How to make Unionists comfortable with Irish

An interesting remark from SF’s Francie Brolly on Monday during question time:

I do not accept that the rights of Irish speakers should be subject to consultation.

I have to say, that makes me feel an awful lot better about the impending Irish Language legislation. He continued:

A right is a right.

Indeed it is, the right to life for example is not negotiable. Any “right” to speak Irish is in no way infringed in Northern Ireland, if it were Brolly might have a point. As it is, his comments only serve to cement the feeling amongst Unionists that this is not a rights issue, but a cultural warfare issue.

  • cladycowboy

    ” At a conference in Europe once I fell in with a bloke from RoI who told me quite spontaneously that one of the reasons he hated the IRA was because they had made him ashamed of his language.”

    Presumably he told you this in the English tongue. In a period where English speakers, mostly with American accents, have been wreaking havoc in the middle east.

    Tell me, what’s the Gaelic for stupid c*nt?

    Grouch has it spot on.

  • Dewi

    Cheapest on amazon £85 ! – Must be well out of print.

  • páid

    IJP,

    I note your benevolent comments and welcome the dropping of the ‘outrageous cost’ nonsense.

    Irish language supporters want services corresponding to demand and have a morbid fear of thousands of unread brochures being printed and photographed in the media.

    IMO however, your concerns wrt territory marking out and further divisiveness are well-founded. This is a challenge for na cairde gaeil amongst others.

    Ulster Irish is a distinct dialect with a genuine pedigree and strongly linked to Scottish Gaelic, mostly spoken by Presbyterians.

    Consider the name of the language.

    Munster: Gaoluinn

    Connacht: Gaeilge

    Standard Irish: Gaeilge

    Ulster: Gaeilig

    Scotland: Gáidhlig

    This truth will have to form the basis of Ulster Irish’s future, methinks.

  • Cormac

    Thanks for the link Dewi – interesting article. I’d wager it is indeed SF’s Tom Hartley (how many can there be?).

    85 quid is a bit steep, though – perhaps Mick can start a library too? 🙂

  • Cormac

    …and I think Padraig O’Snodaigh is the father of SF TD Aengus O’Snodaigh, so that gives more strength to the Tom Hartley link.

  • RG Cuan

    Pádraig Ó Snodaigh’s book is very good and gives an interesting insight into Gaelic speaking planters etc.

    He is also director of Irish Gaelic Publisher Coiscéim, which produces an amazing amount of books every year.

  • fair_deal

    Cormac

    Don’t bother with Hidden Ulster pretty poor propaganda but if you do read it, try and track down the British-Irish Communist Organisation’s response- IIRC it was called Hidden Ulster Exposed – shows O’Snodaigh how a polemic should be written.

    As regards the other it has a number of flaws but is certainly of a higher standard than O’Snodaigh’s work.

  • RG Cuan

    I’d agree de Bléine’s work is of an overall higher standard though Ó Snodaigh’s does have its merits. The biggest being of course that it’s one of few that deals with the subject!

  • PaddyReilly

    What the ILA is all about, IMO, is discriminating in public-sector employment against those without knowledge of Irish (I hesitate to use the phrase ‘non-Irish speakers’ as, realistically, apart from education, special interest groups specifically for that purpose, and for ‘exclusionary’ purposes, when is it used in the North?). Jobs for the bhoys, in effect.

    This is probably true. But is it such a bad thing? The Irish language requirement, in the Republic, ensures that Civil Service and Local Govt jobs are filled by native Irish. In London, by contrast, such jobs are taken by immigrants, often with an unsatisfactory command of the language of Shakespeare, while the native born languish on the dole. Given that the Irish economy is held to be healthier than that of the UK, I would say the Irish have got it right.

  • páid

    Well Paddy, this Irish speaker is not interested in the Irish language being used as a job, school or housing tool for the ‘native born’.

    Or, by the way, republican politicians claiming, utter ridiculously, that words are bullets.

    Words are words, bullets are bullets, races are races and languages are languages.

    Ná bíodh muid á meascadh suas.

  • RG Cuan

    Totally wide of the mark PADDY REILLY.

    Ceart ar fad agat a PHÁID.

