Irish Language Act will cost too much?

Interestingly the proposed Irish Language Act featured in a speech by William Logan Sovereign Grand Master of the least political of the three main loyal institutions, the Royal Black Institution last Saturday in Bangor. No great fan of the Martin and Ian show, he landed a few barbed comments in that direction, labelling it a “cosy and insidious arrangement” is dangerous because it may lead to “many slow, incremental and subtle changes which would go unnoticed and unchallenged”.Then he turns his attention to the said Act (still yet to emerge as a bill):

“An interesting part of that agenda is the increasing pressure to introduce dual language legislation. Consider for a moment the enormous cost involved in implementing such a system with dual language road signs and documentation having to be printed in two languages. This money required would be better spent on improving and upgrading essential services such as hospitals, general health service and the roads and water infrastructure.”

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  • slug

    “Some people here are against bilingual signs because they’ll mark areas as culturally Gaelic or culturally Planter. Their solution is to have no signage at all. So Irish speakers are denied their own and native language on signs because it will upset some Neanderthals? Give me a break… ”

    I would be against marking off areas. The solutions that do not do this is either no bilingual signs versus all bilingual signs. I am not neanderthal but I do worry about avoidance and reversal of segregation. I would prefer to have Irish Gaelic policies that reduce the divisions, for example (as IJP has suggested) improving access of all to Irish and making steps that de-tribalise it.

  • Ginfizz

    “that’s a good recipe, no doubt, for a return to the bad old days”

    Is that a threat?

  • Reader

    páid: The alternative is called “enforced monolinguism”
    Actually, no. The usual alternative to “enforced bilingualism” is “optional monolinguism”; i.e. – the situation we have now, at least in the North. No one is stopping you from learning or speaking whatever language you like.

  • Ginfizz

    Reader

    Absolutely correct and when last I checked the Irish language actually recieved substantially more by way of promotion/education etc. than any other language in Northern Ireland (despite the fact that there are a vast array of more useful languages to learn i.e. German, French, Spanish, Polich, Lithuanian etc. for career advancement and practical usage in every day life)

  • slug

    Ginfizz

    Indeed. In fact Irish language medium schools need have a much lower number of pupils to be considered viable than regular schools teaching in English. This places Irish Gaelic education in a priviliged position under current government policy.

  • Dewi

    Absolutely correct and when last I checked the Irish language actually recieved substantially more by way of promotion/education etc. than any other language in Northern Ireland

    In terms of status / education / TV / Newspapers etc. English might be a little ahead !!!

  • RG Cuan

    That is what extremists like Oliver (sic) and yourself are demanding as I understand it.

    So members of the Irish language community are now ‘extremists’ because we would like increased Irish language services from the public sector? Are Catalan, Friesian, Welsh, Galician, Scottish Gaelic, Basque -speakers etc also extremists?

    We’re the people asking for a bit more recognition, not denying it.

    I agree that it would be pointless to provide bilingual services for absoutely everything as many services in English are not even used anyway. That’s why most in the Irish language community are asking for Irish language provision in only the essential services.

  • RG Cuan

    GINFIZZ

    …despite the fact that there are a vast array of more useful languages to learn i.e. German, French, Spanish, Polich, Lithuanian etc. for career advancement and practical usage in every day life

    In NI and ROI it is far more useful for career advancement to speak Irish. There are hundreds of jobs out there linked with Irish. The only jobs with non-native languages – other than English – involve education or translation.

    Outside Ireland, of course, it is a different matter. Though i was employed once to teach English in Spain because i spoke Irish – the director was a Basque speaker and thought someone with three languages was better than someone with one or two!

  • Ginfizz

    Dewi

    That would be because, very few people who live in Northern Ireland do not speak English. As opposed to the vast majority of people here who don’t speak Irish. Perhaps I should have said Irish is far ahead of all the other minority languages, despite the fact that it is no-one in Northern Ireland’s first language.

  • Ginfizz

    RG Cuan

    So a big round of applause for the Irish language enthusiasts who with public money have created a little niche employment market. Presumably when you get your ILA (when Hell freezes over) all those youngsters with A-level Iirsh will be in line for plum jobs with local councils who need to employ Iirsh Language Officers because the newly created Iirsh Language Commissioner has ordered it?

