Assemblies and Language Acts

Stormont Live took a temporary break from the NI Assembly today to take a look, with BBC Wales political correspondent Guto Thomas, at the prospect of a Welsh Language Act and the Welsh Secretary of State Paul Murphy’s cautionary comments about timing.. and details.. It was only a temporary break. The studio discussion with UUP MLA David McNarry and Sinn Féin’s Barry McElduff talking about the prospects, or otherwise, of an Irish Language Act here is below the fold. [Is that to avoid scaring the children? – Ed]. You might well think that..

David McNarry and Barry McElduff on the prospects, or otherwise, of an Irish Language Act.

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  • blinding

    Massive credit has to bestowed upon the Welsh people for the way they have preserved and developed their language.
    We in Ireland have a lot to learn from their efforts.

  • Archie Purple

    The problem with the current promoters of the Irish Language is that it is the terrorists in suits who are behind it, not the bona fide Irish language enthusiasts.

    In today’s ‘Derry News’, there is a photograph of An Gaelaras representatives and politicians. Everyone in the photograph is a Sinn Fein / IRA activist.

    So not much hope of Unionists or SDLP folk being welcome there….

    What the Shinners portray is ‘in your face Oirsh’…such as the Ruanator sprinking Irish throughout her speech in Stormont today. The vast majority of the members / staff didn’t have a clue what she was saying and that includes many in her own party, sitting behind her.

    When the real Irish rather than the pigeon variety within Sinn Fein, put forward proposals for Irish language advancement, then perhaps, Unionists will be more likely to support the chucking of money towards it.

  • Dewi
  • blinding

    David McNarry slipped into some old fashioned wishful thinking right at the end.
    Wishing that these troublesome fellow Irish people might fade away and leave him to run the show on his own.
    Is it too late to teach this old hound some new tricks.

  • Dewi

    If you are that fond of Ireland go and sit in the Dail……………pathetic.

  • Mick Fealty

    Dewi,

    Was that supposed to be playing the ball, or a deliberate lunge at the man?

  • al

    No one has actually pointed out what benefit there is to anyone here speaking irish. It’s all essentially being boiled down to “well it isn’t english”

    It’s not going to help you in your daily life is it? The Irish themselves aren’t oblivious to this fact when the affairs of their state are carried out in English primarily.

    No one is disadvantaged in Northern Ireland by learning and speaking english so why add on more bureaucracy and cost to accomodate irish speakers who number far behind speakers of a number of different languages here – namely polish and lithuanian.

    And if you want to teach some useful languages in school get started earlier with French, Spanish and German.

  • Dewi

    He said it Mick not me!

  • Guillaume

    No one has actually pointed out what benefit there is to anyone here speaking irish. It’s all essentially being boiled down to “well it isn’t english”-al
    Are you trying to boil everything down to economics-one would have thought that 2008 would have ran that out of your wash-careful what you hope for and if the wind changes church bells ring etc….
    I can personally say that speaking a second language from birth or even being simply aware that it is possible to communicate in an other, that language actually exists is one of the most wonderfully spiritual blessing that anyone can be so lucky…………

  • Mick Fealty

    You are mixing two things: cost and benefit. The cost is the limiting factor. In Wales, the main outcry is from private companies like BT who question why the Welsh Assembly wants to further burden business with costs at a time when credit is in short supply.

    For me the benefit of Irish in Ireland the Republic and Northern Ireland is the same: better access to native speakers, and a faster track to a fluent second language.

  • Mick Fealty

    Sorry that was for al…

  • Modernist

    McNarry was incredibly patronising in that interview . It’s a very skewed take on democracy that refuses to recognise the rights of a minority.

    Blocking an Irish language Act has nothing to do with democracy. Not much difference between his view and that of the views of Enoch Powell. So maybe unionist politicians are just not fit to be elected.

    Could the comment “If you are that fond of Ireland go and sit in the Dail” be constrewed to mean mcNarry supports MLAs having the right to sit in the Dáil in Dublin. If so, I’d have to say I agree.

  • Guillaume

    they won’t give up clinging to these little empires they have………-David McNarry 2.23mins_________priceless from a unionist..and he doesn’t even realize

  • Dewi

    “In Wales, the main outcry is from private companies like BT who question why the Welsh Assembly wants to further burden business with costs at a time when credit is in short supply”

    I wouldn’t exaggerate that outcry – another outcry is from those of us who think it would be normal for our Corn Flake packaging to be bilingual….like in Welsh in Wales – missed opportunity.

