Arlene Foster begins discussions with Irish Language Groups

Arlene Foster began the DUP’s outreach to sections of the Irish Language speaking community  today by visiting Our Lady’s, Newry to meet with pupils and staff about the language.

From a BBC report;

But speaking during her visit to the school, Mrs Foster said she was on a “journey” when it came to the Irish language and people have “nothing to fear from engaging with another culture”.

Her visit had been an opportunity to “sit back and listen”, she said, adding that she had an “instructive” morning.

“There’s nothing to fear from engaging with another culture, in fact, I think it’s a sign of strength if you engage with another culture that’s not your own and I have to say I was really uplifted this morning by the girls and what they were able to tell me and what they were able to show me,” she said.

“We had a lovely piece of drama, we had a song. We listened to their experiences and it’s wonderful.”

Tomorrow she is set to continue her dialogue with a meeting with Conradh na Gaeilge.

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  • Ian Rate

    Well done Arlene, better late than never, glad you enjoyed your visit.
    I hope it’s the first of many trips of discovery.

  • Smithborough

    Apparently she even said “go raibh maith agat” instead of “curry my yoghurt”.

  • Granni Trixie

    I’m sure this started off as a part of the “journey” to get Arlene out of a hole. That said, It does look like she was genuinely pleased at the reception she got and that the children won her over.
    Arlene in her own way can be charming. We have seen the worst maybe the best is emerging? Maybe confronting her prejudice with small risks like this will encourage her to show leadership and embrace power sharing which is broader than being fair to the Irish language. Is this too much to aspire to?

  • Peggy kelly

    Such a simple act of outreach with such a huge potential payback. If only she did this one year ago. If only.
    Fair play though, let’s hope she learned something from it, not just how to say thank you as Gaeilge.

  • file

    Yeah, amazing that Irish speakers do not have horns sticking out of their heads, isn’t it? I still noted the line ‘a culture that you are not part of’ … while her visit is welcome, it is not something to be too enthusiastic about.

    Now would you care to tell me why the Alliance Party are being so nasty to the Green Party? is there bad blood there?

  • Fear Éireannach

    Well done. It is pity t’were not done sooner, but well done all the same.

  • Fear Éireannach

    Great people these Kellys.

  • Peggy kelly

    “them” Kellys 🙂

  • james

    Arlene Foster meets Irish language groups. Describes what she sees as ‘lovely’, ‘wonderful’.

    Before reading the comments below, I’m bracing myself for (at best) grudging acknowledgement from the House Republicans or possibly even gnashing of teeth at Arlene’s obvious bigotry and jackboot unionism in general. I fear what I shall find……here goes…..

  • james

    Hmm….seems to be mostly the former so far…

  • Gavin Crowley

    our Kellys

  • Jag

    Great to see the leader of the biggest political party acknowledge and engage with the Irish language. Small, positive step. Progress.

  • Conchúr Ó Conghaile

    She could have done this literally any time since she was first elected in 2003.

    The real question to ask her is ‘What took you so long?’

  • Neonlights

    How dumbfoundingly idiotic that the DUP have taken until now to realise that positive outreach is actually more productive than whataboutery. How much money have they poured down the drain by demanding that the Ulster Scots dialect should be treated as a language, and how much do they threaten to further waste by heaping additional fake cultures onto the public purse pile? How much are we going to lose by the shameless demand that Irish Language is as important a human right than having a working NHS, working social security system … typical norniron parochial waste. Incredible that a political machine can have absolutely no concept of basic strategy in relation to pursuing their so called aim of unionism. Did they suddenly wake up and realise that the union was not going to be secured by shouting WE LOVE IT at the top of their voices? Somehow I doubt it, this is probably just a one off by one of the stupidest and inept PR machines in Northern Ireland. Maybe tomorrow they will produce a follow up about how they are going to promote Irish Language in schools, maybe not. We’ll be back to Curry My Yogurt before you know it.

  • Redstar

    Excellent. Now prove it was not just a cynical pr exercise by giving the ILA you said you never would

  • Granni Trixie

    In the absence of signs of common sense breaking out I suppose I do sound more enthusiastic than the gesture warrants.

    On your last question I am not aware of any general bad blood between Greens and APNI infact I’m sure we will get back on track with cooperative relationships post pact spat. Speaking personally, I do not like their “trust women” campaign or approach to abortion – it’s too black and white. That would not stop me giving them a high preference in PR election.
    But let’s stay on topic as I’ve already been deleted for this misdemeanour.

