For our uncivil politics, an Irish Language Act is part of the solution

 



Among Sinn Fein’s list of grievances claiming lack of unionist respect is the failure to introduce an Irish Language Act. It is an important but seemingly not a red line issue. Oddly enough this may make it more amenable to settlement. It is among the SDLP’s desirables. It looks as if Enda Kenny will back it in whatever happens after the Assembly election.

At first glance the chances of any sort of development are unpromising. It raises all the hackles and is easy campaign fodder.   As David has reported below, with her familiar lightness of touch Arlene Foster has borne down on the language issue in her undiplomatic reply to Sinn Fein’s “diplomatic offensive.” We need not take this as the last word after 2 March.  As she knows, Mrs Foster misses the point while  Ms  O’Neill has declined to lock horns on the issue.

We know how on this as in many others, rival parties make a battlefield out of the fine print of legal entitlements and equality impact assessments. This gets us precisely nowhere.

In this and in other identity matters, the DUP make a rod for their own back without noticeable gain when we pass out of election mode. They have to live with Irish in some form and could so easily make a better fist of it. Movement on the language would cost unionists nothing politically and very little financially. If Sinn Fein are to be held responsible for any recent diminution of “Britishness”, it can be debated alongside their respectful recognition of the Queen and Armistice Day,  the  quiescent  state of the ” flegs” dispute and their interest in  Orange traditions.

If we think laterally for a  minute, we could convert the Language Act standoff into a confidence building move towards nationalists without giving way to fantasies of Irish cultural imperialism. For unionists the beauty of the idea would be to take nationalists by surprise and give them something they actually want which does not detract from what unionists actually have. It might – although I don’t push this too hard – even be treated as a trade-off to allow Arlene Foster to resume as First Minister until the Coghlin inquiry passes its verdicts.. A solution would address Mrs Foster’s revealingly fearful image : “if you feed a crocodile, it will keep coming back for more.”

Irish is already much more visible in Northern Ireland. The DUP accept it, muttering. It provides tops and tails and grace notes in correspondence and speeches. Google translation helps. Rows over dual language signage are winning fewer and fewer brownie points these days. Names in uncorrupted Irish are definitely chic. Liberal unionists and ” others” ( sic) are not entirely immune. While to a monoglot the spelling with its riot of letters and flying accents is no guide to pronunciation, it adds a welcome touch of exclusivity for the ever so slightly initiated.  Call it  an identity signifier if you like, but not necessarily for hard politics. Willing recognition tends to soften the hard edges that indeed exist.  Stout unionists champion townland and other local names quite as much as nationalists. They are often eager to know what the names describe.
The key objection is to “weaponising” the language. But if the weapons can be decommissioned and replaced by deliverable demands , win: win might just be achievable, first by deconstructing the issues.

What is an Irish Language Act designed to achieve? Equality and parity of esteem? With what? Ulster Scots and the Orange tradition do not have the weight to create balance. English is universal and has been Irish culture’s first language of choice for two centuries. No one today suggests promoting equal usage between English and Irish; the evidence everywhere is overwhelmingly against it.

I’ve been discussing the issue with Diarmait Mac Giolla Chriost, an Irishman who is professor of politics at Cardiff University and an expert on language law and policy. He actually speaks Welsh as well as Irish.
On Harold Macmillan’s principle that “calm reflection disentangles every knot” we might consider the following, informed by his knowledge and experience.

Language rights, defined by primary legislation and protected by the availability of court remedy, are inherently inflexible instruments. Within a broad legal framework, negotiation is a better approach than the inherently divisive strategy of quarrelling over rights.

Given the local demography of the Irish language in NI, only a very narrow suite of Irish language rights is justified, as is the case with the Irish language in the Republic and even more so for Scots Gaelic. This would comprise the right to use Irish in speeches to the Assembly, with translation facilities being available, and in the higher courts. For the courts, the consent of the judiciary is required. Proposals would include the right of a member of public to receive a reply in Irish in response to a communication in Irish with a public body.

For any changes,widespread consultation on the agenda agreed among the principle stakeholders has to be mandatory. Experiments could be held before full implementation. This approach partly removes it from political contention. In this and in so many other topics, a solution would require civil society  – academe and other professions including the voluntary sector – to point out the potential gains in the quality of political relationships. They have held back for far too long.