  • Mick Fealty

    Is it just me (because I’ve been busy elsewhere for a while) but has the standard of commenting dropped here?

    To avoid repetition of what I have previously said at the Local Democracy blog:

    “How do you develop and then enforce a set of rules that allows you to keep the inclusive character of the site and develop a civil discourse in a political space that’s known for the ferocity of its politics? In other words how do you keep the space broad enough and engaging enough to fit the totality of the political spectrum?

    “In a funny sort of way the ‘rules’ emerged slowly out of the conversations o the site. One commenter, ‘Howard’, suggested that as far as possible we should outlaw ‘ad hominem’ remarks on the site; on the basis that such arguments are not arguments at all, but logical fallacies which only ever drag a civil conversation to its doom.

    “Considering that a huge proportion of political argument habitually resiles to personal attacks, that implied we’d be asking for something from our commenters that our politicians and journalists could not keep to. It was further codified when another commenter, IJP, suggested we adopt the old Soccer slogan, “play the ball and not the man“; our 2005 entry on which still comes to the top of a Google search for that term. See also the variants: Whataboutery; and Don’t listen to him…”

    Now, by way of demonstration of the positive effect of the site’s only substantive rule, I am going to clip Modernist’s contribution back the substance and hopefully make a better more powerful post of it.

  • blinding

    Guillaume said

    “No one has actually pointed out what benefit there is to anyone here speaking irish”

    While not being fluent in Gaelic I am pretty convinced that when in later life I made some effort to learn German and Spanish that the fact that I had the experience of learning a second language in my youth was beneficial to me.

  • Guillaume

    blinding-please have another look at my previous post.I was quoting someone else.

  • picador

    Dáithí Mac Náire is right to be ashamed of himself.

    Kudos to the people of Cyrmu. We in Ireland should follow their example.

  • Modernist

    Sorry about the comment Mick. My spelling mistake should have read many not maybe. I was not referring to all unionist politicians in my post

  • blinding

    Profuse apologies Guillaime.
    I meant to reply to al at post 7.
    I also apologise to al.

  • Guillaume

    you could at least try and spell me name correctly…..;;;

  • Guillaume

    “In a funny sort of way the ‘rules’ emerged slowly out of the conversations o the site. One commenter, ‘Howard’, suggested that as far as possible we should outlaw ‘ad hominem’ remarks on the site; on the basis that such arguments are not arguments at all, but logical fallacies which only ever drag a civil conversation to its doom.–mick fealty.

    I have to say that sometimes a conversation needs to be dragged to its’ doom.
    If the essence of jaw-jaw is to keep us from war-war then hell, We’d be frustrationg ourselves if we didn’t “get it out” every now and again.
    And as for playing the ball;well sometimes we need to change the sport especially when the other guy has the ball up his jersey and he’s gone running with the police.

  • Billyo

    An Irish Language Act is, for the forseeable future, a non-starter. Irish speakers allowed the language to be hijacked by militant republicanism and did little when it became the signature of the ‘struggle’.

    I know it is fashionable to accuse unionists of making Irish a political issue but an honest reading of the situation would result in understanding that it is the language’s association with violent nationalism that killed-off any hope of consensus on an ILA.

    Second language benefits, enrichment of culture or whatever are merely background noise. The main task of true language enthusiasts, imho, is to try to claim back Irish as something for all to cherish.

    To achieve this will require breaking the link in the public’s perception that Irish is a weapon of division used as a tactic in a bigger war.

    People can carp all they wish, accuse all and sundry, but it is in addressing this challenge that the future of Irish for all and an ILA will rest

  • Guillaume

    how long Billyo?
    How long must we continue to speak it and not ask for anything?

  • Billyo

    No idea. Funding I suppose will continue as it presently does. For government translations, IME etc.

    As many as want to can learn and speak Irish. Perhaps even an ILA will happen in one of the shoddy deals that are the halmark of the NI Assembly.

    But if Irish speakers care for language that is accepted by all then the issue I have touched on will need to be thought about.

  • al

    Might aswell teach/learn polish then. It’ll be a lot more useful if the rationale presented here is the truth.

  • Mick Fealty

    al,

    Be my guest. Night all!!

