Legal ban on Irish language continues.

A challenge to the Administration of Justice (Language) Act of 1737, often dubbed by lawyers, historians and Irish language activists as the last of the penal laws, bans the Irish language from court proceedings and legal documentation has failed. The case was taken by Shaw’s Road Gaeltacht resident, native Irish speaker and musician, Caoimhín Mac Giolla Chatháin.

Mr Justice Treacy dismissed the plaintiffs assertions that the Act controvenes European Charter for Regional and Minorities Language and secondly that the Act was in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights. It is understood that the decision will be appealed. The Belfast Tele covers the story as does Nuacht 24.

This ban is in stark contrast to the treatment of Scottish Gaelic and of Welsh both of which are accepted in court despite their speakers now being almost entirely bilingual with English.

  • Mark McGregor

    ggn,

    I had a look at the Act and it appears to ban any language other than English not just Irish. Though the courts don’t refuse interpretation services or access to other groups despite it seemingly being incompatible with the Act.

    One could suggest that literal interpretation of the Act directed at only one linguistic group is clear evidence of discrimination.

    If other groups gain their rights under European legislation that over-rides the Act then one could also argue the Act has been effectively repealed and shouldn’t be cited.

  • Gael gan Náire

    Mark,

    I understand that a number of lawyers are working around these themes.

    The Act is used againist Irish and Irish alone. Other languages are provided for in court under section 75.

    I think that a European Court may well agree with your interpretation.

    Perhaps the British government would intervene before that point and repeal it?

    The Act in question was originally an English Act designed to mitigate againist the use of latin and french.

    It was adopted word for word by the Irish Parliament despite the fact that the majority of the Irish population spoke nothing but Irish and as been used to block the use of Irish ever since.

    Litigation, particularly regarding land issues was very prevelant in previous centuries and this act was a critical blow to the lives of the Irish peasantry and subsequently the language.

  • Mark McGregor

    Administration of Justice (Language) Act of 1737 – for those that want to read it.

  • Bí lán-chinnte go mbeidh Conradh na Gaeilge go náisiúnta ag tacú le pobal na Gaeilge sna 6 Chontae ar an gceist seo agus ceisteanna eile a bhaineann le cearta teanga na nGael.

    Coinnigí an misneach agus na cloigne in airde. Níl anseo ach an chéad cath!

  • Mark McGregor

    ggn,

    Funny, it does explicitly ban Latin and of course the courts being so obedient to the Act don’t permit any terms such as Habeas corpus, ad hoc, ad infinitum, Bona Fide, de facto, ipso facto, non sequitir, prima facie, quid pro quo……….

  • Michael Shilliday

    My reading of the Act is that only English can be used, so to say that irish alone is prohibited is incorrect.

    It also seems to be very magna carta esque to me, English can only be used because everyone understands English and no one can be decievied in any way through misunderstanding.

  • Gael gan Náire

    Michael,

    And yet it was enacted in a country in which 90% of the people could speak Irish only. 90% disadvantaged and decieved.

    Today it is very different, as a direct result of this Act and others like it.

    Why can Scottish Gaelic be used in Courts (to a limited extent)?

    Why can Welsh be used without qualification? – even if the person involved has a phd in English, the right is absolute.

  • Michael Shilliday

    I’m not trying to defend it’s origional purpose, but it seems reasonable in a modern context to me. But thats me.

    I just don’t get why anyone would want to use Irish in the courts. Irish is of cultural not practical importance, the courts are vice versa, everyone who speaks Irish speaks English but the reverse is not true = use English!

  • Gael gan Náire

    The ‘modern context’ has been created by the original purpose, ‘everyone who speaks Irish speaks English ‘ as the state has insured that it was be very difficult to survive without it, for example, the use of language in the courts.

    “I just don’t get why anyone would want to use Irish in the courts”

    Frankly, I would not expect you too nor do I ever expect to be able to convince you here or elsewhere.

    I do believe however that the European Courts may take a different view as will, I believe, the British government who have clearly accepted in principal the right of speakers of Celtic languages in British Courts.

  • villager

    GnN, do you not think lawyers wrangle enough over the meaning of words without introducing another language into the courtroom for people who already speak English? What if Nelson McCausland demanded the same status for Ulster-Scots, would you support that too?

  • Gael gan Náire

    “What if Nelson McCausland demanded the same status for Ulster-Scots, would you support that too?”

    That is a matter for, Mr McCausland, speakers of Ulster-Scots and the British Government.

    I would have no objection whatsover, why should I. The costs would be miniscule and the decision would not affect me, especially as I understaun tha braidest a’ scots ye ken git.

    I have a great interest in Ulster-Scots and regularily sneak up to South Antrim for a bit of field work.

    Scots of course has been used for centuries as a legal language in Scotland though I doubt if Scots speakers here would understand the fullness of Scots legal vocabulary.

    “do you not think lawyers wrangle enough over the meaning of words without introducing another language into the courtroom for people who already speak English?”

    No, that is what Lawyers are for. I see no harm whatsoever in allowing an interpreter in court nor the provision of court documents in Irish.

    It happens daily in Polish and the world carries on.

  • Con

    The discriminatory nature of this Act is well revealed in the opening post, that it was introduced in a country with a huge majority of monoglot Irish speakers, and that today it is used solely against Irish – with Welsh and Gàidhlig and other languages enjoying at least some recognition. Well done GGN.

    The Irish language community will continue to oppose this situation, as will anyone who cares about the rights of that community and about diversity in our society.

  • villager

    I obviously want a simpler life than you GnN! Also with the subjective nature of the law and the subtlety of language, I fail to see how multilingualism cannot lead to small misunderstandings and a lower quality of justice – no translation is perfect, only an approximation.

