Gaelscéal: Is Ireland a country or an island?

Blag le Colm Ó Broin : 

Gaelscéal: An tír í Éire, nó oileán?

Bhí tuairisc ag Gaelscéal le déanaí faoin gconspóid idir na Gaelscoileanna agus an Roinn Oideachais ó dheas faoi thumoideachas.

Fuair muid go leor cáipéisí faoin Acht um Shaoráil Faisnéise, ina measc dréachtaí d’óráid a thug an t-iarAire Oideachais, Batt O’Keefe, chuig comhdháil bhliantúil Ghaelscoileanna Teo in 2008.

Bhain roinnt den óráid leis an gcomhoibriú a bhí ar bun aige leis an Roinn Oideachais sa Tuaisceart. Bhí an méid scríofa i ndréacht amháin.

My northern counterpart, the Minister for Education, Caitríona Ruane, is in agreement with me about the importance of the language in any education system. Particular mention is made of the importance of encouraging and promoting co-operation throughout the whole country.”

Athraíodh an chéad dréacht eile chuig “throughout the whole island of Ireland,” áfach.

Dheimhnigh Roinn an Taoisigh le Gaelscéal go bhfuil sé de nós ag an rialtas ‘island of Ireland’ a úsáid seachas ‘country’ ach nach bhfuil treorlínte daingne acu.

An bhfuil sé ceart ná cóir cosc a chur ar dhaoine cur síos a dhéanamh ar Éirinn (an t-oileán) mar ‘thír’?

Gaelscéal na seachtaine seo; Tension in Belfast Irish language groups; Conamara direct action group to continue campaign ... and did Leipreachán's really come from America?

 Gaelscéal: Is Ireland a country or an island?

Gaelscéal reported recently on the controversy between the Republic’s Department of Education and the Irish-medium sector regarding immersion education.

We received documents from the Department under the Freedom of Information Act, including drafts of a speech by then Education Minister Batt O’Keefe to the Gaelscoileanna AGM in 2008. Part of the speech referred to cooperation with the NI Department of Education.

The following was in one draft.

“My northern counterpart, the Minister for Education, Caitríona Ruane, is in agreement with me about the importance of the language in any education system. Particular mention is made of the importance of encouraging and promoting co-operation throughout the whole country.”

However, the following draft was changed to “throughout the whole island of Ireland.”

The Department of the Taoiseach confirmed to Gaelscéal that the government usually uses ‘island of Ireland’ instead of ‘the country’, but that there are no firm guidelines.

Is it right that there would appear to be a ban on ministers referring to Ireland (the island!) as a ‘country’?

Related article :

An ag magadh atá an DUP (are the DUP having a laugh)?

 

[Clarification, 12:00, Friday, 5th October, 2012 – I think the point being made in this piece is that the Minister’s draft referred to Ireland as a country, with 32 counties implied in that definition, this was crossed out by a civil servant (the permanent government?) and replaced by ‘Island of Ireland’. Prior to the GFA it was common practice for politicians to refer to the ‘state’ rather than to Ireland]

  • Ciaran,

    Straw man alert! How do you equate “no firm guidelines” with “a ban”?

    “Country” is an ambiguous and loaded term. “Island” is not. Using the latter and avoiding unnecessary controversy is just common sense.

  • HeinzGuderian

    You got this one covered,Andy 😉

  • GavBelfast

    Maybe if the Irish state had not decided to call itself “Ireland”, there would be a better case for thinking that there is (still) a country of the same name that covers the whole island?

    Anyway, Andy has covered it well.

  • Drumlins Rock

    Yes. it is.

  • wild turkey

    15 – love to Andrew

    country: noun
    1. a state or nation: What European countries have you visited?
    2. the territory of a nation.
    3. the people of a district, state, or nation: The whole country backed the president in his decision.
    4. the land of one’s birth or citizenship.
    5. rural districts, including farmland, parkland, and other sparsely populated areas, as opposed to cities or towns:

    island  noun
    1. a tract of land completely surrounded by water, and not large enough to be called a continent.
    2. something resembling an island, especially in being isolated or having little or no direct communication with others.
    3. a raised platform with a counter or other work surface on top situated in the middle area of a room, especially a kitchen, so as to permit access from all sides.

  • Jacques Stadacona

    Ireland has been a country for thousands of years, the use of country by the Minister is not in the slightest bit controversial; it is consonant with the reality that while Ireland is one nation/country, it was forcibly divided into two different states in 1921.

    What next, the insertion of a border on weather forecasts for TG4 and RTE? Doubtless the slavish PC brigade will be at work here too. Non, merci.

  • Toastedpuffin

    “Ireland has been a country for thousands of years”

    If not billions. The first humans to reach Ireland following the last ice age were surprised (and no doubt delighted) to find it populated by Irishmen, speaking Gaelic (which they called “Irish”), supporting Celtic, playing Gaelic sport, and busy being Catholic to the core.

  • Jacques Stadacona

    Neither Catholicism nor Celtic F.C. existed ”billions of years ago” – are you silly, or just intellectually deficient? Or perhaps an admixture of both?

  • Drumlins Rock

    is it half term already Jacques?

    America is a country, India is a country, China is a country, Korea is a country, Macedonia is a country, Cuba is a country, Cyprus is a country. Yet all of them are also areas greater than that controlled by there respective governments. There is no real contradiction, the context usually defines which meaning you intend, if there is a possibility of confusion then it does no harm to clarify.

  • “the government usually uses ‘island of Ireland’ instead of ‘the country’, but that there are no firm guidelines.”

    It’s probably a matter of priority and protocol. Having ‘hi-jacked’ ‘Ireland’ as the name for the state, the name for the island is ‘island of Ireland’. Etiquette will be handled by the various protocol divisions in the departments of government. Junior staff in these divisions may well refer to ‘the Republic’ but the senior ones will use ‘Ireland’.

    I live in a territory known as ‘the Route’; it was formerly known as ‘McQuillan’s Country/Countrie’.

  • Clanky

    Jaques “Ireland has been a country for thousands of years”

    Not in any sense that we would recognise as a country today. Even in the times of the high kings Ireland was a land of tribes, rather then a unified nation. One of the issues that nationalism has never really addressed is that in many ways the idea of an Irish nation only developed under British rule.

  • Dec

    ‘One of the issues that nationalism has never really addressed is that in many ways the idea of an Irish nation only developed under British rule.’

    Probably because it’s utterly irrelevant.