  • ted hagan

    Foster made ignorant, clumsy remarks about the Irish language some months ago, now she’s trying to mend fences. What elso do you want exactly, or are you happy to rant and rave on you own side of the bigotry fence while terrified that a softer and more aware approach by Foster might bite into SF’s recently won gains?

  • ted hagan

    Why is it ‘not something to be too enthusiastic about’, or would that spoil your begrudgery moment?

  • Neonlights

    I personally don’t want anything from the DUP. They were founded by a man only concerned with his own power, who made his own church, his own orange order, his own party, who only took part in the assembly when he was in a position to control it – his henchmen and apologists are parochial sectarian numpties in my opinion. That said, what would be a positive step for them now? How about a clear statement that party members would face expulsion for saying “Curry my yoghurt” in the assembly? Of course it won’t happen, because they aren’t smart enough for that. No, the truth is that the DUP strategy has always served to increase popularity for SF, who are their mirror image.

  • sk

    Did she wear her union jack scarf?

  • ted hagan

    Yes indeed, what you say about the foundations of the DUP are correct, and Sinn Fein was formerly a paramilitary group that maimed, killed and bombed indiscriminately.
    Both, thank god, have moved on, albeit at a snail’s pace and with periodic regression, but at least it’s progress.
    And yes, anyone who demeans and insults the native language should be booted out of whatever party… and should have been already.

  • Ciaran74

    The appearance, choreography and chirp in her voice when she is prepared is of a good standard. AF is no fool, especially obvious when she is in charge and the pressure isn’t there.

    However it’s not an olive branch, she sanctioned the Liofa bursary withdrawal. The Grand Native tour may serve to highlight the language appears very much alive and doesn’t need legislation.

    The primary point is the negotiations, disembowelling SF and floating an amnesty/historical closure for British soldiers (aka the UDR), delivered by Gavin Robinson at the precise moment AF is in Newry.

    Obvious. Shallow as usual.

  • Redstar

    Reckon your 101% on the money sir

  • ted hagan

    Indeed, Foster has spoiled the Sinn Fein election party by making these gestures. Why can’t she remain in sectarian mode? Darn it.

  • Redstar

    Ted are you really that naive? You don’t think it’s pr for the election?

  • Nordie Northsider

    Not for nothing did ‘Fáilte Uí Cheallaigh’ (a warm welcome) enter the language.

  • Redstar

    Errrm, she just happens to have this Damascus conversion during an election campaign.

  • ted hagan

    Course it’s politics. It’s all election politics, it’s all playing to the gallery, whether that be Sinn Fein, playing to their extremists, or the DUP, playing to theirs The only difference is the DUP didn’t play it very well the last time round and SF played it for all it’s worth.

  • Redstar

    So what’s all the feigning over Arlene doing something she should gave done years ago?

  • ted hagan

    Because there’s plenty could have been done years ago. Foster was hardly going to initiate an Irish Language Act because she was not under any great pressure to do so. It’s only in recent months that the squeeze has been exerted, when SF used the RHI debacle to ‘get tough’.

  • ted hagan

    See above

  • Redstar

    So they were proven right to do so- if Arlene isn’t just electioneering and u turns on her ” there will never be an ILA”

    Job done

    Not a Shinner but if it works, it works

  • ted hagan

    Indeed.

  • Redstar

    Ted this is historic

    It’s the first time we have ever agreed on Slugger!!!

  • ted hagan

    Damn, how did that happen?

  • Granni Trixie

    Or crown broach?

  • the keep

    Lets compare and contrast Foster and O`Neill one goes beyond her comfort zone and the other one goes to events celebrating dead IRA terrorists good to see Republicans are doing what they do best.

  • Granni Trixie

    Whilst she obviously started out as a player in the politics game she finished in a more enlightened place. Has to be good for everybody.

  • the keep

    Obviously you will have no problems about the fact that all the civil servants in this department will all come from the Nationalist community?

  • Granni Trixie

    Even if it started off as electioneering, it is just possible that now she sees the benefits of showing Leadership and sanxtion colleagues in the DUP when they so “curry my yoghurts” type remarks.
    She can’t have it both ways.

  • Redstar

    Yes she’s certainly on the way to catching up with MMG

  • the keep

    Well he had a lot more terrorist baggage to lose so her road will be a very sort one.

  • Redstar

    Oh there’s plenty of terrorist baggage in the DUP.