    The identity politics stuff isn’t for me, we have enough divisions without having a prod language and a catholic language, at least not sanctioned by the state.

  • Gael gan Náire

    “The identity politics stuff isn’t for me, we have enough divisions without having a prod language and a catholic language, at least not sanctioned by the state.”

    And yet you have made a political statement on identity by implying that those you chose not to assimilate to the majority identity are somehow a cause of division.

    Whereas others may believe that the unwillingness to accept difference by the majority is the cause of division.

  • Michael Shilliday

    “Frankly, I would not expect you too nor do I ever expect to be able to convince you here or elsewhere.”

    With that kind of defeatism you’ll never achieve anything! It’s a short step away from saying “just cuz, alrite?!”

    So, why would you want to have court proceedings in Irish? What is the benefit to you, the Irish language, and the taxpayer?

  • Gael gan Náire

    villager,

    Have to point out too, that the words ‘politics’ and ‘identity’ occur in only one post on this thread, yours.

    I suggest that the basic issue is not directly a political one and has nothing to do with ‘identity’.

  • Maith thú, a Ghael gan Náire.
    Bheifeá an-ábalta mar abhcóide tú féin.

    Villager: “The identity politics stuff isn’t for me, we have enough divisions without having a prod language and a catholic language, at least not sanctioned by the state.”
    You should read this article that was in the Newsletter recently.
    http://www.gaelport.com/sonrai-nuachta?NewsItemID=2509

  • Gael gan Náire

    “With that kind of defeatism you’ll never achieve anything! ”

    It is a reserved matter Michael. Until that changes, the issue is which the British Government.

    I dont think I have ever been accused of being a defeatist, thanks. But I do not expect to change the nature of Ulster Unionism by posting on Slugger.

    “why would you want to have court proceedings in Irish? What is the benefit to you, the Irish language, and the taxpayer? ”

    I (and I believe, most Irish speakers in the North) would see it as a right as tax payers, we also see it as very important to the future of the Irish language to remove the legal barriers to its use.

    For those educated and or brought up with Irish, I would see it as essential to ensure that court proceedings are as clear as possible.

    In addition, I would see any ban on the Irish language, which I understand to be an indigeonous language in Ulster to be plain wrong.

    Others will have to give their own reasons, I try not to proport to speak for others.

  • Michael Shilliday

    Irish is not banned. You have, like everyone else, the right to speak whatever language you wish.

    You do not currently have the right to have court proceedings conducting in a language a small propoertion of the population understand. Why that is is not relavant to a debate about the current sitution and the current use of taxpayers money. Aside from anything else, usage of the language is promoted through education, not the courts.

    And the courts being a reserved matter has nothing to do with you trying to persuade me of anything.

  • villager

    This debate is entirely artificial GnN, you are part of the English speaking majority. You would have an argument if there existed a significant number of people, like with the Poles, who genuinely understood Irish better than English. There’s no point trying to pretend the identity issue doesn’t exist, as if I invented it, it is entirely central to life in this country.

  • Gael gan Náire

    Michael,

    I have not implied that Irish is banned, I wrote ‘any ban’ on Irish which does not imply a blanket ban, but rather a prohibition in a limited circumstance, which I find objectionable.

    “usage of the language is promoted through education, not the courts.”

    I of course disagree, and suggest that this is a limited view of language. English is of course a language itself and has been ‘promoted’ by the use of Acts such as the one in question which at its conception removed the possiblity of justice from 90% of the population, including in some capital offences.

    And of course, I do not believe that anyone has called for the entire proceedings to be conducted in Irish in the North, but rather for the provision of court documentation in Irish and for the right to give evidence in Irish and for the right to have proceedings translated into Irish if deemed to be required.

    “And the courts being a reserved matter has nothing to do with you trying to persuade me of anything.”

    I beg to differ. The people which one requires to persuade are in Westminister. Unionists have in effect little say over the situation.

    The devoloution of Justice powers may change that of course, though as Unionism will be implacably opposed, I can only presume that the intervention of the British government would be sought nevertheless.

  • Gael gan Náire

    villager,

    If you believe that there are not ..

    “a significant number of people .. who genuinely understood Irish better than English”

    then why support a ban?

    Surely if there were not significant numbers of Irish speakers then prohibition would not be necessary?

    Even if the was provision, if they was no-one to use it then what would the cost be? Surely nothing?

  • Nordie Northsider

    Ta Caoimhin le moladh go mor as an chas cuirte seo a throid. Nar laige Dia a lamh.

  • villager

    How would this work for you in court? You hear something read out in English, which you understand perfectly, then wait for someone to translate it for you into Irish, possibly someone who is not as good a translator as you are! If it was just ridiculous, I wouldn’t worry too much about it, but the fact that Irish is allied with a religion and a national identity that splits the country down the middle means it tends to widen the divisions that already exist. Wishful thinking about reaching out to protestants won’t change that.

  • It seems to me that unionists don’t want the same rights to obtain for people in NI – part of the UK, they maintain – as obtain in other parts of the UK. For some reason, they can’t accept that if they were truly unionist, that they would be for the right to conduct proceedings in Irish, as the right exists for Gaelic speakers in Scotland or Welsh speakers in Wales….

  • BonarLaw

    We can have a debate on this when the Royal Arms are restored to all court rooms.

