It’s time for the DUP to change its tune on Gaeilge

I was listening to Evening Extra  after a day which began with Paul Givan finding £50,000 to restore to the Líofa bursaries in his ministerial sofa and which featured a marvellous and energetic protest outside his department imploring him to continue his search to see whether he might find the missing Irish Language Act.

It was discouraging, I suppose, to listen to Mairtín Ó Muilleoir, an old friend, refusing to say whether or not his party would regard the introduction of Acht na Gaeilge as a red line issue before Sinn Féin would go back into a partnership government.   Although I appreciate the reluctance of any party giving hostages to fortune which voters could remind them of in future campaigns if these promises aren’t delivered upon, I still felt a little disappointed when he didn’t say it out loud because that’s what is required.  I know or I think I know that’s what he would like to say.   One thing he did say did inspire me, though, and it’s this: that he had spoken with Jeffrey Donaldson about holding events to show a cross community, with the inclusion of republicans, appreciation of the sacrifice of those who died in the Battle of the Somme during that battle’s centenary.  And he delivered on that.   We had numerous events in west Belfast to commemorate the Somme.   He asked how had the DUP reciprocated with relation to 1916.  Not in the same measure, not by a proverbial mile.

Back to An Ghaeilge,  I don’t think I’m alone in the Irish language community – the 300+ strong crowd outside the Causeway Exchange is an indication of the level of support for such a measure – in wanting the introduction and enactment of an Irish Language Act as a guaranteed element of any future power-sharing arrangement.

Call me unreasonable if you want but it’s high time there was such legislation.   Here we are 19 years since commitments regarding the Irish language were included in the Good Friday Agreement and 10 years on from St Andrews which included a commitment to introduce an Irish Language Act.   And we still don’t have an Irish Language Act or sufficient progress in guaranteeing delivery on commitments of the GFA with regard to Irish.  The GFA guaranteed, for instance, adoption of the European Charter of Regional Minority Languages Part 3 in respect of Irish – currently the Northern Ireland Executive is in default of this as it is unable to deliver reports on the implementation for reasons explained before.   In essence where we had progress, now we have regression.   And that’s simply not good enough.

Mairtín and his colleagues in Sinn Féin are at one with most in the Irish language community in terms of a frustration with the ongoing petty insults from DUPers who feel they can offend Irish speakers at will.   Sticks and stones will break our bones but, taken in isolation, names will never hurt us.   However as the recent Líofa incident demonstrated, as well as previous decisions such as the axing by Edwin Poots of the Irish Language Broadcast Fund back in 2007 or the decisions by Peter Weir as Education Minister to close nurture units in Irish Medium schools or refuse their justifiable applications for transfers from one building to another, there is a cutting edge to these insults.

In an interview following Mairtín Ó Muilleoir,  Paul Givan, the Minister for Communities for a little while longer, said that he had decided to reverse the cut to Líofa as he didn’t want to allow Sinn Féin to use that issue against the DUP in the election, he wanted to demonstrate how wrong it was to ‘weaponise’ the Irish language, which he says he respects, and though he recognised that SF would use the Irish language in its election platform, well, he wouldn’t give them the satisfaction of using his decision on Líofa to do so.  Now, in announcing his U-turn, he said the original decision to cut the bursary scheme wasn’t political – it seems clear to me that the subsequent decision to restore it was political.

Here’s a radical suggestion for Paul and his colleagues in the DUP, if you’re really serious about making this election less orange and green and not allowing the Irish language to be ‘weaponised’ as you say, why doesn’t the DUP adapt a positive platform on the Irish language?  Isn’t it part of all our heritage – that includes unionist heritage. Own it. It doesn’t belong to Sinn Féin, you say. I agree. It belongs to us all.  But you must stake your claim.

Look at the work being done by Linda Ervine in East Belfast, a DUP stronghold.  There are Irish classes in many areas which are being attended by people who vote for the DUP.   In an interview the other night Paul Givan boasted that the Irish language was saved by unionists.    Unionists can save it again.

Adapting as a party aim to introduce an Irish Language Act which puts Northern Ireland on the same footing linguistically as Scotland with its Acht na Gaidhlige or Wales with its Welsh Language Act will stun Sinn Féin beyond belief.   Mike Nesbitt and Jim Allister are looking on from the sidelines waiting for you to roll over to Sinn Féin and concede that party’s demands of more concessions to Irish speakers after the election.  That’s what they will be saying on the doorsteps.   That the Líofa decision is a prelude to the DUP making a giant concession after the election to Sinn Féin.

So, get it out of the way.  Get maximum advantage from it.  Make it part of your manifesto.   That the DUP will deliver a practical working Irish Language Act when returned to power. It may lose you some unionist votes – but it has the potential to damage Sinn Féin more than you will ever imagine. It could even smash Sinn Féin. It will help people from all communities forget the unfortunate mess that is the RHI scandal.

