. Disagree with your observations however.
    To flourish, if that is the desire, a language needs staus, visibility, needs to be heard around as well as being an educational medium. It does cost money but after reading recent threads don’t think hugely significant.
    Most interesting think about your report was that a higher proportion of people there have greater level 4/5 literacy skills than in Wales. You educated bastards !

  • Dewi

    And as for medicine bottles…I’m stuck at home under the doctor -I can just about read what it says on these things but got to get the neighbours kids to open them for me !

  • Smithsonian

    Dewi
    Level 1 isn’t very high, level 2 is the minimum you need to get by in a modern society (but we will let that pass).

    But on to more interesting questions?

    1. Do you think that speakers of Gaelic should have the right to communicate (2way naturally) with any public body in their chosen language?

    2. Should we extend this right to require private enterprise such as Tesco or the local butcher or taxi firm to do like wise?

    (I understand there is something of campaign for this to happen in Wales at the moment.)

    3. Do you feel that Gaelic schools should be 100% immersion

  • Dewi

    1) Yes
    2) No – there is a campaign in Wales focussed on the big supermarkets to bilingually display product labels. As I’m being constantly told, however, things are different there. Perhaps sometimes in the future.
    3) If they are to work (especially in a society where the bulk of out school activities would be in another language). We’ve found here that for all other than the most linguistically gifted children it’s the only way to ensure fluency amongst non-native speakers (who form the majority of kids in the 640 odd Welsh medium primary schools). What has been useful however is the compulsory expansion of Welsh lessons to non-Welsh medium schools – at least the hostility that total ignorance breeds is rapidly diminishing although these schools don’t normally produce fluent Welsh speakers.

  • Dewi

    Point 2) again – it seems in mainly Welsh speaking communities it has become almost matter of course for small business to use a fair amount of bilingual signage without any legal obligation – and throught the country many do so on their shopfronts.

  • observer

    Irish speakers are only asking for increased recognition and provision in the media, education and general public life.
    Posted by RG Cuan on Aug 25, 2007 @ 02:55 PM

    why should they recieve it? english is the language of NI not irish, and why should they receive recognisiton when more people (genuinely) speak other languages such as chinese, polish etc.

  • Dewi

    Observer the issue of number of speakers has been addressed many times. 32 Irish medium primary schools (without any pupils maybe) – A Daily newspaper (No readers maybe !)

  • RG Cuan

    OBSERVER

    Come on. As our Welsh friend mentions this issue has been addressed many times. Irish is the second most widely known language in Ireland, north and south – all studies and surveys support this.

    There are over 4,000 kids attending Irish medium schools in NI, Lá Nua (daily paper based in Belfast) has a readership of nearly 10,000 and many thousand more speak Gaelic on a daily basis.

    What proof do you need that there is a significant Irish speaking population here? You can spend a day with me if you like…

  • Séamaí

    RG

    Ní fiú a bheith ag argóint leis na haineolaithe. An rud is fearr dúinn a dhéanamh ná ár dteanga a labhairt agus a chur chun cinn gach bealach agus is féidir linn.

    Níl sé á dhéanamh chomh héifeachtach agus ab fhéidir faoi láthair ach mothaím go bhfuil beocht agus samhlaíocht nua ag teacht isteach i saol na Gaeilge de réir a chéile.

  • joeCanuck

    Tell me it’s none of my business (either language) if you like RG Cuan. How much (percentage) of your day do you speak Irish, even if it’s just to say Hello to someone and do you live in a large city?

  • Oiliféar

    Turgon, thanks for your perspective. I can understand every word you say.

    You wrote about Wales: “… it has done a great deal of reaching out in a much less divided society.”

    The contrast between Ireland and Wales in straight terms of language numbers is stark. In 1920 both Wales and the Free State had a ~20% of “genuine” speakers (21% in Wales, 19% in the Free State). But, today, the difference in attitude to the two languages is quite different. Maybe, I’m just imagining it, but it always appears that Wales has a healthier attitude.

    Wales clearly has a more homogeneous society, compared to the island of Ireland. The question I’d ask is whether other’s think that this is at fault in Ireland, and, if so, what can be done about it?