  • Reader

    Mark McGregor: If other groups gain their rights under European legislation that over-rides the Act then one could also argue the Act has been effectively repealed and shouldn’t be cited.
    I want to avoid the heated argument in the rest of the thread, but your technical point is a non-runner. Translators are needed for some speakers of other languages to allow defendants to follow the case and witnesses to give evidence. That is – by necessity. In order to make that work for Irish language translation in court, you would need to find a mono-lingual Irish speaker. How likely are you to find one of those?
    Concubhar’s argument in 1.25 is a far better starting point – so why not try the rapier, not the bludgeon? We unionists – notoriously – are immune to blows to the head.

  • Pancho’s Horse

    If one is equally fluent in two languages,can one not have a ‘preferred’ language? Of course our British ‘long term’ guests have such good English, they see no need to learn any other language.

  • joeCanuck

    Irish is allied with a religion

    As that fluent Irish speaker and well known Catholic, Brian Faulkner, could verify if he were alive.

  • villager

    Joe there are plenty of exceptions that prove the rule but to pretend there is not a link between religion, national identity and attitudes towards Irish is head in the sand stuff. Look at the post above yours.

  • The Raven

    “It seems to me that unionists don’t want the same rights to obtain for people in NI – part of the UK, they maintain – as obtain in other parts of the UK”

    SOME unionists, you meant to say, I take it?

  • the laughing cavalier

    We should be looking to REMOVE controversial things like the inappropriate use of a language, rather than introducing more divisive issues which ring with sectarian undertones for some sections of our divided society.

  • Mayoman

    “which ring with sectarian undertones for some sections of our divided society.”
    What do you do when those sectarian undertones are but mere perceptions based on errr sectarianism! A language can’t be sectarian. Irish was widely used among Protestants as well as Catholics, and especially by Presbyterians who were second class to the Anglo-Irish upper echelon. You can’t blame others for a self-bred perception. Equally, you can’t blame others if you allowed them ‘others’ to usurp the language of your forefathers for their own benefit.
    Paraphrasing the words of Dr Christopher McGimpsey, a former honorary secretary of the UUP, Irish is the common heritage of all the people of Ireland.
    Much more info is contained a book titled ‘Presbyterians and the Irish Language’ by Robert Blaney that I could access through google books. The end of the preface reads:
    “It is hoped that the information revealed will show that, contrary to the belief of some, the language is a bond between different denominations.”

  • Glencoppagagh

    GnG
    The issue surely is whether a person is set at a legal disdvantage where proceedings are conducted in English. This would clearly be the case for many immigrants. The disadvantage is negated by provision of interpreters. Thus it would be utterly absurd to afford interpretation to a person who fully understands the proceedings.
    Of course, what you may well be seeking is for the entire proceedings to be conducted in Irish. If so this is just another gratuitous attempt at a job creation scheme for Irish speakers.

  • Glencoppagagh

    Pancho
    “Of course our British ‘long term’ guests have such good English, they see no need to learn any other language”
    Most of them will have been exposed to at least one at school and if they have an inclination to acquire another language, there are plenty more rewarding options than Irish.

  • Pancho’s Horse

    Glencoppagagh (is that German?), do you not think it rewarding to be able to tell the Pope where to go in Irish? If I told you that you had won the lotto in Irish, would you not take the money? The point I make is that what is being said and who says it is the important thing.The old british/unionist outlook is Irish = Fenian = untermensch = kaffir and it’s hard to shake off. I could live with an Irish speaking Ulster even while still in the bosom of the Great White Mother.

  • Glencoppagh’s attitude is typical of those unionists – not all but some if not many – who can’t get their head around the notion that people can be both Irish and British at the same time, as they can be Scottish and British, Welsh and British and English and British. His attitude underlines the inferiority complex felt by some unionists regarding their position within the UK – ie Finaghy is not quite as British as Finchley.

  • HGW XX/7

    The “inferiority complex” argument is usually deployed against those who clearly identify the absurd positions adopted by the Irish language lobby.

    Use of Irish in the courts is just such a position, its use would be totally redundant and would be nothing more than a political gimmick in the same way as it is used by Sinn Fein during proceedings in the NI Assembly.

  • RepublicanStones

    Anyone else see Dan Snow’s show on BBC2 this evening?

    ‘How the Celts saved Britain’

    Interesting viewing.

  • RG Cuan

    Caoimhín Mac Giolla Chatháin is indeed a native Irish speaker, he learned English as a second language.

    Beside all the other valid reasons to revoke this outdated, discriminatory act, Caoimhín being a native speaker from Belfast should be enough.

    Na Gaeil Abú. Caoimhín Abú.

  • old king cole

    is it just me or do nationalists view these “issues” as comforters ?

    the Indian mutiny was 1857, a few days ago the Americans celebrated 4th July (Intersting article here: http://io9.com/5303446/what-if-july-4th-was-just-another-day), Ghana was 50 years ago, new Zealand, Canada etc etc you get the picture.

    One side of me really does believe that nationalists really do love the British (in a dominatrix kind of way…and i mean that in a good way btw) why else would us brits still be here after almost a millenium since our irish cousins welcomed us to their land, while all other countries in the empire kicked us out ? anyone ?

  • Pancho’s Horse

    I think that some of us try hard to show that we are a different people from the Sun readers, from the Big Brother watchers from those who wear lippie and play footie or whatever else the do ‘on the mainland’. Some of us know that we are a race apart, that we have a history and a civilization going back centuries.Some don’t care but then some new thinkers care about f*** all only what’s on telly tonight. We have a language and if we had felt the urge to imprint our rapaciousness in all corners of the globe then Irish would have been all conquering all pervasive – not Sacs-Bhéarla. But we didn’t and it’s not. As Chris McGimpsey says so eloquently ” We are where we are”

  • Corporal Hi-Jinx

    “The old british/unionist outlook is Irish = Fenian = untermensch = kaffir”

    The british used to hunt the irish along with rabbits and strangley coloured insects (source irelands own: http://irelandsown.net/irishblue.html)

    maybe it was more of a historical fact than an “outlook” ???

    anyways the “kaffirs” got independence before the Irish ?

