“The Use of Irish in the Courts: Rights and Equality The Best International Practice”

The Irish Language group Pobal will hold a meeting / conference in the Europa, Belfast at 10:45 on Saturday morning. The key speaker is the Canadian Commissioner for Official Languages, Mr. Graham Fraser. The meeting comes in the aftermath of the Mac Giolla Catháin case on the issue, lost earlier this year.

The meeting is sure to be well attended and is sure to be a comprehensive overview. The question is whether Pobal are holding the meeting to listen to the Irish speaking community or to tell the Irish speaking community what they intend to do.

On a side point, I remain resolutely and utterly opposed to using the Europa for these kind of events, what is wrong with Cumann Chluain Árd, the Cultúrlann, An Droichead, agus srl? What about this ‘Gaeltacht’ Quarter economy?

  • Scaramoosh

    Why did you not provide an Irish translation of this piece?

  • Gael gan Náire

    I normally don’t do ‘bilingual’ posts. I assume that most Irish speakers interested in the meeting know about the meeting. I posted it on the off chance that some non-Irish speaker would be interested in this meeting.

  • Big Maggie

    Gael,

    I understand this concerns an 18th century act that forbids Irish to be used in an NI court.

    That’s certainly discriminatory and ought to be repealed. The situation could arise where a defendant or plaintiff speaks no English. Mind you, that’s a highly unlikely scenario.

    But if the current agitation for reform results in people who are bilingual insisting on Irish then I say: Get a føcking life.

    In these straitened times it would be lunacy to employ at the taxpayers’ expense translators and interpreters for a man/woman who is perfectly capable of addressing the court in English.

    Consider this: I’m more or less fluent in French. Were I to appear before a Belfast judge would I be entitled to insist on having the case conducted in French? Would the judge not be perfectly within his rights to say: “The defendant is fluent in English so please don’t waste the court’s time and taxpayers’ money”?

    I’m all for the Irish language being preserved but this sort of thing only brings it into disrepute. In short, yes this is an unjust act introduced in unjust times and should be repealed. But with the proviso that anglophones not abuse its repeal.

  • Gael gan Náire

    Big Maggie,

    And I disagree … c’est la vie. We fight our corner, you fight yours.

    If we all agree on ‘issues’ then this website wouldn’t exist.

  • Seceder

    Interesting post and that’s from a non irish speaker.

    This issue of using the Europa – the idea of not using the Irish facilities suggests that there is a reason for holding the meeting inthe Centre of town and the only reasons are;

    capacity

    accessibility

    or yet again a subliminal political message belfast is our town too.

    I suppose you can yake you pick – alternatively the other venues may not have been available.

  • DoctorWho

    While many unionists would not be against the idea of irish being used in the courts and other areas of civil engagement there are of course wider implications. Big Maggie has just pointed some out.

    Another issue is the question of impartiality. While I do not question that an Irish speaker can of course be impartial when sitting on a jury in a trial conducted in Irish, the fact remains that in Northern Ireland there are very few fluent Irish speakers to justify such action. The possibility of the occasional juror to act in a partisan manner is there, through affinitive identification.

    Of course you could say the same about English, however you would be wrong. English is used as an utility of communication, I would like to see Irish speakers promote their language culturally through art and literature for example.

    Surely the most important issue for Irish speakers at the moment is to promote the language in a positive light, to encourage more to use it. Then perhaps when there is a sizeable percentage of the population using it, we can look at introducing it to wider areas of everyday life.

  • Gael gan Náire

    “there are very few fluent Irish speakers to justify such action”

    Then what is there to be afraid of? Why does it need a legislative ban?

  • DoctorWho

    gael gan nire

    “Then what is there to be afraid of? Why does it need a legislative ban?”

    There are literally thousands of outdated legislature in the UK, the only time the ban will be lifted is when there is legislature introduced for use of the language in the courts. Using a redundant 18th century law to “scream” discrimination is a bit daft and sadly predictable to say the least.

    Again I would say why not present the language in a positive light to everyone. Many Protestants wrongly view Irish as the language of themuns, why not try to rectify that.

  • Ulster McNulty

    Doctor Who

    “English is used as an utility of communication, I would like to see Irish speakers promote their language culturally through art and literature for example.”

    Irish is a utility of communication, all languages are.