  • páid

    Reader,

    you are quite wrong.

    “No one is stopping you from learning or speaking whatever language you like.”

    Yes, they are. If I wish to pay by taxes by filling up a form in Irish, it will not be permitted and I will not pass go, or collect £200. I will simply be sent to jail

    It is monolingalism, and it is compulsory.

    Whereas in the South of Ireland, and Wales, there is a choice.

    A bit like Slugger. Or do you feel the occasional Irish language thread here threatens civilization?

  • Séamaí

    GINFIZZ

    despite the fact that it is no-one in Northern Ireland’s first language

    WRONG – there are hundreds, if not thousands, of people here who have Irish as their first language. I am one of them. My children have also been brought up in Irish. They learn English at school, among other sources. There are thousands more who use Gaelic as their language of choice.

    Please do some research before writing false statements about the Irish language community. Thank you.

  • Dewi

    I knew what u meant Ginfizz and apologise for sarky comment. Just the Unionist arguments (universal it seems if Slugger is anything to go by) are so out of kilter with approaches elsewhere.

    If you start from the premiss that it would be a good thing for Irish to flourish then the Government needs to do certain things to facilitate that. Status and visibility are two of those things. An Irish Language Act (or some other mechanism) would be a method providing these.

    If you think it wouldn’t be a good thing for the language to flourish do nothing of course.

    By the way do u truly class in your mind Irish as having the same sort of standing there as the minority languages you mention. Don’t you think history makes it a little bit different ?

  • RG Cuan

    So a big round of applause for the Irish language enthusiasts who with public money have created a little niche employment market.

    Ginfizz, so now you’re complaining that Irish speakers are employed in the Irish language sector?

    Maybe if Unionist politicians opened their minds a bit the whole community could benefit from this ‘niche market’, which includes TV and radio companies, print media, entertainment, government bodies, teachers, translators, drama production companies…

  • Ginfizz

    RG

    I’m not complaining at all. You were the one who was pointing out that these jobs exist. Of course jobs will exist if money from the public purse is used to create them. I however do not believe it is the responsibility of the state to provide jobs for politically-motivated cause celebre! Obviously you disagree.

    As for Seamai, pull the other one!

  • Ginfizz

    Dewi

    “By the way do u truly class in your mind Irish as having the same sort of standing there as the minority languages you mention.”

    No I count it as lower in terms of practical usage and benefit to Spanish, German, Polish, French etc. That doesn’t mean I want to ban anyone from using it or learning it, but I do not accept that it requires any more special status than that which it currently enjoys, which is in my view considerable anyway.

  • confused

    Republicans will use the language issue as a means to build a state within a state.
    They will want to create little ghettos or gaeltacht where they will demand extra resources for housing transport and education.
    This housing will only be available to those who can demonstrate an ability to speak the language and this is in addition to hundreds of jobs if not thousands where people are employed to translate information to those who already understand it in English in the first place.
    All these resources will be poured into one community only and will give a huge economic advantage to them.
    This must not happen.The language should be supported in schools and I would like Irishmen love their language as the welsh do and not use it as a blunt weapon TO SEEK REVENGE OR TO GAIN ADVANTAGE OVER OTHER SECTIONS OF SOCIETY.

  • RG Cuan

    GINFIZZ

    Of course jobs will exist if money from the public purse is used to create them.

    I know a number of Irish langauge businesses that did not need public money to create them. As you will recognise there are also many English language companies which have been financially assisted by government.

    As for your ignorant comment on Séamaí’s family and background, it simply illustrates the lack of knowledge you have of the Irish speaking population.

    CONFUSED

    This must not happen.The language should be supported in schools and I would like Irishmen love their language as the welsh do and not use it as a blunt weapon TO SEEK REVENGE OR TO GAIN ADVANTAGE OVER OTHER SECTIONS OF SOCIETY.

    You are confused indeed. I would suggest you consult with an Irish speaker on their reasons for speaking their own language before you come out with anti-Gaelic propaganda like the above statement.

