United Nations call for Irish Language Act

The United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights has called for the adoption of an Irish language Act ….

The Committee is concerned that there is still no protection in respect of the Irish language in Northern Ireland, whereas the Welsh and the Gaelic languages are protected by the Welsh Language Act 1993 and the Gaelic Language (Scotland) Act 2005, respectively. (arts. 15 and 2)
The Committee recommends that the State party, or the devolved administration in Northern Ireland, adopt an Irish Language Act, with a view to preserving and promoting minority languages and cultural heritage, and invites the State party to provide detailed information on the progress made in its next periodic report.

This development is understood to be as a result of lobbying by the Irish language group POBAL and has been welcomed by Gaelic speaking MEP, Bairbre de Brún.

POBAL chief executive, Janet Muller is to be heard speaking on this subject on last nights Blas program on BBC Raidió Uladh.

Unfortunately for the Gaelic language in Ulster and its speakers, the demographics of Northern Ireland guarantee that there can be no Irish language act, at least in this generation and the British government shows no inclination towards the commitments it made in the St. Andrew’s agreement, they never will in my opinion, though they may be persuadable on certain aspects of the proposed legislation. Due to devolution both Westminister and Stormont would have to consent to the various aspects which would constitute an Irish language act.

Despite this, Irish speakers will view the UN stance as an important moral victory and vindication in what is sure to be a campaign measured in years. The lack of further protection for the Irish language in education will be of particular concern for many given the seeming inevitabilty of a DUP education minister next time round and that party’s attitute towards the sector.

  • Scamallach

    I don’t understand this at all – if the language act was included in St Andrew’s, how are unionists able to ignore it now? Obviously I understand that they have the majority, but surely the obligation remains for them despite their personal antipathy?

  • Gael gan Náire

    Scamallaigh,

    Unionists take the view that they did not sign up to an Irish language act but that it was part of an agreement bewtween the British government and Sinn Féin.

  • RG Cuan

    Excellent work by POBAL et al. to make the UN aware of this case.

    Protection and support for indigenous languages is a given throughout Europe and NI should be no different.

    Over the last three years there have been a number of colourful demonstrations for an Irish Language Act in Belfast. The last one, in October, had over 5,000 people marching, dancing and singing in the city center. This is what the language is about – living.

    Hopefully critics will eventually realise that NI is lagging behind the rest of the world regarding language issues and that Irish Gaelic is for all who wish to speak it.

  • brendan,belfast

    So the UN is calling for an Irish Language Act.

    That’s more than SF appear to be doing about it…..

  • Gael gan Náire

    Brendan, Belfast,

    Yet, a perusal of Sinn Féin’s website will find numerous such calls.

    As I see it Sinn Féin’s only real option on the issue is to walk away from the assembly on the issue.

    However, no Irish language organisation has called for such action, not even the more radical groups.

    I myself would be prepared to but only after a very hard and detailed campaign.

    It would do the cause of the language harm among the wider nationalist community, in my humble opinion, if the language and its speakers were seen to be at the root of the ending of the political process.

    Few Irish speakers I know want to shoulder that responisibilty.

    Others are free to say different.

  • Ulster McNulty

    But what real use is an Irish language act – what about a decent Irish language radio station? I rarely hear any Irish If I up or down the FM dial in Belfast.

  • Gael gan Náire

    http://www.raidiofailte.com ?

    I am quite sure those who campaign for an Irish language Act include broadcasting in their porposals.

  • Alan – Newtownards

    As a unionist, I hope that our politicians will stop turning the language into a political football when it suits them. The republican movement, have helped unionist politicians turn the ordinary unionist people against the language by claiming the language as their own. The language belongs to us all.

  • RG Cuan

    There is no point to walking away from the Assembly for Acht Gaeilge.

    Politicians can do much more in Stormont to serve the Irish language community than they can do outside it.

    Local pressure and international attention/calls from the likes of the UN highlight the need for basic legislation for Irish and this will eventually lead to the official support and recognition the language and her speakers are entitled to.

  • Gael gan Náire

    “by claiming the language as their own”

    Find me evidence of this claim and I would be very greatful.

  • RG Cuan

    The language belongs to us all.

    Well said Alan. Every Irish Gaelic speaker will tell you the same. Maybe the next time your local Unionist representatives call on your door you could let them know who you feel?

    ULSTER MCNULTY

    107.1FM in Béal Feirste, and 7.00-7.30 every night on Raidió Uladh.

  • Gael gan Náire

    Ulster,

    There is of course Raidió Ghaoth Dobhair on 102.7.

    Much of Antrim can also get BBC Raidió nan Gaidheal from Scotland.

  • Pancho

    I’m sorry but a waste of money. The people who speak it can protect it themselves as they are the only people who care. Hardly unreasonable!

  • RG Cuan

    *how you feel?

    I’m not suggesting you’re feeling anybody Alan 🙂

  • SM

    As an outsider to this subject I might not know what I’m on about but I make two observations:

    (1) A lot of moderate unionists would, in my view, be easily persuaded to take a more positive view (and maybe more interest in) Irish if the language community undertook a positive campaign to dis-associate the language from the politics of promoting a UI. To the average uneducated unionist Irish=SF, and they don’t like SF. Can you (the language community) break that association?

    (2) It is quite a reasonable objection (for many and probably most of the population) to an Irish Language Act to say that it is a waste of money – as there are no monoglot speakers it is a cultural project, not a necessity. Your battle needs to be won by both proposing an Act of limited cost implications (provide evidence) and persuading people of its value in cultural terms (cf. public funding of the arts) – talk of human rights and the-UN-says-you-have-to will instantly put the non-commital moderate’s back up.