  • Mick Fealty

    Guillaume:

    “And as for playing the ball;well sometimes we need to change the sport especially when the other guy has the ball up his jersey and he’s gone running with the police.”

    I didn’t say it was easy. But them’s the rules.

    Okay, really ‘night’ this time. Early rise in the morning.

  • Guillaume

    Al,

    You’re unbelievably cynical.
    Do you not believe that Irish people
    can enter a whole new process of thought when they speak Irish.?
    Do you believe that language is nothing but a machine between us?
    Do you believe that shakespeare coud have done what he done with english words in Polish if he had simply been fluent in polish?,
    Or is it just that you feel incapable to share in that “Irishness”

  • picador

    billyyo

    I was at my weekly Irish class tonight. I learned about personal numbers, the family and comparative and superlative adjectives. What would you care me to do to seize back the language from violent nationalists?

  • Scary Eire

    Can i ask a question – i know this whole language is a different kettle of fish up north. i am from dublin and we dont got these issues as most of you would know. but i have to say that idea that Barry said if the act is passed the language problem will be de-politicised.

    I never really thought of it like that but i think he has a point. Whereas i cannot speak the language but it is on all the road signs here i dont even notice it. If this was the same up north would it really be in your face irish or would you be the same as me and not even notice it (unless you spoke fluent irish of course!)

  • Oilifear

    “Irish speakers allowed the language to be hijacked by militant republicanism and did little when it became the signature of the ‘struggle’.”

    What would you have us do to stop that? It is a language, it does not belong to anyone to dictate who can speak it. We could not do anything to stop them.

    It is quite true that the language has been and continues to be politicised, but it is within the hands of unionists to de-politicise it. So long as you continue to recognise it as a political marker, it will remain politicised.

    What is political about it?

  • Dewi
  • blinding

    Oilifear said

    “it is within the hands of unionists to de-politicise it. So long as you continue to recognise it as a political marker, it will remain politicised.”

    Well said. Unionists have the power to take the politics out of the Irish language if they stop treating it as a political football.

  • GGN

    “If you are that fond of Ireland go sit in the Dáil”.

    Hmmm, I’ll be writing to a number of Conservative MPs including mister Cameron on that one.

  • Seimi

    The Irish Language Act NI, compiled and proposed by POBAL, was compiled after consultation with international linguistic and legal experts, absed on the best parts of the language Act in the south, the Welsh language Act and various other acts worldwide, and based on a 2 year consultation process with the Irish speaking community in the north. How is that ‘hijacked by republicans’? unless you are implying that all Irish speakers are Republicans, which I don’t believe you are doing. The fact that SF and the SDLP have supported it from the start does not constitute a hijacking. It simply shows support for a rights based language act.
    The danger with discussions like this is that they very quickly fall in to the usual ruts – what use in Irish when we all speak English? How much would it cost? I’m not paying for that out of my taxes etc etc…The simple facts are – regardless of the border, this is the island of Ireland. The indigenous language is Irish. Because of politics and history, the predominant language is English. This doesn’t mean that Irish ceases to exist, it just means that it was, until fairly recently, in decline. It is now re-emerging as a strong language on this part of the island. People who live in the north are allowed, in fact guarunteed the right, should they wish to, to express their Irish identity in whatever way they choose, and the Assembly is obliged, by its own agreement, to support them in this. The vast, VAST majority of Irish speakers in the north, do not use the language as any sort of political tool, or as a way to attack anyone else. The tiny minority who do should just stop speaking Irish, as they do it no favours.
    The argument that learning French, or Spanish, or Polish, instead of Irish, is a weak one. If you wish to learn these languages, because of your holiday plans or whatever, please do so, and enjoy the experience of learning a second language. But most people who learn Irish do so because they make a connection to it. They see it as their indigenous language. It helps give people a sense of identity, and opens the door to a wealth of culture. Where is the harm in this?

  • ersehole

    Thar cíonn GGN.

    An cheist b’fhéidir, ná an é polasaí oifigiúl na Coimeadaithe an méid a dúirt McNarry?

    Tá an teach chomh fuar céanna…

  • Dewi

    The interesting point about this LCO is, as far as I can tell, it isn’t restricted to a territorory – the Assembly’s powers would seem to apply throughout the Queen’s realm….if Brian is about I wonder what your constitutional unit would make of that…if my interpretation is correct of course….

