“An Irish language strategy rather than an act..”

The BBC’s Martina Purdy has the latest rumours as the parties brief their MLAs. And remember, “Nothing is agreed until everything is agreed”. From the BBC report

BBC Northern Ireland political correspondent Martina Purdy said consultation on a deal was likely. “Even if the DUP assembly team says yes to the deal, there will have to be a process of consultation, possibly through the executive,” she said. “It’s thought there are four aspects to the deal: devolving justice powers, the role of the justice minister, the Irish language and parading. “An Irish language strategy rather than an act is thought to be the compromise. It’s expected there will be references to shared future and difficulties around executive functioning.”

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  • Scaramoosh

    Tús maith leath na hoibre.

  • Ulick

    I thought you were going wait for “product” and refrain from blogging on speculation Pete?

  • socaire

    Tús bocht, deireadh na hoibre.

  • Drumlins Rock

    Hsiri emos em hcaet enoemos dluoc?

  • Greenflag

    old irish saying not chinese 🙂

    ‘tús maith leath na hoibre.’

    (Tooce maw lah nah hibreh) approx pronunciation for anglophones.

    A good start is half the work done

    ‘Tús bocht, deireadh na hoibre.’

    (Tooce buckt dare eh nah hibreh)

    A poor start and the job will be banjaxed 🙂

    The DUP and UUP need to get over their respective humps re the irish language . Believe me it’ll pay greater dividends and less hassle longer term . Learn from the Scots and Welsh ffs !

  • percy

    wha the fook the noo? (ulster-scots)

  • Drumlins Rock

    I would like to see a better appreciation of Irish in the Unionist Community, it was less of an issue in the past, and much of the politics can be taken out of it, yes it is always going to be be controversial but hopefully alot less heated. Just one thing needs to be made clear…
    LEAVE THE ROAD SIGNS ALONE!!!!!

  • Greenflag, Leo Abse’s warning against rule by a bilingual elite is now an only too obvious reality for the overwhelmingly English-speaking majority in South Wales. But that elite is no more a friend of the people of the Welsh-speaking areas; on the contrary, it consciously refuses to live in such places, where its utterances would be understandable by waiters, bartenders, shop assistants and taxi drivers. In 1977, North Wales voted No to devolution by the same colossal majority as did South Wales. And in 1999, the split was east-west, whereas the split on the language is north-south.

    Other than those in Patagonia who are completely bilingual in Welsh and Spanish, native speakers of the Celtic languages are all completely bilingual in their native tongues and in English. Just as the existence of a common tongue understood by all, whether or not they happen to speak it at home or in a given town or village, is how there can be a government of the United Kingdom, so it is how there can be a Scottish or Welsh devolved body, or for that matter a government of the Irish Republic; the problem with the devolved body in Northern Ireland is not this. It is also the reason why London is permitted only the trappings, and very little of the power: London is the only city in these islands where it is no longer possible to assume that anyone in the settled, permanent population has English.

    Whereas early Nationalist leaders were often highly scornful of the Irish language as a bar to progress, no small contribution to saving it was made by enthusiastic C of I clergymen who were staunchly Unionist and who would now be classified as Conservative Evangelicals. Douglas Hyde, the son of an County Sligo rector and born in an Ascendancy “Big House”, became the first President of the Republic while remaining an observant Protestant, a dedicated Irish-speaker and educator in that medium, and an adherent to a political position fundamentally Unionist rather than Nationalist (which was probably why Fine Gael, pushed into declaring a republic by a coalition partner, gave him the job).

    Sinn Fein may be creating a network of publicly-funded Irish-medium schools in order to banish the Catholic Church from the education, first of the Green side in the Six Counties, and then of almost everyone in the Twenty-Six. But at least as sterling, in its way, is the work for the language being done by the The Reverend Dr Eric Culbertson, country parson in County Tyrone, Honorary Clerical Vicar Choral of Armagh Cathedral (not the Catholic one), Deputy Grand Chaplain of the Orange Order, member of the Council of the Evangelical Protestant Society, and outspoken critic of the Good Friday and Saint Andrews Agreements. He stands in a long, long line.

