European spotlight on Stormont’s failure on the Irish language

Articles

image

This column has often referred to the ‘hot air’ contained in the promise of the Good Friday Agreement that a ‘new era’ lay ahead for the Irish language in the north. Every development

would depend on the good-will of the British government who always prioritise their own political and strategic objectives. Therefore, from the outset and since, the allocation of resources for the language are constrained by the limitations of the conflict resolution agenda which

derived from the peace process

in the north of Ireland.

In this sense, clever strategic delaying tactics such as the false linkage made between An Ghaeilge and the dialect of Ulster Scots were utilised to restrict the progress of the Irish language. Similarly, this also saw the catch-phrases of the new dispensation such as ‘good relations’ and ‘a shared future’ in use to measure the progress of the language against the anti-Irish ‘concerns’ of political unionism.

Hence the distinct irony in last week’s story that the British government strongly criticised the Stormont Executive for failing to provide any information for a high profile European report on minority languages. The Council of Europe produce a report every three years that monitors the level of support and protection given to minority languages such as Welsh, Scottish Gaelic and Irish under the European Charter for Regional and Minority languages.

Notwithstanding the fact that the Council of Europe had previously strongly criticised the British Government every three years due their strategy of vacillation on Irish language matters, the same government nevertheless took the opportunity, since the restoration of the power-sharing assembly in 2007, to re-direct the blame towards Stormont politicians.

Irish speakers aren’t deceived by this, however, and understand that the British Government aren’t neutral referees on the issue of the Irish language. It was they who refused to implement the legislative commitment for an Irish language

Act given St Andrews even though they signed the very same international agreement.

They also used the issue of the Irish language in a classic neo-colonial manner in order to cajole political unionism into the new executive thus absolving themselves of all future responsibility. When they delayed the second consultation process on an Irish Language Act until the reformation of the assembly in March 2007, this ensured a permanent veto for ulster unionism on the future of any Irish Language act. Moreover, the Secretary of State of that period, Peter Hain, played a typical game of brinkmanship when he threatened the DUP with an Irish language Act unless they agreed to share power with republicans.

It is this same veto that was bestowed on unionist politicians that prevents any significant development on the Irish language front. It is therefore no surprise that the DCAL minister Caral Ní Chuilín couldn’t get any response or an agreed position from the executive for the European report when she presented a paper to the assembly on the promotion of Irish and Ulster Scots.

It is ludicrous, then for the British Government to voice ‘concerns’ that precise information on minority languages hasn’t emanated from the Executive when their cynical strategy created the political circumstances that ensured this very

outcome. It is arguably a greater cause of concern for the Irish language community that our nationalist politicians have fell for this same divisive deception as they locked heads in a childish party-political point-scoring dispute about who is most effective on matters relating to the language.

Wouldn’t it be better for Irish

language activists from both parties, who sit in the assembly at Stormont, to build alliances around this systemic discrimination in order to find the most effective solution? Couldn’t this then allow for a broad based alliance to be built with the Irish language community on such rights-based questions that puts the spotlight firmly back on the British Government and challenges the infamous unionist veto?

image

Spotsholas na hEorpa ar theip Stormont ó thaobh na Gaeilge de

Is minic a thagair an colún seo don ‘aer te’ a bhí sa gheallúint a tugadh do Ghaeil ar Aoine an Chéasta 1998 go raibh ‘ré úr’ i ndán don Ghaeilge. Bheadh gach forbairt ag brath ar dea-thoil Rialtas na Breataine a thugann tús áite do mhianta polaitiúla agus straitéiseacha s’acu féin i dtólamh. Chiallaigh seo ón tús agus ó shin i leith go mbeadh gach dáileadh acmhainní ar son na teanga faoi smacht ag teorainneacha an tionscadal réitithe coimhlinte a d’eascair ó phróiseas na síochána ó thuaidh.

Sa chaoi seo, úsáideadh agus úsáidfear straitéisí glice moilleadóireachta ar nós an bhréagnaisc idir an Ghaeilge agus mionchanúint na hUltaise chun srian a chur ar fhorbairt na Gaeilge. Is ar an bhonn chéanna a fheictear frásaí na dispeansáide úire ar nós ‘dea-chaidreamh’ agus ‘todhchaí roinnte’ in úsáid chun dul chun cinn na teanga a mheas in éadan ‘na buairimh’ frithGhaelacha atá san aontachtachas polaitiúil.

