Time for action on rights for Irish speakers is now

By Ciarán Mac Giolla Bhéin History teaches us many things, or so we are told. One of the most important lessons that we all have long experience of in Ireland and that the whole of Europe is now painfully discovering is that the British Government can never be trusted to implement international agreements, even the ones they helped negotiate. The latest developments concerning the Irish Language Act serve as a timely reminder of this fact; the British Government committed to …

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There really is nothing to fear in an Irish language act…

drop, splash, impact

Réamonn Ó Ciaráin is Director of Education with Gael Linn. Nobody will be disadvantaged for not being able to speak Irish. No school children will be forced to learn Irish against their will and no street name signs will be erected in Irish where they are not wanted. It will not cost too much; somewhere in the region of £4m per annum initially, it is estimated. Neither will there be employment quotas on language grounds. The proposed legislation will however, …

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What’s in a name? – Some thoughts on the Irish Language Act…

There is a debate raging over here, across these United States of America, as we grapple with the uncomfortable history of nation-building, the Founding Fathers, historical (re)interpretation, and dealing with the convoluted past. Sound familiar? In recent times, statues and memorials to Confederate-era figureheads across the (mostly southern) States have been taken down, and place names have been reassessed and renamed to address – or redress – America’s uncomfortable historical association with slaveholding, the civil war, and ongoing modern-day racial …

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The Irish Language Act: Once Bitten, Twice Shy…

Readers may recall my recent article in which I speculated on what the initial media frenzy led us to believe was the upcoming ILA. This was written in the immediate aftermath of the initial announcement and was published on Slugger around a day or so afterwards – by which time greater detail had emerged, with certain speculations and predictions having been subsequently laid to rest. The current ILA saga is, of course, ongoing – and will in all probability be …

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The Irish language Act: What to expect?

Blaine McCartney is a Co. Down-based writer William F. Buckley once mused that “A conservative is someone who stands athwart history, yelling ‘Stop!”. Being a conservative of sorts himself, however, he meant that as a compliment – going on to say that the conservative yells ‘Stop!’ at a time “when no one is inclined to do so, or to have much patience with those who so urge it.” It does not seem to have occurred him that some conservatives yell …

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The Orange Order’s Complex Relationship With The Irish Language…

In an ever-changing world there are now few constants and certainties, however, in Northern Ireland some remain including the fact that Unionism will find itself on the wrong side of a debate and be forced into a massive climb-down. The second certainty is that a spokesman (it’s always a man) for the Loyal Orange Institution will awkwardly enter the political arena with an ill-informed and often inaccurate intervention which will usually oppose whatever is being proposed. Unfortunately, as both a …

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The ‘ghosting’ by unionist parties of the Irish language community

Conradh na Gaeilge, the indefatigible advocacy group making the case for Irish language rights in Northern Ireland, in March sent all the parties in the north a position paper and a very short questionnaire requesting them to commit support or express an opinion on three issues relevant to the Irish language in the imminent local elections. All the parties – apart from the three unionist parties, the DUP, the UUP and the TUV – responded positively to the request.   Here …

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Fake politics in Westminster re Irish Language Act proposal

Watching the performance of Jim Shannon, the DUP MP for Strangford, in Westminster yesterday, a day of high drama otherwise in British politics, I was reminded that farce is a close relation to such dramatic intrigue. When Jim Shannon claims under parliamentary privilege that he’s for the idea of the Irish language but, it seems, apparently against any actual manifestation of An Ghaeilge in his sight lines or in those of his constituents,  does he not realise, for instance, that …

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“Sat nav and a mobile phone in the cab.” One of two answers to two problems?