    In order to encourage use of any language you have to allow it to be spoken for whatever kind of business the speaker wants to carry out. If you don’t allow that you are handicapping the speaker of that language.

  • OC

    IMO Irish, being an indiginous language, is a special case.

    Maggie, if you, as a native-born UK citisen, were taken to France for 21 years, and were totally monoglot French, upon your return to UK, wouldn’t be able to understand a court proceding in English, either as a witness, or juror. I think that justice demands an interpreter for you, at public expense.

    Is a monoglot Irish speaker entitled to no less? And how about someone bi-lingual but uncomfortable in English?

    It would seem that a simple voir dire would weed out troublemakers. It’s not a matter of what language you would prefer to use in court, but rather what is in the interest of justice.

    “Submit the word you see below:” ==> “deal”

  • Nonchalant Repartee

    “Many Protestants wrongly view Irish as the language of themuns…”

    Perhaps allowing them to speak it in court would begin to change this.

  • The (non-Irish speaking) Raven

    “English is used as an utility of communication, I would like to see Irish speakers promote their language culturally through art and literature for example.”

    Why should any language be limited to that…?

  • fair_deal

    OC

    “Is a monoglot Irish speaker entitled to no less?”

    A straw man argument as there aren’t monglot Irish speakers in Northern Ireland. You are trying to present what is a ‘preference’ argument as a ‘necessity’ argument when it isn’t.

    If such a person did exist then they are already entitled to an interpreter under Article 6 of the ECHR. The court service regularly provides interpreter’s for cases involving foreign nationals, ethnic minorities etc when needed regardless of the 1737 act.

    “It’s not a matter of what language you would prefer to use in court, but rather what is in the interest of justice.”

    It is actually a case of preference as exemplified by the Mac Giolla Catháin case itself where the plaintiff had the ability to fill the entertainment licence out in English but he didn’t want to he wanted to fill it in in Irish.

  • Big Maggie

    OC,

    In reply to your hypothetical scenario concerning the monoglot française: yes, she should of course have translation facilities.

    But when has a monoglot Irish speaker been tried in Belfast in the last 100 years? And is it likely to ever happen again?

    Ulster McNulty,

    “Irish is a utility of communication, all languages are. ”

    Except when used as a political weapon. If we’re to go all utilitarian here then of course English is the most utilitarian language for an NI court, even in the case of bilingual Irish speakers.

    DoctorWho,

    “Many Protestants wrongly view Irish as the language of themuns, why not try to rectify that.”

    If you mean many Unionists then yes, you’re spot on. Irish should be treated with more respect, and only then will it win favour throughout both communities. At present it’s a turn-off on account of the politicization of the language we so frequently witness.

  • Gael gan Náire

    BM,

    How can a language be used as a ‘political weapon’?

    Fair_deal,

    I realise that it is not DUP policy to encourage wider support for the Union. But surely it is not in the interests of that Union to seek to maximise alienation from it by seeking to perpetuate long outdated laws?

  • fair_deal

    GGN

    “I realise that it is not DUP policy to encourage wider support for the Union.”

    Yawn.

    “But surely it is not in the interests of that Union to seek to maximise alienation from it by seeking to perpetuate long outdated laws?”

    Sorry but when did the ‘outdated’ committee meet to decide this law was outdated? Did I miss that press release?

    This is the re-cooking of give us what we ask for and we’ll be nice and content in the Union argument.

    My problem with that argument is that the electoral evidence of the past 25 years is that it doesn’t work. Despite regular and sustained changes to the way NI is run, more generous arrangments for irish etc the nationalist vote has climbed and the vote for the more virulent form of nationalism has grown as a segment of that vote.

    What evidence do you have to show that it would have a positive impact upon Unionist voting patterns or negative impact on Nationalist voting patterns? The only thing I can recall is G O’C’s piece where he said he wouldn’t vote SF again because they hadn’t delivered for irish.

    I also remain sceptical of how much language treatment is a hot button issue among the average nationalist voter? Have you anything on this?

    Also the creation of faux issues to try and make out that NI hasn’t changed at all and murmurings about penal laws is not a strategy that’ll open doors.

  • Gael gan Náire

    Fair_deal,

    So its stick it up them then! I salute your directness.

  • OC

    Maggie, it’s not just monoglot Irish speakers, but also those legally non-functional in English. In other words, they speak and understand English, just not very well.

