Ulster Scots now being ‘weaponised’

I’ve been following with interest the coverage of the Ulster Scots Agency’s funding plan since the story was first brought to light earlier this week in the Belfast Newsletter – and subsequently refried by other outlets. It was clear from the outset where the story was going as the Ulster Scots Agency CEO used a duplicitious figure ascribed to funding the Irish language, which had been used in a DUP press release – as the basis for the funding he was seeking for Ulster Scots but not just Ulster Scots as it happens.

The figure of £171m being ascribed to Irish language funding and being used by the Ulster Scots Agency as the basis for their claim for £139m includes £130m which was spent on Irish medium education in the 2011/12 to 2015/16 time span.   That money would have had to be spent anyhow as those children needed education irrespective of the language used.    Contrast that with the paltry £2m being allocated in the plan to Ulster Scots education – it’s slightly less than the £2.2m earmarked for marching bands.  It’s a question of priorities.

It’s curious – but not unexpected – that the ‘shocking, daft and mad’ Ulster Scots plan is being used to attack funding for Irish. The vast bulk of the funding being attributed to Irish Language spend is being spent/invested in Irish medium education, which means it would have to be spent anyhow. It’s also worth noting that Wallace approves of the funding proposed by the Ulster Scots Agency for marching bands. By what notion could marching bands be regarded as part of Ulster Scots culture? Is this not an effort to claim Ulster Scots culture as a subset of loyalist/Unionist culture so that the Ulster Scots Agency can be used as a cash cow for loyalist/Unionist projects? That is, of course, weaponising Ulster Scots, dipping it into the  sectarian cess pool so as to poison it for others.   The fact that Ulster Scots is spoken by more than just those in the loyalist/unionist community is ignored, it seems, in the pursuit of a ‘quid pro quid’ arrangement between Irish and Ulster Scots.

Just as the funding priorities of Foras na Gaeilge are often questioned by those in the Irish language community – much more of the funding allocated to the Irish language body – which is funded by the Executive and the Dublin Government is finding its beneficiaries south of the border than the north, arguably more than the funding ratio of 25 (from the northern Executive) to 75(from the southern Government) – s0 too should the funding priorities of the Ulster Scots Agency be examined by the genuine supporters of that language.

I have argued here and in other media for Ulster Scots to be included in an Ulster Languages Act – leaving aside the debate as to whether Ulster Scots is a language or a dialect – much in the same way as Ulster Scots and Irish are included in the European Charter for Regional and Minority Languages.  Irish is recognised under Part 3 while Ulster Scots is accorded Part 2 recognition – this merely recognises that the tongues are at different stages of development and their needs are different.

I don’t think any Irish speaker – and we’re all genuine by the way! – would deny Ulster Scots speakers support and legislative recognition.   I for one – and many more – object to the way we’re being dragged into a ‘tit for tat’ exchange.     This latest Ulster Scots Funding Plan and the way it has been presented and is being manipulated in the media has all the hallmarks of a political dirty trick – an attempt to deny the Irish language much needed support by denying the demands of the Ulster Scots Agency CEO’s wishlist.   Nobody’s fooled.

As for Edwin Poots spurious claim that Irish is being used to deny hip operations, he really should cop himself on.   In Wales, Government support of Welsh doesn’t hold back health provision and  neither does Gaidhlig suppport in Scotland. In civilised and organised societies, governments do both with fuss or question.   If Sinn Féin, and I’m not their spokesperson or apologist,  is holding out on its demands that previous agreements should be upheld and implemented before going back  into powersharing, it’s not about the Irish language but it is about trust in your government partners.

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  • Get The Grade Get The Grade

    Indeed. I’m just thankful the Irish Government encourages and funds its promotion in Donegal.

  • james

    “What do I see it as? Well as a Nationalist learning Irish I see it education and expanding my culture, developing myself. A language that is part of the culture of this island. A language I hope to be able to speak better when I am in Donegal, Kerry or when I am conversing with my nephew who is fluent, because of his schooling.”

    Fair enough. Though I don’t see why any of that requires the suggested 50million a year currently spent on it. Wouldn’t you, personally, do all that for free?

    “Yes there are those who are learning Irish as a hobby ”

    Why is it ok for you to say this, but not ok for me?

    “but the majority are learning Irish to educate themselves, open up their knowledge on one of the cultures of this island.”

