Political Progress and Educational Sectarianism

Northern Ireland’s past echoes with the haunted politics of division, its communities littered with the graves of over 3,000 victims of shameful brutality. When Peter Robinson spat that, ‘the only input that Unionists want into the Anglo-Irish Conference is a stick of gelignite’, not even the most ardent optimist would have predicted that he would one day attend a GAA match as the honoured guest of Martin McGuinness.



But the progress is real and it is, I daresay, sincere. In only two years did the widely-heralded patriarch of entrenched Unionism Rev. Dr. Ian Paisley reverse his line from, ‘we are not going into government with Sinn Fein’, to, ‘we must not allow our loathing of the tragedies of the past to become a barrier to a better future.’ 

Shaking his hands with Mr Paisley in the halls of Stormont, it is nigh impossible to equate the Martin McGuinness of, ‘I haven’t done anything that I’m ashamed of’, to the progressive politician who has learned the hard lessons of a misguided youth.



And Northern Ireland’s modern politics of progress are neatly mirrored in the geography of the country.

Spectators looking out on the Belfast of the second decade of the twenty-first century are greeted by a vibrant and optimistic city. Colour flows through her streets, heartfelt music dribbles out of its pores. It is a cosmopolitan, bohemian culture where students mingle with working professionals.

And it is not surprising, for a city rescued from the despairing grip of wartime violence as recently as Belfast can do nothing else but blossom with tenacity and intent. 

And the schools are doing well. GCSE and A-Level results in Northern Ireland are the best in the United Kingdom. Modern teaching methods are complemented by updated facilities, and with increasingly stable socio-political conditions, young people in Northern Ireland can come together to build upon the progress already enjoyed across the country. 



But one contentious point remains very much at the centre of the country’s school system, and that is the role of faith-based education.

The statistics released by the Department of Education in 2011 reveal that just over 4,000 nursery school children attend a denominational play group, with over 65,000 of the country’s teenagers in segregated secondary education. 

We no longer live in the era of different histories, but it is of academic importance to note the patterns of where the Irish language is, and is not, taught. Outside of the classroom, stand-offs continue in the sport’s field between caid-influenced football and rugby, hurling and hockey.

And threaded through all these facets is the ever-present influence of religion. 

Whether by design or by the circumstance of tradition, schools in Northern Ireland prescribe young people with a pre-determined notion of identity. This is not to say that religious education and Christian values are without place in modern Northern Ireland. The issue lies with perpetuating a sectarian school system in a country recovering from three decades of religious turmoil.

One does not fight fire with fire.



And the state of the economy doesn’t help matters either. As job prospects dwindle, uncertain and directionless youths are being offered prospects of sorts with terrorist organisations. The Financial Times spoke of the downturn as, ‘a recruiting sergeant for dissident republican [sic.] groups’, with the recent resurgence of radical IRA organisations serving to strike an alarming chord.



Households Below Average Incomes figures between 2005 and 2008 reported that 48 per cent of children in Northern Ireland lived in poverty, with 21 per cent classed as living in ‘persistent poverty’. When these numbers are coupled with the country’s lack of vocational opportunity and the attraction of paramilitary groups, one can only question the true meaning of promising examination results and political progress.



And politics, education and the economy are not mutually exclusive. Each facet plays into the other, in turn determining the effectiveness and implication of the next. Nationalist and Unionist politicians can sit in the modern Stormont and talk about the future until they are blue in the face, but nothing will come of it unless they proactively address the interests of children.



Community groups across Northern Ireland are doing fantastic work in uniting the people, young and old, but this could be lost on future generations unless lasting grassroots changes are recorded. And to do that, Northern Ireland needs to see integrated education. Children are in need of a daily reminder that there is more to the country than the members of their own community. 

The idea is not a new one. First Minister Peter Robinson spoke of the importance of integrated education in 2011, but despite promises, very little visible progress has been made.

For all the good Mr Robinson and his colleague Mr. McGuinness are doing, this most crucial of considerations is being inexplicably overlooked. 

It would be a tragic error to allow anything to hinder the rejuvenation of Northern Ireland, especially if that barrier is the remnants of a dying culture of division.

Progress is built upon familiarity and cross-community cooperation, but the existence of denominational education counteracts this at an early point in a child’s development, and continues throughout their school career. This academic incongruity fights alongside fading archaic notions of yore, engaged in a determined tug-of-war with the new and progressive Northern Ireland.