This latest episode has caused ructions.  The Irish Times has blamed unionists for the latestbreakdown  – that’s a first in my memory.   If you carry on the way you’re going, you’ll be dealing with a Sinn Féin First Minister in the north and a Sinn Féin Taoiseach in the south.

You could adapt the same tactics regarding gay marriage.   After all it’s in the rest of the UK – surely you want to be like the rest of the UK?  The Irish language and gay marriage aren’t what you’re about, ok, so do like the famous poet said in his poem ‘Daoirse/Absence of Liberty’,  Níl laistigh d’aon daoirse ach saoirse ón daoirse sin/When you accept an absence of liberty, you free yourself from that absence.   Does that make sense to you?

You can get on with Brexit and all the other stuff you’re really interested in.  You might even get the Republic of Ireland to rejoin the Commonwealth.  Now that would be a feather in the cap.   The possibility of achieving a United Ireland would be more distant than ever as one of the main reasons for seeking it, rights and recognition for Irish speakers,  would have been removed as an issue.  In fact it’s probable that the southern establishment, themselves no great advocates of Irish language rights, would build a border wall like that planned by Donald Trump between the USA and Mexico should such dangerous ideas filter southward.

Think outside the box and the current borderlines.  Change the game – before the game changes on you.    This is a challenge to you, no doubt, but it should be easy for the party which broke all its conventions to sit down with Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness ten years ago.   Ian Paisley secured his place in the history books – now it should be your turn.

Do I think you’ll take up the challenge?  No, not really.   You’re far too comfortable sitting back on your sofa enjoying the blistering heat from the RHI boilers and anticipating a brutal election.   It will be a brutal election and we will anticipate a brutal outcome along the usual tribal and party lines.  Everything will return to normal. The Sound of Silence will prevail.  Hello darkness, my old friend!

 

 

  • Ernekid

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/3178b100d3ade2a69edff28eb32b0d69216c5f025b257bca4532a6e7fde94591.jpg

    Unionists didn’t always have a problem with the Irish language. Paul Givan would do well to listen to the likes of Linda Ervine who have realised that the Irish Language is part of the shared linguistic and cultural heritage of these islands that we should all cherish and enjoy.

  • ulidian

    No offence to her, but who gives a stuff what Linda Ervine thinks.

  • Ernekid

    I do. She’s one of the most cogent speakers on Ulster Protestant Cultural history and the Irish language about.
    https://youtu.be/hVnI7yEQJoQ

    Give this a watch. You might learn something

  • NotNowJohnny

    I think that someone from the unionist community who speaks and promotes the use of the Irish language is worth listening to. So put me down as someone who does give a stuff what Linda Ervine thinks.

  • Mac an Aistrigh

    Me too.

    I’ve seldom seen a sillier comment, Ulidian.

  • Teddybear

    I’m a Unionjst and I endorse Concubhars message. Let’s have the Irish Language Act. I’m relaxed about Irish in the same way I’m relaxed about Welsh. They’re all part of the rich fabric of the home nations

  • mac tire

    Well, to use your own logic…

    No offence to ulidian, but who gives a stuff what ulidian thinks.

  • Concubhar O Liathain

    I wonder what language the Ulidians spoke?

  • SeaanUiNeill

    “Kiltartan”, Concubhar, have you not read Lady Gregory’s “Cuchulain of Muirthemne”? At least that’s what the Ulaidh clearly spoke in the 1900s……………

  • SeaanUiNeill

    In her own words,ulidian,

    “There is every reason why Protestants should be learning Irish, ninety-five percent of our place names come from Gaelic… We are using words in our language every day that come from the Gaelic language. We are steeped in it.”

    And, our sentence construction in English habitually employs many of the grammatic usages of Irish, a strong hint of its pervasiveness for all of us in our very way of thinking.

  • Donncha O HEallaithe

    An phíosa. Well written.

  • ted hagan

    It’s a bit absurd putting eloquently the case to the DUP for supporting the Irish language and then in the final instance telling them they haven’t the wit or compulsion to do it.
    Also, The Irish Times has frequently been highly critical of the unionists leadership down the years. Perhaps you’re thinking of an era long gone.

  • ted hagan

    Indeed, Belfast man Samuel Ferguson, an Instonian, played a pivotal role in the Irish language revival.

  • John Collins

    Well said. Accurate and generous comment.

  • North Down

    This is a genuine, question, I would like to know you seem clued up on, in the language we use every day catholic and protestant , do we speak mostly Irish or ulster Scotts or both, are we really brothers like Jacob and esau , you know what am getting at

  • Anthony O’Shea

    Fair play to you man thanks.

  • On the fence!

    “Unionists didn’t always have a problem with the Irish language.”

    Maybe not, but for me (mid 50’s), I grew up seeing it being spoken by the same people who in their next breath were justifying some heinous act be that shooting, bombing, or whatever, in their “struggle” for “freedom”.