  • confused

    The Welsh learned their language at their mothers knee.
    Many Irish enthusiasts, but not all expect the State to assume the responsibility of developing the language and this is not guaranteed to succeed when you think of the mess ROI made with their education policies over the years when even in the gaeltachts the language is diminishing with teenagers who will accept a culture more akin to America and Britain.
    Just look at the viewing figures of Coronation and Eastenders with these areas.
    The language will survive but only by Irish people speaking and not running to governments for special attention.

  • Ginfizz

    “As for your ignorant comment on Séamaí’s family and background, it simply illustrates the lack of knowledge you have of the Irish speaking population.”

    And yet to be living in such an Iirsh speaking stronghold he communicates pretty well in English. Wise up. No-one in Northern Ireland uses Irish as their sole language to communicate every day. You know this, so stop trying it on.

  • Ginfizz

    “I know a number of Irish langauge businesses that did not need public money to create them.”

    To create perhaps not, but to sustain? What are these businesses of which you speak? I’d like to hear examples. What do the IL Businesses do?

  • Séamaí

    GINFIZZ

    Re-read your post. You said that Irish ‘is no-one in Northern Ireland’s first language’.

    First language means the language they learned first, the primary language of a household, not their only language!

    I, and many others, have been brought up in Irish in the north which makes Irish my first language. Of course i communicate perfectly well in English – i’m fluent in three languages – but it is still my second tongue.

    Get it now?

  • Ginfizz

    Seamai

    Semantics and you know it.

  • RG Cuan

    CONFUSED

    The language will survive but only by Irish people speaking and not running to governments for special attention.

    I agree totally. Most Irish speakers know this and are doing many things without government assistance. Government assistance is needed however to erect bilingual road signage and to ensure increased media provision etc.

    GINFIZZ

    T-Shirt group in Armagh, translation company in Newry, book shop in Belfast, greeting card company in Derry. As far as i’m aware none of these sought, or needed, government assistance. Many other businesses do get certain grants from Foras na Gaeilge but what business can’t avail of some sort of incentive these days?

    The many radio and tv production companies do get financial assistance through the Irish Language Broadcasting Fund.

  • Séamaí

    Semantics and you know it.

    Please explain Ginfizz.

  • Darren Mac an Phríora

    Pobal’s submission could and should have gone further. Property developers and local Councils that want to name residential developments in Irish should be allowed. In the Republic- outside of Dublin and a couple of other counties- there are a huge number of residential developments being named in Irish today. See Cork, for example:

    http://www.daft.ie/new_homes/index.daft?s[cc_id]=c15&s[mnp]=&s[mxp]=&s[bd_no]=&refine=Refine&search=1&s[new]=1&s[search_type]=sale&s[refreshmap]=1&search_type=sale

  • Sean

    Ginfiz
    Semantics and you know it

    Yes it is semantics and we do know it but its semantics on your point. You used specific phrasology and Seamai answered you perfectly correctly and then you complain that he doesnt understand what you wrote when its you who doesnt understand what you wrote

  • Oilibhear Chromaill

    However you cut it, the ‘if it wasn’t for those pesky unionists’ line doesn’t make up for that lack of substance.

    The line about ‘pesky unionists’ is yours, not mine, Mick. So if you want to have a straw man argument, go to the mirror.

    If you think for an instant that there’s an ounce of substance to the rantings of Ginfizz and Ziznivy on the question of the Irish language Act, then you’re delusional. It’s all to do with a pathological hatred of anything Irish. If they’re so worried about saving public money, they should be campaigning against the military misadventure in Iraq, which is costing billions. But they go on and on about whether or not to support Irish in the north, as if it’s going to be a huge drain on public resources. Even if it were, it would be money well spent as it’s about making the north a better and more tolerant place in which to live, for nationalists as well as unionists. I have continually tried to make that point on this website – to no avail it seems when we’re dealing with those who will not see the advantages of encouraging Irish language and culture in this part of Ireland. I’m not for translations of everything into Irish – but I am in favour of translations of key documents, of signage in areas where there’s a demand, of more support for Irish medium education, for more support for the use of Irish when dealing with the state/public bodies, for Irish language broadcasting in NI on a par with the services offered welsh speakers in Wales and Scots Gaelic speakers in Scotland.