,

  • “Children are in need of a daily reminder that there is more to the country than the members of their own community.”

    Indeed, there is another 26 counties, not that you’d ever know it if you stepped inside a state school, listened to the BBC or read the latest epistle lets-get-alongers/sure isn’t NI a great wee place. Nah, sorry my country is clearly stamped on my passport (it doesn’t say Northern Ireland or UK) and my children won’t be going to any school which doesn’t foster and promote their national heritage and culture. Parity of esteem an all that.

  • Ulick, the ‘Of This Island’ group has a 32-county agenda so you would appear to be overly emphasising ‘country’. In this article it’s simply being used as an alternative to ‘Northern Ireland’. Perhaps ‘region’ would have been less irritating.

  • Barnshee

    “any school which doesn’t foster and promote their national heritage and culture.”

    SFA to do with religion then –purely the ability ot promote the mopery and the version of history where native born (RIC) policmen murdered in front of their 5 year old child were magically tranmuted into British Soldiers and the child presence expunge from the record.

    “my country is clearly stamped on my passport ”

    A damned pity ” you country” is is not billed for the services provided to you by that poor bastard the British Taxpayer

  • Ulick,

    my children won’t be going to any school which doesn’t foster and promote their national heritage and culture

    Why, are you totally incapable of doing that yourself?

    It is just as important to recognise public education for what it is not, as well as for what it is. And what it most certainly should not be is an indoctrination tool for any particular viewpoint, whether that be religious or political.

  • There’s faith based education across the UK & Ireland yet that hasn’t led to political turmoil and blood on the streets; IMO the changeover to integrated education would not prevent a further outbreak of such turmoil. The NI problem is a constitutional one, not a religious one – though there is a religious dimension.

  • DT123

    ………children won’t be going to any school which doesn’t foster and promote their national heritage and culture.

    Indoctrination ,being the only means by which someone could believe the c**p you and your ilk spew.

  • Tochais Síoraí

    Sport is an important part of any educational curriculum. If GF or Hurling, two of the most popular sports in NI (and Ireland as a whole) aren’t offered in a cross community educational environment then what does that say?

    Learning a 2nd or 3rd (maybe even 4th) language is an important part of any educational curriculaum. If Irish, in what was once the most Gaelic part of the island isn’t offered then what does that say?

    Music should be an important part of any educational curriculum (particulalry in primary school). If Irish music (or dance or whatever) isn’t offered then what does that say?

    As for Irish history, it doesn’t need to be exercise in promoting any particular ideology or whatever. It can however give an insight into what we have evolved into today, both positve and negative, and how we can improve ourselves. Even you, Barnshee.

  • @Barnshee, by my reckoning I’m probably due a rebate from your “poor bastard the British Taxpayer” for impounding my country.

    @Andrew Gallagher, yes I’m well capable of doing it myself, however as a taxpayer I expect the freedom to choose educational ethos afforded to my children. You may call it “an indoctrination tool”, I see it as merely the entitlement of the citizens in any other state.

    @DT123 ***yawn***

  • Nevin,

    The NI problem is a constitutional one, not a religious one

    No, it’s an ethnic one. Religion gets dragged into it because it can be used as a proxy for ethnicity, and the constitutional argument is all about which side is in charge.

    TS,

    Will those things be offered though? We don’t know, because nobody has yet sat down and worked out what a unified education system would look like. What I can say is that in my state school, we learned Irish history in exactly the way you suggest.

  • Ulick,

    “Ethos” is just a weasel word for “indoctrination” as far as I can see.

  • HeinzGuderian

    Educational sectarianism is exactly what it is,whether practised here,on the Mainland,by our Southern neighbours,or anywhere else.
    Religious mumbo jumbo,has absolutely no place in the teaching of little children.

    Of course we learn about Greek Mythology…..I am at a loss as to how any ‘modern religion’ should hold a greater sway over Zeus,Poseidon of Hades…….unless the ‘modern religions have unearthed any evidence to the contrary ?

    ulick wants his children forcibly indoctrinated in his personal prejudices .
    I find that not only sad,but downright ignorant.

    It’s been whispered about for centuries…….see the guys in the funny hats,collars,robes…….you know the ones,the witch doctors,hol(e)y men,oracles,priests,’wise’ men(always men)……..they are just the exact same as the rest of us.
    Amazing that they can still get away with the same old trick…..century,after century,after century……:-(

  • Andrew, maybe you should invest in a good dictionary.