    And if such a person doesn’t, and never will, exist in NI, then what’s the purpose of the aforementioned 1737 Act? And what is the harm in repealing it? It’s not like it would bring back Brehon Law.

    It would be like the State of Virginia which finally repealed its unconstitional law forbidding interracial marriage. Sure, it was unenforcible, but nevertheless insulting.

    “Submit the word you see below:” ==> “future”

  • Big Maggie

    Gael,

    “How can a language be used as a ‘political weapon’?”

    I give you Caoimhín Mac Giolla Catháin. His application for a licence could (and should) have been made in English, a language he speaks perfectly well. Instead he chose to make a political statement in order to test an old law in the courts, thereby wasting money that could have been put to better uses.

    Did he really expect the licensing body to draft a translator in? If you really love the language you pursue it along cultural lines and not through legal and political shenanigans that can only create resentment among those who can be won over with expressions of culture.

    Sorry if that last is a bit garbled but I haven’t time right now to fine-tune my language :^)

  • Gael gan Náire

    BM,

    Exactly! you define ‘political’ as any use which isn’t strictly ‘cultural’.

    Mr. Mac Giolla Catháin speak Irish as a first language, why should he be restricted to what you deem ‘cultural’.

    I mean seriously, who do you think you are to be dictating what contexts that people should use their first language in?

    What is an ‘expression of culture’ anyway? Would we still be allowed to speak Irish to kids?

    Would we be allowed to discuss the weather as long as we don’t stray into politics of a morning.

  • OC

    Gael gan Nire, how is this handled in the RoI?

    Is the entire court proceeding, including documents, and all speaking, carried out in Irish?

  • Richard Aardvark

    “How can a language be used as a ‘political weapon’?”

    Every word of Irish spoken is like another bullet being fired in the struggle for Irish freedom?

  • Gael gan Náire

    OC,

    In theory you can have the whole thing in Irish.

    There are occasional criminal cases in which the entire proceedings are in Irish. Less so in Civil Cases.

    I would have to do a bit of digging to discover what has happened in recent years.

  • OC

    Gael gan Nire, are the participants in RoI legal proceeding required to show that they are proficient in Irish, and/or non-functional in English?

    I mean, even if I was mostly Irish-speaking, I would balk at having jurors who understood Irish, but not very well.

    And how many RoI judges are technically prepared to hold court totally in Irish, never mind in NI, or anywere else in the UK.

  • Gael gan Náire

    OC,

    “are the participants in RoI legal proceeding required to show that they are proficient in Irish, and/or non-functional in English?”

    No.

  • fair_deal

    GGN

    “So its stick it up them then! I salute your directness.”

    Nope. There are two options. Option 1 – Provide convincing evidence that your approach will provide the political dividends you claim. Option 2 – Make a deal to get what you rather.

  • Gael gan Náire

    “Make a deal to get what you rather.”

    What does that mean, rather what?

  • fair_deal

    GGN

    Aplogies typo
    “to get what you want”

  • Ulster McNulty

    Big Maggie

    “If we’re to go all utilitarian here then of course English is the most utilitarian language for an NI court, even in the case of bilingual Irish speakers”.

    English certainly is the most utilitarian language as most people in Northern Ireland can speak it. But that’s irrelevant to the jist of my argument – which is if you want to encourage fluency and use of irish, give those who want to use opportunities to use it, whether in court or wherever.

    Richard Aardvarrk

    ““How can a language be used as a ‘political weapon’?”
    Every word of Irish spoken is like another bullet being fired in the struggle for Irish freedom”

    Just because, back in the 80’s, Danny Morrison wanted to hijack the Irish language – and he therefore came up with that piece of particulrly ludicrous and non-sensical propaganda – doesn’t mean it’s actually true; I mean, a day doesn’t go by where most people in Northern Ireland dont say something in irish, even if they don’t know what it means – it’s all around in our placenames.

  • Gael gan Náire

    FD,

    I am going to be honest, I struggle to see what kind of ‘deal’ you speak of.

  • fair_deal

    GGN

    Simple, go ask the Unionist parties what they would want in return for agreeing to passing an ILA (It’d also help if you were looking an ILA that wasn’t in the la la land of the Pobal proposals).