  • Greagoir O Frainclin

    The Welsh have done marvellous things to revive the Welsh language, the ancient language of Britain. Great to see that many Welsh folks today including Welsh celebs, Welsh sports stars, Welsh politicians etc…can speak it too. Credit must be given to such campaigners as Saunders Lewis and Gwynfor Evans who championed the cause of their native British tongue.

    Regarding NI, this Irish Language Act is going on and on, and it looks as if Unionists ain’t ever gonna budge at all in helping to implement it. For fear, of course that ‘Irish Nationalists/Republicans’ will get ‘another one over on them’. Greg Campbell has done a ‘great job’ in stopping a stadium for NI and it looks like he’ll be as equally successful with this as well. And sure that is to be expected so I dunno why folk get so upset!

    Maybe Irish Nationalist folk should just put off the need for an Irish Language Act for a good few years as it appears to be very insulting to Unionist sensibiities at the moment. Perhaps all Irish Nationalists and whoever else interested in the language should maybe invest in teaching all their children the Irish language instead. Sure with Irish folk being as proficient as the Welsh are at speaking their national and native tongue sure why worry at all about a bit of paper that is a Language Act!

    Teanga dhúchais beo agua abú!

  • fin

    a recurring theme against the Irish language seems to be that unionists would have no issue with it EXCEPT its association with republicanism. This has a hollow ring to it, because this association is relatively recent, yet unionism has never shown any inclination to accept the Irish language in the past.
    The arguement has a familiar ring to it, mainly in how unionism have engaged with nationalists politically. As the body politic of nationalism has gotten greener to the point that today SF is the largest party on that side of the fence, unionim continually harks back to the lesser “militant” nationalist politics. to hear unionists speak you’d be forgiven for thinking that nationalist parties and unionists where the best of friends until SF gained power, similiarly that they hadno issue with the Irish language until SF “politicised” it. Personsally I don’t buy it.

  • Modernist

    McNarry should explain his comments publically. Perhaps he’s the UUP’s answer to the DUP. Trying to out hardline the hardliners to prop up the UUP’s vote. When will unionist politicians stop trying to politicise the Irish language, and when will they stop making aparent sectarian jibes at others of a different outlook. Does he not realise he’s in a position of responsibility as an MLA. He should start acting more responsible. Extremist attitudes like McNarry’s need to be left behind in the past. I myself will be emailing the conservative party asking for an explaination of McNarrys aparent sectarian comments.

  • PaddyReilly

    Not much difference between his view and that of the views of Enoch Powell.

    Actually Enoch spoke excellent Welsh and edited a mediaeval manuscript in that tongue.

  • Ulster McNulty

    “The Welsh have done marvellous things to revive the Welsh language, the ancient language of Britain..”

    Is Irish not the most ancient language of Britain? I think Welsh came in much later with Gaulist invaders who brought their p-celtic pretensions and affections?

  • Seimi

    ‘yet unionism has never shown any inclination to accept the Irish language in the past.’

    The Orange Order’s banners with ‘Erin go Bragh’ on them would seem to suggest otherwise…

  • Catholic Observer

    http://www.iontaobhasnag.com/english/mutualunderstandingandsharedfuture.html

    “Irish was used as a motto by the Protestant business classes on their buildings as an indigenous alternative to Latin. Some old branches of the Ulster Bank carry the motto Lamh Dhearg Eireann (Red Hand of Ireland), including a branch in Bangor and what is now the Merchant Hotel in Belfast. The motto also appears above
    Saint George’s Market and on the lintel of the Ulster Hall. An Irish and Latin motto was inscribed on the foundation stone of the Royal Victoria Hospital (1815).

    It appears that the greeting Céad Míle Fáilte (‘A hundred thousand welcomes’) was popular among Protestants in the 19th century. Queen Victoria noted that crowds shouted the phrase when they greeted her in Belfast in 1849.

    A banned Orange Procession on 12 July 1867 travelled from Bangor to Newtownards, according to the Belfast News Letter, ‘without interruption save the cead mille failthes of hosts of sympathisers’.

    At the Ulster Unionist Convention of 1892 in Botanic Gardens 20,000 delegates were greeted by the banner ‘ERIN-GO-BRAGH’ (Ireland for Ever) which appeared on the pavilion, surmounted by a harp and shamrocks. This would have been of little surprise, since those attending would have considered themselves to be the ‘Queen’s Irishmen’ .