  • @HeinzGuderian you seem to be suggesting CCMS are currently “forcibly” indoctrinating “children” in “personal prejudices”. Considering those same schools out perform state schools using pretty much any academic yardstick, maybe this forcible indoctrination stuff isn’t all that bad after all.

  • Reader

    Ulick: and my children won’t be going to any school which doesn’t foster and promote their national heritage and culture. Parity of esteem an all that.
    Then there are few choices for you. Most of my children have spent most of their educational career in the maintained sector, and it didn’t turn them into wee nationalists. There’s plenty else going on in their lives – children live their culture through choosing what interests them, they aren’t programmed. And most parents aren’t as determined as you to control every single thing that might influence their children. It’s enough effort to try to make them honest, humane and self-reliant, isn’t it?

  • Zig70

    Same old thing comes up time and again. Use the kids to fix the problems of our society. What’s going to happen when they go back to their enclaves. Maybe we should tackle housing first. Give rent rebates to people who cross the divide, create peace walls of mixed neighbour hoods. Otherwise this is just half assed. IMO, state schools should reflect the culture of the other half and lead by example. Then maybe the religious sector would diminish. But lots of you don’t want that, division has it’s benefits.

  • Ulick,

    From dictionary.com:

    the fundamental character or spirit of a culture; the underlying sentiment that informs the beliefs, customs, or practices of a group or society; dominant assumptions of a people or period

    Education is about broadening the mind. Anything that reinforces “dominant assumptions” does not fall under this category.

  • zig70,

    Nothing is going to get done if everybody waits for themmuns to make the first move.

  • JR

    Lack of Irish language teaching is a deal breaker for me sending my kids to an integrated school.

  • Barnshee

    “If GF or Hurling, two of the most popular sports in NI (and Ireland as a whole) aren’t offered in a cross community educational environment then what does that say? ”

    What it says is that rules of the organisation used to promote them are offensive to protestants /unionists ie Irish first sport second. Take a leaf from Rugby Cricket and Hockey who manage to organise on a the Island on a fairly inclusive basis?

  • An Irish national, living in his own country, requests a desire to see his culture reflected in a proposed “integrated” educational system and is greeted with howls of derision and .”indoctrination”. Must say this has been a very illuminating discussion but keep it up lads as I think it’s fair to say that an “integrated” education system isn’t likely to happen this side of a united Ireland if these attitudes persist. Damn, it’s just like the last 40 years never happened. Lolz as the children say…

  • Tochais Síoraí

    Part of my original point is that GAA sports cannot be excluded from a future integrated educational system. My kids get a chance to play cricket at school, yours get a chance to play hurling (and if they do, then they in a small way get to influence the ethos of the GAA).

    If you disagree then it’s an integrated system on your terms only. That by definition can’t and won’t work.

  • Ulick,

    Forgive me if I misunderstood, but your first few posts read like a rejection of integrated education in principle. If however you are just asking for the inclusion of Gaelic sports and Irish language classes, then I’m all for it.

    Perhaps you might like to spell out what your “ethos” actually entails…

  • Ní Dhuibhir

    Thoroughly agree we need more properly integrated education (not just sharing resources or the watered down versions being touted now), but ‘a cosmopolitan, bohemian culture’ – yer wha? We’ve finally got a few foreigners who want to live here, and the odd bit of street theatre in the summer, but the same can be said for any mid-sized town in western Europe. Cosmopolis it isn’t!

  • BluesJazz

    Had to read this twice..

    “Spectators looking out on the Belfast of the second decade of the twenty-first century are greeted by a vibrant and optimistic city. Colour flows through her streets, heartfelt music dribbles out of its pores. It is a cosmopolitan, bohemian culture where students mingle with working professionals. ”

    Unfuckingbelievable shite.

    Belfast is like Coventry, only with crappier pubs and worse weather.

  • BluesJazz
  • Turgon

    BluesJazz,
    I agree also along with it is the bizarre previous part about “for a city rescued from the despairing grip of wartime violence” I lived in Belfast from 1990 on (when I went to university) and visited frequently before. The Troubles were clearly dreadful but this is just daft hyperbole. There was violence but no; there was not a war except to the make-e-uppie terrorist criminal thugs who strutted about giving themselves grandiose titles as they murdered people.