  • Gael gan Náire

    fair_deal,

    I dont think either of the Unionist parties will ever ever yield to any kind of ILA short of some sort of desparate attempt to cobble together some sort of deal in the event of narrowly losing a border poll.

    I would say that is at least twenty years away.

    I do not believe that I recall the Unionist parties ‘wanting’ anything comparable.

  • OC

    From the decision:

    “[13] …Northern Ireland is now alone in the British Isles in retaining legislation which requires all proceedings to be conducted in English.”

    “[29] However irrespective of what intention lay behind the 1737 Act at the time of its enactment its retention has the effect of maintaining in place what amounts to a de facto absolute prohibition on the use of Irish in all court proceedings. The only theoretical exception would be where an Irish only speaker who was a party to proceedings required an interpreter in the same way as any other non-English speaking party.”

    Just for UK-wide consistancy, the 1737 Act should be struck down.

    And according to this Act, a monoglot Irish speaker would only be theoretically entitled to an interpreter. Thus giving a monoglot Irish speaker more rights in GB than NI. And a monoglot Monogolian illegal alien more rights in NI than a UK citisen monoglot Irish speaker, or someone who speaks Irish, but is uncomfortable (meaning legally functional) in English?

    Irish, as an indigenous language, should be afforded some unique accommodation, even if not at the same level as in the RoI.

    Also, consider: what if a NI nationalist majority were to create a law banning the use of English in a NI court?

  • fair_deal

    GGN

    “I dont think either of the Unionist parties will ever ever yield to any kind of ILA”

    Interesting insight into your thinking. If you are incapable of asking because of your preconceptions then you’ll won’t get far. However what is the harm in asking for such a debate with Unionism? If they say no then you are fully justified in your preconceptions. If they don’t and engage with the idea what is the problem?

    “I do not believe that I recall the Unionist parties ‘wanting’ anything comparable.”

    It doesn’t have to be a direct equivalent and could be a multitude of small issues that is up to Unionism to identify prioritise and present in such a debate.

    If you persist in ruling out option 2 that leaves option 1 – provide demonstrable evidence that the benefits that you claim would genuinely flow from such an approach. Go to it.

  • Big Maggie

    Gael,

    “I mean seriously, who do you think you are to be dictating”

    Steady on. I’m not dictating anything, simply looking at the issue in my usual sensitive, dispassionate way :^)

    If anyone’s dictating it’s people like Mac Giolla Catháin. He dictated that his application for an entertainment licence should be accepted in Irish, and by extension that a translator should be brought in so it could be processed.

    If he’d won, we’d have a tiny minority dictating that trials in NI courts be conducted in Irish, not because some of the parties don’t understand the vernacular, i.e. English, but on matters of principle.

    Yeah well, I’d like to see the money thus squandered go on worthwhile legal projects, such as a more robust prosecution of rapists and a better funding of rape crisis centres.

    As I said, the language thing can be “fought” over where it’s appropriate: in the hearts and minds of speakers and potential speakers. Leave the courts and the legal chicanery to the overpaid rat lawyers.

  • Gael gan Náire

    fair_deal,

    I am somewhat of a vetern when it comes to engaging Unionism concerning the Irish language.

    They have said alot more than ‘no’ to even the simplest requests.

    Of course, this matter is one for Westminister, so unionists are somewhat out of the picture at the moment.

    In all seriousness, if I had the influence to do it, I would push links with Wales and try and get Plaid Cyrmu to raise the issue in the Commons.

  • Big Maggie

    Gael,

    “I would push links with Wales and try and get Plaid Cyrmu to raise the issue in the Commons.”

    Go for it! And while you’re about it you can help them to repeal the law that states it’s legal to kill a Welshman with a longbow in York.

    But why stop there? Here’s a list of the top silly English laws that have never been repealed:

    1) Dying in the Houses of Parliament is illegal. This is apparently to prevent the enforcement of another law which states that anyone dying in the Houses of Parliament is entitled to a state funeral.

    2) Putting a stamp bearing the Queens Head upside down on an envelope is an act of Treason.

    3) You are not allowed to eat Mince Pies on Christmas day. Thanks apparently go to Oliver Cromwell during the English Civil war for this one.

    4) A pregnant woman is legally entitled to spend a penny anywhere she likes if caught short.

    5) Dead whales washed up anywhere on the British coast automatically become the property of the Crown. Specifically the tail goes to the Queen, and the head to the King.