    Plenty of UDA, UVF UFF members, candidates and then of course they founded not one but 2 paramilitary organisations and of course despite the fact most active terrorist extortion and drug dealing going on is in unionist areas-we hear not a peep from the DUP.

    Then again not really surprising when at the last election we had the UDA electioneering for them

    Yes it’s difficult to take lessons from the DUP about paramilitary connections and support

  • the keep

    You should read what I wrote I talked about Arlene Foster not the DUP. Its only a pity that most SF members hadn’t or couldn’t move like Martin did.

  • Redstar

    Arlene hasn’t budged an inch. If you are so naive to be taken in by a pr gesture during an election campaign so be it

  • Cináed mac Artri

    It’s little wonder that politicians avoid the u-turn, or the perception of one, if the responses here are examples of the begrudging reaction. Damning with faint praise seems to be the best it’s going to get.

    In the divided north the sectarian schism multiplies the negativity tenfold. If outreach is met by near-condemnation the north is not going to ever advance to any form of accommodation between the communities who live there.

    But of course NI is a strange place. When the leaders of the big two parties each attend separate events (one outside her comfort zone to an Irish medium school, the other very much within her bailiwick to an IRA jamboree- the latest it seems in a series of such events) and yet it is school visitor that garners the negativity.

  • Cináed mac Artri

    The answer to your question is (obviously): yes.

  • Nevin

    “Arlene Foster began the DUP’s outreach to sections of the Irish Language speaking community today by visiting Our Lady’s, Newry to meet with pupils and staff about the language.”

    Apparently not:

    A few weeks ago I decided to use the Easter break to engage with Irish speakers and listen to how they would like to see the language supported in Northern Ireland.

    I received invitations from people throughout the United Kingdom and also the Republic of Ireland.

    Whilst not expecting to received so much interest, it has been exactly the wide-ranging type of consultation that I wanted.

    So far, I have travelled all over the island and talked with people who work in areas such as academia, business, media, schools, justice and government. Later today, I will meet with a number of other Irish language groups from Northern Ireland.

    I am not from a background of Irish language or culture but I have thoroughly enjoyed the engagement so far and found it refreshing.

    As I expected, there are a wide range of views as to how best to support the language. There has also been a plea to depoliticize the language. I found myself in agreement with people who were deeply nationalist and republican but who agreed with me that the Irish language had been abused and used as a political cudgel.

    The Irish language should not, and cannot, be used by anyone as a political weapon. It is grossly unfair that the Irish language has been used as a political football by some politicians in Northern Ireland. The Irish language should not be a stumbling block to setting up an executive in Northern Ireland. .. Belfast Telegraph 27.04.2017

    In a political context, ‘stronger together’ can be presented in very different, even opposing ways: Northern Ireland, United Kingdom, United Ireland, European Union; Arlene would subscribe to the first two. David’s post ignores Arlene’s preference for a Culture Act, not an Irish Language Act.

    In summary, this Slugger post takes far too narrow a focus and could well encourage the response, “The DUP is about to cave-in to Sinn Féin”.

  • Niall Murphy

    Tús maith leat na hoibre.

  • Nevin

    “an Irish medium school”

    CmA, perhaps you should read Our Lady’s Grammar School 2015 inspection report [pdf file]. It received an Outstanding assessment in all categories; its academic performance was measured against selective schools; it was a little below par in GCSE Irish and above power in A-level Irish; and its trustees are the Sisters of Mercy.

  • file

    Because Arlene Foster is not a significant other for Irish speakers, and there is an element of her using them at the minute to try to undo the damage she has done to her image recently. Beware of Greeks bearing gifts, particularly Greeks who think there are not, in fact, Greeks, but Romans.

  • file

    Oh no! Did Big Brother delete you? Come the Revolution, he will be the first against the wall.

  • Granni Trixie

    Can’t complain, rules is rules.I knew what I was doing implying a bias in recent posts. (And before you get going with your usual don’t correct my grammar, It’s deliberate too!)

  • Gaygael

    Good work and at least some progress. Hopefully the DUP have finally realised the diminishing returns of never never unionism. Hopeful moment to an Irish Language Act.

    Next step apologise to the LGBT community.

  • Neonlights

    What department are you talking about? I must have missed something, or perhaps you just replied to the wrong comment.

  • Neonlights

    I suppose only time will tell.

