Make Irish teaching almost impossible and then claim there’s no demand!

mind, railway, platform

Réamonn Ó Ciaráin is Director of Education with Gael Linn. Here he argues that recent downgrading of language teaching in educational priorities is having a dilatory effect on the numbers learning Irish in Northern Irish schools. There is without doubt a crisis in languages in post-primary schools in Northern Ireland. It is affecting some languages worse than others. The Irish language is traditionally only offered in half the English medium post-primary schools in this jurisdiction. This because of historical and socio-political …

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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: 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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‘Reaching across the divide’

Linda Ervine is a community worker in loyalist east Belfast, who is also an Irish language activist.  Her classes have attracted literally hundreds of people to study Irish at the Skainos Centre on Newtownards Road – proof that Northern Ireland must not be seen merely as a narrow concept of two communities. “We’ve got to reach across the divide,” says Linda in the latest of the ‘Forward Together’ podcast interviews.  “Sadly 20 years after the Good Friday Agreement we are …

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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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The BBC and the Irish language

Any number of spokespeople for organisations involved in Irish language advocacy and political parties have their names mispronounced on an ongoing basis by BBC presenters and journalists. The ongoing failure of BBC management to take corrective action on this issue is an indictment of the broadcaster and fatally compromises their commitment to accuracy and impartiality as expressed in the ‘bible’ of the BBC, the Editorial Guidelines.

DUP Mayor Paul Hamill speaking Irish ahead of an event.

Amid all the political wrangling over the Irish language -DUP mayor Paul Hamill practises his Irish ahead of event in Newtownabbey @UTVNews pic.twitter.com/EnCxSc2iEf — Judith Hill (@JudeHill_utv) March 14, 2018   Paul Hamill is the Mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council and just in a contentious debate about the Irish language is refreshing to see this engagement. David McCannDavid McCann holds a PhD in North-South relations from University of Ulster. You can follow him on twitter @dmcbfs

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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Picks of the Week – First Communions, Protestant Gaels, Squaddies and Stuckness

There’s a lot of highfalutin political goings on at the moment. But what are the ordinary humans talking about? Here are some media magpie treasures from the last week… RTÉ Documentary on One rebroadcast the gorgeous 2014 doc, Mairead’s First Communion. It follows two culturally Catholic, but non-religious, parents’ experience of their daughter’s First Communion. They didn’t like the idea of her doing it, but 8 year old Mairead really wanted to, so they let her. There’s so much to …

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Shibboleth and sibhialtacht

The Irish-language issue is back in the headlines again. Despite the best efforts of campaigners such as Linda Ervine, it is still the case that most ethnic-unionists define themselves at least in part by their rejection of the Irish language. Never mind that some of their ancestors must have spoken it, as evidenced in many cases by their own surnames. Unionists have abandoned the mother tongue of their ancestors in much the same way that German-descended Americans have abandoned theirs. …

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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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1989: Should an Irish Medium education report be published bilingually? #20YearRule

A civil service file released under the 20 Year Rule shows how the potential bilingual publication of a report about Irish Medium eduction provoked one civil servant to comment that “given the small and gossipy world of serious Irish language enthusiasts in Northern Ireland, I think we could assume that a refusal to publish this report in Irish would leak sooner or later”

Onwards and inwards

One theme that comes up disappointingly often in politics, and Northern Irish politics in particular, is the strategic retreat into metapolitics. If you fear that you’re losing the argument, change the subject so that the argument is now about how well or badly the argument has been conducted. This is particularly powerful if the original argument had itself been about who had been badly treated in an even earlier argument. If done carefully, one can effectively prevent any conclusion from …

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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 …

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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 …

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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, …

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What the DUP have done….

I attended a meeting in Belfast on Monday night, no ordinary gathering either.  It was a meeting called by Finance Minister and Sinn Féin candidate Mairtín Ó Muilleoir to facilitate a conversation between the Irish language community about the current political situation and the threat it poses and/or the opportunity it presents. Irish language activists from throughout the six counties showed up at the Cultúrlann on the Falls Road for the event.   It had been a long time since …

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The DUP and the ‘cost’ of the Irish Language Act: Fake News and alternative facts

A headline atop the latest column from former cultural minister and DUP figure Nelson McCausland made his point clear: £2 billion over 20 years – the real cost of the Irish Language Act Gerry Adams doesn’t want to talk about Nelson McCausland doesn’t want an Irish Language Act because, he claims, the cost could end up dwarfing the RHI debacle. Frankly, I have a suspicion that the DUP are seeking anything which might dwarf the RHI debacle! In his article …

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The Irish language hasn’t gone away you know

I’m back at work though suffering with a cold, flu or ‘man-flu’.   I don’t like feeling congested at the best of times.  Being back at work at the start of a cold and wet January doesn’t brighten my mood. This is all put in perspective by Martin McGuinness who has serious health issues, it seems.   I wish him a speedy recovery.   Nara fada go raibh tú ar do shean léim!     In the light of his …

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Light not heat should come as a result of RHI scandal

As the clamour increases for the rolling of heads, even from those who find themselves within the proverbial glasshouse, it’s important to see what can be salvaged from the mess which is rapidly escalating on the Hill of Stormont.    The disintegration is underlined by the bellicose line from Arlene Foster who is trying to distract attention from her own mishandling of the RHI scheme and, in particular, the latest fall out, with bogus claims of ‘misogyny’ and a rather …

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