    Maybe you all disagree 🙂 Let me know (in English please, as sadly it is my one and only fluent language).

    Vótáil Coimeádach agus Aontachtach – Nicholson 1 😉

  • Padraic

    [i]“by claiming the language as their own”

    Find me evidence of this claim and I would be very greatful. [/i]

    Yes Gael, how about alienating and generally pissing off our unionist neighbours once again?

    Of course the language belongs to us all. But Sinn Féin’s disgraceful use of the language as a political weapon, as and when it suits or doesn’t suit them, is truly deplorable.

    If we were able to move away from the stupidity of their position and attempt to embrace the unionist community then, and only then, will real progress be made with regard to the Irish language in the north.

    Well said Alan, your remarks are spot on.

  • brendan,belfast

    Gael Gan Nire, yousaid,
    “As I see it Sinn Féin’s only real option on the issue is to walk away from the assembly on the issue.”

    Really? Is that the height of their political negotiating ability? To seek an Irish Language Act and if it is refused to say “we’re off”?

    What about political haggling? Debating the issue? Seeking compromise and progress on issues which matter to both sides? Is that beyond SF’s political skills?

  • RG Cuan

    PANCHO

    You are correct in saying that Irish speakers can protect it themselves, and the Gaelic-speaking community is of course doing this all the time.

    However legislation is needed to ensure Irish speakers can avail of the same services English speakers can. Much of the proposed Act deals with practical and beneficial measures such as broadcasting, education and the legal system.

    Of course it also deals with certain public services being made available in Irish but in reality it won’t cost that much to provide these.

    And if people are really worried about costs, the Assembly or British government could just use the taxes paid by the Irish language community here. That would be enough to provide for the Act.

  • Gael gan Náire

    Brendan,

    I would say yes, it is beyond SF’s negotiating skills for two reasons.

    The majority of people in Northern Ireland are unionists.

    And the mutual veto in the Stormont executive favours those who seek to block change rather than those who seek change.

  • RG Cuan

    SM

    Can you (the language community) break that association?

    That association is outdated and very much out of touch with today’s Irish speakers but unfortunately still promoted by many in the mainstream media (BBC etc). For 90% of Irish speakers, that association does not exist.

    Every single project I can think of that is taking place in, and initiated by, the Irish language community here in NI has nothing to do with politics, of any kind.

    Among these include a sexy youth lifestyle magazine (nós*), an online news service (nuacht24), a cool t-shirt company (GaelT), numerous TV and radio productions, a monthly music event in Belfast city center (Blasta), all the gigs, classes and exhibitions taking place in An Chultúrlann, An Droichead, An Gaelarás etc.

    If the English language media covered this side of Irish Gaelic life, people who only associate the language with a certain politics wouldn’t be too long changing their mind.

    PS. Maith thú for the slogan as Gaeilge!

  • elbandito

    Public funds are (or should be) tight in the current climate and an Irish Language Act would be of limited benefit to the entire population. Any Irish Language Act could be funded along the same lines as the 2012 London Olympics.

    Anyone that has identified themselves as an Irish speaker (in the 2001 Census, approx 10%)pays a levy on their rates bill over a number of years. An Irish Language “surcharge”.

  • Gael gan Náire,

    There is some mystery about the detail of the negotiations over the St. Andrews Agreement. It is no good anybody quoting from the Belfast agreement because it gives no clue as to what kind of language act was envisaged.

    A new section 28D of the Northern Ireland Act 1998 was introduced as a result of St Andrews.
    In fairness to those who oppose an act, I have to ask if the UN was aware of section 28D?

    According to the Department of Culture and Leisure website, section 28D was THE actaul implementation of the Irish Language Act. I have pasted the department’s words from their website here.

    “The St Andrews Agreement (October 2006) committed the UK Government to work with the incoming Executive to protect and enhance the development of the Irish and Ulster-Scots languages. This commitment was consequently included in amendments to the Northern Ireland Act 1998, placing duties on the Executive to adopt a strategy setting out how it proposes to enhance and protect the development of the Irish language and Ulster-Scots culture, heritage and language.”

    You will find the full statement here http://www.dcalni.gov.uk/index/language-cultural-diversity-r08.htm

    I am not convinced that what is said by the Department is true.

    Diane Dodds recently said that they (the British Government) were about to thrust an Irish Langage Act upon Northern Ireland. Query, was that before or after the St. Andrews Agreement was finally negotiated? Was Section 28D agreed as the implementation of Irish Language Act before St Andrews was signed?

    Either the Government, the DUP, Sinn Fein or a combination of all of them should come clean on what happened in these negotiations. We need honest answers from them otherwise we are going to have to keep listening to accusations that the Government has not implemented St. Andrews without having the information to make a judgment.

    I am wondering if the UN was provided with all of the information. Did they know about section 28D?

    The UN do not distinguish between the Welsh and Scottish languages – yet there is a very big distinction. The Welsh Language Act supports its use in the Courts. It also makes it compulsory for the language to be taught at the schools.

    I have just written over 12,000 words on this subject.

    Despite lacking that information about the St. Andrews negotiations, I reached a conclusion that section 28D was inadequate as a measure to promote the Irish Language. I recommended an Irish Language Act similar to the Scottish one but slightly different in two respects
    (1) that any aspiration to make the language official must be deferred until there is cross community consensus
    (2) that a new act should provide the availability for the language to be learned at all schools in Northern Ireland.