  • PaddyReilly

    Words are words, bullets are bullets, races are races and languages are languages.

    Yes, but Suilven’s comment was about the ILA, which I take it stands for Irish Language Act, which is none of these. So as we say in the seana-gaoluinn, ní aithníonn tú do thóin thar do uilinn.

  • RG Cuan

    Bíodh ciall agat a Phaddy Reilly – b’fhéidir gurbh fhearr duit filleadh ar Bhaile Shéamais Dhuibh!

  • PaddyReilly

    And while we’re onto topical references, who can forget the beautiful air:-

    Dá mbeinnse féin i n-R G Cuan
    In aice an t-sléibh úd atá i bhfad uaim

    The author you will know, if you’ve read your Snodaigh, was a Protestant from the Glens of Antrim though whether he was a Unionist is not recorded.

  • Whatever about making unionists comfortable with Irish, how about making SF more comfortable with the language.

    According to a story reported in today’s edition of Lá Nua, there is no specific prohibition on the Irish language on the North’s sign posts and no specific requirement for road signs to be exclusively in English. But the story goes on to point out that the Department, which is under the capable ministry of SF’s Conor Murphy – is anxious to correct this anomaly before Irish gets official status, perhaps, courtesy of the Irish Language Act.

    Will SF’s Gaels speak up about this?

    Interestingly, also, the Derry Journal, courtesy of Nuzhound, reports that the Culture Minister has let his mask of ‘impartiality’ slip somewhat with comments made in the Assembly this week.

    Speaking in a Stormont debate on funding for the Irish language, the DUP MLA said: “I would be interested to know how many of those ten per cent could actually read and understand the document if it was sent to them in Irish and, if they didn’t get and English version, whether they could actually carry out what they wish to in the first instance,” he said.

    Perhaps he’s right, perhaps Irish speakers wouldn’t be able to understand a census form written in Irish if it didn’t come with English instructions. Of course given that both the Irish and English might not merit the Crystal mark for Simple and Concise Language, that might not be down to their lack of linguistic ability but more to do with the failure to make the form intelligible to the ordinary punter. That surely is something he should be careful of…if he does intend to issue Irish language census forms in the future.

    Otherwise his remarks appear highly prejudicial as they seem to indicate that Minister Poots regards Irish speakers as misrepresenting their love for the language and their ability to use it. That’s not a ‘strictly neutral’ position.

    He should have a look at the Millward Brown survey, alluded to earlier, which is more than encouraging about the ability of Irish speakers to do business as Gaeilge if given the opportunity, if told about the availability of the service etc.

  • gaelgannaire

    OC

    The same Conor Murphy who lambasted Gregory Campbell in the assembly back in 2001 for his refusal to erect bilingual signs in South Armagh, ‘the issue is not one of cost, it is one of political will’ says he at the time.

    And now not only does he refuse to comment on the matter but his department, after lying about the issue for years, has now realised that it is not actually illegal to have Irish on a directional road sign and is now setting about writing a ban into law – a new penal law.

    Conor – resign.

    Francie – what is the point in prattling on about an act when Conor is working againist you.

    Caitríona – if the language is so ‘beautiful’ why is your SF minister colleague presiding over a department trying to ban its use.

  • RG Cuan

    The points raised by GAEL GAN NÁIRE do need addressed.

    Na Ceithearna Coille have been following this issue for a while on their website and today’s story in Lá Nua adds another twist to the plot.

    A statement from Minister Murphy is well overdue…

  • páid

    So Paddy, let’s get this straight.

    I don’t know my arse from my elbow because I disagree with your proposition that an Irish language requirement be used to keep non ‘native-born’ Irish (and presumably Unionists) out of Government jobs.

    As soon as I think of a stupider move to promote cynicism and antipathy towards Irish, never mind the basic unfairness, I’ll let you know.

  • PaddyReilly

    I don’t know my arse from my elbow because I disagree with your proposition that an Irish language requirement be used to keep non ‘native-born’ Irish (and presumably Unionists) out of Government jobs

    Not quite. Your confusion was between the Irish Language and the Irish Language Act.

    I did not propose this: I merely agreed that it was already happening.