  • JohnM

    You don’t think Bushmills residents would appreciate seeing

    Fáilte go Mhuileann na Buaise

    beside their big plaque commemorating Liz’s jubilee?

  • topcat

    respect and tolerance come to mind. works both ways, we can have fáilte to mhuileann na buaise as well as Liz. why not.

  • Drumlins Rock

    any one translated my irish yet?

    Eric is still waiting for a call from Reg to work on the parties Irish language policy.

    So John and Topcat what would Cookstown become?

  • A comment on my blog has just pointed out that Lady Sylvia beat Dr Culbertson for the North Down nomination back in 2001. I mean, I know he’s not local there, but, as my interlocutor puts it, “if it’s colour you want, then they don’t come any more colourful than just about the most conservative evangelical still actively ministering in the C of I, and just about as outspoken an anti-Agreement man as you could imagine, who is also a dedicated activist on behalf of the Irish language.

    Culbertson’s Presbyterian ally Steven Dickinson has signed up to the TUV. The TUV has had trouble over the language and the mocking of it on its Facebook site. Running Culbertson would put that to bed once and for all. Neither the SDLP nor the Sinn Fein candidate if there is one would speak it half as well as him.”

  • anne warren

    Agree with topcat’s statements “respect and tolerance come to mind. works both ways, we can have fáilte to mhuileann na buaise as well as Liz. why not”.

    What harm could displaying both signs do to anyone? In Bushmills or anywhere else?

  • Dewi

    “And in 1999, the split was east-west, whereas the split on the language is north-south”

    No – language “split” as you put it is East-West.

  • JohnM

    Drumlins I can’t teach you Irish because to my regret I don’t speak very much of it yet. I’m trying to change that though 🙂

    Cookstown is an Chorr Chríochach apparently, although this relates to the name of the settlement before the English arrived and renamed it of course 😉

  • JohnM

    Anne, I was just trying to think of the least tolerant town/village in my local area. Coleraine comes a close second, but at least it isn’t 100% one sided.

  • IanR

    From RTE:

    “DUP attempts to persuade hardliners”

    Is Gregory about to do a Jeffrey?

  • No, Dewi, in Wales, not in Northern Ireland (if anywhere in Northern Ireland is Irish-speaking in the way that Welsh-speaking areas really are Welsh-speaking). Don’t they speak Welsh rather a lot in Flintshire and Denbighshire? Do they speak it much in Pembrokehsire or Carmathenshire?

    As I have just answered the comment on my blog about Eric Culbertson, “Under the circumstances, I don’t think that “LOL” would be quite appropriate.”

  • Drumlins Rock

    exactly John, I resent Irish being used to wipe out 400 yrs of history, alot of places do not have a direct Irish Translation, at the moment the placenames of this country are a wonderful blend of the Irish, Scots and English, the linguistic removal of a large proportion of that is highly offensive, and in many cases inaccurate, in many, if not most cases, with Gaelic origin placenames the original meaning is debatable with several possible versions, opting for one of these can be just as twisting of history as wiping out the English names would be.
    In this country the love of place is something both sides have in common, and townland names for example are as strongly treasured by the Orange Order as they are by the GAA, it should not become a divisive issue, let the acedemics argue over the meanings but leave the placenames of this country alone.

  • JohnM

    But you don’t mind 2000+ years of Irish history being wiped out by settlers?

  • Dewi

    “Don’t they speak Welsh rather a lot in Flintshire and Denbighshire? Do they speak it much in Pembrokehsire or Carmathenshire?”

    Carmarthenshire far more Welsh speaking than Flintshire or Denbighshire. Pembrokeshire a speacial case.

  • JohnM, large numbers of people carried on speaking Irish long after the Plantation, and enormously long after the Anglo-Irish, never mind the Old English, arrived. They stopped at the same time as Nationalism began to rise, and the early Nationalist leaders were often very hostile to the language. It was Anglo-Irish aristocrats and gentry, and Protestant clergy, who were keen on it. Upper-class eccentricity? Well, what if it was? What if it is?