    Henry Cooke, the stalwart of orthodox Presbyterianism, was not averse to using Irish himself. During an address to the Assembly of the Church of Scotland, he said this:

    And trust you may be spared to see the day, when on visiting the Synod of Ulster, you may adopt the tongue of your native hills in addressing us, and not be necessitated to enquire of any of us, ‘An labhrann tú Gaeilge?’… and the céad míle fáilte romhat with which Ireland will meet you, will flow as warm from her heart as from the spirits of your Highland clansmen.”

  • Greagoir O Frainclin

    “The Orange Order’s banners with ‘Erin go Bragh’ on them would seem to suggest otherwise…”

    Indeed, ie The Orangeman and gaelic speaker Richard Routledge Kane

  • Greagoir O Frainclin

    “Is Irish not the most ancient language of Britain? I think Welsh came in much later with Gaulist invaders who brought their p-celtic pretensions and affections? ”

    Oh indeed Gaelic Irish is, in relation to “the British Isles”, but in this case Welsh is today in relation to the island of Britain!

  • Jeremy

    The Ulster-Scots movement successfully removed the terrorists from their supporters!

  • Dewi

    “Is Irish not the most ancient language of Britain? I think Welsh came in much later with Gaulist invaders who brought their p-celtic pretensions and affections?”

    I dunno – I reckon P-Celtic the eldest….get RG Cuan on the case…..

  • Gael gan Náire

    P – Celtic is the older form. The ‘q’ shift is believed to come in with the influences of Celtiberian.

  • Billyo

    It is a little depressing that the tone of responses is that the challenge is for unionists to get over their issues with Irish. Perhaps it is, and therefore the Irish language lobby can smugly continue acting as if it is all ‘themuns’ fault and do nothing to promote conditions whereby Irish could be cherished, rightly, by all.

    As Catholic Observer notes antipathy towards Irish is not an historical unionist position. Afterall, as I understand it, was it not protestant unionists who lead the language revival in the 1800s?

    As a youngster in the glens of Antrim I recall my Church of Ireland rector offering prayers in Irish on St.Patrick’s day.

    I ask, what has changed and what now needs to change? If the response is simply that it is a unionist problem and is for them alone to fix it I see little hope of change to the status quo.

  • Gael gan Náire

    “As Catholic Observer notes antipathy towards Irish is not an historical unionist position”

    Actually, that is not really true, one could easily, if one had the time go back through history with examples to disprove it.

    “as I understand it, was it not protestant unionists who lead the language revival in the 1800s?”

    That isnt true either, there was antiquarian interest from a small number of northern Protestants in the 1800s but apart from producing a few books, these people made no impact on the amount of Irish spoken in Ireland, nor di they seek through.

    These are ‘journalistic’ ideas which are simply going round and round.

  • Quagmire

    Isn’t it great to be part of the Union. A place that is rich in culture and diversity. A place for everyone, a place for “decent people”, that is of course as long as your not a fenian living in Northern Ireland. The reason why Mc Elduff and his colleagues in Sinn Fein are “not content” just to live in peace in norn iron and keep “pushing” the issue, as Mc Narry put it, is because they are…. wait for it….. Irish Republicans who seek an end to the union. The GFA affords everyone in this place to follow their political aspirations in a peaceful, democratic manner. Nowhere in the GFA does it say Republicans have to stop being Republican because it may cause offense to unionists feelings. Mc Narry and co are going to have to wake up to the fact that, although this place currently resides within the UK, it is not and never ever ever will be as British as Finchley. This man Mc Narry is from the old school and he is an idiot. The days of cropie lay down are long gone. I was born in Belfast, I live in Belfast, I work in Belfast, I am an Irish citizen, my flag is the Irish Tri-colour, my national anthem is Amhrán na bhFiann, I share this Irish identity with the majority of this Island and indeed approx half the population of the north. Keep your head in the sand David if you must, you xenophobic, bigoted little man. An Phoblacht Abu!!

  • picador

    I am loathe to engage in such pedantic debates but if Gaelic was established in Britain before Welsh then surely that makes it the older British language.

  • Modernist

    I recommend if people feel that McNarry’s comments were out of order the they email the conservatives ni organisation and requestion further elaboration of McNarry’s comments. The email address is office@conservativesni.org. I have emailed them myself and I will take it up with the party until I get a response.

  • Billyo

    So Shameless Irishman it is ‘ourselves alone’.

    I rest my case.