    Always, even when the argument is made that we’re looking for rights equal to those available to minority language speakers in Wales and Scotland, Equal rights for minority indigenous languages in all parts of the UK I say.
    the pathological anti Irishness comes to the fore. It’s neanderthal unionism at its best – where’s the ‘enlightened’ unionist who wants to know more about their own culture?
    Does such a creature exist?

  • confused

    There will be An Act of sorts to be sorted out by our politicians.
    This is a huge subject and we must get it right otherwise we will be sowing the seeds of greater division as has happened in other parts of the world.
    We must be very careful in regards to costs and the benefit to one community at the loss of another.
    If tens of millions of pounds are given to promote the language the same amount must find its way into the unionist loyalist community.
    This will overcome the temptation to use the language as a means of gaining economic advantage.
    We have enough apartheid already with religion sport culture and now language.
    It is not a means of bringing the people together and will greatly delay any movement to a UI as it will revitalise the unionist community.
    This a price to be paid as in NI an issue like this does not stand outside the political debate.

  • Darren Mac an Phríora

    “We must be very careful in regards to costs and the benefit to one community at the loss of another.
    If tens of millions of pounds are given to promote the language the same amount must find its way into the unionist loyalist community.”

    Agreed.

  • Séamaí

    Go raibh maith agat Sean.

  • Outsider

    If tens of millions of pounds are given to promote the language the same amount must find its way into the unionist loyalist community.”

    Who cares about them, we can simply claim that we are being discriminated against in the past and this will help our healing process, anyone argues we will use the well rehearsed arguement of calling them a sectarian prod bigot.

  • Garcia

    Been reading the posts on this one with some interest and bemusement. As a unionist, I’ve no objection to the irish language getting formal / equal status to english (apologies, I dont know the extent of the proposed ILA….). I’d welcome bi-lingual road signs and public services offered in english or irish if that made irish speakers feel more included in our little region of the UK. Really cant see the problem some have with that!

    My only concern, and I mean this genuinely, would many bi-lingual road signs last more than a day in many parts of NI right now? Can we convince the wee tracksuited spieds, that infect my estate and most others, that it’s a good thing…? Certainly no problems in the strictly nationalist areas but will it become yet another knuckledragger territorial pissing war? Ripping down road signs? I know it’s a minor point and road signs are not on the forefront of the irish languague lobby’s mind but we’ve enough crap going on with flags and kerb painting. Would this just add to it all?

    is mise le meas
    Garcia

  • Dan

    Ginfizz,

    Give it up. Stop digging yourself deeper into that hole.

    Clearly, your opposition to Irish goes deeper than taxes.

  • willowfield

    translation company in Newry

    Wouldn’t, by any chance, be selling its services to public bodies obliged to fulfil their duties under the European Charter?

  • páid

    garcia,

    here is one irish language enthusiast who agrees with you.

    Some will say, oh it’s as much the unionists’ language as anyone elses and that’s true….

    but wiser men than me have said..never try to educate the market.

    If we end up with irish being (yet another) marker of territory, i won’t be happy.

    It’s an issue. Money is a scadán dearg.

  • OIlibhear Chromaill

    Garcia’s comments and questions earlier are really encouraging. That’s the type of attitude that really warms the heart and turns the heat on in the proverbial cold house.

    He asked how was it possible, for instance, to erect signage as Gaeilge in mixed areas without running the risk of them being vandalised by local spides. I don’t doubt for a minute that the vandalism element exists in all parts of the community in more or less equal measure and that bilingual signs run a high risk wherever they’re erected of being targeted. However there is a specific risk in mixed/unionist areas due to the unhealthy attitudes of unionist politicians.

    My answer is to that: it’s time Unionists said that Irish/Gaelic is part of British identity as much as it is part of Irish identity. Speaking Gaelic actually brings the speaker closer to Scotland, the root of many in the unionist community.

    Here’s a report from today’s Scotsman about the efforts being made by Highlands and Islands Electricity to cater for speakers of the language.

    Meanwhile, Mr Cumming and Willy Roe, the HIE chairman, have committed to learning at least some Gaelic as part of a strategy to make the language a “core element” of the development of the Highlands and Islands.

    HIE has produced a draft Gaelic plan to promote and increase use of the language.