    Frankly, the Irish stopped speaking Irish because it was in their economic interest to speak English instead, and that could have happened without any constitutional relationship across the water, for example because of the rise of America, which was in fact a contributing factor. If you wanted to go back to it, then you could. If you want to go back to it, then you can. If you don’t, then that is nobody else’s fault. In fact, it is nobody’s fault at all.

  • “Carmarthenshire far more Welsh speaking than Flintshire or Denbighshire”

    I’d like to see the figures on that one. And anyway, my point stands: if the language split is east-west (genuinely a new one on me), then how come they speak Welsh in Flintshire and Denbighshire? You can’t get any further east than that.

    “Pembrokeshire a speacial case”

    Oh, that one. “Little England” and all that. “They are not really Welsh.” Why not? “Well, they don’t speak Welsh.” Eighty per cent of the Welsh don’t speak Welsh. “Er…”

    They don’t speak Gaelic in Caithness, Orkney or Shetland, either. As far north in Scotland, including on the mainland, as you can possibly go.

  • Dewi

    I wasn’t making any points at all Mr Lindsay – merely facts:

    Carmarthenshire 63.6%
    Denbighshire 36%
    Flintshire 21.4%

    Pembrokeshire’s 29.4% conceals a concentration in the north of the county. I don’t think they are not Welsh indeed the history of South Pembrokeshire is one of my fascinations.

  • socaire

    David Lindsay, I will concur with all you say about the Rev Eric. A gentleman and very pro-Irish language.

  • Depends how you phrase the question. You’ll never meet anyone from, say, Flintshire who can’t understand it if it is spoken to them – how would they get by in daily life? But you will routinely meet people like that from South Wales, east and west alike, who cannot speak a word of it.

    The main point is this: the vote against devolution was high in Welsh-speaking areas because it was high everywhere – the thing only just scraped through, and then on only a fifty per cent turnout; and it was realtively high in Gaelic-speaking areas, where, as in areas remote from the Central Belt generally, scepticism about it is still expressed. Likewise, a decade on, there is little affection for the Assembly in the very Welsh-speaking north-western corner of Wales.

    The SNP’s greatest strength is in the English-speaking North East (also the centre of Scottish Episcopalianism and cricket-playing). People who vote Plaid Cymru on the language issue are doing exactly that: voting on the language issue, not necessarily on any constitutional question. There is no intrinsic relationship between either Welsh or Gaelic and Nationalism. Nor, historically, is there between Irish and Nationalism.

    Nor need there be today. If, as is the case, some of the staunchest Unionists in these Islands can be completely bilingual in English and either Welsh or Gaelic while speaking the Celtic tongue in their daily home lives, then there is no reason why people who speak Irish either on that basis or as a sort of hobby cannot also be among the staunchest Unionists in these Islands.

    In the past, that was normal, and indeed such people’s efforts are a significant reason why Irish did not die out altogether, as the Nationalist leaders were more than happy for it to do.

  • socaire, I’ve never met him. It’s just that his name has come up in little bits of research that I have done. Clerical enthusiasts in many fields are of course very much a feature on both sides of the Irish Sea, both sides of the Channel and both sides of the Atlantic.

  • Greenflag

    David Lindsay ,

    Can’t disagree with your comments above in no 22 and 8 .I’m aware that Daniel O’Connell among others was somewhat scornful of the Irish language seeing it as a barrier to economic and social progress – which in fact it was given the socio economic conditions of Ireland in the early 19th century.

    The language issue should be kept out of politics . It’s a part of the ‘culture ‘of the island just as is the OO -like it or not .

    Tolerance is what’s needed from all sides . Using the Irish language to beat ‘unionist’ heads is daft . Likwise ‘unionist ‘ efforts to belittle the language are counterproductive .