    Again, if the will is there the voluntary sector could take care of this.

    “By calling it a hobby to an Irish language activists”

    What is an Irish language ‘activist’? Am I a Spanish language ‘activist’ in your terms?

  • NotNowJohnny

    No. No no. It wouldn’t be a positive move at all. It would send out a strong signal that the northern Ireland state is pro-Unionist and anti-Irish. This is the preferred position of the DUP and very much contrary to the GFA.

  • wild turkey

    yeah. and besides if there is proposed investment of public funds in language learning, how about some tangible payoffs?

    “The 9 Most In-Demand Programming Languages of 2016.”

    hope this link works.


  • The worm!

    You’re welcome.

  • james

    “Why should the Irish government fund an Irish language act in Northern Ireland?”

    Perhaps because Irish is the notional language of the Republic of Ireland.

    Do you think the UK government should fund the teaching of English in schools in the south?”

    Hardly necessary. The actual first language of Ireland is English. If they decide to switch to Irish – as the Irish language lobby seem to be pushing for – they have every right to. It’s of little import to us in the UK.

  • William Kinmont

    Quangos and subsidies should go lest they do end up euthanasing the natural forms of Ulster Scots out there. Your mind either reads this sign as Falling Rocks or Stanes mine yersel regardless of what it cost to errect https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/ef1109f2f66bef55ec7fe7587cdc0e44ffe2ec0db8d55518c8f7aabf62499448.gif

  • Oggins

    For free? I do love people like you, who only argue the costing and that it shouldn’t be supported.
    It’s funny this is the only subject matter your happy for it to be self funding. Is it because of ignorance?

    Again your back to your closed loop thought process. So I am not going down that rabbit hole, as it has been explained to you dozens of time. You are doing what they say is stirring.

    The offence taken by me was that you referred to the poster, that his language and culture is a hobby. The language and culture that he is actively working on developing within our communities. That’s an activist. If your struggling with that, you are grasping at straws, which we know your not doing. You goading.

    In terms of a hobby? Yeah it might be a hobby to someone say who is English learning it in Liverpool, in which you can might I add. Someone who may not have a direct culture. We all have a link to Irish, just as the way we all have a link to Ulster Scots, and other aspects of the culture of both tribes.

    By you calling it a hobby is an attempt to belittle the language and culture.

    Your are obviously in the camp that is scared of the language as again, your repeatedly on this website coming up with the same troll arguments, that is presented with facts and information and you purposely ignore them.

  • The worm!

    Out of interest, what sort of environment do you work in?

    I’m interested as presumably there are English speakers there too and I wonder how both work together?

  • Concubhar O Liathain

    Sorry – correction. Outside of education it’s around £10m per year – and with education it’s around £36m per year. I’m asing my calculation on the DUP press release which has Irish getting £171m over five years. The DUP pr failed to point out that the expenditure on education would have had to be made any how but the rest is more or less accurate.

  • No. I would be interested in seeing the breakdown in spending per pupil across all sectors : primary, grammer, secondary, comprehensive, irish , etc

  • james

    What are you basing your numbers on?

  • Ben De Hellenbacque

    Huh? And plain English isn’t?

  • PeterBrown

    Sorry replied to the wrong person but as long as you include capital as well as revenue costs (per pupil if needs be) I as you know agree with the need for conparstjve analysis

  • james

    Yes indeed. Both are.

  • Concubhar O Liathain

    “I’m basing my calculation on the DUP press release which has Irish getting £171m over five years. The DUP pr failed to point out that the expenditure on education would have had to be made any how but the rest is more or less accurate.”

  • james

    “I’m basing my calculation on the DUP press release which has Irish getting £171m over five years.”

    So your estimate on the differential between putting one pupil through one year of IM education and putting one pupil through one year of standard education is…?

  • Concubhar O Liathain

    As I’ve said so many other times here, Irish Medium Education has no advantage in terms of funding. There is no differential. Can you prove otherwise?

  • james

    “Irish Medium Education has no advantage in terms of funding. There is no differential”

    You are saying it doesn’t cost any more to educate a pupil in IM?

  • Concubhar O Liathain

    I’m not going to repeat myself.

  • james

    Well, then I can simply quote you, I suppose. You said:

    “There is no differential”.

    But what about translations for books, teaching materials, exam papers and so on?