    On the main part of the debate I am always concerned about the excessive obsession with sport that these integrated education blogs always get bogged down in. I cannot be alone in only having played rugby (and cricket in the summer) for two years (maybe three), hating it and being delighted when I got to do Ancient History or something like that instead. PE was a bit more use and there we did not do games of the politicised sort unless one sees table tennis and the like as a device of British oppression.

    Personally I would be entirely unconcerned if my children did no rugby, cricket, gaelic football or hurling. The main function of a school is to educate and although PE is an important part of that there is absolutely no need to have sports which some regard as contentious for one reason or another. Personally I regard rugby as controversial as it is dangerous and thuggish, promotes fighting and in Northern Ireland seems to be played mainly by middle class snobs who look down on the rest of society whilst getting overwhelmingly drunk and behaving in a generally boorish fashion.

    In primary school the most important things are literacy and numeracy and last time I looked we almost all spoke English and there is no sectarian element to the arabic numerals we use in maths. In secondary schools things like maths, English, sciences, IT and almost all the other important subjects (with the exception I accept of history) have little or no political content.

    I went to a state primary and secondary school. There was never a Union flag anywhere; never was the national anthem sung; nowhere was there a picture of any royal or political figure.

    I agree that the Integrated School movement often seems much too interested in letsgetalongerism. Fine: scrap the current integrated sector. Instead have non denominational schools for all and indeed leave out the rugby, football, GAA and RE. Those who want their children educated in any of those things should do so with their own time and money. Alternatively if they feel strongly enough about the issue they are welcome to have their own schools and pay for them themselves just like the free Presbyterians do with their schools.

  • RyanAdams

    “Personally I regard rugby as controversial as it is dangerous and thuggish, promotes fighting and in Northern Ireland seems to be played mainly by middle class snobs who look down on the rest of society whilst getting overwhelmingly drunk and behaving in a generally boorish fashion.”

    Thats a load of tripe. You’ll find rugby fans everywhere in Northern Ireland, be it Derry or Lisburn; Up the Falls or down the Cregagh. You’ll find both catholic and protestant in both Ravenhill and the Aviva in Dublin. It does not promote fighting. Thats an outlandish statement, one dangerous tackle and your in the bin, if not red carded and possibly banned following the outcome of a disciplinary hearing, and thats at club level right up to International level. As for rugby fans being overwhelmingly drunk, I can tell you i’ve set foot in Ravenhill and the Aviva more times than I care to remember that is not true on the most part. How many times have you heard of reports of brawls at Ravenhill, especially in comparison with some other sports?

  • RyanAdams
  • Turgon

    RyanAdams,
    Fine if you want your children to play it send them to rugby in the evenings or weekends. Personally I would rather mine did not. I too pay my taxes and do not want my children playing rugby (or GAA for that matter). However, yet again the red herring of sport is the obsession in the blog. Sport is simply not the most important part of the curriculum and there is no need to play a team game associated rightly or wrongly with one section of the community. Keep party or percieved party games out of school.

  • RyanAdams

    Turgon,

    Sport is an important part of a child’s development, especially in an era when child hood obesity is at an all time high. I don’t think children being forced to play any particular sport is correct, but I do think they should be given choices as to which particular sport they want to play. If my children were to choose any sport over rugby I’d be happy enough with whatever choice they make, be it Football, Hurling or whatever, so long as they are happy doing it.

  • lamhdearg2

    Ryanadams, well done on the link, i knew there was a lot of c**p being typed above regards no irish stuff in intergrated schools, there is even gaa games being played in my local state school.
    Now i do not know many parents that have children in maintained sector well enough to ask them, so maybe some others can enlighten me, how has that sector changed/embraced/made its self more appealing to the non catholic or irish nationalist parents, who may live close by.

  • Turgon

    RyanAdams,
    You misunderstand the point I was making. Personally I do not like rugby but actually I do not care that much if my children play it.

    However, rugby or whatever vs GAA is the red herring frequently brought up here to explain why we cannot have apolitical, non religious asectarian all inclusive state schooling (as opposed to Integrated schooling as currently practiced by the Integrated schools movement). My point is that as a parent who is sending my children to a state school I am not remotedly wedded to them playing a sport such as rugby which some rightly or wrongly, for honest or cynical motives regard as one sided.

    I think for the good of society here we should have truly integrated non denominational, apolitical schooling and if that means no rugby, no GAA, no cricket or whatever then I think it would still be well worthwhile. I am sure we can find some neutral individual and team sports: unless that is the team sports card is merely a cover for objecting to non demoninational, apolitical state schooling.