    Most place names in Ireland North and South are anglicisations of an original Irish name so the ‘translation’ back into the original Irish would look similar in most cases to the english e.g Corcaigh -Cork , Sligeach -Sligo , Uachtar Ard (Oughterard) etc

    There are lots of street names in Dublin which can be and have been readily translated but many have been left alone and if there is an ‘irish ‘ equivalent ‘ on the street sign everybody ignores it . Hanover Lane is still Hanover Lane, and Westmoreland St remains Westmoreland St as does Buckingham St . However both Cuthroat Lane and Murdering Lane have been both updated to Roundhead Row and Cromwell’s Quarters by the Corporation back in 1876 😉

    Cathal Brugha St remains as is -Nobody calls it Charlie Burgess St which is what the Republican patriot’s name was originally, before it was gaelicised . Eamonn Kent’s was also gaelicised to Ceannt but I don’t think anybody ever tried to do a similar number on Mellowes .

  • Dewi

    “You’ll never meet anyone from, say, Flintshire who can’t understand it if it is spoken to them”

    Yes you would – 80% of them. I’m not quite following your train of thought.

  • DerTer

    David

    It is true that Irish was in clear decline by about 1800, and that O’Connell was no friend of the language. But there was an element of suppression as well, because the decline was clearly advanced by the insistence that teaching in the new 1831 school system had to be through the medium of English.

  • RG Cuan

    Just one thing needs to be made clear… LEAVE THE ROAD SIGNS ALONE!

    We have only asked for bilingual road signs in areas that are pro-Gaelic, not in areas where they would not be welcome. Since over 94% of our placenames are based on Irish Gaelic and are in daily use by the Irish language community, this is a very reasonable request. It’s the norm throughout Europe, why not NI?

    Ag súil go mór le fáil amach cad é atá sa stráitéis seo atá molta…

    For assistance: http://translate.google.com/#ga|en|

  • socaire

    Cuir Gaeilge ar ‘dilute’, ‘water down’ agus ‘don’t hold your breath’.

  • georgieleigh

    “the placenames of this country are a wonderful blend of the Irish, Scots and English, the linguistic removal of a large proportion of that is highly offensive”

    DR, No-one is looking for removal of anything. The big town in the east of Ireland may well be Baile Átha Cliath on roadsigns but Dublin has not been made a name on old maps.

    The “linguistic removal” has beeen carried out on the Irish names. Béal Feirste means more than a quick french beauty.

  • socaire

    Ye see, the problem is, when you translate “Parkmore” to ‘Páirc Mhór’, it is obvious that dissidents and Fenians are trying to take over and we British are undermined by this.

  • DerTer, school-level teaching in Irish at that time would have been by whom, and to what purpose? But no, the English and the Prods are always to blame for everything. The fact that the Irish voluntarily stopped speaking Irish, and that it was Anglo-Irish gentry and Protestant clergy who more than anyone stopped it from dying out altogether, must never be mentioned. (It was high-born Francophone priests who saved Flemish, too – this sort of thing is quite common.)

    Dewi doesn’t know when to stop. All right, then, have it your way. They don’t speak Welsh in North Wales, but they all do in Pembrokeshire. I’ve heard it all now! The devolution vote cut both English-speaking and Welsh-speaking Wales in half, and you know it. Moreover, however they might have voted (if they voted at all) in 1999, people in the very Welsh-speaking north-western corner of Wales are probably now the most disillusioned of all with devolution. And that is saying quite something. You know that, too.

    1999 was also the year when the Irish Republic cheerfully renounced any claim to Northern Ireland, with Sinn Fein campaigning for a vote in favour of that renunciation; they have been on the British public payroll ever since, even to the extent of having houses in London at that expense. Like Commonwealth countries loosening their ties to the Crown, or like British Overseas Territories becoming independent, so any loosening or dissolution of the United Kingdom is now an idea belonging to a bygone age. A recent bygone age. But a bygone age all the same. Those who wanted to go, have gone. Those who, to whatever extent, are still here, are, to that extent, here for ever.

    They include the overwhelming majority of speakers of the Celtic languages. No change there. And Irish, like serious Catholicism, is now doing far better within the Union than it manages in the Republic these days. Irish-speakers and serious Catholics of the Six Counties, take heart that the voters of the Republic don’t want you, but the United Kingdom still does, and has a much more advanced social democracy into the bargain.