    “I think that some of us try hard to show that we are a different people from the Sun readers, from the Big Brother watchers from those who wear lippie and play footie or whatever else the do ‘on the mainland’.”

    In fairness the British and other global companies own “irelands” phone, radio, media, mobile, satellite, computer etc etc etc “industries” the only real thing ireland exports is shamrocks to new york once a year, no small wonder the tiger is a smelly decomposed corpse.

  • kaffir Ken

    “if we had felt the urge to imprint our rapaciousness in all corners of the globe then Irish would have been all conquering all”

    I though you were going to say

    “if we had felt the urge to imprint our rapaciousness in all corners of the globe then Irish would have been all conquering in the “imprint your gonads on a mud bowl” competition ?

    maybe you should stop TRYING to be so “irish” (whatever that is nowadays in eire’s multicultural society) and accept the UK-Irish multi-dimensional integration value added relationship the mainland imposes on its bitch of a daughter.

  • Pancho’s Horse

    There is an accent on Éire, kaffir. And ‘imposes’ is the operative word. And your post-nationalist outpourings look good but carry no weight.

  • The Brigadier

    “Of course our British ‘long term’ guests”

    Does this not fall under incitement / hate laws ???

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Racial_and_Religious_Hatred_Act_2006

  • Pancho’s Horse

    Are they not ‘British’ in the sense that they crave ‘Britishness’? Are they not ‘long term’ in the sense that they have been with us for a ‘long term’? And are they not ‘guests’ in the sense that they don’t belong here and indeed don’t want to belong here? Other countries have been burdened with their colonists but through time they have made an effort to ‘mix and mingle’. But not our guests – oh no! They can’t mix because they are superior in every way – their customs, their faith and, yes, their language. Like Aunt Lucy. We like them but not that much. And, Brigadier, put your English Laws where Rosie put her onions.

  • Observer

    Watched the Dan Snow programme.
    Damn! We should never have taught the English to read.

  • BonarLaw

    “we are a race apart, that we have a history and a civilization going back centuries…we have a language”

    That hardly sits easily with the “language belongs to us all” brigade?

  • GGN is totally right in comment two when he says that this was a direct copy of an English Act. However, Irish was used regularly in courts in Ireland to examine witnesses throughout the rest of the eighteenth century (the era of the 1798 rebellion being a perfect example) and after. So historically, the act never did was it was supposed to.

    However what the Welsh and Scottish examples prove is that if one cannot use Irish in the courts here, it is because of exclusion. And there are stories of people called Gaelic names by their families being registered under their English names by state officials. In that sense, there is a record of discrimination here that stems from the political culture of the state and public bodies under Unionist government that has persisted. It’s time for it to go.

  • Dave

    “Glencoppagh’s attitude is typical of those unionists – not all but some if not many – who can’t get their head around the notion that people can be both Irish and British at the same time, as they can be Scottish and British, Welsh and British and English and British. His attitude underlines the inferiority complex felt by some unionists regarding their position within the UK – ie Finaghy is not quite as British as Finchley.” – Concubhar

    That’s disingenuous. Glencoppagh is a member of the British nation, and wants members of that nation to control the state wherein he lives. Therefore, he is a British nationalist. If he deems himself to be a member of the Irish nation, then he must decide which nation he wants to control the state, since two nations cannot control one state. He must make a choice between British sovereignty and Irish sovereignty, so while he can be either Irish or British or both at the one time, he cannot live in two states at the one time.

    An Irish nationalist in someone who is loyal to the Irish nation-state. So he may acquire Irish nationality, but he cannot practice Irish nationalism – and vice versa for British nationality. GB is not a nation-state, de jure, but it is a nation-state, de facto. They are a small number of nations united under a common nationalism of British.

    There are, of course, no main political parties in Northern Ireland that support the concept of the nation-state de jure. They have all signed up to an agreement that replaces the nation-state with a state of two nations – a bi-national state. The question then is whether Glencoppagh can be Northern Irish and British for he is both de jure. That’s easy for British nationalists because the sovereignty to the state is controlled by the British nation.

    The Irish nation lives in an Irish nation-state and will not renounce its right to unfettered national self-determination, dismantling its nation-state and replacing it with a replica of Northern Ireland (simply because the Shinners try to pass off the Whitehall-devised terms of their surrender as a blueprint for unity) or because the Irish love the British nation so much that they wish to place themselves among the stateless nations of the world in order to give those who are British a second homeland, so Glencoppagh will never have to choose between which state he is loyal to based on which nationality he adopts.

    Those who are British should remain in a state wherein they enjoy the sovereignty that their nation has over their state. Those who are Irish should do the same.

  • The Curious Orange

    We can have a debate on this when the Royal Arms are restored to all court rooms.

    Why not stuff your royal arms up your bottom until such times ?

  • Lugs Brannigan

    The Irish nation lives in an Irish nation-state

    Who are you trying to kid? The Irish nation/diaspora are spread all over the planet.

    Liverpool, Glasgow, London, Coventry, Newfoundland, Argentina, Boston, New York, Chigago, Australia etc etc etc. The term “nation” refers to people rather than political territories.

    My Boston cousin is every bit as Irish as me or my Dublin or Belfast cousin.