  • Modernist

    Billyyo if you’re refering to the meaning of Sinn Féin then you have been missinformed. Sinn Féin means ‘we ourselves ‘and not the commonly mistranslated ‘ourselves alone’. ‘Ourselves alone’ would translate as ‘Sinn Féin Amháin’

  • dewi

    I love the pedantic debates…and I think Brythonic probably the oldest…. What is fascinating is what we spoke pre-celtic…

  • Billyo

    Thanks. I can see how that fundamentally changes the meaning.

  • Pancho’s Horse

    Surely to look at the question of politicising Irish Gaelic from another angle, we could examine the Bible and it’s study. A book revered by Christians the world over but politicised by the narrow, bitter and twisted ‘christians’ in these European islands,it has become a thing of apathy for every thinking person be they atheist or believer and is the trademark here of militant,unforgiving, intolerant anti-Irish, anti-catholic bigotry. how about taking the Bible out of politics. No more quoting the scriptures to revile your political opponents. No more malleable extracts to justify discrimination. Then when this is accomplished, the Irish Gaelic speakers and supporters can learn how to ‘depoliticise’ a harmless language. A language which was spoken in this country for centuries before the Bible bashers and conquistadores ever polluted our shores.

  • al

    Al,
    You’re unbelievably cynical.
    Do you not believe that Irish people
    can enter a whole new process of thought when they speak Irish.?
    Do you believe that language is nothing but a machine between us?
    Do you believe that shakespeare coud have done what he done with english words in Polish if he had simply been fluent in polish?,
    Or is it just that you feel incapable to share in that “Irishness”
    Posted by Guillaume on Feb 02, 2009 @ 11:50 PM

    The point is it’s a load of piss and an issue that has been invented just for the sake of it. Everyone here already speaks english and english is the language the rest of the world would really like to speak as their 2nd language if it isn’t already their first. If you or anyone else want to learn irish then go right ahead but it doesn’t need foisted on the rest of us who frankly couldn’t give two squirts and are happy enough learning english and other useful languages that other people in the world actually use. Feel free to even use irish in your day to day business too but be ready to actually revert back to english when most of the people you talk to stare back at you and say “what?”.

    “Irishness” my arse. Irish people speak english and they have done for hundreds of years. Get over it already. As someone with an irish passport who also learnt irish at school i’d say i’m a lot more irish than half the clowns in stormont trying to push this issue with the pidgin irish and token phrases pushed into speeches. It’s a farcical display.

    Language exists as a means of communication. Why re-invent the wheel? Use english and get on with your life.

  • Oilifear

    “It is a little depressing that the tone of responses is that the challenge is for unionists to get over their issues with Irish.”

    I’ve had a small change of heart since writing my comment above. As has been pointed out, the Protestant people of Ireland/Ulster/Northern Ireland have not always been turned off by the Irish language. Their turn against it can be traced alongside the politicisation of the language by a small section of the community on this island.

    From what I understand discussions of the ILA in the North have been focused on the rights of Irish speakers. Maybe some thought needs to be put into the obligations of Irish speakers too.

    I know this question will not go down well with many, and I don’t have an answer to it, but what could legislation do to de-politicise it? What could legislation do to prevent those who want to exploit the language for narrow, sectarian and political gain from abusing it in such a way? What could legislation do to prevent them from being always so ‘in your face’ (as David McNarry describes it)?

  • GGN

    Oilifear,

    “the Protestant people of Ireland/Ulster/Northern Ireland have not always been turned off by the Irish language.”

    “Their turn against it can be traced alongside the politicisation of the language by a small section of the community on this island.”

    Do you have any evidence to back up these claims?

  • Glyndwr

    Great news for Wales and our native language!

    We are so pleased that our Assembly is proposing a Welsh Language Act in order to help preserve our ancient language. This is because we are proud of our heritage and long history.

    From this vantage point across the Celtic Sea, I would be surprised if most people in Northern Ireland did not feel similarly.

    Hopefully, your Assembly will follow the Welsh example!

  • picador

    …the clowns in stormont trying to push this issue with the pidgin irish and token phrases pushed into speeches.

    Yes, this is most annoying. Harms the language I would think. Though since I started learning it I occasionally find myself subconsciously doing just this; then thinking ‘Oh fuck, what a wanker – just like ‘Da’ out of Give My Head Peace!’

    Incidentally, I find that the worst people for slabbering about the Irish language in a ‘political football’ kind of way are people who can’t actually speak it (but sometimes like to pretend that they can).