    6) You must tell the tax man anything that you do not wish him to know, but it’s ok not to tell him anything you don’t mind him finding out.

    7) If you are wearing a full blown suit of armour, it is illegal to enter the Houses of Parliament.

    Compared to that lot the proscription on Irish in NI courts looks quite reasonable :^)

  • fair_deal

    GGN

    With the two options the dynamic could change. With option 1 it is here is clear evidence of why it will be good for you (not some nice vague statements that present evidence contradicts). With option 2 it changes from people who don’t vote for you want X to people who don’t vote for you want X but as part of the package the people who do vote for you will get Y.

    Although it appears from your comments that you don’t want to do the work involved in option 1 (or perhaps fear the evidence to substantiate it won’t be forthcoming) and option 2 just don’t want to explore based on preconceptions (or perhaps because you simply don’t want to trade) prefering instead to pursue present strategy that hasn’t delivered an ILA.

    BTW I’d suggest you pursue the Scottish comparison rather than the Welsh one (although I fully accept you are not a fan of my advice).

  • Gael gan Náire

    fair_deal,

    For me, the campaign for an ILA is one which will take a generation. I accept that. I would never expect an ILA to appear without a long hard fight.

    The campaign to get funding for Bunscoil Phobal Feirste was a twenty+ year one.

    Just because something is difficult does not mean it is not worth doing after all.

    “and option 2 just don’t want to explore based on preconceptions”

    Fair_deal, I think you are being disingenous here, anyone who follows politics here will be aware that all the unionist parties appose an ILA, and for that matter every bilingual sign, every school etc. etc.

    I have never come across even any ambiguity from any elected unionist politician on the issue of an ILA – total opposition.

    In addition, one need only read the submissions on the issue on the DCAL website.

    You are well of aware of this.

  • Big Maggie

    Gael,

    “I think you are being disingenous here, anyone who follows politics here will be aware that all the unionist parties appose an ILA, and for that matter every bilingual sign, every school etc. etc.”

    This is undeniably true. And you have your work cut out for you in dealing with that sort of intolerant, knee-jerk position.

    May I suggest that imposing Irish in the courts is not the best way of doing that?

  • Gael gan Náire

    Big Maggie,

    “imposing Irish in the courts”

    Here we are discussing an old piece of legislation which prohibits the use of Irish in court and you speak of ‘imposing Irish’. I think that is quite a jump.

    I disagree entirely of course. For me Unionist point-blank attitude to Irish and the attempts to be as offensive as possible have put Unionism out of the picture here.

    The Act in question is a matter for Westminister as I have said and I doubt if Unionist opposition to it being dropped would have much impact.

  • Ulster McNulty

    “Go for it! And while you’re about it you can help them to repeal the law that states it’s legal to kill a Welshman with a longbow in York.”

    Why doesn’t somebody take a test case and kill a Welshman with a longbow in York? (Although I suspect that muder is illegal in the UK and that particular law is made redundant by later legislation)

    Likewise it is unlikely that irish has never been used in a Court in Northern Ireland considering that most placenames have an Irish deriviation, with some pronounced exactly the same, even with an an englishified spelling.

    We need Counsel’s opinion. Is that TUV guy busy?

    Or, could it be argued that courts themselves have been ultra vires in proceedings where they have allowed the use of an Irish placname (or Irish derived placename) rather than having it translated into English, in strict accordance with the unrepealed law?

  • Judge Judy

    “could it be argued that courts themselves have been ultra vires in proceedings where they have allowed the use of an Irish placname (or Irish derived placename) rather than having it translated into English, in strict accordance with the unrepealed law?”

    I agree, case dismissed, this girl was in her working clothes – Signed Judge Judy: Recorder for Farsetmouth Petty Sessions

  • Big Maggie

    Ulster McNulty,

    “Likewise it is unlikely that irish has never been used in a Court in Northern Ireland considering that most placenames have an Irish deriviation, with some pronounced exactly the same, even with an an englishified spelling.”

    Really? Can you name a couple? I’m genuinely curious. I thought all Irish placenames were English bastardizations, like Termonfeckin, Offaly—and even the world-renowned Muckanaghederdauhaulia :^)

  • ersehole

    Big Maggie:

    1. “In these straitened times it would be lunacy to employ at the taxpayers’ expense translators and interpreters for a man/woman who is perfectly capable of addressing the court in English.”

