Use of Irish in Northern Island Assembly

A motion to ban the use of the Irish language in the Northern Ireland Assembly was narrowly defeated by just two votes this week, according to Eurolang.

A member of the Ulster Unionist Party had complained that members of Sinn Fein were using Irish in speeches, and wanted to put a stop to it. Many unionists are apparently uncomfortable with any recognition of the Irish language in Northern Ireland as they fear “Britishness might be undermined”. At the same time, supporters of the language are calling for a law giving language rights.

There are further details in The Irish Times, where a member of Sinn Fein is quoted as saying:

“The issue of language rights, a non-controversial issue in Wales, Scotland, the South of Ireland and throughout Europe, an expression of human rights, has now become a political football in the battle for supremacy between the unionist parties … The determination of unionist politicians to block any recognition of the Irish Language is a misguided and macho demonstration of anti-Irish bigotry.”

Information about the Irish language in Northern Ireland can be found here.

This entry was posted in Irish, Language.

9 Responses to Use of Irish in Northern Island Assembly

  1. Colm says:

    Nice to see a post about this issue on your blog Simon! 🙂 I wrote about this upsetting and very disappointing issue myself on my blog last night.

  2. Colm says:

    Oh I forgot to mention that there will also be no Irish Language Act for the North as was promised by both governments last year at St. Andrew’s. The Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure in the North has decided it is too controversial an issue. It is a damn pity seeing as both Wales and Scotland have their own language acts, as does the Republic of Ireland.

  3. Rmss says:

    What the…? So the European Union is pressing member states to recognize minority languages, while one of it’s members (at least a part of it) is trying to destroy one of the public uses of a minority languages? This really makes me sad… Hopefully they’ll undertake action.

  4. d.m.falk says:

    These same sort pf people would be the type to shut down the only Irish gaelic daily in the world (La), which is published in Belfast, yet read all over the island… But considering these same people seem to have little regard for their own Irish heritage, basically saying to the world “We’re not Irish”, even as part of the UK…. I only feel such pity for them. I guess they’re followers of George Bernard Shaw, a fellow Irishman who also seemed to have shunned his own Irishness. The way they come about this, they’re effectively saying that being Irish- regardless of which side of the border- is something to be ashamed of.

    (Part Irish, along with French and German…)

  5. Tadhg says:

    Actually, the vote wasn’t as narrow as it sounds, and the odds of it passing were nil. Sinn Fein made sure that the dual-majority rule would apply for the vote – i.e., a majority of both nationalist and unionist representatives, counted separately, would have had to support the motion in order for it to pass. As it turned out, they didn’t even get a simple majority of the assembly, thank goodness.

  6. TJ says:

    I’m not a politician and not planning to be one, and maybe I don’t quite understand what’s going on there, but here in Kuwait, we produce ads of national interest and other things and even companies with some newspapers are published in variety of other languages … so thoughts would reach out to everyone living here (foreigners contribute to the population more than kuwaitis themselves).
    But banning of Irish in Ireland itself, this is something I don’t understand! (and yes, Ireland is one for me).

  7. Colm says:

    The Human Rights Commission in the North has spoken out against the decision of the Minister about his decision regarding an Irish Language Act for Northern Ireland.

    See here.

  8. Rhys says:

    “The issue of language rights, a non-controversial issue in Wales,…”

    Sadly there are plenty in Wales who feel the same towards the Welsh language and it’s use in public life (members of the Labour Party mainly)

  9. Rhodri says:

    I’ll go further than Rhys in saying that language rights definitely is a controversial issue in Wales.

    We may have secured measures to ensure language use in public bodies and funding for language promotion and planning with the Welsh Language Act in 1993, but Welsh speakers have no rights per se, when it comes to language.

    You can’t take anyone to court (not even those public bodies that don’t comply with their own Welsh Language Plans) for not providing a Welsh language service. It’s practically all done on the basis of pressure from government. Which is why we need a new Welsh Language Act, now.

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