    There’s one example.

    Did you overlook this, or are you deliberately omitting it? Isn’t this the sort of thing a man of your expertise should be well versed in?

  • Concubhar O Liathain

    The report you quote from has no relevance here. It relates to the southern Department of Education in 2006 The only Irish exam paper is the Irish exam. Seriously this is the most ridiculous you could make.

  • james

    What I’m trying to get across here is that all materials for testing and teaching need to be translated (or produced from scratch?) into Irish.

    That is an example of a cost that simply isn’t there in regular schools.

    Yet you persist in denying that such extra costs exist?

  • William Kinmont

    They are funding English to be fair.

  • Concubhar O Liathain

    Teachers do a great deal of this work voluntarily. Text books are produced as Gaeilge – but are bought and paid for. Like they would in any school. Is this the basis for your objections? How pathetic.

  • james

    Really? So teachers don’t demand overtime for translating? Translating any document – much less entire books – into another language is an excruciatingly long, meticulous process which requires a person to have a very specific skill set. It also costs a bomb.

    Hardly seems credible that teachers would do it ‘of an evening’ even if they could.

    Who edits the books thus produced? Does a publishing house supply this expensive service for free. Who checks the quality of the Irish language in them? Who checks the factual content? Or do all teachers in Irish schools posess an extremely high level of expertise in innumerable fields?

    Frankly, the system you describe seems a recipe for a botch job.

    And we are talking about childrens’ education here….

    It isn’t ‘the basis for my objection’ – just a random example of the things that people like yourself are either ignorant of or deliberately misleading people on.

  • Concubhar O Liathain

    You seem to be putting a fierce strain on yourself trying to find a way in which Irish Medium Education costs more (even slightly more) than education in other sectors. It doesn’t get any more funding than other sectors in terms of capitation – it just uses what it gets better. If it were getting more funding, don’t you think teachers unions and the DUP et al would have have made a song and dance about it earlier. They haven’t. As for the notion that the childrens’ education might suffer as a result, well, I’m a parent and I’m not going to take a chance with my child’s education. On top of that the results the schools achieve – especially Coláiste Feirste – are on an upward curve and well above the average. Pupils attending the schools and teachers working there are more motivated and have pride in their schools and themselves. There’s no one ignorant here – except, perhaps, yourself – and no one misleading anyone, deliberately or otherwise.

  • james

    I think you are deliberately trying to mislead people on the per pupil costs of IM education vs regular education ceteris paribus.

    And that is before we move on to the fact that (having already established that the variable costs are higher) the fixed costs are also much higher when divided by the number of pupils. Opening a new school for less than 20 kids??

    There are of course also the social costs of reinforcing the segregation that exists in our school system.

    And the fact that there apparently are no benefits beyond people ‘feeling good’ about it. If that’s what you’re really after, let’s take the funding currently pumped into IM education and spend it on sports fields.

  • Concubhar O Liathain

    You’ve established nothing. Your entire contribution on this topic has been a series of baseless assertions informed only by a very prejudiced view of the Irish language. Ceteris Paribus indeed – All things being equal, I don’t think you have any appreciation of the notion of equality. The GFA, voted on democratically north and south committed the Government to encourage and facilitate Irish medium education in line with the provisions for Integrated Education. That’s where Irish Medium Education is at. In common with Integrated Education, when a new school is being sought, it has to satisfy the same critaria and if it does not, or if there’s a unionist minister in power, it won’t get the necessary sanction. That is the system. Sometimes this means the school starts off with a small number but the secondary school in Dungiven – which had less than 20 pupils when it started off – has grown rapidly and it’s only in its third year.
    There are substantial benefits to Irish Medium Education – the results illustrate this. Other sectors could do with the motivation of the Irish Medium Sector. Your motivation, however, is deeply questionable. It seems to be a hatred of the Irish language and a misplaced sense of superiority.

  • james

    “It’s difficult to get a man to understand something if his salary depends upon his not understanding it.”

    Upton Sinclair.

  • Concubhar O Liathain

    I can’t stop you jumping to the wrong conclusion. The record of excellence for Irish Medium Education in the north speaks for itself.

  • Steve

    I don’t know what the Irish word for ‘owned’ is, but it would describe what you’ve just done to James :o). Maith tu

  • Steve

    If you think Catholics “are the only ones” with skills in Irish, you may want to take yourself up to the Turas project in East Belfast and have a cupla focal with Linda Ervine.