Seo an fáth a raibh íoróin éigin le sonrú ar an scéal a tháinig amach an tseachtain seo caite inár cháin Rialtas na Breataine an Feidhmeannas ag Stormont go láidir as siocair nár sholáthair siad aon eolas do thuairisc iomráiteach Eorpach ar mhionteangacha. Cuireann Comhairle na hEorpa tuairisc le chéile gach trí bliana a dhéanann monatóireacht ar an leibhéal tacaíochta agus cosanta a thugann Rialtas Shasana do theangacha mionlaigh ar nós na Breatnaise,Gaidhlig na hAlban, agus na Gaeilge srl faoin Chairt Eorpach do Theangacha Mionlaigh agus Réigiúnda.

Ainneoin go ndearna Comhairle na hEorpa cáineadh láidir ar Rialtas na Breataine gach trí bliana de bharr straitéis tarraingt na gcos s’acu i dtaobh na Gaeilge de, thapaigh an Rialtas céanna an deis, ó athbhunaíodh an feidhmeannas roinnte cumhachta in 2007, chun an locht a atreorú chuig polaiteoirí Stormont. Ní chuirfear dallamúllóg ar Ghaeil, áfach, a thuigeann nach réiteoirí neodracha iad Rialtas na Breataine ar cheist na Gaeilge.

Is iadsan a dhiúltaigh coimitmint reachtaíochta Chill Rímhin maidir le hAcht na Gaeilge a chur i gcrích bíodh is gur shínigh siad an comhaontú idirnáisiúnta céanna. Is iadsan a bhain feidhm nuachoilíneach clasaiceach as ceist na Gaeilge chun aontachtachas polaitiúil a bhrú isteach san fheidhmeannas úr chun gach freagracht a bhaint uathu féin.

Nuair a chuir siad moill ar an dara próiseas comhairliúcháin ar Acht na Gaeilge go dtí i ndiaidh athbhunú an fheidhmeannais i mí an Mhárta 2007, cinnteoidh ceart crosta ag Aontachtachas Uladh ar thodhchaí Acht na Gaeilge. Go deimhin, d’imir an tAire Stáit sa tréimhse sin, Peter Hain, cluiche bruachaireachta clasaiceach nuair a bhagair sé an DUP le hAcht na Gaeilge murach gur aontaigh siad cumhacht a roinnt le Poblachtánaigh.

Is an ceart crosta céanna a bronnadh ar na polaiteoirí aontachtacha a chuireann bac ar gach forbairt shuntasach maidir leis an teanga. Ní nach ionadh mar sin, nach dtiocfadh leis an Aire DCAL, Caral Ní Chuilín aon fhreagra nó seasamh comónta a fháil ón fheidhmeannas don tuairisc Eorpach nuair a chuir sí páipéar os comhair an tionóil ar chur chun cinn na Gaeilge agus Ultaise. Is ceap magaidh mar sin do Rialtas na Breataine bheith ‘buartha’ nach dtáinig aon eolas cruinn ón Fheidhmeannas ar mhionteangacha nuair a chruthaigh straitéis chiniciúil s’acu féin na cúinsí polaitiúla a chinntíonn nach dtarlaíonn a mhalairt.

Déarfainn gur ábhar buarimh níos suntasaí do phobal na Gaeilge gur thit polaiteoirí náisiúnacha s’againne don chleas scoilteach chéanna agus iad in adharca a chéile ar an cheist i gcath páistiúil idir polaiteoirí ar cé acu is éifeachtaí don Ghaeilge. Nárbh fhearr do dhíograiseoirí Gaeilge ón dá pháirtí a shuíonn san fheidhmeannas ag Stormont teacht le chéile i gcomhpháirtíocht ar an idirdhéalú córasach seo le féachaint ar an dóigh is fearr lena réiteach? Nach dtiocfadh ansin comhghuaillíocht leathan a thógáil le pobal na Gaeilge féin ar cheisteanna ceartasacha chun an spotsholas a chur ar ais ar Rialtas na Breataine agus dúshlán ceart crosta suarach na n-aontachtóirí a ghlacadh?

One Response to “European spotlight on Stormont’s failure on the Irish language”

  1. milo Says:

    Agree with some points but excusing Sinn Fein’s abject lack of interest in an Irish Language Act in anything but manifesto pledges is worrying. They have had the ministry for two years now and have achieved nothing. that Caral Ní Chulain shouldn’t bother because of the Unionist veto merely hides their willingness to take on their bigger partners in government.
    A failed consultation isn’t good enough, Liofa2015 certainly isn’t good enough and their continued use of facilitating an “Irish language strategy” as opposed to an act might fool the knuckledraggers but not those of us with an actual interest in the future of our language. All SF talk of a language act disappeared after the talks a few years ago to devolve policing and justice powers. It’s easy to see then and now how they got their bellies tickled by the DUP and what they traded for David Ford to keep the Justice Minister’s seat warm for an SF justice minister in the not too distant future.


Web Design by Oin Interactive | Admin Entries RSS Comments RSS