    The Gaelic Language Act requires public bodies to produce plans to help increase the number of Gaelic speakers across Scotland from 58,652 in 2001 to 100,000 by 2041.

    HIE’s plan will see more bilingual signs in its offices and will seek to increase the number of Gaelic speakers within the organisation.

    Mr Cumming said: “Our cultural heritage is important to us and it can be an important driver of the economy.”

  • RG Cuan

    I totally agree with Oilibhéar.

    García your views are a breath of fresh air – perhaps you, and other Unionists who appreciate the role of Irish Gaelic in today’s NI, should contact your elected represenatives and explain to them your position?

    Regarding the territorial issue of bilingual signage, are we willing to deny the Irish language community signs in their own and native language all because of a few Neanderthals?

    I don’t agree that it is not possible to ‘educate the market’. A campaign highlighting the cross-community aspect to Irish would go a long way in helping the situation.

  • More hysterical shrieking from Oliver. Anti-Irishness has nothing whatsoever to do with unionist arguments against Irish Language extremism. Although an exclusive, narrow conception of Irishness has a lot to do with the shrillness of his hysteria.

    Let me reiterate the so-called “Neanderthal” position (although the gist is already here http://threethousandversts.blogspot.com ) . The Irish Language is a valued and valuable part of the heritage of this island and we acknowledge that it should be supported, funded and accorded a degree of protection.

    However, despite what the extremists may tell you, no-one in Northern Ireland is more comfortable in the Irish medium than in English, and public services, which should be delivered as efficiently as possible and not used to indulge cultural whims, are most efficiently delivered in English, with no need for Irish language provision.

    Similarly the Irish origin of our place names is sufficiently represented in their present forms and it is merely an exercise in territorial pissing to replace existing sign-posts with supposedly bi-lingual ones (oh and btw, yes it does cost more money to replace a shit load of signs with brand new ones).

  • Ulick

    I’m surprise this hasn’t been blogged so far. The BBC is proposing a dedicated digital television service for the 57k Gaelic speakers in Scotland:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/bbctrust/news/press_releases/2007/gaelic_digital_service.html

  • páid

    Ziz,

    “Similarly the Irish origin of our place names is sufficiently represented in their present forms”

    I get it.

    Belfast refers to a speedy French beauty.

    Falls Rd. refers to the large waterfall beside the M1 flyover.

    Bangor is a shout given by locals to courting couples.

    Or perhaps not.

  • RG Cuan

    ZIZNIVY

    Thank you for acknowledging the value of Irish Gaelic in today’s society.

    I agree that translating all documents to Irish and providing bilingual services throughout the public sector is excessive however some provision could be provided with minimal cost.

    There are many people who are more comfortable speaking Irish than English – all the kids who have been raised in Irish for example.

    The more practical way to promote Irish and accomodate its speakers is through the media and education. However bilingual signage is also important – the current bastardisations nowhere near represent the Irish Gaelic origin.

    And if you somehow missed it before, the group behind the sign campaign is suggesting that bilingual signage is only erected gradually, when it needs repairing/replacing. This greatly reduces any costs invovled.

  • Rory

    Paid,

    I love your new lexicon of place names. May I add:

    “Downpatrick” – request for fellatio from one partner in a gay relationship.

    Couldn’t the problem be solved by a compromise – hardline loyalist areas could have signs erected declaring, “This a an Irish sign free zone”.

    Of course for maximum impact (and to rub it into the Fenians) the signs would have to be bilingual in both English and Irish (with a blank space to satisfy the illiterate working class products of the local schools).

  • RG Cuan

    “Downpatrick” – request for fellatio from one partner in a gay relationship.

    This discussion has taken a turn! But why does it have to be a gay relationship? It could also be an interesting order from a domineering MILF in nice knee-high boots 😉

  • Dewi

    Crossmaglen ? You and whose army ?…..

  • RG Cuan

    Da iawn Dewi!

  • Rory

    ” But why does it have to be a gay relationship?

    It doesn’t have to be, RG Cuan. It was simply a playful misinterpretation in the spirit of the game – not an invitation to share sexual fantasies. There are other fora for that.

    And why not? Anything is preferable to Football Fantasy.

  • RG Cuan

    And why not? Anything is preferable to Football Fantasy.

    Agreed / Aontaithe!