    If you don’t believe in the Irish nation/diaspora check out the Newfoundland lady with the Wexford accent on YouTube! I’ve also come across Irish Argentinians with Irish accents none of whom were ever in Ireland (or their parents and grandparents in many cases). When I meet these people I know (and they know) I’m with my own. This is my nation not the 26 county state that I live in.

    My country on the other hand is the 32 county island that I was born on and hope to die on.

    They are a small number of nations united under a common nationalism of British.

    You’re either British or English/Scottish/Welsh/Ulster Scots. I can’t be an Irish nationalist and a Breton or Cornish nationalist at the same time (even if I have sympathies with both these peoples).

  • Joe

    It is quite nauseating that there remains a bloc in NI that would seek out reasons to thwart the Irish language.

    Haven’t you lot ever heard of a goodwill gesture? Don’t you think it would make a HUGE difference in inter-community relations/ NI society to merely [i]acknowledge[/i] the Irish language?

    If you cannot see the benefit this will bring to attitudes across the political spectrum, then you truly don’t know what’s good for your own jurisdiction.

  • Dewi

    So in 2009 you are banned from speaking Irish in courts in Ireland. A policy more suited to the medieval ages. Shared future? hmmm.

  • RepublicanStones

    ‘why else would us brits still be here after almost a millenium since our irish cousins welcomed us to their land, while all other countries in the empire kicked us out ? anyone ?’

    Come come now dear boy, thats such a simple question it merely requires a one word answer – proximity. But remember without the ability to use Ireland as its colonial laboratory, Britain would never have been able to wreak so much bloodshed throughout the world. But then again perhaps its best not to hear that from one of the ‘civilized savages’.

  • hotdogx

    Once again British rule has proven its failure to legislate properly for any part of Ireland, need i say more, what have our unionist friends to say on this. Mr justice Treacy, doesn’t understand the meaning of the word justice when he cant see that Irish is discriminated against with respect to other minority languages which are usable in court, Its a disgrace. They will win in Europe for sure and once again show British rule for what it is. Only in an Ireland controlled by foreigners !

  • Séimí

    ‘Mr justice Treacy, doesn’t understand the meaning of the word justice when he cant see that Irish is discriminated against with respect to other minority languages which are usable in court,’

    To be fair to him, and I was in the court when his judgement was read out, Treacy did actually make the point that it did seem, under certain circumstances, that Irish was discriminated against. His actual judgement seems to have been on finer technical points, one of which didn’t really make much sense. We who were present got the feeling that, rather than be the man who made the decision, he wanted to push that decision upstairs to someone higher up than him. That may seem like a cop-out, but it certainly hasn’t closed the door on an appeal…

  • Séimí

    Also, I have a copy of the judgement, if anyone would like to read it – I have no clue how to post it here, not bein’ too good with interweb stuff, but I can e-mail it to anyone interested…

  • Gael gan Náire

    Máirtín has posted a link to the judgement.

    http://apublishersblog.blogspot.com/2009/07/oh-happy-days-or-mor-mo-nair.html

    I would agree with Sim that it appears to be being pushed up stairs.

    Frankly, and I am not a qualified lawyer, I feel that due to the fact that Scottish Gaelic is permitted to some extent (I’ll have to consult a Gaelic lawyer friend on the finer points) there should still be a legal avenue.

    In a European Court, the British government would have a quare job explaining the great differences in approach between the treatment of Gaelic in Britian and the treatment of Gaelic in Northern Ireland.

    I know it has been raised politically in the past but I doubt if it is currently top of the agenda.

    It is clear that for many unionists also this is an important issue and that for them it would be symbolically very negative for Irish to be given this level of equality.

    My comment to unionism is as always, which is more important, the union or unionism?

    I’d say no more that a dosan people would speak Irish per year in court in the north and it wouldn’t harm a soul, but with keeping legally acknowledged discrimination do you not force a section of the community to vote to end the union?

  • Seimi

    Gaelic in Scotland is allowed in the Sherrif courts, and mainly in those areas where there are large numbers of Gaelic speakers, as far as I am aware, although notice must be first given of the intended use of the language.

    (Bloody Slugger and its inability to show Fádas in yer name grumble grumble harrumph…)

  • Tochais Si­orai­

    No fada in fada.

  • Seimi

    I know that. Just my frustration at lack of fadas in my name. But thanks for pointing it out :o)

  • fair_deal

    GGN

    “Other languages are provided for in court under section 75.”

    I believe your are seriously mistaken on that point. It isn’t anything to do with section 75. It is to do with the right to a fair trial namely article 6.3 of the ECHR in particular paragraphs a and e. On face value it is difficult to see how a person with perfectly good english wanting to fill in a licencing form in a different language comes under a right to a fair trial.

    Although no doubt a lawyer will gladly charge the irish language movement mightily for such a tortuous argument.

    The relevant part of the Charter is Article 10 Paragraph 1a v:
    “to ensure that users of regional or minority languages may validly submit a document in these languages;”
    However, the UK has not made that the 1a v commitment to any of the regional and minority languages. As regards Paragraph 1a iv the issue of this being a legal form rather than administrative is probably the core issue.

    “In a European Court, the British government would have a quare job explaining the great differences in approach between the treatment of Gaelic in Britian and the treatment of Gaelic in Northern Ireland.”

    Seimi has the partial answer to that regarding is use in Gaelic speaking areas. No such areas have been officially defined in Northern Ireland.

    The second is that it fits with the international commitments that the UK government has made under the Charter. It has committed to different treatment for each with Welsh have the greatest commitments of 8 paragraphs of Article 9 and Scots Gaelic and irish Gaelic each getting 1 paragraph (although a different one).