    I note what you say about the DUP having an education minister. After the performance of the DUP since St Andrews, I certainly would not presume that the DUP will have an education minister in two years time.

  • RG Cuan

    EL BANDITO

    Anyone that has identified themselves as an Irish speaker (in the 2001 Census, approx 10%) pays a levy on their rates bill over a number of years. An Irish Language “surcharge”.

    Not a bad idea, though I would argue that it doesn’t have to be an extra charge, it can just be taken out of what Irish speakers already pay the government.

  • neil

    I’m sorry but a waste of money. The people who speak it can protect it themselves as they are the only people who care. Hardly unreasonable!

    Then of course, it would be hardly unreasonable for the population of England, Scotland, Wales and 40% of Northern Ireland to refuse to pay for the 12th of July, a day when businesses all over NI lose out on a day’s trading, and which the DOE spend millions scraping the burnt tarmac off the roads, and cleaning up beer bottles etc. from the 11th night. Not to mention the costs of actual damage caused by the fires, extra policing costs and the price of treatment required by the pissed up loyalists who’ve hurt themselves/another loyalist/a nationalist.

    Just think of the money that could have been saved had not the OO and assorted loyalists ripped this province to pieces over Drumcree, millions upon millions paid out by 65 million people’s taxes so that 1 million people get to piss on disputed territory, and only stopped when loyalists murdered three young children as they slept. Fantastic.

    But we don’t have that option otherwise environmental protestors wouldn’t pay for trident, nationalists here wouldn’t pay for the 12th, loyalists would pay nothing towards the Irish language etc. etc. ad nauseum. Not how the spending of taxes works unfortunately for if it were the 12th of July would be history already. Why would 98% of the population spend their money funding the OO’s annual hatefest?

    No, unfortunately for Loyalists, we pay our taxes and by and large, get fuck all back from them. We pay for Orangeism to wreck the fucking province year in year out, so I think we can request a small amount of our money goes towards something we support and you don’t, just for a change.

  • neil

    Public funds are (or should be) tight in the current climate and the 12th July would be of limited benefit to the entire population.

  • RG Cuan

    SEYMOUR MAJOR

    I think your proposals are very fair, and I’m guessing most other Irish speakers would agree.

    Do you intend to present them for consideration to the Conservatives/Ulster Unionists?

  • Gael gan Náire

    SM,

    “It is no good anybody quoting from the Belfast agreement because it gives no clue as to what kind of language act was envisaged.”

    I didn’t.

    I have read your thoughts on your site. Thank you.

    I would like to make the point that I couldn’t give a monkey’s whether Irish is an official language or not.

    Nor do I wish to see the language compulsory in State schools, I see no reason why it cannot be an option, with or without an Irish language Act.

  • SM

    That association is outdated and very much out of touch with today’s Irish speakers
    Posted by RG Cuan on Jun 02, 2009 @ 03:21 PM

    I know that, but I also know that most unionists don’t know that. I also reckon that the responsibility for changing that erroneous perception lies with the language community itself – I’m not sure how you can do it but a concerted push could bring results I’m sure. Write to Sir Reg and Owen Patterson and offer to give them an update on where the Irish language culture is at, why its not sectarian, and why you think an Act is both desirable and affordable – maybe you’ll have an impact. Maybe try persuading the Belfast Telegraph to run a series on contemporary Irish language culture in Belfast/NI that somehow gets across the message that it is not sectarian.

    But from looking at how the media react to the CU project I understand how they like to stick with the view they’re comfortable with – that nothing changes. Bon chance!

  • Gael gan Nire

    I wrote a typo. I should have said “It is no good anybody quoting from St Andrews Agreement…” not “Belfast Agreement”

    You did say “…British government shows no inclination towards the commitments it made in the St. Andrew’s agreement”

  • R G Cuan

    Yes I do. I will also be giving a presentation about this at a Conservative dinner in September.

  • SM

    R G Cuan

    Yes I do. I will also be giving a presentation about this at a Conservative dinner in September.

    Posted by Seymour Major on Jun 02, 2009 @ 03:44 PM

    Excellent news 🙂

  • Mairseail Ui Neill

    GGN

    tá nasc an don ráiteas ó bairbre as ghaeilge fosta chara

    MUíN

    http://www.sinnfein.ie/contents/16554

  • Glencoppagagh

    Neil
    24. “we pay our taxes and by and large, get fuck all back from them”
    I’ll take it that that neither you nor any of your friends are employed by the state directly or indirectly.

  • neil

    I speak only for myself, but most of my neighbours drive taxis, and I am a software analyst for a private firm. So no, we don’t.

  • fin

    Damn it Seymour, people like you and New Blue are in danger of putting a united Ireland back for a decade, would you mind leaving people like ?? and Laughing (Tory) Unionist to be the voice of unionism

  • Dewi the pedant.

    “The Welsh Language Act supports its use in the Courts. It also makes it compulsory for the language to be taught at the schools.”

    Whilst Welsh it is compulsory in schools in Wales that is not a provision ot the Welsh Language Act.

  • Dewi the pedant. who can’t spell…

    “Whilst Welsh is” sorry

  • Dewi,

    That is correct. The compulsory teaching in schools was introduced in 2000. That doesn’t change the point. We are talking about promotion of the Irish Language.

  • SM

    Damn it Seymour, people like you and New Blue are in danger of putting a united Ireland back for a decade, would you mind leaving people like ?? and Laughing (Tory) Unionist to be the voice of unionism

    Posted by fin on Jun 02, 2009 @ 04:19 PM

    Glad to see that they are getting the message across fin 😉

    Speaking of ?? I haven’t seen it around for a few days, I think QMQM scared him off – hurray!