David Trimble gets breezier by the day as he dismisses with a  “ no problem” problems that may seem to him small beer compared to  those that won him a share in the Nobel peace prize twenty years ago.   “ Sat Nav and a mobile phone in the cab “ sorts the border problem out he claims. ( But what then, David? Do they never have to stop for spot checks? Or if they do so, where)?  His remarks …

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The authority to speak, linquistic intolerance, anonymity and monolingual regimes

There’s a line in a poem by Seán Ó Riordáin poem called Daoirse/Captivity or Unfreedom which talks about a woman and the way she might talk to you and the impact that would have on you. Dá labhródh bean leat íseal nach ísleofá do ghuth, dá mbeadh an bean réasúnta, nach réasúnófaí thú. If a woman spoke to you quietly, wouldn’t you lower your voice, if the woman was reasonable, wouldn’t that make you reasonable too. Bernadette O’Rourke, who gave …

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If Sinn Féin weaponised the Irish language, the DUP had the power to change that…

The DUP have accused Sinn Féin of weaponising the Irish language. They have used this ‘weaponising’ of the language as one excuse for their refusal to accept the terms of the proposed Irish Language Act and therefore also the reinstating of Northern Ireland’s devolved government. If Sinn Fein have weaponised the Irish language, the DUP had the power to change that. Instead, it remains a Trojan horse that will continue to destroy unionism. With the signing of the Good Friday …

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Next time, the governments must not leave it entirely to the DUP and Sinn Fein in secret

It would have been a remarkable feat if the DUP and Sinn Fein could have  struck a deal  in secret, alone and unaided.  Secrecy may be essential for last moves to reach a compromise. But over a year none of the ground had been prepared with the public and it showed. The background was too noisy – RHI, the sudden illness and death of McGuinness, minority governments in London and Dublin with other fish to fry, including monumentally,  the throwback …

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Was an Irish Language Act really a bridge too far?

What a week. The DUP Leader, Arlene Foster has brought the curtain down on the current round of talks. It is commonly assumed that selling a stand alone, Irish Language Act is just something that would be a bridge too far for any Unionist leader. However, just taking a stroll down memory lane I wonder is this actually a fair representation of where Unionist voters actually are. Do I think they want an Irish Language Act? No. Would it be …

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Arlene’s Valentines Day Massacre

Today could not have turned out any bigger a mess for the incumbent DUP Leader and would-be First Minister. If sources are to be believed the Fermanagh MLA was ready to sign off on a deal which would have seen 3 Bills introduced : An Irish Language Bill An Ulster Scots Bill A Joint Respect Bill What has happened since the weekend to put the Stormont train off the rails? A DUP Group meeting on Monday morning, 3 days of …

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For a political deal ever to emerge, mutual ignorance needs to faced and mutual respect observed

Mick has rightly just pointed out how tantalising easy the language issue could be to solve, were it not for the politics that expresses a far deeper  mutual ignorance ( in both senses) than is often recognised and which 20 years of supposed power sharing has failed to reduce.  Politically there must be limits to the management of the voluntary apartheid state we appear to be creating before cohesion collapses altogether.  That moment may not be as far off as …

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What would yet send them over the top? Or is it all over?

  While Mick has presented the glass half full argument that Sinn Fein have at least indicated a willingness to return to Stormont, attention is bound to be more focused on hopes dashed or at least seriously  dampened . But there’s  no point in railing against Arlene Foster for  bursting out in public with a negative message against an  Irish Language Act (“however packaged”)  or speculating that   DUP supporters with  Jim Allister perched on their shoulder were  “spooked “ by …

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Now we see who’s ‘red (white and blue) lines’ are holding up the show!

It’s becoming increasingly clear that unionist political parties and politicians have set their opposition to an Irish Language Act and, by extension, any form of an Irish identity within ‘British’ NI as a priority ‘red line’ ahead of returning to powersharing or, even, at the most fundamental level aspiring to an equal Union between NI and the rest of the UK. The rhetoric today from Arlene Foster in which she set out what she would not countenance in response to …

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Sins of omission

More than a year since the collapse of the Assembly over, among other things, the refusal of the DUP to respect previous agreements which promised an Irish Language Act,  we’re no further on this issue and, it could be argued, any of the other outstanding issues. One thing I don’t understand is why the British Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, neither this one or the previous incumbent, have met the Irish language groups campaigning for the legislation or, rather, …

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Grassroots Campaign for Irish Language Legislation transformed political discourse, but where are we now and how can we help deliver meaningful change?

Ciarán Mac Giolla Bhéin writes for Slugger about the upcoming talks and the Irish Language Act On Wednesday our local political parties, this time the 5 ‘main parties’ as they are described in the media, will return to the table to try and flesh out a deal which would allow for the Executive to be formed and the MLA’s to take their seats in the Assembly once more. The issues in the ‘to be resolved’ box is much the same …

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