  • RG Cuan

    DAVID LINDSAY

    It’s common knowledge why the Irish language declined during the 18th and 19th centuries, and why it’s coming back now.

    English hostility towards Gaelic was of course a significant factor. The language was banned from the school system and wasn’t used in officaldom, despite the fact that the vast majority of the population were Irish speakers. The Catholic Church also had a role to play in discouraging people to speak their own language and children were regularly beaten by teachers if they spoke Irish at school. There are also many accounts of monoglot Irish speaking parents being encouraged to beat their children if they spoke Irish at home, even though it was the only language they knew. Economic and social factors were central to the language’s decline, as was the Famine.

    Throughout this time certain academics also began to take an interest in Irish and, as you point out, many Protestants played an important role in the early revival of the language.

    To claim that “the Irish voluntarily stopped speaking Irish” is far too simplistic. However, thousands and thousands of us are voluntarily – inspired by a renewed confidence and greater understanding of who we are and what future we’d like for our children – are speaking our language once again.

  • topcat

    Socaire.
    1) what are you afraid of? you should be confident enough in your britishness to not be getting excited or worried about the irish language.
    2) the irish language has nothing to do with dissidents or fenians. it is the offical national language of ireland and is spoken by a large percentage of the population. however i am sure that the vast majority of people who promote and speak irish do not want to impose it on british pepole like you, but likewise they dont want you to try and surpress it. live and let live
    3) the more you try and surpress something the more people will try and speak it. so if you relax it will be ok

  • Drumlins Rock

    “the more you try and surpress something the more people will try and speak it.”
    So the best way to promote the Irish language would be to ban it completely? 🙂

  • Greenflag

    RG Cuan ,

    ‘To claim that “the Irish voluntarily stopped speaking Irish” is far too simplistic. ‘

    That may be but it’s a large part of the truth . It’s not a truth that many modern Irish people like to acknowledge . And the same goes for the ‘famine truth’ that a lot of those who cheered the departure of the poorest of the landless starving were themselves the rising Irish farmers who could consolidate their holdings and make a better living from sheep and cattle than from non hassle free aggressive peasants.

    In many cases in the south west of the country there were seven layers of land agents and rentiers who had to have a cut of the rent paid by the cottier class .

    Nowadays people get something for their payment of taxes and even for paying rent there are certain rights . Back in the mid 19th century in rural Ireland the rights of the peasants were on a par or even below par for the middle ages .

  • Greenflag

    drumlin’s rock ,

    ‘So the best way to promote the Irish language would be to ban it completely? :)’

    Never a truer word spoke which is why unionists with half a brain are well advised not to oppose Irish language enthusiasts . They thrive on opposition .

    I would have thought that by now at least some ‘unionists’ would have had the political kop to work that one out ?

  • topcat

    drumlins

    “the more you try and surpress something the more people will try and speak it.”
    So the best way to promote the Irish language would be to ban it completely? 🙂

    just common sense. it’s the same with everything, not just irish.

  • Greenflag

    topcat ,

    That would be uncommon sense 🙂 -it’s even less common than common sense and common sense is when all is said and done not all that common . why after all would half the population pay good money to the tobacco companies to kill them slowly or to the publicans for providing cirrhosis of the liver for their most frequent customers ?

  • DerTer

    David
    “But no, the English and the Prods are always to blame for everything.” Did you really mean to direct that at me and my mild observation? You obviously don’t know my form!

  • Mack

    @David Lindsay

    Just as the existence of a common tongue understood by all, whether or not they happen to speak it at home or in a given town or village, is how there can be a government of the United Kingdom

    This is nonsense –

    Canada, Switzerland and Belgium (among many, many others) all have functioning governments and significant numbers of monolingual citizens speaking mutual unintelligible languages.

    It’s highly unlikely that such a situation would arise in any part of Ireland today, but it is perfectly manageable.

  • topcat

    Greenflag,

    had to read that one a few times to decipher it! but yeah you are right

  • Dewi

    “the more you try and surpress something the more people will try and speak it.”

    Did a pretty good job in surpressing Welsh in Wales.

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