    If you like rugby that is fine and I am well aware that lots of nice, normal people enjoy and play it. I have never been able to get over the fact that at my school it was the one place where behaviour which otherwise would be described as bullying was tolerated.

    Again my point is that not all of the unionist community is wedded to “its” sports (I am sure it is the same re nationalists) and that “our” or “their” sports should not be allowed to derail the schooling issue.

  • JR

    Fair enough Ryan point taken. There is still the other problem of none within 45 miles of where I live.

    I will conceed that if my child could learn the Irish language and play Gaeilic or Hurling if they wanted to at school then I would have no problem sending them to that school, be it Protestant catholic or integrated.

  • Turgon

    JR,
    I could equally demand that my child learns Ulster Scots or is taught creationism. I can do that but only if a pay for it myself either outside school or else in a private school.

    Education is about vastly more than learning Irish or playing certain team games with a resonance for some members of the nationalist community. Both of those are entirely valid activities but why should the state make special provision for them and why should you be allowed to demand that a school provide such provision.

  • JR

    Turgon,
    I agree that education is about vastly more than learning Irish or playing certain games.

    The state should reflect the needs of it’s citizens not the other way around.

  • BluesJazz

    The NI Curriculum applies to all schools in Northern Ireland. Including an opt out on Evolution, not available to our friends on the mainland.
    We HAVE to include Archbishop Ussher.
    And include him in the science curriculum.
    The only ‘region’ in Europe to do so.
    So it goes.

  • Lionel Hutz

    I really dislike this piece. Alot of hyperbole about the great cosmopolitan Norn Iron where everything is great but for those damn clerics.

    Funnily enough I was having a good conversation with my dad about this not so long ago. He’s a trustee of a local catholic grammar and was asking me and the other half what a catholic education system meant to us in hindsight. The truth of the matter is that most catholic schools don’t know what they are doing but just know that, whatever it is, it works.

    For my own part, I consider the catholic sector as essentially an Irish state school. Most schooling, to be effective, has to build an ethos within its pupils and that is often based upon the idea of becoming productive contributing members of society. Good people. Religion has a role, if only to teach morality but I believe it was much more about a sense of identity. In catholic schools its an Irish identity. In state schools, it may previously have been a British Identity (this may be changing). In my view, both are good. Identity is a good thing. Integrated education appeara to me to suffer from an identity crisis.

    Who are these people? Who do they see themselves as? Are we to become a nation of Rory McIlory’s, a great young man by all accounts, but seemingly afraid to state his nationality for fear of alienating people. That’s unhealthy in my book.

    We are a long way from true parity of esteem. The only means to achieve so far preferred is to not mention it. To use our children as some experiment to see what or who we are is a copy out.

  • latcheeco

    “We no longer live in the era of different histories” .

    It would appear a bunch of us didn’t get the memo.
    Nevertheless, it’s good news that our PUL brothers have finally accepted that their previous notions were clearly erroneous

  • Scáth Shéamais

    Education is about vastly more than learning Irish or playing certain team games

    Reports come out every so often suggesting that Irish-medium education offers real advantages to children, and that Irish-medium pupils outperform their English-medium peers in Maths and English.

  • DoppiaVu

    Scáth Shéamais

    “Reports come out every so often suggesting that Irish-medium education offers real advantages to children, and that Irish-medium pupils outperform their English-medium peers in Maths and English.”

    All that your articles prove is that it is good to learn a 2nd language. Which I happen to agree with. But it doesn’t have to be Irish. And it doesn’t have to be exclusively with kids of the same religion.

  • BluesJazz:

    We HAVE to include Archbishop Ussher.
    And include him in the science curriculum

    I don’t remember that from school. Source?

  • Old Mortality

    I think Lionel is pretty close to the mark in seeing Catholic education as essentially soft Irish education, Irish medium being for those who want hardcore. If the church withdrew entirely from those schools, they would still continue to be popular with the people who currently patronise them.
    This begs the question of why the Catholic church is involved in education when is is promoting a national or ethnic culture rather than a religious one, especially when a significant and growing number of children attending their schools are not Irish and probably have scant interest in all the ‘cultural’ baggage.
    An alternative model for the Catholic church might be the apparently successful St Columbanus in Bangor which attracts high proportion of non-Catholics but, significantly, does not appear to teach Irish even as an option or play ‘Irish’ games.
    Since sport seems almost as important as formal education to some of the nationalist commenters on this thread, perhaps they could answer this question: Are the boys of Christian Brothers Cork less Irish than those of Christian Brothers Omagh because they play rugby and not GAA?

