The Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure published the Report of the Consultation on Proposals for an Irish Language Bill on 18th December 2015. It can be read in full here.
Some 95% of the 13,000 respondents were favourably disposed towards the proposal, according to the Minister’s statement, and these submissions are explored in much more detail in the report.
However, a submission from the County Fermanagh Grand Orange Lodge (signed by its County Grand Master, Stuart Brooker) is particularly notable.
The Fermanagh Orange are against the Irish Language being given Official Status in NI. In fact, in their submission they maintain that “Polish should…be given a higher preference for such consideration.”
And they don’t like the idea of Gaeltacht areas either. “There are no Gaeltacht areas in Northern Ireland to our knowledge, therefore providing for them is simply ludicrous. We believe that any attempt to establish such areas will simply lead to further disrespect, and suspicion around the whole idea.”
Yet what I found most noteworthy was the recurring theme in the Orangemen’s submission that money is just too tight in this economic climate to be wasted in such a manner.
Here are the Orange in their own words:
On Irish in Courts
- The cost alone of administering such a system is not practical in times of austerity, when available monies could be much better spent.
- The financial burden imposed on the system because of this would be untenable.
On provisions to allow Irish to be used in the Assembly
- The cost of administering such a scheme…in times of austerity is not acceptable.
On an Irish Language Commissioner post being created
- There is absolutely no need for such a person to put even further pressure on the public purse.
The message from the Orange Order is clear: in these austere times, imposing untenable financial burdens upon the public purse is simply not acceptable.
In November 2015, the Belfast Telegraph revealed that the policing bill for the Orange Order-sponsored Twaddell loyalist camp had exceeded £18.5 million pounds– and it’s still rising.
This is, of course, but one area where the Orange Order’s conduct has proved very costly to the public purse in terms of policing and public order.
Add to that the significant public funds invested in Orange Order events throughout each year.
And, lest we forget, the Orange Order’s new museum was funded with contributions from both the Northern Ireland Executive and Irish Government.
In austere times too….
The matter was discussed in the Assembly chamber yesterday, when the DUP’s Gordon Lyons had this to say to the Sinn Fein DCAL Minister:
My party has made it very clear that we will not be supporting any Act like that, not only because of how divisive it would be but because of the cost of implementing the use of Irish in courts and in the Assembly and the cost of having an Irish language commissioner.
Without any sense of irony, Gordon’s DUP colleague, Peter Weir, had only minutes previously pushed the DCAL Minister to take action to reinstate funding for musical instruments for loyalist bands.
In austere times.