What changes would be entailed in the Assembly?

At present Irish can be spoken in the Assembly but the speaker must self-translate and, do so within her or his allotted speaking time. This practice is unique and peculiar to Stormont. It imposes an arguably unfair constraint on the democratic rights of those members who wish to use Irish. Irish speaking with simultaneous translation into English would be limited to plenary sessions only. In practice the demand even here might be limited. MLAs and in particular ministers might well read out a statement in Irish crafted I would guess in most cases by someone else. Very few if any have enough Irish to think quickly on their feet in debate. (Mairtin O Muilleoir being a rare exception?)

The Act would set out the extent of the use of Irish and the standards of proficiency required in the public sector. It would also set conditions for any expansion based on usage in private life.

Given the status of Welsh in Wales, Scots Gaelic in Scotland, and Irish in the Republic, conferring official status on the Irish language in NI via primary legislation is justifiable. The enactment of this modest proposal would remove a running sore from politics and powerfully  improve    political relationships. From the general experience of signage I suggest it would rapidly become the new normal. The Act would set standards of general respect that would discourage interference over the use of Irish on manhole covers and the like, while admitting that Gregory Campbell will always have his little joke.

 

 

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  • murdockp

    My opinions were well documented in a previous post.

    Just wondered how much this would cost to administer? if it is going to be greater than £10m per annum, I think we need a referendum on the matter as it seems to me the costs don’t even come close to the benefits.

    As a Nationalist I would vote no to this Act as I think provision of social housing ranks as far higher a priority.

  • Conchúr Ó Conghaile

    Should we have a referendum on every piece of legislation that has a 10m price tag? How about a referendum on the Northern Ireland Children and Young People’s strategy? or a referendum on upgrading the York Street interchange? Why not have a plebiscite on whether Northern Ireland should be part of the 2023 Rugby World Cup bid?

  • Concubhar O Liathain

    If Brian wants a realistic inkling as to what should be comprised in an Irish Language Act he should look to as a starting point legislative protection for the provisions of the European Charter for Minority and Regional Languages which the British Government have already accepted.

  • Conchúr Ó Conghaile

    Is there anything stopping an Irish Language Act being passed in Westminster? It could very easily be based on the Welsh Language Act (1993) or the Scottish Gaelic Act (2005). I’m sure that it wouldn’t have any real problems passing through Westminster and if we are in for a period of direct rule then Westminster legislation might be only way forward. Why aren’t the 3 SDLP MOs working with the SNP and Plaid Cymru to get an Irish Language Act Private Members bill off the ground?

  • Neil

    Why 10 million? I’ve heard the DUP figures, and it’s fairly obvious they sought to maximise the cost to make resistance to it seem less bigoted. Half a dozen translators could handle the departmental communications. Road signs can be replaced when they’re being replaced anyway, so the cost would by slight and additional to the standard costs. Many compromises could be made in order to meet the costs in a sensible way, and as Brian says win-win is a possibility. I’m certain it could be done for much less than 10 million quid a year.

  • Karl

    Arlenes right. It wont come in with her at the helm, but it will come in. Her position is indefensible with EU and UK laws governing minority languages

    There’ll be a lot of legislation inserted into NI statutes by the British govt under the forthcoming 5 year period of direct rule. Followed by a border poll once Brexit’s hard border becomes a reality.

    This will be followed by SF taking their seats in a new Stormont after a 2021 election which will return a SF Joint First Minister. The last Stormont before unification.

    There is not one single reason for SF to go into Stormont with unrecontructed unionist throwbacks to implement austerity and be ignored by Westmonster throughout Brexit.

  • Concubhar O Liathain

    The DUP estimate of costs re Acht na Gaeilge is based on lies, misrepresentation and scaring unionist voters to vote for them to guard them against the ‘threat’ of an Irish language Act! http://sluggerotoole.com/2017/01/27/the-dup-and-the-cost-of-the-irish-language-act-fake-news-and-alternative-facts/

  • Concubhar O Liathain

    For those of you who are worried about costs, one more year of the DUP’s Peter Weir in charge of the Ministry of Education would be more expensive than an Irish Language Act, and that’s taking the outlandish claims by Nelson McCausland as ‘fact’ (and not the fakenews they are!) http://www.irishnews.com/news/2017/02/06/news/almost-all-of-50-million-pot-for-shared-education-returned-to-treasury-920565/

  • Teddybear

    The grevience is inside Sinn Feins own head – but not within the Nationalist community. We should be careful not to conflate the demands and wishes of a party with those of its voters.

    My nationalist friends don’t give a hoot about Irish Language acts. Personally I don’t mind one but I don’t care about it either. No one is throwing rocks about it

    . Enact the bloody thing and get on with it. You all do know that within an hour of a bilingual sign to Latharna (Larne) being put up that the Irish verbiage will be painted over just like the L is of L Derry west of the Bann.

  • Teddybear

    I’ve yet to hear proper English spoken in Stormont let alone Irish

  • Croiteir

    cause a wile hassle for those in Latharna Avenue, up the rebels…..ooops. Meant the Roddens. Got carried away there

  • BonaparteOCoonassa

    Aye – thats a laugh. But what do you mean by ‘proper’ English? Ah mean ah can speak “propur” English if ah want ti, bu’ ah lyk ti speak Scoats whin ah feel lyk ih’. An it’s jist as gid as yir ‘propur’ stuff. Mair braw, like, an a’, ken?

  • I think most unionists could accept some form of an irish language act that gives people the choice to speak irish in court or to have it spoken in stormont. Having it universally on road signs is a red line. It would be tantamount in the minds of unionists to putting irish flags up on every street corner.

    The argument against the flying of the union flag was that it made people feel uncomfortable in their own city, and that the space should be neutral.

    Whether people like it or not, the irish language is viewed as a political symbol, much like flags, parading, or your sporting affiliation. It is part of the sectarian tapestry of life, and it would be the death of the DUP to facilitate it on universal signage.

  • BonaparteOCoonassa

    Depending on Westminster for anything except complete contempt is a mug’s game. Anything we do we have to do it for ourselves, or it’s not worth having.

  • Teddybear

    Quite but v impressive, whatever it was you wrote but it was probably something about haggis and cups of tea

  • Conchúr Ó Conghaile

    Why?

    The place names of Ulster didn’t come from nowhere. The anglicised names of Ulster have very specific Gaelic meanings.

    Take for example Belfast. It comes from Béal Feirste. Which can mean mouth of the Sandy Ford/mouth of the Farset. That tells you a lot of about the physical geography of the place. That it’s a town built on the sands of Belfast Lough where the long ago culverted Farset river flows.

    Or Enniskillen it comes from Inis Ceithleann that means Kathleen’s island. Who was Kathleen? She was a legendary figure of Gaelic mythology. Where is her island? It’s the same one the town is built on. Straight away it tells you about the history, mythology and physical geography of an area.

    Gaelic place names are part of the rich cultural heritage of Ulster. Ulster townland names are a fascinating part of our folklore and traditions. If the Gaelic name is on a sign it could very well encourage people to find out the translation of the place they live and could encourage them to learn just a little bit more about their area.

    Now who could be opposed to that?

  • BonaparteOCoonassa

    Och Ted babes, yi huv tae be opin tae ither waes o’ spikin – it’s no tha’ hard.

    Owa tow poot et enethou wye, wye err owl spayking en some sowt ouv dyalekt. Yow jest hev tou echoown yowe’ eyaz.

  • Fear Éireannach

    In the sick counties, someone with Gaelic name married to a person with a Gaelic name, living in a place with a Gaelic name in a town with a Gaelic name can manage to claim that Gaelic is a threat to their identity. Go figure.

  • BonaparteOCoonassa

    Aye. My shame it is that I was brought up in the Gealtacht, but all I own is a few words – mostly swearing!

  • file

    “For all of our languages, we can’t communicate,
    for all of our native tongues, we’re all natives here …” Christy Moore.

    Until we start communicating honestly and truthfully (like Ian Óg did a few weeks ago), it does not really matter which language we lie to each other in.

  • Katyusha

    I’d spin it the other way. The option to speak Irish in court or producing legal documents in Irish is totally superfluous, and a waste of resources. English serves perfectly well as a lingua franca. There’s little point in legislating for it to be spoken in Stormont as one of the key elements of debate is that you have to be able to communicate with the person you’re debating with.

    But road signs would be a useful step, especially given that the vast majority of our place names are Irish in origin anyway. It would especially return the meanings of the place names back into the public consciousness rather than the present meaningless Anglicised names.

    Can I ask you a question? if someone were to put up signs in Scottish Gaelic, would you be able to tell the difference between it and Irish Gaelic? Do you object to bilingual English/Gaelic signage being used by the Scottish government?

  • NotNowJohnny

    Irish is not part of the sectarian tapestry of life unless of course one is viewing it trhough sectarian eyes. Irish is a language, not a flag.

  • NotNowJohnny

    I think a good start would be a short bill which placed a duty on all public authorities in Northern Ireland to promote the use of Irish language and made provision for the minister of finance to fund the promotion of the language. That would leave it up to individual public authorities (including bodies such as the courts, the PSNI, local councils, the assembly etc) to decide themselves how to promote the use up the language and provides an obligation on the finance minister to set aside a budget for the promotion of the use of the language. I don’t think anyone could present a serious argument against such a bill. The bill could also include a 10 year review of the legislation which would provide an opportunity to look at how the use of the language had developed and make any necessary enhancements to the legislation to take account of this.

  • johnny lately

    Very impressive Teddybear and apparently the DUP believe it’s worth financing to the tune of Hundreds of thousands.

  • Teddybear

    If English was good enough for Jesus then it’s good enough for Nationalists

  • Teddybear

    Ullans is not a language but poorly spoken English. At least Irish is a language.

  • The Irishman

    Genuine question.. could some of the people out there that genuinely believe that the Irish language has been weaponised please tell me how you weaponise a language? I honestly don’t know how to weaponise a language.

  • Ive been working in scotland for last 4 years and i do object to the signage here. The reason being that scottish gaelic was never spoken across the length and breadth of scotland. It is an attempt by the scottish government at nation building and convincing people that there is one scotland with one set of customs and traditons, and that scotland is a place apart from the rest of the uk. Im all for promoting the language in the western isles and parts of the highlands on a cultural level, but fail to see the point of it on a broader scale.

    The language act has also done nada to acrually increase usage of the language. Use as a first language is decreasing, and there is little or no interest in it as a second language.

  • Annie Breensson

    I agree TB. The all important If

  • file

    One of my problems with the non-executive Executive (RIP) was that they did put nearly every policy decision out to public consultation instead of just acting like a real executive and making decisions. Either frightened of subsequent legal challenges or just plain incompetence and inability to make decisions and take responsibility for them; but that is the level of government we ‘enjoyed’.

  • johnny lately

    Words spoken in Irish (in Ireland) according to Orange order types and pro British Unionist politicians is like firing bullets from a gun. If unionists had their way anyone with knowledge of Irish would be charged with possession of an offensive weapon.

  • johnny lately

    And he was a republican too.

  • file

    Ullans is not even the name for it. That is a made up name.
    http://scots-anorak.blogspot.co.uk/2010/11/ullans.html
    Just as made up as the term Ulster-Scots. In the real world, this ethnic/linguistic/religious group is called Scots-Irish or Irish-Scots (like the model Irish-American, Italian-American) as is seen in the descriptions of their influence in the founding of the USA. Let’s call a spade a spade (I see Roots is starting again on the TV by the way) and call them Scots-Irish here as well. I know it sort of makes them Irish, but they sort of are, you know.

  • file

    As an Irish speaker I have no desire to speak Irish in court because that would mean either a) that I am in some sort of legal trouble, or b) that someone has transgressed against me so much that I was forced to bring a court case. In the case of b), unless the defendant is also an Irish speaker, I would want to make sure that he hears in plain English exactly what I am accusing him of.

    As for hearing Irish spoken in Stormont, it already is and does about as much for me as hearing points of order spoken about in Stormont, i.e. sometimes interesting but mostly completely irrelevant to my life.

    Irish on every street sign everywhere? Again an irrelevance to me. I would like it on one sign outside each town (together with a literal translation) for no other reason than to make it easier for me, and other Irish speakers, to understand what the mumbo-jumbo nonsense English versions of our placenames actually mean. Surely the residents of Tandragee (which means nothing in any language) would be delighted to learn that their town means ‘Arse to the Wind’? Much more poetic, don’t you think? As for Leap of the Dog, who would not prefer to live there instead of living in Limavady, which again means nothing in any language.

  • file

    It has already been proven that Jesus was Irish: he lived with his mother until he was 30, looked on her as some sort of a saint, never held down a proper job, hung out with males mostly and was scared of women.

  • Conchúr Ó Conghaile

    You throw an Irish dictionary at someone’s head

  • file

    “Very few if any have enough Irish to think quickly on their feet in debate. (Mairtin O Muilleoir being a rare exception?)”
    No need for the question mark, Brian. Also add Barry McElduff, Cathal Ó hOisín, Declan Kearney, Patsy McGlone to Máirtín Ó Muilleoir. Enough there for a debate?

  • Teddybear

    Jesus was a long haired hippy socialist who voted Clinton.

  • Teddybear

    Pay unto Caesar and all that? Perhaps Jesus was SDLP

  • Teddybear

    It’s much lighter than an English dictionary 🙂 Where’s the Irish thesaurus ?

  • johnny lately

    Now that’s too weird to be true Teddybear.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Funnily enough Scots is more like old English than modern English is.

  • lizmcneill

    Even worse, he was a Middle Eastern refugee! And probably with brown skin, too!

  • Katyusha

    It’s all fun and games until some smart alec throws a German dictionary and accidentally flattens someone.

  • Jollyraj

    So even in the ‘Gealtacht’ people don’t really speak Irish?

  • murdockp

    but where the signage renaming becomes ridiculous is a housing estate named after a person who lived and newer in thier life life had an irish name is now being given an Irish name.

  • Mike the First

    The term Scots-Irish is a good and well-recognised one, but why would you say the term Ulster Scots is “made up” and not part of “the real world”? Lots of ethnic groups have interchangeable names, would you question the term African-American (a relatively recent term) for example? The term Ulster Scots is a fair bit older.

    Anyway, linguistically as opposed to ethnically, Ulster Scots is the right term – the version of the Scots language* spoken in Ulster.

    *yes, Scots is recognised as a language, and to me it’s a pointless debate about whether to call it a language or a dialect. Ulster Scots is however a dialect or geographical variant of Scots.

  • file

    Because it makes little sense to call the same group of people Scots-Irish in the real world and then call them Ulster-Scots in this made-up world. It leads to confusion. And using the linguistic term Ulster-Scots to refer to the ethnic group is inaccurate because a) not all of them ‘spake’ like that and b) some native Irish do now ‘spake’ like that but they have no connection with the Scots-Irish ethnic group.

  • BonaparteOCoonassa

    Ah yes, they do. There is a thriving Gaelic centre in Islay. In Lewis Gaelic is widespread. Even in Stirling, which is hardly the west coast my great-niece is being taught Gaelic at 4 years old.

  • BonaparteOCoonassa

    Scots IS classed as a language. There is no such thing as ‘poorly spoken English’. BBC English is just another dialect, and poorly spoken to my ears, with it’s added “R”‘s where they don’t exist (‘sawr’, Aurstalyar’, etc.). Actually, research claims that Shetland English is the purest in terms of being true to the spelling, and that a Scots accent is one of the most trusted. On the other hand strangulated upper class English is one of the most mistrusted.

  • Mike the First

    I can see where you’re coming from up to a point, but I can’t for the life of me understand where you think “the real world” and “the made-up world” start and end.

    As far as I can see, the terms “Scots-Irish” and “Ulster Scots” are both used in the real world.

  • Mike the First

    I mean, even if by “the real world” you mean the United States, the term Ulster Scots while much less popular than Scots-Irish is hardly unheard of:

    http://www.ulsterscotssociety.com

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    I noticed a fair increase in interest towards the end of my time in Scotland, a prime example being the expansion of the Gaelic primary school in the west end (it moved from a small primary school to the old hillhead high school).

  • Mike the First

    Northern Ireland IS part of the 2023 RWC bid!

  • BonaparteOCoonassa

    Object all you like – it’s not your country.

  • Skibo

    The Irish language is seen as a political symbol because Unionism will not take ownership of it. What they fail to see is the Irish Language has an Ulster dialect. Why not embrace that element of the Irish language?

  • Skibo

    But it is not replacing the Anglicised version, it is merely given equal preference.

  • Skibo

    File, I think the issue of speaking it in Stormont is that the speaker has to translate his own words into English and this has to happen within the allotted time so reducing the effective speaking time. A translation service would leave everyone equal.

  • Teddybear

    London Oak Grove
    Virgin Plain
    Kathleen’s Island
    Place of Yew Trees
    New Buildings

  • Skibo

    Teddybear the issue of the Irish Language Act is more symbolic than anything else. It shows that Unionism is prepared to accept Nationalism and the Irish diaspora as equal.
    As for the dual signs, the issue with them and the reason they get defaced is normally that one culture is not recognised on them. If the sign shows Larne in bold black writing and below it in scribe latharna, both cultures are recognised.
    As in the flag above the Belfast City Hall, if Unionism had wanted parity of esteem, they could have requested a tricolour be flown along side the Union flag. Both could have flown 365 days a year but to accept the Irish dimension cannot be condoned. Nationalism wants either both or neither.
    With road signs neither wouldn’t be an option so both is the solution.

  • Skibo

    Westminster may be concerned that for them to impose an Irish language Act would mean they may have to pay for it also. Cannot see a Tory government paying for it but it may be cheaper than Stormont being mothballed for a number of years.

  • Skibo

    It sounds about right. My only problem would be a DUP finance Minister setting the budget at zero!
    The issue of road signs could be progressively be resolved with new and replacement signs having both languages.

  • Conchúr Ó Conghaile

    They are Paying for it regardless whether it is paid through the NI block grant or a direct payment from Westminster. Northern Ireland has never paid its way

  • Trasna

    How can any one group take ownership of the Irish language?

    The Ulster dialect is found in Donegal, which is the Rep.

    Still advocating the ‘other’ I see. What a strange people you are!

  • Enda

    I think he was The Judean People’s Front, or was that The People’s Front Of Judea? I can never tell.

  • Trasna

    Arise to the Wind is a great name for a town.

    On a more serious note, if developers and builders sought out the Irish place before building, there would have been less building on flood plains.

  • Trasna

    When I was growing up, there wasn’t a Gaelscoil to be found in the country outside of the Gaeltacht areas. Now there are nearly in every town and village and growing rapidly.

    The choice of schools in my town is great. From Catholic ethos, COI ethos, Educate Together and Gaelscoil for primary. Followed by post primary.

  • Enda

    You need to have a knife on the end of your tongue, which many do in the North’s political sphere.

  • Enda

    A splendid point, and one I find most interesting. What is exceptional about the Gaelic origins of our place names, is their ability to explain so much about the area in which they exist.

    Derry, which comes from Doire, means ‘oak grove’ or ‘oak wood’, (as is common knowledge to someone who has a little understanding of Irish), is a place name which can be found along the south west to the south east shores of Lough Neigh, and can be seen as a prefix or suffix to many existing town lands: Derrytresk, Derryloughan, Derrylea, Ballinderry etc etc.

    Lough Neigh, didn’t always exist as a shallow lake, but a network of rivers and streams meandering through low lying bogland that was prone to flooding. The lake, as it is today, is a result of deforestation on it’s southern shores, where rivers like the Bann and Blackwater enter it, and where these town lands with the name ‘Derry’, in them can be found.

    These place names, if someone is thoughtful enough to ponder them, really can open up a whole story to the historic geography of parts of our island.

  • file

    Where is Arise to the Wind? I thought I wrote ‘Arse to the Wind’ = Tóin re Gaoith = Tandragee.

  • file

    ah but Teddy, before it was called London Oak Grove, it was called just plain old Oak Grove and then Colmcille’s Oak Grove. Where is Virgin Plain? and are there many of them still around?

  • file

    So would speaking in English. They used to have a translation service, and no doubt gave it up because it was not used enough.

  • murdockp

    but it is nonsense. the name is the name be it in French or German. take the word ‘pizza’ in every country in the world it is pizza but in Ireland given the Irish industry we have come up with píotsa.

    some translations are below to show what I mean

    pizza in German = pizza
    pizza in french = pizza

    translations that are not needed are ridiculous.

  • murdockp

    so i womder what is the irish meaning of ‘Craigavon’ is something like ‘it seemed like a good idea at the time’

  • Croiteir

    I watched a programme some time ago about David Trimble, (by far the most intellectual leader of unionism in my adult life and who should be respected more by unionists and even sneakily by people like me), and it gave him credit for coining this phrase.

    It claimed that he did this whilst at University College Belfast, (aka Queens), in order to provide a cultural base for unionism.

    Away ahead of his peers even when a student. Away ahead of them all at the GFA talks, yet few recognise his achievement. The ingrates.

  • Croiteir

    there is also the East Ulster dialect

  • Trasna

    Blame my Tablet, second guessing what I’m writing.

  • Trasna

    Died out with partition.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Rumour has it that there’s a native speaker in Sydney …

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    My thoughts exactly regarding some Shinner bleating about being discriminated against because Belfast McDonalds did not offer bilingual menus.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Wrt flags over city hall; I thought about this a suggested flying 3 flags; tricolour (Irish nationalists), union flag ( British nationalists) and a neutral NI flag for everybody else.

    It’s a fair suggestion but i then realised that some people measure gain by the perceived loss and pain of the mind, so even though it affords respect to nationalists some are not satisfied because ‘unionists’ (an inaccurate term to describe non-nationalists) don’t lose out enough (and conversely unionists would spit feathers at both the flying of the tricolour and the replacement of the Ulster flag. Common sense just can’t win…)

  • Katyusha

    That isn’t a new word though, its a loan word being transcribed into another language’s writing / pronunciation system. For whatever reason the Italian spelling has been kept in French and German, but there’s no reason why they couldn’t have adopted it in French or German style either.

    And it’s ironic you mention France when the Académie française actually does spend time coming up with French names for things to avoid using English loan words. For example: computer / die Computer was adopted into French as l’ordinateur and software/ die Software as logiciel at the behest of the Academy. That’s how you do language fascism. And this part of their battle lives on, here: http://academie-francaise.fr/dire-ne-pas-dire/neologismes-anglicismes.

    Is it a good thing? Who knows, but I think I prefer it to the German route of assimilating more and more English until it gets ridiculous. Everything in moderation, including the zeal for language-custodianship, I guess.

    Anyway, what’s in the spelling of a name?
    Alsace / Elsaß
    Cologne / Köln
    Strasbourg / Straßburg
    Mayence / Mainz
    Colmar / Kolmar

    The French and Germans aren’t immune to “styling” things in their native language, either 😉

  • Croiteir

    Survived in spoken form until the ’80s and still inexistence in written form, you could argue that the gaelic of thee Cowal and Ilé are so close as to qualify also.

  • Katyusha

    Would rather see a single flag for Belfast (either the actual Belfast flag or something featuring the Seahorse as the symbol of Belfast as per the QUB flag). Both have very little presence in the public consciousness and Belfast itself is a city with a real lack of civic pride or cohesion. And what is the obsession with flying national flags over the building of a civic authority, anyway?

    And I much prefer having a single symbol rather than duplicating everything for different groups. Even the fact we have two First Ministers is something of a necessary embarrassment. Having two/three flags just yells that we can’t get over our tribalism.

  • NotNowJohnny

    A DUP minister setting the budget at zero would be in contravention of the legislation and therefore the budget would be unlikely to be approved by the Assembly …. and, if it was, the decision would be open to judicial review. The issue of road signs would be a matter for the DfI to decide.

  • Skibo

    Could be a solution. The DUP could have put it to bed directly after the St Andrews Agreement and proposed an Irish Language Act with minimal legislation. It is not within their character to be magnanimous or to see the bigger picture.

  • Skibo

    Did you see the report where Arlene prevented the district councils from using the Irish language on tourist signs. Just pure pettyness.

  • file

    Arise to the Wind would be nice though. Éirigh roimh an Ghaoth> Eeryragee? Is there anywhere like that?

  • file

    Norn Iron is a made-up world in which the colour of the sky is seldom the same as it is in the real world. It is only when in the real world that inhabitants of Norn Iron realise they have been living in a galaxy far far away from reality. [This is irony – Norn Irony.]