    Aaah, straitened times ,eh? And who could deny it? Can you point to the times in when it would have been ok? Or when it will be ok? Or is the poor Gael to wait for eternity for unstraitened times. Do let us know when we’re in them, Big M.

    2. “Yeah well, I’d like to see the money thus squandered go on worthwhile legal projects, such as a more robust prosecution of rapists …”

    Aaah, every penny spent on Irish is a source of joy to rapists up and down the land. My, how they celebrate when they hear the gutteral tones of the Gael. An acquittal can not be far off….

    3. “May I suggest that imposing Irish in the courts is not the best way of doing that?”

    Imposing Irish, eh? Was that a typo? Because, tool, it is ENGLISH that is imposed.

  • Big Maggie

    ersehole,

    “And who could deny it? Can you point to the times in when it would have been ok [to employ at the taxpayers’ expense translators and interpreters for a man/woman who is perfectly capable of addressing the court in English]?

    No, I can’t. Can you? Do you honestly believe this is rational?

    “Aaah, every penny spent on Irish is a source of joy to rapists up and down the land. My, how they celebrate when they hear the gutteral tones of the Gael. An acquittal can not be far off….”

    I don’t quite know how you made that leap of logic but fair play to you. I simply suggested that it’s ridiculous to waste taxpayers’ money in certain circumstances. One being the charade of a person perfectly capable of addressing a court in English being allowed to address that court as though s/he were a monoglot Gaelgoir whose testimony must be interpreted/translated. Or am I missing something sensible here?

    What do you think, ersehole, more money to the rape crisis centra? A good notion or what?

    “Imposing Irish, eh? Was that a typo? Because, tool, it is ENGLISH that is imposed.”

    “Tool”? Naughty boy. Do please keep it civil. English is imposed? Are we not communicating in English? Is English not the vernacular of these islands?

    Some imposition! But to repeat, this sort of radical agitation does no favours to Irish. It’s a language for godsake, an organic, shifting tool* of communication. It should be nurtured, cherished, not rammed down the throats of those who don’t want it.

    If you’re conversant with Irish history you’ll know that that last was done by the British with their own language. Surely you don’t wish the lovers of Irish to go down that same perditious road?

    * Correct usage of the word, I’m told :^)

  • fair_deal

    GGN

    “For me, the campaign for an ILA is one which will take a generation. I accept that. I would never expect an ILA to appear without a long hard fight.”

    I am arguing that it needn’t be if you substantiate your claim of it being of electoral benefit or you horse trade to get it. Both of which you are steadfastly refusing to engage with.

    “I think you are being disingenous here, anyone who follows politics here will be aware that all the unionist parties appose an ILA”

    Imagine whatever you like certainly your preconceptions seem bent towards dismissal of what a Unionist says but I think you simply are refusing to think outside the box. Changing the conversation around the ILA has the potential to change the outcome. What is lost for the campaign for an ILA of making such an offer? Nothing. If a middle ground doesn’t exist then try to do something to create one. Why is that such an unacceptable proposition?

    Also if you cannot recognise that Unionism has changed over the past 20 years and now agreed to things it previously rejected vociferously and repeatedly then so be it.

  • Big Maggie

    fair_deal,

    “Also if you cannot recognise that Unionism has changed over the past 20 years and now agreed to things it previously rejected vociferously and repeatedly then so be it.”

    Unionism may have changed but the Shameless Gael’s criticism still stands: “all the unionist parties oppose an ILA”.

    I don’t believe you can deny this with a straight face.

  • ggn

    You know well that I cannot provide evidence that nationalists could support the union if unionist attempted to attract them. It is an idea, you have dismissed it.

    Ultimately, it is no more realistic than your suggestion than unionism can become less oppossed to Irish.

  • fair_deal

    GGN

    “You know well that I cannot provide evidence that nationalists could support the union if unionist attempted to attract them. It is an idea, you have dismissed it.”

    Then try and get the evidence. The Irish language movement has been using this ‘unionist’ argument – if it is serious about it then rather then it needs to back it up – if it was just spouting bull then admit it.