    I don’t see what prevents Unionists learning Irish. I’m sure that with a modicum of effort they could acquire in 3 months as much as the average státseirbhíseach from the 26 cos has in a lifetime.

  • Ulster McNulty

    “I don’t see what prevents Unionists learning Irish. I’m sure that with a modicum of effort they could acquire in 3 months as much as the average státseirbhíseach from the 26 cos has in a lifetime.”

    What prevents “non-native irish” doing the same thing.

  • caulfield

    I’ve never understood unionist objections to the Irish language. The language belongs to the whole island not to one community. Being interested in Irish culture, history and language doesnt make you less British than a Scot who can speak gaelic.
    If we started teaching Irish in protestant schools then the language would be depoliticised. At present Irish can be used as a political weapon because the vast majority of Ulster prods have no understanding of the language. Our ignorance is part of the problem.
    Mind you its not the easiest language to learn – I had a go once with a “Teach yourself Irish” programme. I got to page 3…

  • PaddyReilly

    What prevents “non-native irish” doing the same thing.

    Nothing. It just requires the learner to decide that their future lies with Ireland and so it is worthwhile investing the time and effort to overcome this hurdle.

    If we started teaching Irish in protestant schools then the language would be depoliticised. At present Irish can be used as a political weapon because the vast majority of Ulster prods have no understanding of the language. Our ignorance is part of the problem.

    Well said. Realistically speaking, I would say that it is optimistic to think that the knowledge or use of Gaelic among the general population can or will spread much beyond place names and songs. For this reason it is very important that Gaelic place names should be correctly spelt and used. They are very important mnemonics.

  • barnshee

    “If we started teaching Irish in protestant schools then the language would be depoliticised. At present Irish can be used as a political weapon because the vast majority of Ulster prods have no understanding of the language”

    Idiot first class
    No protestants have any interest in leprecaun langage learning. We despise it and its speakers-
    Stick it

  • PaddyReilly

    No protestants have any interest in leprecaun language learning. We despise it and its speakers- Stick it

    Yes, I can imagine that this is a common attitude. But it is false to assert that no Protestants have such an interest. Presumably Caulfield above is one of such a class of persons: he has already got as far as page 3 of Teach Yourself Irish. That is why the extension of 26 county requirements on Irish to the 6 counties when reunification takes place is such an important part of the reunification process. It will weed out the troublemakers and reward the moderate and reconcilable.

    Fascist? Possibly. But equally Fascist is the idea that that you have the right to dictate to all Protestants, living and even unborn, what they are interested in.

  • Ulster McNulty

    “Idiot first class
    No protestants have any interest in leprecaun langage learning. We despise it and its speakers-
    Stick it”

    I know this is factually incorrect. In your self-deluding role as spokersperson for protestants how do you view Scottish Gaelic?

  • I wonder how Barnshee’s commment fits with the Protestant, Unionist columnist who writes a weekly column for Lá Nua, the Irish language daily newspaper.

    This post from Barnshee is typical of the neanderthal attitude among some unionists.

  • páid

    Olly, a chara,

    If Barnshee’s comments were typical of thinking Unionists, you should rejoice, ‘cos they really would be fucked.

  • Harry

    If the population at large learn Irish in significant numbers then they will be able to re-connect with their pre-anglicised language, culture and history. This is something which they are not able to do at present since a sole reliance on English cuts them off from direct knowledge of their history and culture from before 150 years ago, a relatively short time. Short enough to mire them in ignorance about who they are, where they come from and what their ancestors thought and did. A short enough time indeed to mould a new mentality, an anglocentric mentality.

    It is the instinctive understanding of this that provokes unionist fear and hatred of Irish. It was knowledge and fear of the unique sense of Irish identity inherent in the Irish language which gave rise to energetic efforts by pro-british planters and administrators to obliterate it in the first place and replace it with cultural colonisation as an essential part of the overall programme for colonisation of this island.
    It should be remembered that the last time there was an Irish cultural and linguistic renaissance – the Gaelic Revival – it led directly to revolution. This is understood instinctively by unionists and so they fear its renaissance now.

    From their point of view, as unionists, they may be right to fear it.

  • Harry

    They should not however be allowed to stop it.