  • Neil

    Integrated education will take hold to a degree eventually, as new schools with an integrated ‘ethos’ open up, with the mixture of identities mentioned above (or worse, a bland absence of identity of any kind), sports, languages etc. But what will never work is saying to one community ‘we want integrated education, so we’ll close all your schools and we can teach them at ‘ours’. I had the misfortune of going to an ‘integrated’, very much Protestant school. I would never put my own kids through that, and I know that it would foster a sense of a basically Unionist, NI citizen identity in my child. *Shudder* And I also know from my three years at a staunchly Catholic (and Nationalist in all honesty) school on the North Coast that this part of my education gave me the identity I cherish today.

    So new schools will eventually fill that gap.but it will always only be one of the options. Our right to ‘indoctrinate’ (as HG would say) our children as we see fit is enshrined in European law. As long as there is demand (and there always will be) religious education will always be an option. One I would fight to retain.

    As an aside I wonder does Peter Robinson have much friction with her indoors over his support for ‘integrated’ education?

    http://www.nuzhound.com/articles/irish_news/arts2007/feb7_I_Robinson_attacks_integrated_education.php

  • Scáth Shéamais

    All that your articles prove is that it is good to learn a 2nd language. Which I happen to agree with. But it doesn’t have to be Irish.

    What’s the alternative? Is there a crop of French-medium schools I didn’t know about?

    And it doesn’t have to be exclusively with kids of the same religion.

    Children of different ethnic and religious backgrounds attend gaelscoileanna. Admittedly it’s still to a fairly small extent but that’s that probably to do with most of the schools being situated in working class nationalist areas, where traditionally the demand has been greatest. Nonetheless, Irish-medium schools aren’t CCMS, they’re under their own body – Comhairle na Gaelscolaíochta.

  • Neil,

    Closing one set of schools and putting all the children in the other is not an option – there wouldn’t be enough chairs for a start. Any unified system will have to use the same facilities and staff as the old ones.

    I would be interested to hear about your experiences in a “protestant” integrated school. In what way was it “protestant”? Was it the makeup of the student body or was it institutional? Name and shame.

    Yes, you have the right to educate your children as you see fit. Nobody is taking that away. You can have as much religious education as you like, you can send them to sunday school, confirmation classes, first communion. But you cannot expect the state (i.e. the rest of us) to continue to pay for it. You cannot ask teachers to teach things they do not personally believe to your children, but neither can you deny them a government-funded job because of their religion (or lack of it). And if you remove religion from state education, the only rationale for maintaining segregated systems is fear.

    If you want a faith-based education, go right ahead. The Free Presbyterian Church organises its own schools without state interference and everyone is happier for it. If you want an Irish cultural education, then we can surely find a way to provide that within a new system (surely themmuns should learn something about Irish culture too?). But we need to get past the accusations of bad faith and start discussing what we want a new education system to look like.

  • DoppiaVu

    Scáth Shéamais

    “Is there a crop of French-medium schools I didn’t know about?”

    Very amusing. But you know the point that I was making. The benefits in the various articles you quote result from kids learning languages. It could be any language…for example, and integrated school with a serious commitment to teaching French.

    “Children of different ethnic and religious backgrounds attend gaelscoileanna.”

    Ah. So integrated is good then – as long as its everyone else that has to do the integrating??

  • JR

    DoppiaVu,

    The advantages are not so much associated with learning languages in the “little Jimmy goes to a French class one night a week” sense as with child bilingualism.

    Bilingualism i.e being equally fluent and comfortable speaking two languages is tough to achieve and outside the children of of first generation immigrants or the Irish language community it doesn’t exist here.

    With the Irish medium education sector, TG4, the irish language radio stations, a number of functional Irish speaking communities across the north and the Gaeltacht whithin easy reach and Irish and English is the most practical and by far the most common Bilingual language combination here. If some people choose to reject that language that is their choice.

