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 … Read more

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 … Read more

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 … Read more

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 … Read more

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 … Read more

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 … Read more

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 … Read more

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, … Read more

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 … Read more

A Year Without Government Series: Part I of III

This week will mark one year since the suspension of the Northern Ireland Assembly and one year without government in Northern Ireland. Over the next few articles from myself on this site I hope to take a satirical and hopefully comical look back on the events of this year and how we managed to find ourselves in the situation. The following was written entirely tongue in cheek and none of it should be taken very seriously. How did we get … Read more

Hysterical Unionist reaction to Irish Language Act proposals damage the ‘Union’

Irish speakers are entertained mightily at present by a series of memes poking fund at the Newsletter’s hysterical obsession with scare stories about what an Irish Language Act might do to Northern Ireland – the funniest features a front page story trumpeting a proposal to replace Edward Carson’s statue at Stormont with one of Peig Sayers. It would be funny except it were so serious, unionist politicians and opinion leaders have got it all wrong. At a time when increasing … Read more

Unionists should welcome Irish Language Act with open arms

As I read the latest contributions regarding the Irish language from UUP leader Robin Swann and its echo in the Newsletter’s Morning View, it seems to me that they have tied themselves in a knot about Acht na Gaeilge.   A Gordian knot is a phrase that occurs to me.  It seems impossible to loosen but is easily unravelled with the judicious use of logic and good sense. Unionists like Robin Swann, Jim Allister and the writer of the Belfast … Read more

How new is the Foster offer?

There has been some debate doing the rounds about how new the proposal from the DUP Leader was last night about a parallel process.  Sinn Fein’s Michelle O’Neill argued this morning that such an offer is not new from the DUP and had been proposed before. On the core of the proposal, she is actually right as the lead negotiator for the party Edwin Poots proposed in June the following Speaking to the BBC on Tuesday evening, Edwin Poots, the … Read more

Foster makes a pitch to Sinn Fein to get Executive reformed

The DUP Leader, Arlene Foster has made a pitch to Sinn Fein in a bid to restore devolution with a proposal to deal with the Irish Language Act. Speaking tonight she said; How then do we resolve these issues and establish the Executive and have the Northern Ireland Assembly sitting to do the business the people elected us to do? Well we can enter into another round of talks. Parties can state and restate their positions.  All the while waiting … Read more

Adams says no Assembly without an Irish Language Act

The Sinn Fein President, Gerry Adams was speaking at an event organised by Conradh na Gaeilge. Also at the event supporting an act were the SDLP, Alliance, PBP and Green parties (combined they make up 50/90 MLAs). In the lead up to remarks expected by the DUP Leader, Arlene Foster tomorrow night about the future of devolution, Adams said; “The British Government and Unionist parties have failed to fulfil their commitment to an Acht Gaeilge and to the full implementation of … Read more

Ulster Scots, Ulster Irish, Irish Scots, Ulster Gaelic, Gaeilge Uladh

As Summer rolls on and disputes rumble regarding the possibility (or not) of the enactment of an Irish Language Act – or a Languages Act – or a Culture(s) Act,  we seem to be stuck in a labyrinth of ever decreasing circles or some Byzantine entrapment from which there is no escape. As Christy Moore once sang:  For all of our languages we can’t communicate. As an Irish speaker I’m conflicted about Ulster Scots.  It’s clearly a dialect of English … Read more

Irish Language Act: “Dr Paisley had been intensely displeased by the Blair administration’s trickery.”

To those still buying into the Major/Powell idea that the British government is always a neutral player in negotiations, try this account from Peter Robinson on how Blair set Sinn Fein up with a promise for an Irish Language Act he had no intention of asking the DUP to deliver: “It was Ian’s assessment – and in my view an accurate one – that if the government was prepared to con Sinn Féin in the way it did, they would … Read more

From Good Friday to Lá Dearg – the journey towards rights for Irish speakers

Ciarán Mac Giolla Bhéin is an Irish Language Activist and is writing this in a personal capacity On the 20th of May thousands will make their way to Belfast to support the increasing calls for legislative protection for the Irish language, in the form of an Irish language act. Those attending, like the Irish language community itself, come from different backgrounds and have different views on many important issues, but on the issue of the role of the state regarding … Read more

I firmly believe that an Irish language act can be in the vanguard of progress.

Linda Ervine is an Irish Language Development Officer at the East Belfast Mission  Arlene Foster’s decision to engage with Irish language groups could have positive outcomes for both the DUP and the Irish language sector. As the largest elected party within Northern Ireland the DUP is a major policy maker. In my opinion, it can only be beneficial for the party to acquire a greater knowledge of a sector on which its decisions have so immediate an impact. I am … Read more