    Now here we are a considerable number of years later, and I now know that the Irish language goes way, way, beyond how it was abused in those situations. But y’know, cut us a wee bit of slack, a bit of understanding and time to adjust to a different meaning of it would work wonders.

    For some of us anyway!

  • Ernekid

    That’s a really rather bizarre attitude. It’s like taking offence at someone speaking German due to the barbaric behaviour of German speakers in the Second World War.

    If someone takes against the Irish Language due to the crimes of a violent minority then they really need to get some perspective and a bit of cop on.

  • file

    Very interested to hear Girvan on The View defending the Irish Language. Although, of course, he did not mean a word of what he said. As my Ma often says, “These people could not even spell ‘truth’.”

    But … we need an Irish language Act like we need a hole in the head. I do not care that it was agreed at St Andrews; that was a mistake. As was the invention and funding of Ulster Scots and the whole idea that Ulster Scots is for Protestants and that Irish is for Catholics. All languages are methods of communication. When they are used for any other purpose – as a cause, as a badge of identity, as a weapon – it is to the detriment of the language.

    By all means cost the implementation of an Irish Language Act, but then do NOT implement one, but use the money instead to fund schools, night classes, conversation classes, book clubs etc. i.e. activities that will get people speaking the language rather than providing bureaucratic 9-5 jobs for some Irish speakers, unnecessary bilingual government forms (if you need a driving licence application form in Irish to prove something to yourself there is something lacking in yourself, not in the form) and piles of unread, translated documents. The Dáil has officially been supporting Irish since the foundation of the state, and has done more harm than good. What Irish needs is speakers, not official support and funding.

    I hope now that Irish can disappear off the list of subjects to be endlessly pored over in the pre-election period and that those of us who speak it can just get on with speaking it without having to hear it being kicked about ó cheann ceann na páirce ag daoine nach labhraíonn í minic go leor nó ar chor ar bith.

  • On the fence!

    Well you can be dismissive if you want, but it’s also how a lot of prods see it, only they wouldn’t all be as keen as me to challenge their own perspective and move forward.

    Like everything else in Northern Ireland, effort is needed from BOTH sides to achieve progress.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    It’s a facet of human nature; I know of people who wouldn’t drink McEwans lager because they sponsored Rangers and of a pub in Drumchapel that got rid of Oranjeboom beer because of its House of Orange connotations.

    World War II was a long time ago, plenty of time to let time heal, the era of people with known or suspected IRA connections being seen as associated with Irish is still very much in the present.

    And before anyone lights on me I support an Irish language act and indeed would in an ideal world like to see a Gaelic revival in Ulster, Scotland and the Isle of Man (and would love to see us all bilingual in Gaelic and English and all well versed in Ulster Scots poetry).

    I’m just trying to point out how people form associations in their minds.

  • Fear Éireannach

    Do you not think that it is offensive to make this point in English considering Cromwell’s extermination of one quarter of the Irish population?

  • On the fence!

    Well that’s a very different perspective to what we’re used to hearing.

    Also very difficult to disagree with, did something similar not happen with the Welsh language a few years ago resulting in a massive surge in it’s popularity?

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    CAN’T…..RESISSSSTTT….. http://amgobsmacked.blogspot.ca/2013/12/foreigners-lundys-and-irish-language.html …..GGGAAAAAHHHHH!!!!!!

  • On the fence!

    Don’t ever remember seeing Cromwell on “Scene around Six”.

    Gerry however, I do remember!

  • Neil

    Brilliant.

  • Concubhar O Liathain

    I have no interest in creating bureaucracy – in English or as Gaeilge.

  • Adam Martin

    That’s funny, I only ever heard these justifications (from both sides) offered in English…

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Seriously, North Down, the vocabulary we use contains elements of Ullans, customary English and Irish words all mixed together and cannibalised. Those odd inversions in sentences which mark the differences between the way we speak “English” and the way it is spoken over the water frequently follow rules of Irish grammer, which shows, to my mind, that our ancestors from whatever corner of our community thought to some degree in Irish. And yes, even those “Cruthain” Ian Adamson would claim to be the ancestors of the Ulster Scots spoke Celtic language!!! The language links all of us to our earliest ancestors.

    The bumptious Francis Joseph Bigger once jocularly said “Sure, take a Scottish potatoe and plant it in Irish soil and dung and you have an Irish potatoe!” It’s an important truth, that our Ulster Scots here are clearly different in important ways (not just dialect) to Scots across the pond, let alone Britons further south. Back when Home Rule was a new buzz word a polite Dubliner looked at someone from Cork and someone else from the north and would simply see interesting variants on Irishness. In Cork, the influence modifying the original Gael would have been West Country English (still there in the accent) and in the north, the Scots marked the local culture. In both cases at the extreme corners of the island, we have never been talking about pure planter strains unmixed with the local people who were there before, but about a hybrid of polycultural interchanges.