  • ayeYerMa

    I agree with Turgon about rugby. My father played rugby through much of his youth and has developed stunted growth and a distorted spine which has then caused some of his internal organs to be out of placed and caused other health issues such as hernias. He warned me not to play rugby, but I ignored his advice as it is compulsory for boys in Grammar schools and the done thing which seemed fun at the time. Now, 10 years since I played on a pitch I too have rugby-induced neck and spine problems which I will have to endure for the rest of my life. The problem with many of these injuries is the long-term onset of many of them.

    I think it should actually be made criminal for schools to force young adolescents to play a sport as brutal as rugby – this is a time of their lives when their body is still growing and most vulnerable to damage, especially if playing in the forwards.

  • JR

    AYM,

    I’d say for every person left with permenant injuries from school sports there are 10 left with obesity related illnesses from lack of activity in their teenage years.

  • Barnshee

    “@Barnshee, by my reckoning I’m probably due a rebate from your “poor bastard the British Taxpayer” for impounding my country.”

    I am unaware of any british taxpayer “impounding” “your country” –perhaps you could enlighten me

    I am aware of the -poor bastard- the British Taxpayer bailing out “your countries” banks ?

  • Old Mortality

    JR
    ‘a number of functional Irish speaking communities across the north’

    Where are they? You’re surely not locating West Donegal in ‘the north’.

  • Scáth Shéamais

    Ah. So integrated is good then – as long as its everyone else that has to do the integrating??

    Well in principle gaelscoileanna aren’t as Christian-dominated in their ethos as many integrated schools. (NICIE makes clear in its prinicples that integrated schools provide a faith-based approach of their own.)

    Still, we’ve established that there are many advantages to tumoideachas, or immersion education, and that Irish-medium schools aren’t catholic schools. And yet there’s still ardent opposition to their existence.

  • Mark

    AYM ,

    Re your post about rugby injuries , I went to a Holy Ghost catholic school which was/is famous for winning Leinster Schools titles and producing modern Irish internationals .

    A very good friend of mine’s father went to the priests just as the U14 / Junior season was starting and asked him what would happen if his son broke his neck and was confined to a wheelchair and would need constant medical attention etc , my friend’s father was asking him who would foot the bill . What was the story with insurance etc . The priest couldn’t / wouldn’t give him an answer so my friend’s dad told the priest that his son wouldn’t be playing rugby anymore . My friend played wing forward and was devastated that his old man had pulled such a stunt ( he’d ruined his life ) . His replacement in the very next game shattered his collar bone and was out for the season . He was also a friend . He found it difficult to write for a while but as far as I know the policy hasn’t changed and it should .

    There were 180 pupils in each year and in my year for whatever reason one of the students was a protestant . Everyday when we had religious studies he’d head to the study and sit in the empty hall doing extra work etc . It’s only 20 years later that I satrted to think how he must have felt heading off to study each morning while the other 179 boys stayed in class .

    I know down here is completely different when it comes to religious education however in my daughter’s class , out of 24 seven year olds , 6 are from the sub continent . I’m sure their parents teach them about their own beliefs once school is over and IMHO the onus should always be on the parents regardless .

  • JR

    Old Mortality,

    There is a very strong Irish speaking community where I live in South Armagh anyway. Particularly in villages such as Mullaghban, Forkhill, Camlough, Cullyhanna and Crossmaglen. I would be in weekly contact with about two dozen individuals with whom I have only ever spoken in Irish. I would be in contact with about 60 or so others through the year. I myself mainly speak Irish at home.

    I am aware that there are others in West belfast, Tyrone and Derry.

  • Hopping The Border

    “I am aware of the -poor bastard- the British Taxpayer bailing out “your countries” banks ?”

    By providing a loan repayable with a healthy rate of interest to one of it’s largest and most important trading partners.

    http://uk.reuters.com/article/2010/11/17/uk-ireland-britain-idUKTRE6AG22L20101117

  • Reader

    Hopping the Border: By providing a loan repayable with a healthy rate of interest to one of it’s largest and most important trading partners.
    Then the solution is obvious – get a better interest rate from a friendlier country. Let us know how you get on.