    Anyhoo, as I said before (because I don’t have any other relevant Irish):

    Vótáil Coimeádach agus Aontachtach – Nicholson 1

  • Dewi

    It doesn’t change the point at all Seymour, just the possible substance of an Act. Court status IMHO is important ina historical sense – would cost very little but massively symbolic.

  • fin

    indeed SM on all points, and we do need ?? posting to get the nationalist vote out, perhaps his parents have banned him from going online.

  • Ray

    Has Sinn Fein delivered on any comittment it has ever made in modern time?
    Sinn Fein is much more interested in wiping out the Irish language, unless by chance, there is an election going on, and that it what is happening now.
    Sinn Fein thinks and dreams in English, not Irish.

  • OC

    I can see many positive benefits for NI unionists if an Irish Language Act of some sort is enacted.

    Why couldn’t some of the funding be provided by a possibly already-in-existance RoI/NI cross-border initiative, as well as UN/EU language support?

    I can see some of the problems with making it optional for court, as in judge, jury, and lawyers being required to be fluent in Irish.

    Stateside, if a defendant claims that Spanish is his first language, an interpreter is provided. But God help the defendant if he really isn’t fluent, because he is then prevented from testifying in any language but Spanish then.

    IIRC, the jury must also use only the English language translation of the defendants testimony, even if a jury member speaks Spanish and disputes what the translation says. So it’s a double edged sword.

    What would be considered the minimal level of Irish language support that would satisfy the majority of those that want some kind of ILA?

    BTW what dialect of Irish? Ulster-Irish would seem to be the logical choice.

    Perhaps it should be more of an Endangered Language Act, no?

    And how about a Cumbric Language Act for SW Scotland? Oh yeah, I forgot, the Gaels oversaw its extinction.

  • Mike

    Scamallach

    “I don’t understand this at all – if the language act was included in St Andrew’s, how are unionists able to ignore it now? Obviously I understand that they have the majority, but surely the obligation remains for them despite their personal antipathy?”

    What the St Andrews Agreement said was “The Government will introduce an Irish Language Act reflecting on the experience of Wales and Ireland and work with the incoming Executive to enhance and protect the development of the Irish language.”

    This was a committment given by the UK Government (and in the context of direct rule). I strongly suspect that in the rushed negotiations and drafting at St Andrews, someone on the Government’s end of things threw this in hastily (it even refers to introducing an ‘Act’ rather than a Bill! Whereas the paragraph above it refers to a Single Equality Bill) without thinking through the fact that there was no way such a Bill could be drawn up by DCAL, consulted on, introduced by the Minister in Parliament, and passed by Parliament, all before the restoration of devolution in March 2007.

    Of course it’s not the only part of the St Andrews Agreement that was swiftly altered in the cold light of day – for example the nomination of the First Minister and deputy First Minister.

  • the shoneen

    As a Unionist I too would like to see Northern Ireland brought into line with the rest of the UK on this issue.

    As an Irishman I would like to see the language de-exclusivised, the spurious racial overtones of the movement challenged, and its monopolised position on political issues directly dismantled by a re-evaluation of appointments to the relevant public bodies. We have an excellent opportunity to do this with fresh legislation.

    Irish language has been abused by extremist political movements to the detriment (primarily)of the Protestant people of Ireland for whom it is a birth right (and I would say to the discredit of the language itself). This abuse is in keeping with the role of language as a tool of exclusivism and segregation in fascist Nationalist movements throughout Europe, this historic phenomenon with tragic consequences must be specifically legislated against in any act of parliament. This negative aspect of linguistic movements, the ‘national’ component, should be discussed in the assembly (if only we had people capable of intelligent discussion); safeguards and regulations should be put in place. I would encourage any such act in the North to be mirrored in South, including the ending of compulsion, partly to ensure a dignified existence for the language and proper civilised behaviour on the part of its promoters, and partly to ensure a more equal, open and inclusive society for all that that sort of racialist agenda obstructs. It is the job (I feel) of men like SM and I to repair the damage done by those vile fascist criminals who associated this historic language with terrorist violence, by encouraging Pro-Union events and media in an Irish Language context. Perhaps the next time her Majesty graces these shores ‘Rule Britannia’ could be preformed in Irish for her amusement ? Do you reckon such an undertaking as the example suggestion have support from the Irish language movement ? Or do we feel the promotion of the language should be particular in its context ?

  • Ray

    the shoneen,
    “…As an Irishman I would like to see the language de-exclusivised…”

    There was a group called Gaeloiliuint that was doing what you are talking about up until about 5 years ago. They helped found over 60 schools and the beginnings of a cross community university at Springvale in west Belfast in the autumn of 2003.
    Sinn Fein then came along and blocked all funding to Gaeloiliuint starting with the actons of the current Deputy First Minister when he was Education Minister.
    Gaeloiliuint apparently was an embarassment to Sinn Fein because it was cross community and regional and thus a threat to the Sinn Fein Oligarchy and their perceived empire building.
    The Sinner leadership is well known for speaking out of both sides of its mouth but not believing in cross community initiatives.
    The Irish language belongs to Protestant, Presbyterian, and Catholic alike. It does not belong to the Sinn Fein hijackers.

  • RG Cuan

    OC

    BTW what dialect of Irish? Ulster-Irish would seem to be the logical choice.

    There doesn’t need to be a discussion about dialect nor is there any point in referencing dialect in the legislation… Irish speakers born in NI speak Ulster Irish of course but Gaelic, from Kerry to the Isle of Lewis, is all one language.