    If you want to genuinely pursue option 1 Commission the research that shows that a) sections of nationalist voters are open to switching from their traditional allegiance b) that an ILA is of particular concern to such a group c) that an ILA change would result in changing voter patterns. Such detailed research commissioned from a respectable independent company is not beyond the capabilities of the irish language groups.

    (It’d probably be useful if there was research into Unionist voter reaction as well to give a complete picture.)

    It is an idea I dismissed based upon the present evidence but I remain open to new evidence being presented.

    Any chance of getting round to answering the questions around option 2.

    ” What is lost for the campaign for an ILA of making such an offer?”
    “If a middle ground doesn’t exist then try to do something to create one. Why is that such an unacceptable proposition?”

    BM

    “I don’t believe you can deny this with a straight face.”

    Am I needed in this conversation? Is it possible for me to actually deny something before it is said I will?

  • Big Maggie

    fair_deal,

    “Is it possible for me to actually deny something before it is said I will?”

    LOL. But you had ample opportunity of responding to it when Gael proposed it. You didn’t. Nor did I say you denied it but that it was hardly possible for you to deny it.

    So over to you: Do you deny it?

  • ersehole

    Big Maggie,

    “It should be nurtured, cherished, not rammed down the throats of those who don’t want it.”

    Feef, got 2 pages of a thread done without the epiglottal argument, shome record shurely?

    We don’t want to ram Irish down anyone’s throat, we want English stopped being rammed down… oops I’m sorry… imposed in the courts when we speak.

    And go and tell the Canadian that if those awkward Quebec nutjobs can speak English, they should jolly well do so, and not be diverting money away from erm…rape crisis centres.
    Jesus wept.

    Maidir leis an ‘vernacular’, cinnte, is é an Béarla teanga na díospóireacht seo. Ní hin le rá nach bhfuil teanga eile ann, uirlis.

  • Ulster McNulty

    Big Maggie

    “Really? Can you name a couple? I’m genuinely curious. I thought all Irish placenames were English bastardizations”

    Tobermore, Clogh, Magilligan, Creggan, Drumsurn, Drumbo, Drumbeg, Sperrin, Rouskey, Ardkeen, Raffrey, Aghalee, Ardboe….could be here all night. Start rhyming off the names of townlands in court and you’re definately breaking the law

    Thene there is that curious subset of names which are never pronounced as they are spelt in English, but only as they are pronounced in Irish – Mullaghbawn, Gortin, Slieve Gallion, Moneyneany….

    Some are as close as makes no odds – you might be speaking Irish in Court. Shit! You are speaking Irish in Court – go to jail, do not collect 200 pounds – Aghalee, Aghagallon, Carnlough – this list is by no means exhaustive, but you get the drift

  • OC

    Talk about opening Panadora’s Box!

    How about a motion to suppress an arrest warrant because it contained Gaelic in violation of the Administration of Justice (Language) Act (Ireland) 1737, because defendant’s name is Irish. P.S.: many loyalists would also be covered by this.

    And Maggie, you never answered my question: what would be the harm of striking down the 1737 Act? And something besides the expense (please document) or some vague counter-productiveness (again please document).

  • Big Maggie

    ersehole,

    “Feef, got 2 pages of a thread done without the epiglottal argument, shome record shurely?”

    Sorry, force of habit. I had Irish rammed down my throat at school, fadó, fadó (and no, all ye monoglot anglophones out there, that ain’t trad Portuguese music).

    “And go and tell the Canadian that if those awkward Quebec nutjobs can speak English, they should jolly well do so, and not be diverting money away from erm…rape crisis centres.”

    It’s none of my business what they do in Canada but my taxes do go towards, say, the NHS here. I’ve no problem with that, naturally enough. I do have a problem with my taxes being squandered on superfluous English-Irish translations for awkward Irish nutjobs who can speak English.

    And since you’re obviously concerned, yes, Canadian rape crisis centres are also cash-strapped and may have to close because of insufficient government funding, like the centre in London.

    The Guardian page covering the story is “blacklisted” so change the ht*p to http:

    ht*p://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2009/jan/30/rape-crisis-centre

  • Big Maggie

    Ulster McNulty,

    “Tobermore, Clogh, Magilligan, Creggan, Drumsurn, Drumbo, Drumbeg, Sperrin, Rouskey, Ardkeen, Raffrey, Aghalee, Ardboe”

    Enough already! I hadn’t really looked at it properly. Many thanks for that.