    The UK commitment to Irish Gaelic under the charter is:
    “The Parties undertake to make available in the regional or minority languages the most important national statutory texts and those relating particularly to users of these languages, unless they are otherwise provided.”

    Third where is the legal obligation for the UK government to treat each and ever minority or regional language the same established?

    AFAIK the UK government is not under a legal obligation to treat every language exactly the same and it never has done. Welsh has better official treatment than Scottish Gaelic which has better treatment than Irish Gaelic which has better treatment than Ulster-Scots and Scots which have better treatment than Cornish.

    When the language charter was drafted it did not accept the principle that each had to be treated exactly the same nor that it had to be treated the same as the ‘official’ language.

  • third

    “Third where is the legal obligation for the UK government to treat each and ever minority or regional language the same established?”

    “When the language charter was drafted it did not accept the principle that each had to be treated exactly the same nor that it had to be treated the same as the ‘official’ language”

    Possibly arguments in support of an ILA?

  • Glencoppagagh

    Concubhar
    “12.Glencoppagh’s attitude is typical of those unionists – not all but some if not many – who can’t get their head around the notion that people can be both Irish and British at the same time, as they can be Scottish and British, Welsh and British and English and British. His attitude underlines the inferiority complex felt by some unionists regarding their position within the UK – ie Finaghy is not quite as British as Finchley.”

    Rather than offering a predictable and facile interpretation of my motivation, why can’t you just get your head round the notion that I might simply be irritated by people who wish their linguistic affectations to be indulged by the state. If there exists an Irish speaker within Northern Ireland who has an inadequate comprehension of English, he or she can easily be accommodated within the courts in the same manner as Poles and others.
    I’ll take RG Cuan’s word that Caoimhín Mac Giolla Chatháin’s first language is Irish and it is, therefore, conceivable that he might be at some disdvantage in legal proceedings and could also have a right to an interpreter.
    I’ll also assume that he refuses to shop in places where he cannot transact his business in Irish?

    Just out of interest, is there a right to use Irish in all courts in the Republic or just within designated gaeltacht areas?

  • Cushy Glenn

    “Why not stuff your royal arms up your bottom until such times ?

    Posted by The Curious Orange on Jul 10, 2009 @ 02:26 AM”

    Obviously a proud irish republican who cherishes the oft-repeated nostrum of equal respect which is enshrined in the flag he presumably venerates…

  • Seimi

    ‘Just out of interest, is there a right to use Irish in all courts in the Republic or just within designated gaeltacht areas?’

    All courts Glencoppagadh. Irish is the first official language of the state.

  • GreenBall

    And the Oirish go marching happily into the future carrying their victimhood intact and blaming the Brits for everything.

    Jeez, get a life.

  • hotdogx

    AFAIK the UK government is not under a legal obligation to treat every language exactly the same and it never has done. AH so some are more equal than others and you are ok with this?

    Welsh has better official treatment than Scottish Gaelic which has better treatment than Irish Gaelic which has better treatment than Ulster-Scots and Scots which have better treatment than Cornish. All languages in a country of equal importance should have equal status. If only Britain cherished all of her children equally!

    When the language charter was drafted it did not accept the principle that each had to be treated exactly the same nor that it had to be treated the same as the ‘official’ language. 1773 well its time it was changed,penal law, i think so!

    AH come on Fair_deal, you have to admit this is crap and really unfair, an if needs be Ulster Scots needs a similar status. How many language can you speak fluently i wonder?

  • hotdogx

    Well this is a strange attitude to have towards you neighbor whom you wish to convince of the benefits of the union:

    Rather than offering a predictable and facile interpretation of my motivation, why can’t you just get your head round the notion that I might simply be irritated by people who wish their linguistic affectations to be indulged by the state. If there exists an Irish speaker within Northern Ireland who has an inadequate comprehension of English, he or she can easily be accommodated within the courts in the same manner as Poles and others.

    Poles and others are not from Ireland, Irish is the ancient and original language of this land, if you don’t like Irish or Irish people I foresee a difficult future for you living here in Ireland. tends to be a lot of irish in Ireland these days and for the foreseeable future) And this is the attitude the union brings. The state has a duty to communicate in all minority languages.

  • fair_deal

    hotdogx

    GGN made an argument about legal cases and equality to which I asked the question where is the legal obligation? To which no one has given me an answer so I will work on the assumption that my belief that there is no such obligation existing is valid.

    The present situation has been presented as a breach of various things, yet I cannot see how that is substantiated by the facts. If you wish to convince me otherwise then please explain to me where I am factual incorrect or have failed to something into account.

    “AH so some are more equal than others and you are ok with this?”

    I am ok with the agreed standard in Europe which is the charter. I believe the Charter is a very useful tool and sadly too many in Irish language movement rather than trying to use it as a tool for development tries to change it into two things it isn’t – an irish language act and means towards official bi-lingualism.

    This allows governments to adapt policies “according to the situation of each language”. The principle that as the circumstances are different the response can be different is reasonable else you get languages getting the wrong type of support e.g. cornish right now needs more people wanting to learn and greater educational opportunities rather than official translations.

    “All languages in a country of equal importance should have equal status.”

    Equality of importance does not necessarily mean a one size fits all policy. To a degree it is the argument between equity and equality.

    “If there exists an Irish speaker within Northern Ireland who has an inadequate comprehension of English, he or she can easily be accommodated within the courts in the same manner as Poles and others.”

    And that is what would happen under the ECHR. As has been previously pointed out in this thread it has happened before for Irish speakers and once occured for Ulster-Scots as well. The 1773 Act has not and does not prevent that.

    “original language of this land”

    It wasn’t, there was a language which preceded it whose closest modern descendent is Welsh although as Irish is a composite language it contains elements of it.