    So, we all speak Irish one way or another, and Linda is very well worth meeting with and learning from if one of her talks captures your imagination. she is a first rate facilitator. My grandfather, who fought in the 36th Division in the Great War, learnt Irish through Conradh na Gaeilge, like a lot of other Protestants in the 1900s and told me that he encountered Irish speakers in every platoon! It’s a pity that everything has become so polarised today as the language itself is a rich resporce which still colours our everyday life here, a presence usually unobserved.

    The redoubtable Am Gobsmacht has a fine posting on all this on his own site:

    http://amgobsmacked.blogspot.co.uk/2013/12/foreigners-lundys-and-irish-language.html

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Oh dear, AG, I was once involved in an animated commercial for Oranjeboom, what will King Francis think, if he ever finds out!

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Ted, if you’re ever looking for the Hole Stone near Ballycarry, you’ll probably pass through Sir Sam’s ancestral family farmland.

    Problem is, he was most influential in the second Irish Cultural Revival, yes, but his actual Irish was woeful, as you can see from the allusions in his poetry. If you want to go for someone who really worked to revive the language in the north, Robert Shipboy McAdams, like “a pint of plain”, is your only man:

    http://www.ricorso.net/rx/az-data/authors/Mc/McAdam_RS/life.htm

  • file

    You might not have, but sure look at all the unwanted translations created down south … and the bureaucracy of Foras na Gaeilge, whose only job should be to give money to people who are actually doing something active about getting people to speak Irish.

  • On the fence!

    I’m not trying to “justify” anything, just saying how things are.

  • ted hagan

    Thanks for that info

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Delighted Ted, we need all the culture we can get, especially that which cannot be reduced to simply “politics”.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    “Brilliant’ is his default.

  • Karl

    I could do without an Irish language act if everyone was entitled to be educated to primary level through Irish. Once you have fluent speakers the demand comes from there.
    I think if the same was done in ROI, that would do wonders for the language. It should not be mandatory in secondary school but available. Any child with a fluency is guaranteed a high grade in their leaving cert relatively easy and would choose to keep it up. The benefits of growing up bilingually are well documented.
    It also removes the negativity towards the language from being forced to learn it for the last 6 years of education.
    I cant think why this hasnt been done before. In ROI it is recognised that the gael scoileanna educate all subjects to a very high standard and that other language learning flows more easily.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    OTF, Old noll hanged an ancestor of mine by the Mound at Drogheda, and for some of us such things are also part of our deep “memory” as would be later family service in Imperial wars.

    We have rather ancient Concentration camp gurads appearing in court until recently, and if you accept the powerful logic of such responsibilitries, then the genocide of one quarter of a population is not something which can be dismissed lightly. The condition of this country, and, as another example, of the United States has the form we currently see only from such acts of effacement. Such things form patterns still active under the bland “normality” of everyday life. Current Unionist fears of violent displacement are barely disgusied echos of their own foundation stories, and as I’m always pointing out, the recourse to violent resistence by Unionism from 1912 onwards sowed the seeds of complimentary IRA violence, as it showed others how to be “successful” in our local politics. As you importantly say, “Like everything else in Northern Ireland, effort is needed from BOTH sides to achieve progress” and part of this is teh recognition that neither side is acting in isolation, but as part of a gestalt or “whole inter-dependant pattern”, the polarities mirror each other and shadow the others actions, and with an ever presnet history, “its what you don’t know that hurts you” or things which won’t be recognised which harm.

  • Reader

    NotNowJohnny: I think that someone from the unionist community who speaks and promotes the use of the Irish language is worth listening to.
    Choosing to value someone’s opinion on the sole grounds that they agree with you about one single thing is a bit weak. And risky.

  • Oggins

    N.D why not go to one of Linda’s classes to find out more

  • Concubhar O Liathain

    I’d agree with you there but an Irish Language Act in the north doesn’t have to be the mirror image of that in the south. It can be moulded to suit northern needs. I have spoken out in the past about my aversion to the ‘maorlathas ar mire’/mad bureaucracy in the south but that was because the Language Equality Act produced so much bureaucracy that it nearly killed the language. In fact if the DUP really wanted to destroy Irish, they should cut and paste it here. I speak almost in jest but the northern legislation must enshrine basic linguistic rights and impose basic duties on public bodies – no massive amounts of translation if unread documents in English into Irish, no bonkers schemes as exist in the south. A duty of courtesy to Irish speakers – i.e. each public facing public body has a means of dealing with enquiries from Irish speakers in Irish – would do me. Along with statutory backing for the European Charter for Regional and Minority Languages and s lifting of the ban on using Irish in the courts. Bilingual signage. A duty on the BBC to broadcast much more in Irish.

  • runnymede

    I think for a couple of decades after the war at least, a lot of people who went through it did react like that to hearing German – I can remember my grandfather (ex-POW) visibly stiffening when he heard some German tourists in the mid-70s. It’s unfortunate that Irish has become associated with the IRA and brutal murders but nevertheless it has.

  • Adam Martin

    I didn’t say you were.I’m saying that I can’t ever recall the Irish language being used to justify any carnage.
    If one wants to start applying a moral standard to a fecking language because of who uses it, then English speakers are in big trouble.

  • file

    Karl, everyone is already entitled to be educated to primary level through Irish. All they need to do is to join one of the many Gaelscoileanna.

  • file

    Speaking Irish is very much a minority sport, and the cost associated with providing ‘bureaucratic jobs’ in every public-facing body in case anyone happens to phone up speaking Irish (and refusing to speak English) cannot be justified. In all other contexts apart from Irish and Catalan, people take delight in being bilingual or multilingual – and even most Catalans will willingly speak Spanish to tourists who cannot speak Catalan.
    Demanding ‘linguistic rights’ for a tiny minority in an English-speaking society cannot be justified and should not be implemented. You already have ‘linguistic’ rights: you can speak Irish to anyone with Irish who is willing to listen to you. You do not have the right, however, to insist on speaking Irish to people who cannot understand Irish, and to do so is the height of bad manners. Would it really be such an imposition for you to speak English on those rare occasions when you have to contact a public-facing body? Would it really sully your tongue so much? Are you using Irish as a method of communication, or as a cause or a weapon to beat someone over the head with?

  • file

    Welsh is a completely different kettle of fish. Roughly half the Welsh population can speak Welsh. Irish is a tiny minority sport in comparison.

  • On the fence!

    “then the genocide of one quarter of a population is not something which can be dismissed lightly.”

    I would never “dismiss lightly” the death of a single living creature, no matter what the circumstances, so if I gave that impression then my communication skills have let me down (it wouldn’t be the first time).

    To me the 70’s and 80’s in Northern Ireland aren’t historical, they are part of the life which I’m still managing to hang on to today. I’m not relying on other peoples historical prowess or grainy photos to convey a message to me, I lived it! Example, when I was serving my time in the late 70’s I drove Japanese cars (and have since) simply because I had a longer commute than everyone else and British cars broke down, Japanese ones didn’t! I got stick back then from the aul lads for buying Japanese “after what those evil wee f**kers done in the war”. Some of the banter was in good humour, some of it was not! I didn’t get it at the time, WW2 was history to me, but I see now that to them it was still relevant as they’d lived it, to them it was still part of their lives!

    Now of-course within that facet of human nature lies Northern Irelands opportunity. My youngsters are both early twenties, to them the 70’s and 80’s are as WW2 was, and still is, to me i.e. history. They have no need to carry the amount of sectarian baggage that my generation has, although given the glacial pace of progress since the GFA it would be a brave man that would predict just how many generations it would take to get away from it completely. But still, they’re in a very different country to the one I was in at their age and I have to be thankful for that.

    Again, I’m not using any of that as an excuse for any prejudices which I may or may not have, I’m just facing up to the reality that it makes them harder to deal with. I understand other peoples problems regarding the RUC, UDR, Unionist government, etc, etc, well similarly many of us prods have a difficulty with the Irish language.

    It’s just how it is.

  • Karl

    24 out of 832 primary level schoolf and 4,500 pupils out of 330,000 is hardly guaranteed provision.
    303 out of 3,305 mean it is easier in the ROI but by no means guaranteed either.

  • ulidian

    I like the way you’ve slipped in “bilingual signage” there…

  • Concubhar O Liathain

    Easily sorted. Get a call centre with Irish speaking staff to sort out us Irish speakers with our queries. Next!

  • Concubhar O Liathain

    I hope to be proved wrong on the DUP as easily as you appear to have refuted my claim re the Irish Times and its tendency not to blame unionists.

  • Concubhar O Liathain

    You could also agree with Linda – as I do – because her logic is irrefutable.

  • Cináed mac Artri

    A most human and understandable point of view. Thank you for sharing it.

    It has always struck me that northern nationalists, always ready with a speedy recourse to bringing 1912, Cromwell, Strongbow or any number of other historical references into a conversation, express faux surprise when others mention incidents of nationalist wrongdoing that occurred within the living memory of many on this island.

    Indeed when such incidents are mentioned, many times in order to illustrate the narratives (and personal traumatic experiences) that inform contemporary attitudes, they are quickly swerved, or even more heinously used as a launchpad for another trip down ‘800 years of oppression’ street.

  • Concubhar O Liathain
  • SeaanUiNeill

    I know where you’re coming from on this, OTF, and fully respect what you’re saying, but we are not simply the product of one generation. The very language we speak and articulate our lives through is something we’ve inherited from our shared history, and if you’ve tried to translate into any other language, you’ll see just how our personal thinking is encoded by the pattern of language we habitually use. It is also encoded by our history, and as Carl Jung said (quoting Erasmus) “Vocatus atque non vocatus deus aderit” (“Bidden or unbidden God is present”), and that history will impact on us all even if we try and ignore it. Just as the patterns of language influence us, so the patterns of history influence us also, both in what we remember and in what we forget.

    One of these forgotten things is the openess of every part of society here to the Irish language only few generations ago. I remember my grandafther, who had served in the 36th Div in the Great War, spending his Saturdays in the 1950s frequently in “mixed confesssional” company, speaking Irish (when he wasn’t watching Forces Rugby). An older generation often regarded their very Unionism as a very Irish thing, and certainly did not identify the language or culture with SF or seperatism, something which an even slight exposure to actual Irish language culture even today quickly dispells, as much of the language community here in the north are interested in Irish and culture first and any politics that does not impact on the language well behind this.
    Look, I know the impression you’ve been given, but Linda Ervine is opening up a lot off closed doors on these things, and with the (very recent) rejection of something which is the inheritance of all of us here, and something which articlates the significance of things centuries old which we live through, we are all the poorer culturally.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    More importantly do you think the point stands to reason?

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    I just remembered sumfin;

    There was a hullabaloo in the eastern Croatian town of vukovar (which was battered during the war).

    The cause of said hullabaloo was that the town’s Serbian minority wanted to erect bi-script signs (in Latin and Cyrillic).

    The Croats were outraged as this triggered memories of the last time there was Cyrillic signs bedecking the town I.e. when it was under Serbian control in the war.

    I sympathise with both groups but the bottom line (to me) is that

    a/ all the Serbs understand Latin script anyway

    b/ they could be a bit more sensitive regarding the matter and accept that a psychological association has been built and needs time to be disassembled.

  • On the fence!

    You are most welcome sir. 🙂

    For my own part, I get a tense feeling of “entering the lions den” every time I dare to press the “post” button on here so polite well mannered replies (or even retorts!) from the few capable of such are very welcome to me too.

  • file

    But why do you insist on speaking in Irish on those rare occasions when you have to contact public bodies? English is a great language for selling pigs in, remember, and both you and the person on the other end of the phone are Líofa in it.

  • file

    Karl the number of Gaelscoileanna is determined by the demand. If there is demand for one to be set up in an area, it will be set up. 24 out of 832 is probably about right – Irish is a minority sport. Speaking of education though, I think it is lamentable that pupils in Third Year in secondary school do not know the 32 counties of Ireland or the major rivers and mountains BECAUSE it is not taught to them on the curriculum. Could you imagine a French 13 year-old not knowing where Marseilles is on a map?

  • On the fence!

    “I’m saying that I can’t ever recall the Irish language being used to justify any carnage.”

    Maybe that’s because if you want to get a message across it kinda makes sense to use a language that as many people as possible can actually understand.

    That being the case, English is never going to end up looking that great.

  • On the fence!

    Thank you for that, and I do welcome the progress of any cultural issue if only because it removes another sticking point between opposing sides in this wee area of Gods good earth.

    Respectfully, I must come clean and admit that I am not one for dwelling much on the past or historical issues. I concern myself much more about about the future because (a) we have yet to live it, and (b) we can still in theory do something about it. However I do accept that an understanding of the past can provide a valuable contribution to that future, so I’m quite happy to defer to people such as yourself with a greater knowledge of past history than myself.

  • file

    I am about as liberal as Genghis Khan.:):)

  • Cináed mac Artri

    I say every time: publish and be damned!

    Your interlocutors are mostly* just like you. Perhaps folks with too much time on their hands (me), or wanting something not flammable to accompany a coffee, availing of the ubiquitous mobile technology to cast thoughts into the ether (me again).

    *I say ‘mostly’ because you do come across what I call self-employed polemicists. With suchlike I’ve no problem using whatever approach seems to me fitting to express my personal contempt for views I find abhorrent.

    The beauty of these interactions is that you can adopt whichever style suits you. Offer an opinion, engage robustly if its challenged, or ignore replies you find insulting or pointless. But get your thoughts out there! Better than being a passive observer in my opinion.

    At the end of the day it doesn’t really matter. These days our words may not end up as tomorrow’s chip paper but they will drop into that unfathomable cache of online chitchat to be largely forgotten.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    File, ever encountered “The Candlemas Road” by George McDonald Fraser:

    “Here is one of you in a lonely place….as ye lie there helpless there approach three great thieves and murders whom ye know to be curler than any devils…..[of such help as may be offered]…what men do you hope to see there….the learned, gentle Aristotle and St Francis the meek, or Attliia the great Hun, armed cap a pie with Chingis at his elbow?”

    But I’d still like to be able to ask them for help in Irish……

  • SeaanUiNeill

    OTF, thank you for your kind words! For me, with a bit of training in Jungian psychology (five years), its a matter of the past being there to make mischief if we don’t address it, just as in the personal past. You’re right that we should not dwell on or certainly not obsess about our past, but it helps to avoid problems and misunderstandings if we have it as a road map. Without an awareness of the inceptive role of Unionism in bringing the gun back into what had become constitutionalist politics by 1912 and the Third Home Rule Bill, and the structural role of this is creating the encoded habit of violent solutions in our politics, we get people thinking “a big boy did it and ran off” about a lot of what we have had to struggle with.

    The roadmap stops us getting lost…….

  • file

    I will teach you if you like. Repeat ad infinitum:
    Dia duit. Tá Gaeilge agam ach ní hionann sin is a rá go bhfuil a fhios agat ón fhíric sin rud ar bith fá na tuairimí atá agam ar ábhar ar bith.
    [Hello. I can speak Irish but that does not mean that you know anything about any opinions I have on any subject.]
    Or you could go to one of the many night classes around the place.

  • Cináed mac Artri

    Chúl an glan!

  • SeaanUiNeill

    File, as an historian I find that the problem is you simply cannot even begin to examine early modern history here without some Irish, and it helps with everything to do with the three cultural revivals. If I needed the aid of “Attilla the Great Hun” I would imagine that my English would hardly help any more than my Irish, however.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Ah, Cináed, but he had moved the goalposts!!!

  • Alan N/Ards

    It’s time for political unionism to give the Irish language community the respect that they deserve. They pay their taxes and need to treated as equals by these morons.

    Political unionism is a disgrace and they need to be challenged (by supporters of the union) on their arrogance and lack of civility and grace. They are doing great damage to the cause of the union. I would go as far to say that many of these morons are more anti republican than pro union. The way the likes of Givan, McCausland and Campbell etc have belittled the Irish language community (at every opportunity) has been shocking. They should hand their heads in shame.

  • Concubhar O Liathain

    I personally want to teach these people Irish and I anticipate a long and happy retirement doing just that and calling each government department to teach Irish to an official, one per day,or more!. In the final analysis some people who may not initially want to learn Irish may be compelled to do so to advance in their jobs. You can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs!

  • Nevin

    Seaan, why not learn Irish because you wish to use it and to enjoy it – just like any other language? I’ve hardly ever heard it spoken in the street so if folk don’t use it it will eventually disappear.

    My approach is different from Lynda’s; I use the Scottish one of mutual support that I outlined a few days ago. Our placenames contain a rich tapestry of languages and people as well as historical and mythical events. Sadly, the culture warriors mine them to use as weapons – and we end up with dubious versions in Irish and Ulster-Scots.

    I saw some young folk say they were going for a swim in the Slot; older ones call it the Slock – it comes from sloc, an Irish and Scottish Gaelic word for ‘pool’. It’s a natural pool in the rocks down near the Marchfoot – the meeting of two townlands beside Dunseverick harbour.

    If it’s a cold day, they might be wearing a ganzie, a word or its variant spelling that can be found in Scots and Northern English; it’s been borrowed into Irish as geansai and Scottish Gaelic as geansaidh. A late Norwegian relative of mine found it much easier to converse with her future father-in-law in Aghadowey parish than her English-speaking friends in London; she new said garment as a Norwegian/Norse genser.

  • Alan N/Ards

    Years ago, I used to work with a guy who was a Chindit during WW11. I can recall a story about him being locked in a storeroom (in the 60’s) when a number of Japanese businessmen were having a tour of the factory. Apparently, the member of the management team (who locked him in the store) was given a few days leave by his superiors.

  • file

    You also cannot teach people a language by force. I suggest you get a life?

  • file

    Who are you calling a hun? Mick! (only joking, as I was about Genghis Khan.)

  • file

    Rough translation does not make sense. What did you mean? Was it ‘Back of the net!’

  • Cináed mac Artri

    Rough to say the least. I hope it won’t effect my future job prospects;)

  • Tochais Siorai

    It is surely but to do so they need to start confronting why they hate it. The Provo language excuse aka a few mangled words from the likes of Adams doesn’t cut it when there is ample evidence that antipathy / hatred towards Irish has been a constant within Unionism since the foundation of the Northern Ireland state, before, during and after the Provos with plenty of examples in the public realm.

    Nope, underlying it all is nothing other than sheer unadulterated racism. I wouldn’t even give it the sectarian label. To the DUP mentality, it’s seems to be a reminder that their ancestors weren’t able to completely wipe out the native Irish and their culture off the map. Bit of regret that this didn’t happen for some, possibly a touch of guilt submerged deep down for others. When any discussion re the language emerges it seems to act as a trigger for some deep down dark fear that the dispossessed will emerge screaming from the bogs and forests to reclaim their land.

  • Concubhar O Liathain

    Force me? No. I will use irresistible charm.

  • North Down

    Maybe one day , would be very interesting to hear the history of it

  • On the fence!

    I prefer to see them as conversations, but giving you time to think about your reply more carefully without awkward silences!

  • North Down

    I knew you were well in formed, very well written, reading amgobsmacked, ive noticed if he hadn’t have gone to Scotland he wouldn’t had an understanding about the Irish language or the history about all the Protestants, loyalists who spoke it, he like many as i have seen it as a ira sf propaganda, only rebublicans try to speak it, in times past. only time you ever heard the Irish language was at a ira March, so he should understand y nearly all unionists and dup talk the way they do,they should all go to Scotland lol, maybe you should walk into your local dup office and share your knowledge about it ,cac you imagine if the dup fell in love with the Irish language, deep down sf would hate that, did you know I think his name is Liam logan sdlp north down, he never gets elected, is a fluent speaker in ulster Scots

  • Cináed mac Artri

    As positive an approach as I can think of! Enjoy.

  • Concubhar O Liathain

    Irish is not a ‘sport never mind a ‘minority sport’ no matter how many times you throw it in our face. It’s a language and you should get over the fact that the minority using it is growing, north, south and globally.

  • Theelk11

    I know many Ballymoney and armoy people they use pronunciation and phrases which are wonderful to hear and very unique.
    They are apparently speaking some ancient language..handed down from their Scottish ancestry.
    So up you shaaaam!

  • Zig70

    The problem isn’t just that the DUP are anti Irish language, the problem is that the DUP are anti-Irish. That is the thing that needs to change.

  • Old Mortality

    ‘The benefits of growing up bilingually are well documented.’
    Please point us to the relevant documents.

  • North Down

    Shaaam, explain

  • Karl

    Are you asking me to help you to use the internet?

  • grumpy oul man

    Seriously.
    Is it other languages in general you disaprove of people learning or just the papish irsh stuff.

  • Theelk11

    Sorry ND I didn’t mean to be rude and I see now my post was apologies 🙂
    Shaam is a term of affection/ disarming greeting in these parts, in Cultra it would be very different.
    The dalect is distinct but it’s not a language..

  • Fear Éireannach

    Nonsense. Where exactly in the troubles were these Irish speaking murderers.
    The IRA are a small part of Ireland, you cannot attribute a prejudice to the entire Irish nation on this basis of something they did, especially as the majority of people did not support them. You might as well be prejudiced against beards because Gerry Adams has one.

  • file

    Níl aon fhadhb agam le húsáid na Gaeilge mar mhodh cumarsáide, agus ní miste liom cá mhéad duine breise a úsáideann í ar an dóigh sin. Ní miste liom úsáid teanga ar bith mar mhodh cumarsáide, an Béarla san áireamh. Ach is fuath liom teanga á húsáid mar chúis, mar ghléas ionsaithe nó mar shuaitheantas féiniúlachta. Nuair a chuireann tusa scairth ghutháin i nGaeilge ar dhaoine in oifigí stáit nach bhfuil Gaeilge acu, tá tú ag úsáid na Gaeilge mar mhodh michumarsáide, agus ní fearrde an Ghaeilge sin.

  • file

    But did you mean to say ‘back of the net!’? If so I would suggest something like ‘buille buailte’ (shots fired), ‘buille marfach’ (death blow) or ‘buille gan freagra’ (unanswerable blow).

  • file

    I could point you to The Netherlands. But I would probably also ask you to smoke some dope while you are there and relax a bit.

  • North Down

    Thanks

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Hi North Down, I’ve had a few exchanges with Sammy Wilson, but have held back on trying my pidgin [correct usage, not “pidgeon”] Irish on him, as my natural desire not to offend got in the way. Not that I’ve held back at other times with other DUP luminaries, but always with sufficent irony to leave them puzzled!

    Of course the Highland Scots links are there in a mutual language in which, despite the changes of a few centuries of seperation, it is possible for an Antrim Irish speaker to make himself understood to a Scots Gaelic speaker on Skye with only a little effort. I entirely agree that SF would have a much harder job laying claim over the language if there was no knee jerk reaction from “themotherones” on the Loyalist/Unionist team, and the positive welcoming Linda Ervine’s work has recieved in our language circles shows just how very easy this would atually be. I’m always rather puzzled that the Ulster Scots agency enthusastically supports Highland dancing and Piobaireachd, but not the actual language of the highlander! Odd!

    I tend to see the DUPs reaction to Irish, however, as similar to that of a woman’s ghost in a Japanese Noh play, where, told by a warrior monk that the sheet of torturing flame in which she is enveloped for eternity is simply a projection of her own consciousness, and has no objective reality, she wimpers, “but if I cease to believe in my tormentor, I will stop existing.”

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Somewhere I’ve encountered Pádraig Pearse being described as a”Hun” in the wake of 1916, not so long after Carson, Craig and their gang were similarly described:

    http://catalogue.nli.ie/Record/vtls000507650

    So………whichever local “team” you support, you’re in excellent company!

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Surely you have an Uncle somewhere? It’s not been “attainments” since at least 1840…………