  • Big Maggie

    OC,

    “Maggie, you never answered my question: what would be the harm of striking down the 1737 Act? And something besides the expense (please document) or some vague counter-productiveness (again please document)”

    Sorry, slipped my mind.

    I see no harm at all in striking down the Act.

    You’re asking how much that superfluous translating/interpreting would cost? I honestly don’t know. You’d need to ask the people who do these things.

    However, I came across this page on similar professionals offering their services. Note how Dr. Dimitrina Spencer can demand between £20 and £37 per hour. Set that against the duration of your average court appearance plus paperwork and it’s a lot of money that could—and should—be put to better use.

    I mentioned rape crisis centres but I’m sure you can think of several other worthy recipients.

  • fair_deal

    BM

    “you had ample opportunity of responding to it when Gael proposed it.”

    Why would I want to ‘respond’ to a statement of fact by denying it? The public position of the two Unionist parties is clear on an ILA my debate with GGN has been two possible ways of getting one or both to change their position.

  • Big Maggie

    fair_deal,

    I’m not getting up your nose or anything but genuinely can’t follow your last comment. Are you saying the UUP and DUP are pro-ILA? Presumably the TUV don’t count as a Unionist party.

  • alan

    As a wee prod who learned Irish in his 20’s in the 1990’s. I would prefer, if I was going, to go to the Europa, it’s an easier escape from the depressing atmosphere encountered at times when a crowd of Irish speakers gather with an agenda… I’d say the briste Gaeltacht Quarter is still full of paranoid neurotics… Is mise Alan (must be an MFI spy)

    As for allowing Irish to be spoken in the courts I say get a life. Irish is in a cul-de-sac built over the last few centuries it’s going nowhere fast and won’t be no matter how much government money is poured in. Yes Irish is of historical cultural interest however the majority of the people on this Island particularly those in the independent part of the Island haven’t cared and in these times don’t care what happens to the language… Irish has got lost in the historical shuffle, on an individual level I say to Irish speakers ‘let it go’ the Irish have already… On another note you have been ill served by Irish Republicans who have linked their struggle to the language. And now with members of the Orange Order declaring their Irishness, the idea that there is a fixed form of Irishness is gone. Speaking Irish no longer naturally equates to being Irish..

    Personally I swim in the mainstream and I’m much happier learning Mandarin, an economic and cultural language of the 21st Century. The food much better, I can be in social situations were alchol is not the dominant currency, I have boundless opportunities to earn money (outside of State supported language bodies) and heaven forbid I enjoy being part of a globalizing world…

  • fair_deal

    BM

    “Are you saying the UUP and DUP are pro-ILA? Presumably the TUV don’t count as a Unionist party.”

    No. You’ve got lost in the woods somehow.

    GGN said the present position of the Unionists parties is opposed to the ILA. You asked why I hadn’t responded or tried to deny this point. I didn’t think it needed a response neither did I wish to deny it as it is a statement of fact.

    I have put forward two options to GGN as possible ways to CHANGE the Unionist parties present position of opposition. Both of which GGN has refused to engage with prefering instead to just accept this and wait 20 years.

    The TUV are a Unionist party. However, if an ILA were to be delivered in the short-term (i.e. before 2011) the TUV have no assembly representation and thus could not prevent legislation passing.

    After 2011 the situation could indeed be different but if the UUP and DUP were persuaded the only way the TUV could prevent it is if they can lodge a petition of concern in the Assembly and get enough votes. The TUV would most definitely count in the equation if they could do this.

  • Big Maggie

    fair_deal,

    Fair enough. That’s clear now, thanks.

  • fair_deal

    BM

    No worries

  • Tuilleadh eolais maidir leis an gcás seo:
    http://tinyurl.com/LingvaPunaLegxo

  • ersehole

    Big Maggie,

    if you had Irish ‘forced down your throat’ as you called it, at school, then take it up with the Sisters of Mercy or the Oblates of Mary Immaculate or whoever.

    Don’t blame a language. It’s blameless, inanimate, it doesn’t force itself down anyone’s throat.

    If the teachers won’t listen to you, which I somehow suspect would be the case, see a counsellor about this problem you have with a language forcing itself down your throat.

    It could cost a bit to get to the root of it though, it sound deeply psychosexual to me.