  • Oilifear

    “Do you have any evidence to back up these claims?”

    The large number of Protestants involved in (and indeed leading)
    the Revival period, including one of the first branches of the Gaelic League being set up on the Shankill Road? Join the dots between there, the creation of a “Catholic”, “Irish” and “Nationalist” mythos, and the dialog in the above video clip. (Those dots are well documented, as you know.)

  • Pete Baker

    At the risk of getting involved in this apparently pointless conversation, but..

    “Do you have any evidence to back up these claims?”

    Well, on the “the Protestant people of Ireland/Ulster/Northern Ireland have not always been turned off by the Irish language.”

    There is this..

    “by the care and diligence of Doctor William Bedel”

  • ersehole

    Billyo,

    it appears you have a problem with Sinn Féin and what it means.

    How does Páirtí Aontachtach Uladh sound? (UUP)

    Or Páirtí Aontachtach Daonlathach? (DUP)

    (Get your Ulster throat into those achs!)

    What about Guth Tradisiúnta Aontachtach (TUV)

    The Irish language has no view on which of them is the superior outfit, even if Barry MacElduff does.

  • GGN

    Oilifear,

    The reality is that we are talking about a handful of people who took an interest in Irish, many of whom for religous reasons.

    In addtition, did Bedell actually do the translation himself? No.

    Did Nielson actually write his grammar himself? Not really no.

    That is not to take away from their efforts but reapeating lazy journalistic propaganda ad nausem does not promote any understanding of this issue.

    Let me suggest some reading from an anti-Republican writer –

    Andrews, L. (1997) ‘The very dogs in Belfast will bark in Irish: The Unionist Government and the Irish language 1921-43’. In A Mac Póilin (ed) The Irish Language in Northern Ireland. Belfast: Iontaobhas ULTACH / ULTACH Trust. 49-94.

  • Oilifear

    Gael,

    I had to read that over a couple of time to understand what you meant, not because what you wrote was unclear but because, “The reality is that we are talking about a handful of people who took an interest in Irish” … whether you are talking about Catholics or Protestants!!

    Were it not for the propagandising of the language as part of the Republican movement it would not have seized any ground position in nationalist conscience – and so in the imagination of the majority of people on this island and widespread visibility in the southern state.

    It is absence from the Irish Protestant in the North imagination today for the same reason that it is present in the Catholic imagination across the island and in the Protestant imagination in the south (if it is still reasonable to make a Catholic/Protestant distinction in the south). Before the propagandising of the 1910’s, it was just as likely to be present (in it’s Revival form, not as a native language) among Protestants or Catholics imagination.

    In any case, whether you agree or not, let’s split our differences and allow me to ask the question again in a different way:

    What could legislation do to make Irish (or the use of Irish) more palatable to Unionist sentiment?

  • Oilifear

    (p.s. sorry for the awful grammar in the above, I’m writing very quickly from work!)

  • GGN

    “What could legislation do to make Irish (or the use of Irish) more palatable to Unionist sentiment?”

    Some might argue that normalisation in time would lead to a relaxation in Unionist views.

    I doubt that.

    Therefore, my answer to your question is, it cannot.

  • Oilifear

    A small example of what I mean by an ILA working with unionist sentiment.

    The fact (unfortunate or otherwise) is that there are no monoglot Irish speakers left in Nothern Ireland (doubtful even in the whole of Ireland). So, we can expect that an Irish speaker is able to speak English. An ILA could legislate that, for example, a person could expect for the PSNI to take reasonable steps to allow a citizens to communicate with them through Irish – BUT the police could also expect that upon request an Irish speaker would HAVE TO communicate with them through English.

    What I feel is missing is that while the ILA concentrates on rights but little is said of obligations. Legislating for obligations, I think, would not be unreasonable and would diffuse the “language as a weapon” polticised element of the Irish language today.

  • GGN

    “the police could also expect that upon request an Irish speaker would HAVE TO communicate with them through English.”

    I disagree and respectfully state that that sort of law would be open to abuse given the fact that even being overhead speaking Irish by the PSNI will normally lead to an oral rebuke and can lead to a night in the cells.

    BTW, no proposed ILA intidicates that the PSNI or anyone else would have to communicate to anyone in Irish – that is a political fabrication. That fabrication can and will be reapeated but that will never make it true.