Language Call To Governments

A call for goverments to give pro-active encouragement to Irish and Ulster Scots languages,

by Méadhbha Ní Bhaoill.

“THE members of the South Down Fianna Fáil forum have expressed their disapproval of the recent position taken by the Fine Gael party in the Republic on the Irish language issue. The leader of Fine Gael, Mr. Enda Kenny, has outlined his party’s plan for the Irish language, which would include the abolishment of the language as a core compulsory subject for the Leaving Certificate examination.

“The Down members of the Fianna Fáil party are in agreement with their leader, Mr. Micheál Martin who believes that such action would lead to the extinction of the language in the future. ‘Making Irish optional is not a consideration,’ according to Mr. Martin, if we are to press on with the expansion of Irish speakers.Whilst not denying the need to revise the methods of teaching the Irish language in the Republic in primary and second-level schools, and the need to put more emphasis on the spoken element, most language enthusiasts officials in Wales with increasing success.

“The Twenty Year Strategy for the Irish language which has been advocated by the Fianna Fáil government is the most radical and comprehensive plan for the promotion of the Irish language since the foundation of the Free State and it aims to increase the population of daily Irish speakers to 250,000 by the year 2030.

“As an Irish teacher, the PRO of the South Down Fianna Fáil forum, I believe that most people who have received thirteen years of schooling in the Republic are actually equipped with a considerable knowledge of the language. I always notice that Irish is saved on their mental computer, but there seems to be a lack of confidence or motivation for using the language in everyday communication.

“Ní Bhaoill is asking the govermental authorities and politicians to take action in order to help people bridge the gap between the knowledge of the language and its practical and communicaton usage. That is the basic problem, which simply requires the state authorities to make a commitment to act as leaders in promoting the language. The effects of colonial suppression of the language are still with us. There has been too much talk about the Irish language and very little practical and pro-active measures taken in getting the citizens to use it.”

“I believe that any other course of action is just a waste of time and money, and that people will not begin using the Irish language in the Republic until the government makes an official declaration that people begin to use the language every day. That is all that is required to encourage people. It has been done in Wales and it can be done here too.

“We must be the only people in the world who do not have the confidence for their native language,” she declared. The members of the South Down forum are keen to emphasise the close connection between the Irish language and the language of the Ulster Scots. An example of this link is that they share the linguistic word for porridge, which is ‘brachan’ in both languages. Irish Language Revival began in Belfast in the nineteenth hundreds amidst the Presbyterian congregation. Perhaps we need another such movement to emerge in the Wee North”.