  • Mike the First

    “Indeed, there is another 26 counties, not that you’d ever know it if you stepped inside a state school”

    What utter drivel from Ulick – plenty of state schools proudly display, for example Ireland jerseys from former pupils who have gone on to play international sport for all-Ireland teams. (and indeed Ulster jerseys)

  • HeinzGuderian

    Had to laugh at the ‘irish speaking schools’,outperforming English speaking schools in Maths and ENGLISH…………you couldn’t make it up !!! 😉

  • HeinzGuderian

    Isn’t the very core of the problem here is that ‘we’ indoctrinate our prejudices onto our children ?
    Isn’t about time that stopped ?
    Little children haven’t got any prejudices at all. They don’t care a fiddler’s cuss about invisible sky daddies,or what particular brand they might be.
    A Palestinian child will play with an Israeli child…………..until their parents explain why they shouldn’t.
    Yes,at the end of lessons they go back to their ghettos of ulick and turgon………..but as they grow older,and ulick and turgon try to pass on their sectarian hatreds,the child is much more likely to tell daddy to wise up !!
    jr speaks only irish while at home………………until he has to phone Sky,or the BBC,or BT for that matter. Then the irish is dropped.

    We can keep our children living in hatred and bigotry,from generation to generation,or we can change it.

    I say we change it……..at least try.

  • Hopping The Border

    Reader, I think you misunderstood the nature of my post.

    Barnshee sought to portray the UK’s assistance of the ROI as some sort of pitiful charity.

    I was simply pointing out that the UK stands to profit from such action directly and indirectly and as such it is in their interest to aid the ROI.

  • Heinz,

    Speaking a language other than English in the privacy of one’s own home is sectarian? I’ve heard it all now.

  • JR

    Just listen to the hared and bigotry, how could her parent have done this to her??

  • Reader

    Hopping the Border: I was simply pointing out that the UK stands to profit from such action directly and indirectly and as such it is in their interest to aid the ROI.
    The direct benefit being that the interest on the loan is enough to compensate for the risk of default and the (lower) interest that the UK had to pay to borrow the money that was then loaned to Ireland? I was certainly addressing that. Get a better deal if you can. I understand China is open for business.
    As for indirect benefit, I don’t actually agree. Ireland is a Eurozone country running a trade surplus with the UK. The UK would still be comfortably positioned even if Ireland defaulted and/or dropped out of the Eurozone, being Ireland’s nearest and best source of foreign exchange. The UK was helping out a neighbour and/or furtively supporting the Eurozone through the back door.
    Mind you. A country with a housing surplus is next door to a country with a housing shortage…

  • Irish now third most used language in RoI according to 2011 census data:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-17561881?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter

  • JR

    Andrew,

    This headline is a misread of the statistics.

    http://www.cso.ie/en/census/census2011reports/census2011thisisirelandpart1/

    According to the Census 1,774,437 claim to be able to speak Irish in the South, Outnumbering those who can speak Polish 10 to 1.

    But the numbers who speak Irish are broken down into those who speak Irish Within the Education System, Outside the education system daily, Outside the education system weekly, Outside the education System less often, Never outside the educations system and both inside and outside the education system.

    It is a bit unfair to compare one of those categories with the whole Polish Dataset.

    One thing that jumps out at me is the increase in those who claim to speak the Irish language among the young. 73.7% of all 10 to 14 year olds in the Republic!!

  • Old Mortality

    JR
    Would you say that if I found myself in any of those villages and in need of directions, I could stop anyone at random and successfully obtain the information using only the Irish language?

  • JR

    OM, We both know the answer to that question and we both know thats not what I am saying at all. I am using community word in the “Farming community” or “Sporting community” sense.

    What I am saying is that it is easy to speak Irish every day to a range of people in these areas. It is easy to find a baby sitter who speaks fluent Irish, an irish speaking youth club, Irish speaking school etc.

  • HeinzGuderian

    Andrew,I was merely pointing out the futility of speaking a ‘language’ that has absolutely no relevance in the modern world.
    I wouldn’t call it sectarian,no.
    Given the scenarios I used,(for your benefit),I would call jr’s claim,somewhat fanciful. 😉

    By the by,you read it….you didn’t hear it.

  • HeinzGuderian

    What I am saying is that it is easy to speak Irish every day to a range of people in these areas. It is easy to find a baby sitter who speaks fluent Irish, an irish speaking youth club, Irish speaking school etc.

    …………………but lift the telephone for assistance,and your fecked……

  • Mark

    OTI – a welcome addition to the managment and already a few ruffled feathers from certain sections re hidden agendas etc etc .

    A great decision my Mick and already there is a noticable buzz about the place – not that I have any idea on one or two of the subject matters covered so far by OTI .

    As always on Slugger , I’m looking to educate myself and gain insight and knowledge about events , opinions etc .

    The kinda Catholic Orangeman with the jet ski skills was an honest eye opener ……