    SHONEEN

    I have to say that claiming the Irish language is linked to facism and has been abused to the detriment of a certain grouping here must be one of the most deluded statements I’ve read about Irish Gaelic on Slugger.

    See one of my previous posts regarding the totally outdated perception of the Irish Gaelic community among the mainstream media and among certain sections of the community in NI.

    This thread has been providing reasonable debate on the issue of Irish language legislation, try not to sideline it with fantasy and irrelevant and misleading statements.

  • Anyone that has identified themselves as an Irish speaker (in the 2001 Census, approx 10%) pays a levy on their rates bill over a number of years. An Irish Language “surcharge”.

    I submit my view on the above. Seeing as there’s a value being put on the ‘extra services’. Why doesn’t the Irish language community forego these services and pocket a rebate from the government for its failure to provide them with the services other UK citizens in other parts of the UK take for granted – the Scots Gaelic speaker in Scotland or the Welsh speaker in Wales.

    I for one wouldn’t trust the British government with any extra money from my pay packet for the provision of Irish language services – who knows where it will go, renovating some MP’s moat in Sussex, funding new and ever more expensive and useless nuclear missiles or towards the upkeep of the British Royal Family in the style to which they’ve become accustomed.

    I would presume that this rebate be backdated until the year 1921 or the first year the current generation of tax paying Irish speakers paid taxes – and rebated accordingly….

    Then let Pobal na Gaeilge itself decide what to do with the money…pool it and invest it or spend it.

  • Brian MacAodh

    As seen in the Wind That Shakes the Barley, people were shot in this country for speaking Gaelic.

    Change is slow

  • Brian MacAodh

    I was kidding in my last post, btw

  • Ray

    Brian MacAodh,
    The millions starved to death during the Potato Genocide of the 1840s were almost all Irish speakers.

  • The Roinn Man

    Pobal’s attempts will be scuppered by the partitionist mentality of O Cuiv. He has announced his intention to set up an “Udaras na Gaeilge” as part of the implementation of 2028, the 20-year strategic plan for the language by giving Udaras na Gaeltachta control over everything to do with the Irish language in the Republic. This would involve taking most of the responsibility – and the budget – for the language away from Foras na Gaeilge. The DUP will agree to supporting the necessary legislative changes here to match those down South which the Minister is already lining up because it will at last achieve the parity of funding for Ulster-Scots which they promised. And while O Cuiv has been telling the Irish language media about how Foras na Gaeilge represents an unwieldy structure requiring Campbell’s consent, the real issue is that the new Udaras will have all the power, all the budget, be directly under his control and – by a happy coincidence – be in his own constituency.

    The race is now on to see if O Cuív can make the necessary changes before Cowen figures out what he’s up to and sends him packing for not running for the party’s European seat in the North-West, but the bigger issue of course is whether Cowen will allow O Cuiv to assist the DUP to begin dismantling the North-South bodies for a few votes around the parish pump in Galway…

  • Ray

    Foras na Gaeilge has been a catastrophic failure by design. It has no vision. It believes in sitting on its arse while sticking knives into any Irish language organisation that does anything positive.
    Good ridence to it!!!

  • SM

    Lots of chat about getting public funds. What about society taking responsibility and raising donations from interested parties? Does that happen much around this issue? Questions from a curious outsider 🙂

  • New Blue

    SM

    Interesting point, how would you structure an open organisation which took on the voluntary role of teaching Irish for anyone interested.

    The idea is quite good, and could really make use of some of the unspent ‘peace III’ money available, but the structure would have to be fully inclusive and seen to be a clear move away from either nationalist or unionist identities ( an opportunity offer Irish language classes to the influx of migrant workers may help to broaden the funding opportunities).

    Such an organisation could really help to make a difference in engaging those in the more segregated communities in considering their history (and their future).

    Sign me up for the working group SM – my own on-line Irish classes are proving more than challenging.

  • drumlins rock

    was at a meeting last week where an Ulster Unionist Member was asking the party to seriously consider putting together a policy on promoting the Irish Language and taking it out of the sectarian rutt of NI politics, i think those present were still a bit sceptical but it maybe got them thinking, he offered his services as a Fluent Irish speaker if they required any advice(he is also an Orangeman, there are be a few who speak Irish i think, lol).

    Personally my interest in the language mainly stems from Townland names and thier origins, which is an area where common ground on the issue is very strong, espically with rural Orangemen, but one thing i have realised is certainity over the origins of a name are not certain and therefore “translating” the names back into gaelic is not can be problematic.

  • Pol

    “I’m sorry but a waste of money. The people who speak it can protect it themselves as they are the only people who care. Hardly unreasonable! ”

    Hoots mon a cribbens! Tae true. Ainly by spaking and talken a spake wull ewe kape it alie and naught by taken taxis oop ta Dooblin.

  • Legalistic

    SM
    It would have helped if you had quoted the text of section 28D:

    “28D Strategies relating to Irish language and Ulster Scots language etc

    (1) The Executive Committee shall adopt a strategy setting out how it proposes to enhance and protect the development of the Irish language.

    (2) The Executive Committee shall adopt a strategy setting out how it proposes to enhance and develop the Ulster Scots language, heritage and culture.

    (3) The Executive Committee—

    (a) must keep under review each of the strategies; and

    (b) may from time to time adopt a new strategy or revise a strategy.”

  • Legalistic

    EL BANDITO says:

    Anyone that has identified themselves as an Irish speaker (in the 2001 Census, approx 10%) pays a levy on their rates bill over a number of years. An Irish Language “surcharge”.