  • Katyusha

    Personally, it brings home to me just how little acceptance there has been of the Irish language when Foster saying “Thank you” in Irish is so noteworthy and such an apparently monumental gesture. I doubt stating the same in French, German, Italian or Japanese would have the same controversy or difficulty to anyone that does so. Well done on her part, viewed from within the Northern Ireland prism, but it does reinforce how far we have to go and the antipathy towards the language that exists and how much work is left to do.

  • the keep

    So we shouldn’t be taken in by Martins gestures then?

  • the keep

    Well the department that will look after the Irish language act?

  • Granni Trixie

    A chill factor has been addressed in other sectors.

  • Mike the First

    Wasn’t this type of engagement announced before the general election was called?

  • npbinni

    I’m all for people learning a language not their own. I speak two, probably better than Jerry Adams speaks Gaelic. I love listening to Gaelic speakers in restaurants and hotels in Galway and Donegal, but the politicisation of the language in the north by those speaking haltingly with a strong northern Irish (English) accent is very off-putting. A language not normally spoken in the home which needs State intervention to survive or that is imposed on others for pure symbolism has little appeal to anyone. Maybe the language is spoken naturally in more situations in NI than I invisaged.
    So, looking forward to seeing a positive reciprocation of Arlene’s respectful gesture instead of the wearisome cynicism of so many of the commenters here.

  • Tochais Siorai

    Well, what on earth do you expect? It’s something that she should have done long ago without any fuss as part of her role as FM. I don’t believe, and the choreography seems to confirm it, that she’s in any way genuine about this as a stand alone issue.

  • Neonlights

    I don’t want an act, since it is yet another drain on the economy and its costs will whataboutery upwards. Since Nationalists and Unionists speak Irish I think your point is doubly wrong.

  • james

    Interesting. How do you feel about Michelle O Neill commemorating terrorists? Where is that on your scale of ‘outreach’?

  • Peggy kelly

    It depends on how you personally define “outreach. ” if for you outreach means that the other side has to turn its back on its history, culture or trading then you are onto a loser there mó chara. However, if u believe that you can reach out to the other despite their history then u are onto a winner. Outreach is not about forcing people to disassociate from your perception of their past, it’s about accepting that past and building on the future. For example, the orange order can reach out to Catholics without having to hang up the sash. . Unionists do not have to necessarily condemn the security services or the old Stormont regime in order for republicans to meet the monarch or pay respects at the Somme. Reaching out is not about off-loading. It’s about up-loading.

  • the Moor

    Well, that’s great. Maybe she could try Latin next, starting with ‘mea culpa’ …

  • file

    Yeah, but the lack of space after the full stop is not.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Last time I looked there were only two Gaelcholáiste in the wee six, with the highly successful Coláiste Feirste in Belfast and the rapidly growing Gaelcholáiste Dhoire in Dungiven. There are plans for other schools, yes, but as you point out Our Lady’s Grammar School is a normal Catholic voluntary grammar school which offers under Modern Languages “French, Gaeilge, Irish, Spanish” for Key Stages 3 and 4, as well as for sixth form students. But it is still very far from being “an Irish medium school”.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Remind me, the keep, what party is Arlene leading?

  • Nevin

    Seaan, the ‘voluntary grammar school’ brand is now more varied; some have selective intakes, some not.

    I see that St Patrick’s College in Maghera has an Irish medium stream but apparently this has received no funding from the Department of Education.

  • Trasna

    Oh bugger off Arlene, way too little, way too late.

  • Trasna

    FFS her name is Kelly, she’s of Irish descent.

    Another culture indeed.

    Stupid woman.

  • Jake Mac Siacais

    Listen folks. It may be a PR stunt. It may be genuine. Either way it can only be positive. Engagement brings learning and that can never be bad. Fair play to all so engaged. More power to you all.

  • The Living End

    Leader of NI meets citizens, doesn’t make any insulting remarks about them or their culture, finds out they are normal decent people. You’re right, she should be given a medal

  • The Living End

    Finished? This ain’t over, there are more than few more u-turns in the back. As someone said above, we’ll be back to curry my yogurt before long

  • james

    ‘Leader of NI meets citizens, doesn’t make any insulting remarks about them or their culture, finds out they are normal decent people.’ Sinn Fein furious.

  • Redstar

    How’s the DUP outreach to the Irish language looking now

    The good old DUP return to type, and to think some thought Foster wasn’t just electioneering!!!!

    http://www.newsletter.co.uk/news/dup-urges-block-on-irish-language-officer-1-7943182