  • ted hagan

    Irish, Ireland, Northern Ireland. Geddit?
    By reciting UK continually doesn’t get away from that simple fact.
    And since you continually talk UK, I presume you oppose funding for Welsh and Scots Gaelic?

  • ted hagan

    It’s all he does.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    I think that before a shilling is handed over to any cultural agency they should be forced to sign a promise to take real pragmatic steps to ensure that the image of said cultural group is criss community and not the perceived property of either nationalists of unionism or nationalism.

    If they fail to live up to this commitment then they won’t receive another penny.

  • james

    “Irish, Ireland, Northern Ireland. Geddit?”

    No, I don’t ‘geddit’. What does this list mean?

    “By reciting UK continually doesn’t get away from that simple fact.”

    As above, what simple fact? As to ‘continually reciting’, it is a statement of simple fact that NI is in the UK.

    “And since you continually talk UK, I presume you oppose funding for Welsh and Scots Gaelic?”

    That is a matter for the people of those regions to decide. I’m not about to tell the Scottish and Welsh how to manage their funding. If I live in NI then how money is spent here, on the other hand, is something I have an opinion on.

  • ted hagan

    The list means you live on the island of Ireland, whether you like it or not.

  • james

    Yes. And the north-eastern part of the island is a part of the UK.

    Ireland the country and Ireland the geographical landmass are two different things. Some in the Irish Republican fraternity seem to think it very witty to pretend to confuse the two terms, but it really is rather tedious.

    Ireland, this being a political (not a geological) discussion board, is a 26-county political unit which does not include the UK region on the island of the same name. So, for our purposes, Fermanagh, Londonderry, Down etc are not actually in or part of Ireland.

  • William Kinmont

    Target the money where there is least understanding of the culture. In relative terms Irish is thriving in West Belfast so target future money elsewhere ? Similarly with Ulster Scots instead of loyalist estates send it elsewhere the Glens perhaps but then true Ulster Scots is probably thriving there.

  • Concubhar O Liathain

    Whatever about temporary political exigencies, you can’t divorce part of Ireland – ie the six counties of Antrim, Down, Armagh, Tyrone, Fermanagh or Derry – from its geography, history, culture, languages as you try, foolishly, to do with a Brexit like statement. It’s a token of the extreme silliness of your arguments that you do this. In Britain the Scottish Government fund Scots Gaidhlig – including Gaidhlig medium education – and the Welsh Government does the same. The people of NI are not second class citizens of the UK , as you would have us be, Irish speakers in NI deserve and demand the same rights as Gaidhlig speakers in Scotland or Welsh speakers in Wales. The sooner you realise this, the better for your precious union, which, believe me, is hanging by a thread given the Brexit vote foisted upon us by the lying charlatans of the Tory Party, UKIP, the DUP and their shady funders.

  • james

    Oh, that’s interesting – I thought your interests were primarily linguistic. I didn’t realise you were also a fervent UI man.

    I didn’t realise your love of the Irish language was so politicized. Silly me, indeed.

    “The people of NI are not second class citizens of the UK , as you would have us be”

    Hysterical waffle. I am one of the ‘people’ of NI myself. Most of we, the people, don’t want the ILA that you keep harping on – most of us see it as expensive and divisive.

    As I’ve said before, some sort of funding is warranted – though I think current levels of spending are well in excess of what is reasonable.

    ” Irish speakers in NI deserve and demand the same rights as Gaidhlig speakers in Scotland or Welsh speakers in Wales.”

    But here is the key question –
    Which I fully expect you to duck – What ‘rights’ do you not currently have that you ‘demand’?

  • Concubhar O Liathain
  • james

    Ah…but this document is in Irish, isn’t it? Unhappily, a language that is all Greek to me. Or actually, as the Greeks themselves say, it’s ‘all Chinese to me’ – since I have some basic Greek.

    I must demand my basic human rights here. Mr Fealty! I demand this document be translated for me. And Slugger has to pay for it.

    Otherwise there can be no further debate. Principle of the thing, doncherknow.

  • Concubhar O Liathain

    It’s in Irish AND English.

  • james

    Apologies. Couldn’t open the link and just got some sort of message in Irish – presumably telling me why it wouldn’t open.