“I think the DUP accept Sinn Féin’s definition of Irish…”

One of the most refreshing things about watching BBC Alba is becoming aware again of the sharp cultural consonances between island Gaelic and the Irish spoken by the older members of my own family in Donegal. So it was interesting speech translated into a blog post over at El Blogador by Pol O’Muiri, in which he notes the political impasse over the Irish Language, has required a political deadening of cultural sensibilities on both sides of the argument:

Things become even more complicated for both parties when we consider that Scots Gaelic and Welsh are both spoken in Britain and the promotion of those languages challenge the very narrow definition of what languages are and who uses them. It has certainly been an education watching the DUP oppose the promotion of Irish on the grounds that it is nothing to do with them while watching Irish speakers counter with the claim that in Britain Scots Gaelic and Welsh both enjoy measures of legislative protection.

Of course, the irony is that some of the more green-tinted Gaeilgeoirí can’t bear to use the name “Northern Ireland” and prefer to refer to the place as “the Six Counties”. Needless to say, it is not edifying but it may point to the fact that people in the North are tripping towards some understanding of Irish in the context of these islands. One often hears of areas of my home city, Belfast, as being ‘interfaces’. In truth, I think the North is one large interface – an area that has historical links with Scotland in particular due to Plantation and also more peaceful and more ancient social interaction between Irish speakers on either side of the Sea of Moyle.

If you have any stake in the issue at all (eg, for or against an Irish Language Act) go and read the whole thing from start to finish…

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty