Straight comparisons with Wales are barmy. An NI Language Act under Assembly control would be nothing like

Perhaps Arlene Foster deserves a crumb of sympathy when Nelson McCausland makes claims like this about the cost of Sinn Fein’s version of an Irish Language Act.

So, we are talking about an annual cost that can be estimated at around £100m a year. That is £2bn over the next 20 years.

Shades of RHI Aaaghh!!

But it’s nonsense to think that any such Language Act here would be as extensive or as expensive as the Welsh provision. The comparison is  – shall we say  – misleading. Fake News, if you will.

Support for Welsh is a given.  53% of the Welsh even call for more support for the Welsh language. One in three of the total population say they speak it fluently.

 New standards for the Welsh language are very extensive – so extensive  they are being reviewed   But they affect all public bodies. Implementation plans may vary but a commissioner can  levy a fine of £5000 on bodies which fail to comply.


Public bodies across Wales are being told which services they will be required to provide in Welsh.

There are some 87 standards, including that organisations should reply in Welsh if they receive a letter in Welsh, and that people are invited to speak Welsh at public meetings.

They will replace Welsh language schemes at the authorities concerned.

However it will be up to the commissioner to decide which apply to what organisation, according to activities they carry out.

First Minister Carwyn Jones  who has responsibility for the Welsh language, said: “We want to see bilingualism as the norm in our public authorities. We are confident that these regulations will achieve that.”

These included requiring bodies to make it clear that they welcome correspondence with the public in Welsh and giving the language priority on bilingual signs.

Under the draft proposals the main switchboard of the organisations would also be staffed by a Welsh speaking member of staff and all press releases would would have to be published in Welsh.

Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) chief executive Steve Thomas said his organisation “works well with the commissioner”, Meri Huws, and that the WLGA has been part of “very positive” discussions around language standards.

But he acknowledged “there are concerns” at the potential costs associated with implementing changes.

Any organisation found not to be meeting the required standards could face a fine of up to £5,000.

But the language commissioner Meri Huws said this is not the final step in the process of introducing standards, and that there are more that must be followed before organisations operate the standards procedure.

Nothing conceivably like this could or should apply in Northern Ireland. The Assembly would define its application – I suggest to main Assembly speeches, higher court proceedings and some legal documents. If councils want to be involved  they should be required to hold a referendum and absorb the costs themselves.

The crocodile’s appetite can be controlled, Arlene. You could do business here.  But is her problem more basic?  Does she really believe that  what she may regard as concessions are made to nationalists, the gates of the citadel will fall? The sad old zero sum game rears its ugly head again.  This is the attitude that nationalists scent  which provokes such a reaction and gives Sinn Fein a free boost. It would be easier to correct this impression than she fears. Good relations require more than grim dealing to scale down gangs and the residue of private armies. Separate development does not guarantee enduring peace. If they go on like this, the idea of a shared future becomes even more of a pipe dream.



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  • murdockp

    It certainly wont be a lower figure and OK it won’t be the higher figure, but it will be close to £100m per annum ir you drill down into the detail,

    Not only do you have to look at the cost of translation services, printing and signage to public buildings, roads, streets, etc. but the additional cost of conducting public service business as many things will now take twice as long to do, for example a court case will take twice as long if conducted in Irish as it will also be conducted in English of one of the parties so requests and all the paid staff at a court case will need to be paid for the additional time there are there.

    A session in Stormont will take twice as long which will result in huge labour and property costs, as the cost of one person speaking Irish for an hour, could be additional hour of costs for as many as 20 other people in attendance such as security guards, administrative staff, MLA’s etc plus the running and capital costs of the property the speech is conducted in.

    Even writing law in Irish will require barristers from Dublin to draft it as the expertise needed does not exist in NI. Note native speakers cannot do this as they are not barristers,

    All the laws of NI will need to be translated as well as many UK Acts and European law too, All government bodies will need a translator and that could easily result in an additional 200 staff on government pay role plus their pensions, office accommodation etc. and that alone could be £10m per annum.

    Then there is the time for the public service ‘English speakers’ to be retrained to deal with the ‘two languages’ and there at the extra costs and time needed to run various departments in Irish as well as English .

    The more I think about it, the whole bill could easily be £100m per annum if you break it down and look at the actual costs involved, The biggest costs is the additional time required to conduct public service business which will mean higher staff numbers required and staff costs.

    If the general public are given a choice of £100m being removed from healthcare and housing budgets, what do you think they are going to vote for?

    This is where the ‘Normal People’ have to conclude that our politicians have lost it if they think such a strategy represents good value for the tax payer.

    I would like to see our nationalist politicians to explain to some one in pain for five hours on a hospital trolley, that although they are sorry for their plight, to think of the positive benefits of the wall signage in the hospital being in Irish. I am sure they will be delighted at the news.

    This has not been thought through. How can SF complain about austerity and protecting the most vulnerable in our society and then propose madcap ideas like this and I say this as some one who has been educated to speak Irish and is a Nationalist as well.

  • Obelisk

    From our perspective the Crocodile is hungry because the Lion has been gorging herself for decades refusing to share. As the Crocodile gets stronger and demands it’s fair share of the carcass, the Lion protests at the unfairness of it all.

    I’m angry man right now. I don’t mind admitting it. My country has been screwed over by the English yet again via Brexit. My chosen political party has allowed itself to be humiliated time and again whilst trying to administer power. And their supposed partners have delighted in mocking us while continuing to ensure their supporters are prioritised.

    So there should be no compromise over the Irish Language Act. There may have been one in the past that people would find acceptable, but when it has become the symbol of them mocking everything we hold dear about ourselves and our heritage I can’t see how Sinn Fein can back down on this.

    But they’ve said the exact opposite to their supporters. So a high stakes of chicken is about to ensure.

  • Last of the cynics

    I think Snarling Arlene has accepted that the chances of getting the Executive back up and running are nil and she just reverts to type by playing the hard(wood) woman from the backwoods of Fermanagh

  • Fear Éireannach

    If councils want to be involved they should be required to hold a referendum and absorb the costs themselves.

    So bigoted unionist controlled councils can do what they like, as usual, and mark their territory by the complete absence of Irish.

  • BonaparteOCoonassa

    The cost can be whatever the Assembly decides it to be. The cost of signage, for example can be very little over the existing cost if signs are replaced purely as required from damage or mapping changes. If a reasonable budget is set for Gaelic reforms, then the parameters of language innovations should proceed within the budget. Budget first, translations second – so what’s the problem.

  • Obelisk

    To be fair it might be similar to the flag compromise we have where Nationalist councils don’t fly it, Unionists do and contested councils use designated days.

    For this I’d expect Nationalist and contested councils to use Irish officially, I’d expect Unionist councils not to but i expect all councils to offer the facility to use Irish if requested for locals. For example, if a street expresses an interest in Irish signage they will be accommodated. Even if they live around Lisburn.

  • Mr Angry

    Under the terms of the St Andrews agreement the DUP have already agreed to work to implement any Irish Language Act that the British Government legislate for. This is all bluster on the part of the DUP.

  • Obelisk

    Makes sense to me.

  • Angry Mob
  • Fear Éireannach

    Signage on any street is not for the people in the street, but for those who visit it. The inhabitants of a street should not be allowed mark their territory in this way, every street should have an Irish sign.

    As for the butcher’s apron, as I said earlier in another thread, the Patton recommendations for the PSNI of flying only the organisation crest should have been followed by every public body in NI, without exception.

  • Mr Angry

    Yes, I’m aware of that analysis. Thank you.

  • file

    Or they could do what this bigoted unionist council already does and just use google translate to provide a complete gibberish version of their website in many languages. I note also that no one has complained about the Irish language version of this site, so maybe the hunger for contact with bureaucracy in Irish is not as sharp as we are lead to believe?

  • file

    Jaysus, murdockp, where did you ever get the impression that an Irish Language Act would be so all-pervasive? That would scare me! Are all these elements laid out anywhere in anyone’s demands? Also, the laws in Dublin are translated by translators, not by barristers. These guys – the same guys who now are legally in charge of the grammar of the Irish language.

  • Conchúr Ó Conghaile

    You know that the state has to pay for signs, paperwork and legal fees anyway? It wouldn’t break the budget to pay for a few more printer paper boxes and ink cartridges to produce Irish documents on request.

    The civil service down south seems to manage fairly well with bilingualism. In fact they tend to be much more efficient than their Nordie counterparts.

    You seem to building several straw men. There’s no point knocking them down