    Would you be in favour of a surcharge for disability services, for education (to be paid by parents with children receiving education), etc?

  • Legalistic,

    You’re right, than you. I should have done that. Now that it has been quoted, you can see the controversy.

    Gregory Campbell’s department says one thing – that section 28D is the Government implementing an “Irish Language Act” in accordance with St. Andrews whereas Sinn Fein says that the Government have not kept their promise.

    If the Government could clear that point, it would be helpful.

  • Legalistic

    SM,
    Obviously, section 28D is NOT an Irish language act. It is a minor piece of a completely separate act.
    However, given that it is law, has the Executive Committee adopted “a strategy setting out how it proposes to enhance and protect the development of the Irish language”?

    If it hasn’t then, regardless of whether an Irish language act should have been introduced or not, it is in breach of the law.
    Are there any penalties for this? I suppose not – governments tend to be rather lax when it comes to legislating penalties that can be applied to themselves.

  • RG Cuan

    SM

    What about society taking responsibility and raising donations from interested parties? Does that happen much around this issue?

    Quite a lot actually, and more people are thinking this is the way forward.

    For example, the funding Gaelscoils receive from the government – north and south – is not enough and so an organsiation, Iontaobhas na Gaelscoilíochta, was established by Irish speakers to raise money for Irish language education. Last year they announced they raised over £1,000,000 from donations etc.

    It’s the same with a few of our media services – after the daily newspaper Lá Nua closed due to its funding being stopped, a new online and weekly print newspaper, nuacht24, was launched. It receives no public money and is funded solely through subscriptions and donations.

  • Legalistic,

    It may not be an ILA but what we still need to know is what was agreed. Did Sinn Fein approve s.28D before STA was signed? We need some honesty from the politicians otherwise the debate will be stuck in the mire.

    I agree with you that we also need to know what is being done about a strategy. From the utterances of the DUP, very little, I suspect.

    That would be a breach of the law but there is no legal remedy. I said in my post that s.28D has no teeth and that is one of the reasons why I recommended an Irish Language Act.

    Lets suppose that the DUP have decided to just sit there and do nothing. Are they creating a rod for their own backs?

    They probably would be if the whole thing was one-sided. However, they could also point out to a breach of the law by Sinn Fein over education for ignoring the Pledge of Office.

    I dont want to widen the issue too much on this thread but I foresee greater tension within the DUP/SF coalition over this and other issues. It is hard to see how they can carry on for two years without some sort of political eruption.

  • SM

    Quite a lot actually, and more people are thinking this is the way forward.
    Posted by RG Cuan on Jun 03, 2009 @ 10:35 AM

    I would agree it keeps the service provided very much in touch with those who receive it. Public money is a real curse – it comes with strings, bureaucracy, and gives an impression that the project supported can’t stand on its own two feet. Less tax and more charitable giving is good for society – people resent seeing their tax “wasted” on things they don’t personally value but get really motivated by giving freely and getting involved in helping to run the things they donate to.

    I think its fair to say thats a fairly Coimeádach point of view.

  • SM

    he offered his services as a Fluent Irish speaker if they required any advice
    Posted by drumlins rock on Jun 03, 2009 @ 12:39 AM

    Put him in touch with campaign HQ to offer his services to translate leaflets etc. for the general elections – standing in all 18 constituencies means there will be an audience for it I reckon. Breaking into new areas and getting folk who never considered voting UUP to consider the CUs seriously is what the link-up is all about.

  • Big Maggie

    I rather like the idea of Unionist leaders appropiating Irish and making it their own. That would be such a slap in the eye to Sinn Féin!

    I reckon it would be difficult to sell it to their electorate though. Most Unionists I know wince when they see bilingual street signs in NI. And that’s just the written language.

  • Neil

    All that is required is a slight perception change. If you as a Unionist, view Irish as having been claimed by your enemies, (and by that I mean SF, militant Republicanism etc.) then when you withdraw from the language on those grounds you actually do what you perceive your enemy wishes you to do. It’s probably the only example of where Unionism doesn’t fight down to the last breath for something, even if just to irritate those enemies.

    If I were a Unionist/Loyalist I’d learn Irish as a means to be able to interrupt a couple of cheeky nationalists who are doing a wee bit of slabbering in Irish in the bar or something. Like the cops in Derry who get taunted by youths shouting Tiocfaidh ár lá, and the cops were able to converse back in Irish, and probably confused the fuck out of those kids.

  • SM

    I reckon it would be difficult to sell it to their electorate though. Most Unionists I know wince when they see bilingual street signs in NI. And that’s just the written language.

    Posted by Big Maggie on Jun 03, 2009 @ 12:51 PM

    I don’t think it would be too hard to change their minds Big Maggie, as long as they have thought out their policy I think they could present it as being at once fair to all and removing a feather from the SF cap. The trick will be to make sure it won’t cost lots and hammer that point across forcefully as that’ll be where the real (& powerful) objections come from.

  • New Blue

    I agree with you Neil

    A language belongs to everyone who is born in the country of that language, along with the rest of Irish culture that the ‘old school’ Unionists rate as ‘dirty’ and ‘foriegn’, speaking Irish is something that everybody has the right to learn.

    Are there any organisations that openly welcome Unionists (or pro-union supporters, to use ‘newspeak’)to learn to speak the language? As I ahve said I have been trying to learn from Online programs and books, but I am way to bad at languages to make any real progress this way.

    Recommendations appreciated for anything in Belfast that is available for complete ignorants like me.

  • SM

    So for those feeling inspired – where is the best place to learn Irish in Belfast?

  • New Blue

    Got there first SM ! 😉

  • Big Maggie

    Neil,

    I think that’s what I was getting it but you put it so much better :^)

    Thinking it through, however, and imagining Unionist MLAs in the Assembly, I’m beginning to have my doubts. Would it not lead to one-upmanship?

    Jim Alister gets on his hindlegs and introduces a speech with the cúpla focal we associate with SF at this moment.

    Gerry Kelly moves to reply—and blurts out much more than a cúpla focal. Before you know it, the Assembly is…

    Well, perhaps not.

  • Neil

    Belfast Tech has a range of courses, like beginner’s Irish, or GCSE for the more hard working types. I think the GCSE isn’t that bad, but when I joined and told them I know no Irish they did suggest I was biting off more than I could chew, and they were probably right as I dropped out, though more due to work commitments at the time. Probably the beginners course might be better. They have a few:

    http://www.belfastmet.ac.uk/courses/list.asp

  • SM

    Unionists (or pro-union supporters, to use ‘newspeak’)
    Posted by New Blue on Jun 03, 2009 @ 01:08 PM

    Or Aontachtach (well that is singular I think but it’s close enough)

  • the shoe neen

    “I have to say that claiming the Irish language is linked to fascism and has been abused to the detriment of a certain grouping here must be one of the most deluded statements I’ve read about Irish Gaelic on Slugger.”

    “On to a socially, culturally and racially distinct socialist republic” – Irish Language activist Bobby Sands

    the role of Gaelic in the Republican agenda to create a distinct, Nationalist and Socialist entity separated from the rest of the United Kingdom by language, and the continuation of this policy by their rightful inheritors right up to the present,in creating an invader settler narrative for modern conflict, both of which are fascist activities, is beyond dispute.

    every bullet fired, as was said…..

  • Gael gan Náire

    Dear all,

    There are a range of classes available, in some areas there is a class at the end of every street.

    If people are interested in ‘neutral’ venues, try the Language Centre at Queens, the Linen Hall Library or why not contact the organisation dedicated to promoting the language on a ‘cross-community’ basis, The Ultach Trust.

    http://www.ultach.org/

    BIFHE or whatever they are called have classes in alot of places.

    West Belfast is obviously full of Irish classes for those interested, most notably in my view Cumann Chluain Ard on Hawthorne Street (they have the advantage of having an alcohol lisence) and the Cultúrlann.

    For those wishing to hear Irish spoken in Belfast, the Cultúrlann, Kelly’s Cellars, Maddens, the Duke of York are the best bet.

    The most neutral place is the internet of course, but people should know that in Ros Goill and Gaoth Dobhair one can find Protestant native speakers, and indeed on Inis Bigil, Mayo.

  • RG Cuan

    I rather like the idea of Unionist leaders appropiating Irish and making it their own. That would be such a slap in the eye to Sinn Féin!

    Big Maggie’s view is unfortunately how many non-Irish speakers seem to view the language – in a political light.

    Irish Gaelic does not belong to any political grouping and is not there to be “made their own” by republicans or unionists. If any party wishes to use it, then brilliant, as it illustrates they are aware of Irish speakers and our votes.

    In fact Irish speakers who support Sinn Féin would probably welcome other parties using the language in their campaigns and taking a more positive position towards it.

    The language itself however belongs to nobody but the Irish language community and this will always be the case.

  • Gael gan Náire

    RG,

    “The language itself however belongs to nobody but the Irish language community and this will always be the case.”

    Some would of course say that actual Gaelic speakers have somehow appropriated the language for themselves, somehow stealing it from others.

    I myself do not feel that those who speak Irish as a venacular take anything away from those who regard it as a cultural language.

    I try to be sensitive to this but at the same time seek only to speak from the point of view of a daily speaker.

  • RG Cuan

    SM, New Blue et al.

    Gael Gan Náire has given a list of venues where Irish is taught in Béal Feirste. I also have met some people of a Unionist background who were learning Irish at An Droichead on the Ormeau Rd, just up and across from UTV. There were some Africans, an Aussie and an American in the same class.

    talkirish.com is a new online service that has been set up by a young Belfast woman.

    ‘Aontachtaithe’ is Unionists, and ‘Vótáil le hAthrú’ is Vote for Change!

    SHOE NEEN

    Catch up, you’re living in the past.

  • the shoe neen

    it was my assertion that by drafting legislation so that this perception can be genuinely said to be outdated (rather than accurate but unfortunate) would be the best way to increase participation in, and enjoyment of the Irish language.
    I suggest both that the still uncomfortably Nationalist idea of compulsion should be repealed in the south and that the expression of Unionist culture and nationhood should be catered for in an Irish language medium, and that this be provided for in any legislation
    both ideas would increase the dignity of the movement and its inclusiveness, I note such ideas were not even responded to, it being more agreeable to one activist that the valid concerns of the ‘other’ were simply disparaged. perhaps advancing the language on the basis of equal access and equal worth is not what attracts these people to pushing for this legislation at all.

  • RG Cuan

    Gael Gan Náire

    Indeed. When I say Irish Gaelic belongs only to the Irish language community, I primarily mean those who use the language frequently but also anybody else who is interested in it or supports it.

  • RG Cuan

    the expression of Unionist culture and nationhood should be catered for in an Irish language medium, and that this be provided for in any legislation

    Sounds good to me Shoe Neen, and I’m guessing to most other Irish speakers too. The more people taking part in Gaelic life, whatever background they have, the better.

  • the shoe neen

    “Catch up, you’re living in the past”

    I and all those who see bobby sands as a relivent figure of contemporary value, it would seem. Who is the more valid representative of Nationalist Northern Ireland I wonder.

  • Gael gan Náire

    RG,

    I understand, I just want to make sure it is clear.

    Clearly, an Irish speaking family have a closer relationship that a family who don’t speak / use the language but the latter are fully entitled to claim the language if they wish.

  • RG Cuan

    SHOE NEEN

    We’re not talking about Nationalist NI, we are talking about NI’s Irish speaking population in the 21st century. There is a massive difference.

    Ask 99% of Irish speakers today why the speak their language and not one will say they are doing so to achieve an Irish Republic.

    As I said above, the Gaelic-speaking community is growing here and we welcome all who wish to be involved.

  • Dave

    The UN’s committee is acting outside of its remit under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. It is the responsibility of the governing state to provide for protection of its national language, so there is a Welsh Language Act and a Gaelic Language. The Irish state already promotes its national language so the issue of state protection for a national language doesn’t arise. The committee is confused about the difference between a national language and a minority language (probably as a result of Pobal lobbying them). Irish is a minority language in NI, not a national language.

  • New Blue

    Dave

    How can you say Irish isn’t a national language in Northern Ireland? Irish is the Language of people born in Ireland, just like Welsh is the language of people born in Wales and English is the language of people born in England.

    I want access to my National language, along with my history and other aspects of my culture, being pro-union doesn’t stop me from being Irish.

  • Dave

    New Blue, there is no Romanian Language Act, Chinese Language Act, et al, in Scotland and Wales, just an act to protect the national language. Ergo, there is no reason to compare Irish in Northern Ireland with the national languages in those two countries. State protection for Irish is already provided in the state where Irish is the national language, as compliant with Article 1. So the committee has confused minority language protection with national language promotion. There is no cultural need for two seperate states to promote the same language.

  • Big Maggie

    Dave,

    Nice try but Irish belongs to the Six Counties as much as the rest of the island. You’re forgetting it was widely spoken here long before the foundation of the NI statelet.

    It’s a beautiful language, tailor made for song. Have a listen to a sweet-voiced Gaelic speaker singing in her native tongue and you’ll know what I’m talking about. On the other hand if you’re prejudiced against the language you’ll hear only what you wish to hear.

  • New Blue

    Dave

    You are just on the wind-up aren’t you?

    You can’t really believe that just because we created a partition in the 1920’s that the language, culture and history all gets shipped ‘down south’?

    Irish is as relevant to the lad born in the Shankill estate as it is to the lad born in Cork.

    And regardless of whether you are nationalist or unionist, if you are born on this island you are Irish first.

  • Big Maggie

    New Blue,

    “if you are born on this island you are Irish first. ”

    Cue the Duck of Wellington… :^)

  • Dave

    New Blue, it’s not that hard to follow. The relevant Articles of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights are 1 and 2. Article 2 imposes an obligation on those who have “responsibility for the administration of Non-Self-Governing and Trust Territories” to “promote the realization of the right of self-determination.” In this case, the British government. It is a cultural right, and where that nation is not sovereign, then there is an obligation on the sovereign power to promote the culture of that non-sovereign nation. That is why the there are language acts to promote the national language of the Scottish nation and the Welsh nation. Article 1 declares that all nations have the right to “freely determine … and freely pursue their … cultural development.” So you can see why the national language of the Welsh and Scottish nation are protected?

    In Northern Ireland, the power to promote a designated language is devolved, so it is up to the Northern Irish nation to pick a language of their choice and promote it as their nation’s language. They cannot claim that an external power under Article 2 is preventing them from exercising their “right of self-determination” in that regard. The Committee seems to think that Irish is the national language of the Northern Irish and also seems to think that Article 2 is relevant when it clearly is not. If the Northern Irish nation decides not to designate a language as being its nation’s official language, then it is entitled to do that under its Article 1.

    In reality, Irish is not the national language of Northern Ireland and the majority of its citizens have exercised their right to self-determination to make it blatantly clear that they do not regard it as their national language. It is a minority language in Northern Ireland, not a national language.

    Irish is, however, the national language of Ireland, and it is very well-protected by the Irish state, so there is no danger whatsoever to the language by the failure of the Northern Irish nation to also adopt it as their national language. In other examples, stateless nations who have a national language that are entitled to enjoy the protection of Article 2 in addition to those nations who are not stateless but whose state is not sovereign. Minority languages, however, don’t enjoy any state protection when spoken in states where they are not that nation’s language (such protection is provided in the state where language is the national language).

    In accordance with Article 1, the state is the sovereign territorial entity whereby the nation “freely determine … and freely pursue their … cultural development.” In a nation-state, such as Ireland, the nation does not have to beg its state for the promotion of its culture. However, the Northern Irish signed up to an agreement whereby they agreed that those who do not embrace Irish culture should hold a veto over them. That was their choice, and that’s the reality of it.

  • New Blue

    Dave

    How have ‘the majority of its citizens exercised their right to self-determination to make it blatantly clear that they do not regard it as their national language’? I have never exercised that right, neither has anyone I know. Was there a referendum, or are we saying that ‘because Paisley told us to hate all things Irish’ it is so?

    Were you born in Ireland? were your parents? If the answer to either of your questions is yes then you are Irish, regardless of whether you were born in Belfast or Dublin.

  • Dave A

    Everyone knows the best Gaelic is spoken in the six counties.