    (Dawkins’ question about “dia duit” is significant for me in respect to this. I’d often thought it, even while it being pushed down my throat at school. Today, I just say “hóigh” or “haileo” – but in honesty, I’ve never actually heard anyone say it to me, and even if they did, I’d say “hóigh” or “haileo” back.)

  • RG Cuan

    JOE

    I’d say over 70% most days, some less, some more. I speak Irish at work, with 3/4s of my friends and some of my family.

    OILIFÉAR

    Dewi can verify this for us but there is still quite a strong anti-Welsh language crowd in Wales. It’s not nearly as bad as it was, say in the 1970s/80s, but they are still around. I’ve even read many opinion pieces in newspapers taking a very cynical view of Cymreag and its speakers.

  • joeCanuck

    That’s very impressive RG.
    I attended Gaelig league Irish classes between about 9 and 11 and then went to grammar school where I took Irish to junior Certificate level. I did quite well in exams but 45 years have now passed and I can remember but a few phrases.
    It wasn’t until I started going on vacations to NW Donegal in the mid seventies that I realised that Irish was in no way a dead language. It was all that was spoken by the locals in the small shops and post offices.
    I regret my loss.

  • RG Cuan

    You might get back to it yet Joe. As important as the Gaeltachtaí are, there’s more Irish being spoken outside them in our cities and towns. That’s where the language’s future is.

  • joeCanuck

    Yes but I live in a small town in Ontario, 250km from Toronto, so the opportunity is zero.

  • Dewi

    Joe, there’s a Gaeltacht in Canada….and still 10 native speakers in Newfoundland…God I’m a sad bastard !

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Permanent_North_American_Gaeltacht

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newfoundland_Irish

    Enjoy !!!

    Agree that the cities are where the future lies !

  • joeCanuck

    “there’s a Gaeltacht in Canada”
    Yes Dewi, but you probably live closer to it than I do.

  • Dawkins

    JoeCanuck,

    I guess saying there’s a Gaeltacht in Canada is like saying there’s a reindeer ranch in Europe: not much good to a Greek.

  • Dewi

    There’s a Gaeltacht in Greece…only kidding, and on reflection not worth posting !

  • Belfast Gonzo

    It’s OK, Irish is all Greek to Dawkins anyway.

  • Dewi

    “I’ve even read many opinion pieces in newspapers taking a very cynical view of Cymreag and its speakers.”

    True – but I think that what has changed is strategic. A consensus has arisen that “we don’t want the language to die” – everybody always said that of course but this time the logical step of “what must we do to prevent the language dying” has been taken. The next step (very much under discussion) is “How do we create a truly bilingual society”

    Interesting times, and the focus of Cymdeithas yr Iaith is on normality – making bilingualism the normal state of affairs. Went to Wales France today (don’t ask) but hearing the totally bilingual announcements is brilliant……I won’t suggest you attempt at Windsor Park !

  • Dawkins

    Belfast Gonzo,

    “It’s OK, Irish is all Greek to Dawkins anyway.

    Cheeky bugger! I’ll have you know I have my cúpla fuckle.

  • joeCanuck

    “cúpla fuckle” ?

    Sounds like something my wife would frown upon!

  • Dawkins

    JoeCanuck,

    “Sounds like something my wife would frown upon!”

    That’s not what she said to me the other night :0)

    And so to bed….

  • joeCanuck

    LOL
    I walked right into that one.

  • Smithsonian

    But it is all so divisive. Wasn’t there a time when people wanted everyone in the world to speak Esperanto. All those laudable aims about reducing costs and increasing communication and understanding.

    Of course if people want to learn a language, an art or a skill in their spare time why shouldn’t they. There are plenty of people who play golf but we don’t all have to do it. This example is of course infinitely extensible but you get my point.

    I have no problem with people learning Gaelic and speaking it as a form of cultural expression but to invest in additional Irish medium schools or the training of Irish medium teachers for post primary education would divert funds from other worthy causes, increase division within our already divided society and would add nothing to the aim of preparing our society to compete in a global economy.

    It is a selfish agenda set out by those who do not have to foot the bill.

  • RG Cuan

    That’s the thing Smithsonian, Irish isn’t just a past-time! It’s a means of communication, a way of life, a world view for thousands of people in the north.

    Irish speakers will foot the bill as they pay taxes and rates like everybody else. They simply ask for an adequate return on their money.