    “The state has a duty to communicate in all minority languages.”

    Making sweeping statements that the state has duties does not make it so. You may advocate and believe it should have such a duty but simply stating it doesn’t make it so.

  • Dave

    “Who are you trying to kid? The Irish nation/diaspora are spread all over the planet.” – Lugs Brannigan

    Yes, child, people born in a particular nation-state have been known to immigrate to other states. I do believe that some Chinese even made it as far away as Newfoundland. And your point is…?

    “My Boston cousin is every bit as Irish as me or my Dublin or Belfast cousin.” – Lugs Brannigan

    That is a matter that will be decided when or if your Boston cousin ever applies for Irish citizenship and thereby seeks a right of abode. That little ‘bit’ that isn’t covered by “every bit” will determine whether said cousin is “every bit” as Irish as citizens of the Irish nation-state or whether he is relegated to membership of a nation but is devoid of rights that entitled him to Irish nationality. Nation and nationality are not interchangeable.

    “My country on the other hand is the 32 county island that I was born on and hope to die on.” – Lugs Brannigan

    The island of Ireland isn’t a country. It is two states, not a single country. One of those two states is an Irish nation-state and the other is part of the United Kingdom, so the Irish nation controls the sovereignty of the former and the British nation controls the sovereignty of the former. You may believe that the United Kingdom and Ireland is a single country, but your mental illness is no concern of mine. However, I hope you’re cured before you die.

    If you were born in Ireland, you have Irish nationality and citizenship by birthright, so you do not need to apply for citizenship. If, on the other hand, you were born in Her Majesty’s dominion of Northern Ireland, then you do not have Irish nationality and citizenship by birthright, so you do need to apply for citizenship. If you are born in Her Majesty’s dominion of Northern Ireland, then you are born British, and British nationality and citizenship is yours by birthright. Since Irish nationality and citizenship is not your birthright, you must – unlike those whose birthright it is – apply to the Irish state for Irish nationality and citizenship. In other words, your birthright is British nationality and your other “birthright” (thanks to an amendment to the Irish constitution and the criteria as stipulated in the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 2004) is the right to apply for Irish nationality. If you don’t apply for it, or if you apply for it but are refused it, then you remain with your default birthright of British nationality.

    “You’re either British or English/Scottish/Welsh/Ulster Scots. I can’t be an Irish nationalist and a Breton or Cornish nationalist at the same time (even if I have sympathies with both these peoples).” – Lugs Brannigan

    It is, of course, gibberish to say that “you’re either British or English/Scottish/Welsh/Ulster Scots” since the common nationalism/nationality of British cannot exist with another nation. Therefore, you could not be British if you did not belong to one of the qualifying nationalities.

    You can’t be a nationalist de jure if you do not advocate a nation-state for your nation in accordance with Article 1 of the UN’s of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. No citizen of Her Majesty’s dominion of Northern Ireland who supports the GFA is a nationalist de jure, since that is an agreement that disavows the nation-state, advocating, as its replacement, a state that is shared between two nations (a bi-national state). Therefore, none of the main parties in Northern Ireland are de jure nationalists – they are all de facto nationalists (the Alliance Party is debatable since it seems to have disavowed nationalism). They’re all castrated nationalists, for want of a better expression.

  • Dave

    Typo: “It is, of course, gibberish to say that “you’re either British or English/Scottish/Welsh/Ulster Scots” since the common nationalism/nationality of British cannot exist with[b]out[/b] another nation.”

  • Dewi

    Fair Deal – be fair. It’s nowt to do with capability it’s to do with respect. If someone wants to speak Irish in court what on earth is the problem? Welsh speakers are allowed to speak English in courts in Wales if they want…whatever their first language.

  • Lugs Brannigan

    “Who are you trying to kid? The Irish nation/diaspora are spread all over the planet.” – Lugs Brannigan

    Yes, child, people born in a particular nation-state have been known to immigrate to other states. I do believe that some Chinese even made it as far away as Newfoundland. And your point is…?

    Posted by Dave on Jul 10, 2009 @ 10:42 PM

    Yes, child, and a lot of others have chosen to emmigrate to Newfoundland. I’m sure the odd Chinese made it there too but the dominant culture in Newfoundland is unquestionably Irish although a significant number of Scots and English (West Country) went there too. Until very recently both Irish and Scots Gaelic were spoken there.

    “My Boston cousin is every bit as Irish as me or my Dublin or Belfast cousin.” – Lugs Brannigan

    That is a matter that will be decided when or if your Boston cousin ever applies for Irish citizenship and thereby seeks a right of abode. That little ‘bit’ that isn’t covered by “every bit” will determine whether said cousin is “every bit” as Irish as citizens of the Irish nation-state or whether he is relegated to membership of a nation but is devoid of rights that entitled him to Irish nationality. Nation and nationality are not interchangeable.

    Posted by Dave on Jul 10, 2009 @ 10:42 PM

    My Boston cousin (3rd generation Irish American) is a proud holder of an Irish passport. He supports the Irish soccer team rather than the recently very successful U.S. team. Compare this with the English, Scots, Welsh, and Ulster Scots and their lack of enthusiasm for a UK team.

    “My country on the other hand is the 32 county island that I was born on and hope to die on.” – Lugs Brannigan

    The island of Ireland isn’t a country.

    Posted by Dave on Jul 10, 2009 @ 10:42 PM

    Who says it’s not a country? Ballymena, Ballymurphy, Ballyfermot, Ballyferriter, Lough Neagh, Lough Erne, Lough Ree, Lough Leane…sounds the one country to me…

    Maybe we should put it to a vote and let the people of Ireland decide whether it’s a country or not. I guess you’re not too keen on democracy when it doesn’t suit you…

  • Gréagoir O Frainclín

    BTW, a cultural importance to these islands…Dan Snow how the Celts Saved Britain….

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/tvandradio/5369864/Dan-Snow-How-Britain-nearly-became-the-Irish-Isles.html

  • bk

    Wake up people, it’s not the 1800’s anymore … who is this ‘enemy’ you speak of?
    Why put generations of students through years of crap for the sake of some nationalist agenda?

    I had Irish forced on me throughout my school days …
    Can I speak a word of it now? – hmm no
    Do I care? – hmm no
    Do I care what English people might think? – hmm no
    The Irish language isn’t the be-all end-all of our culture, all this talk of self-hate and patriotism is pretty weak as a supporting argument.
    The bottom line is, Irish is a language we don’t need for any practical reason, and is only being taught out of spite and wounded pride.
    Let’s move on…

    Here’s a suggestion teach something useful like C++ instead

  • BK – your attitude is typical of the whining we hear constantly from the anti Irish language brigade in the media. Irish wasn’t forced on you during your school days, it was part of your education, that’s all.

    This penal law is an anachronism in any modern legal system and people are right to object, especially as we feel Irish is part of our lives even if it isn’t part of yours.

    I don’t know whether you had a good or bad experience of Irish at school – but Irish is significantly more than a school subject to a substantial section of the population on this island.

    This naive notion of yours that Irish should be replaced by something such as C++ is primitive to say the least. That’s not an education system you want but a factory which turns out manufacturing units, with little or no understanding of questions such as identity, culture or the likes.

    Neither is this about what ‘English people’ what might think, this is about what Irish people – maybe not all Irish people – want.

  • bk

    The global dominance of American English clearly indicates the slow death of minority cultures which, in a cultural sense, are the have-nots of modern technological society. Currently, 30,000 mother tongue speakers live in the shadow of 6 million English speakers in Ireland and a billion speakers of English Worldwide. On this roller coaster ride on the capitalist highway, the smart money is not on Irish.
    All this bodes ill for the Irish language. Its extinction is not, of course, imminent. It
    will not occur as a sudden apocalyptic event – more a case of a tortuous death by a thousand
    cuts – but its demise is assured. Those of you blessed with a sentimental disposition might take a different view but the realists among you will recognize that the road to the truth is hard and stony. So why prolong the agony.

  • You think this is like the World Cup – to be successful Irish has to beat the English, be that English English or American English. That’s totally wrong headed in my opinion.
    Irish doesn’t have to be your mother tongue either. Neither is Modern Technological Society monolingual – it’s multilingual.
    Your attitudes are seriously backward on this issue.

  • Dave

    “Yes, child, and a lot of others have chosen to [b]emmigrate[/b] to Newfoundland.”

    I wondered if anyone would spot that and if they did, would they be sufficiently pedantic of character to make an issue of it. Keep watching for mistake because I make a lot of them. By the way, it’s emigrate (one ‘m’). 😉

    “My Boston cousin (3rd generation Irish American) is a proud holder of an Irish passport. He supports the Irish soccer team rather than the recently very successful U.S. team. Compare this with the English, Scots, Welsh, and Ulster Scots and their lack of enthusiasm for a UK team.”

    Well, this simply affirms my point that nation and nationality are not interchangeable. Half of New York proclaims itself Irish on St. Patrick’s Day based on ancestry, but that half of New York is unlikely to have an actual entitlement to Irish nationality. Membership of the Irish nation is subject to self-nomination but Irish nationality is subject to meeting the legal requirements as stipulated in the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 2004. As an Irish national, he is entitled to the protection of the Irish state and to a right of abode, etc, but as a member of the Irish nation who is not an Irish national, he would be entitled to sweet FA. Obviously, since his passport was not acquired by birth, it was acquired by either marriage, decent or naturalisation – it was not acquired by turning up on the steps of the Irish embassy in a green hat and proclaiming himself to be a member of the Irish nation and therefore entitled to Irish nationality.

    The only people entitled to Irish citizenship are those born on the island of Ireland (jus soli), so all others seeking nationality must meet the requirements of national law and are subject to amendments to it. Those born in Ireland do not need to apply for Irish nationality since that is there birthright and so Irish nationality and citizenship is the default position (the exception being children of non-nationals born on the island must be born to a parent who has been resident for three of the four years immediately preceding the birth). Those born in Northern Ireland, however, are born, not as Irish citizens, but as people who have the right to apply for Irish citizenship (and be granted it subject to the discretion of national law).

    Obviously, one nation cannot claim the citizens of another nation as its own citizens, so the Irish state cannot claim that you are Irish by birthright – instead, it claims that you have the right to declare yourself as Irish and to apply for Irish citizenship.

    “Who says it’s not a country? Ballymena, Ballymurphy, Ballyfermot, Ballyferriter, Lough Neagh, Lough Erne, Lough Ree, Lough Leane…sounds the one country to me…”

    Well, let’s start with the UK, Ireland, the UN, the Council of Europe, NATO, the WTO, the EU, et al, and progress to all of those who voted recognise that Northern Ireland was legitimately part of the United Kingdom and not part of the Republic of Ireland when they voted for the GFA.

    “Maybe we should put it to a vote and let the people of Ireland decide whether it’s a country or not. I guess you’re not too keen on democracy when it doesn’t suit you…”

    I’m very keen on democracy. You, however, have trouble accepting the will of the majority who voted for the continuation of the partition of the island into two separate states of Ireland and Northern Ireland as recently as 1998.