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SIGN OF THE TIMES….

By David Vance On March 18th, 2011

I see that  Belfast City Council has rejected a proposed plan for bilingual road signs in Belfast.

Twenty-three council members voted against adding Irish or Ulster-Scots to signs in addition to English at a full council meeting. Twenty-one others voted in favour of the change. In January, Regional Development Minister Conor Murphy began a public consultation into making signs bilingual. He said the measure would help his department meet commitments under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. Anna Lo, Alliance Party, had previously said the move would ‘ghettoize’ Northern Ireland. A proposal by Sinn Fein’s Caoimhin Mac Giolla Mhin to overturn the decision was rejected by the council.

The very fact that Irish Republicans seek to waste scarce cash in a recession to advance their risible Irish uber alles language agenda is the only sign you need to know of their incalculable stupidity.

59 Responses to “SIGN OF THE TIMES….”

  1. The danger with bilingiualism is that you ultimately get a situation, as in Canada or Wales where many government or official jobs are reserved for bilingual candidates. In Northern Ireland (where around 100% are fluent in English) this would effectively mean the jobs would be pretty much be reserved for one community.

  2. It’s not the danger, Ross, it is the aim. 😉

  3. Obviously lost on Madame Lo, an immigrant from Hong Kong is that she and the people of N. Ireland would be better advised to make those signs in Chinese and English than Ulster-Scots and English. The former two along with Spanish being far more useful for future prosperity than a measely 1 million or so Scots speakers.

  4. Irish Republicans are pushing for Ulster-Scots?

  5. 23-21. It won’t be long now.

  6. Jim

    1mm or so Scots speakers?

    Where? When?

  7. The Shinners advance their kulturkampf as the Assembly election approaches.

    The scary thing is how close they came to success with this vote. Any who voted with them are fellow-travellers, whatever their motives.

  8. Is that good?

    Why?

  9. I was being generous.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scots_language

    That stat was taken from the Scottish Government which probably means it’s a dodgy number to begin with. Never trust the Scots.

  10. All such numbers are wildly exaggerated, incl the number of Gaelic speakers in Ireland.

    If the folks wanted to speak the language, they’d learn it and they’d do it on their own dime and on their own time. It would be easy to do.

    But they don’t bother. And that’s just another unpleasant fact to deal with.

  11. The demographics are going in the right direction. Belfast will soon have a pro-equality majority.

  12. Every council that has a nationalist majority shares power. No council that has a unionist majority does so. There is only one Kulturkampf and it is the futile attempt of the unionists to suppress Irish culture.

  13. Language is certainly part of culture, but the fact is that you could spend ten years in Belfast and another ten years in Dublin and not hear anyone use Irish in any normal situation.

    Are the efforts on behalf of these signs an attempt to help out Irish speakers who won’t know what the English word for Belfast is or are they an attempt to stick the finger in the eye of the evil Prods?

  14. Rubbish.

    Irish speakers are less than 10% of the NI population. They have no right to demand “parity of esteem”.

  15. Sorry Phantom. My reply at 23.12 was to H94, not you.

  16. Polish would probably be better methinks.
    And at long last Anna Lo has something sensible to say. Wonders will never cease.

  17. That’s a lie, David. Do you have ANY proof of that?
    The reason many government positions in Wales and Canada require bilingual candidates is because of those country’s strong language legislation, not the other way around. Do you believe that Wales and Canada are pursuing ‘risible uber alles language agendas’ as well?

  18. The Scots language is in Scotland, Jim. I think you mean Ulster-Scots, which is a dialect of Scots, and is protected under section III of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. It’s currently unclear how many people speak or understand it.

    In the last census, 167,000 people said they spoke or understood Irish. Around 30,000 of those were in Belfast.

  19. So speaketh Phantom, language expert…

  20. I agree that SF are using the Irish language as a political football, again, but you need to understand, this is David vance shamelessely electioneering. There is only a few months left before people go to the polls, and he is desperately searching around for a way to pick up a few votes. Kicking the Irish language is a sure-fire way of picking up a stray vote here and there.

    Whast exactly is ‘scary’ about bilingual signage, by the way? Were you frightened by a sign as a baby?

  21. “The reason many government positions in Wales and Canada require bilingual candidates is because of those country’s strong language legislation”

    And the first step towards that was giving Welsh and French equal status with English in areas where English is the only language commonly spoken.

  22. Just because you state something as a fact does not make it so, Phantom. You really do show your complete ignorance on this issue by coming out with nonsense like this.

    It is a FACT that there are large numbers of families and individuals in elfast who spend every single day conducting most of their business in Irish. Hundreds of children in the city are being raised with Irish as their first language. Is this a bad thing? No. Research has shown that children raised and educated in a bilingual setting tend to fare better at school than monoglot children.Is it a ‘bad’ thing for a child to be raised speaking Irish? Again, no. As they learn, they also learn about the rich cultural heritage they belong to. A language is there for everyone, not just one religion or one political grouping. There are children in some state schools learning Irish, and it doesn’t seem to have permanently damaged any of them.

    Phantom, I find it hard to believe that you would come off with rubbish like the above, when on at least 2 occasions, myself and Paul McMahon have offered to show you around some places where you will hear and meet Irish speakers using the language on an everyday basis.

    As to ‘Are the efforts on behalf of these signs an attempt to help out Irish speakers who won’t know what the English word for Belfast is or are they an attempt to stick the finger in the eye of the evil Prods?’ – Really, you should just not comment on this subject any more. You’re beginning to sound like David.

  23. Pro equality would be supporting the use of the language everyone who has grown up within 100 miles of Belfast speaks as a first language- English. What you are encouraging is nothing to do with equality.

  24. Do not come here and accuse me of being a liar. Learn to debate without such vacuous comment.

  25. In both Wales and Canada, there was very little opposition to the legislation, the people of both those countries believeing that the legislation was good for the language and country as a whole.

    There was little or no sectarian reasoning behind it, unlike here.

  26. Why are you so against the Irish language, Ross? Will you trot out the usual ‘it costs too much money’ line, or do you have another reason?

  27. ‘It’s not the danger, Ross, it is the aim.’

    Are you saying this is the truth then, David? Where’s your proof? Or are you just making it up?

  28. And in the spirit of ‘debate’, I change my statement from ‘That’s a lie,’ to, ‘You are mistaken.’ How’s that?

  29. It’s not true that there was no opposition to enforced bilingualism in Canada & Wales. The organisation “Canadians for Language Fairness” for example exists to fight the bias against English speakers that the policy has created.

  30. I didn’t say there was no opposition. I said there was very little. The majority in both countries either supported the legislation, or didn’t really care.

    The 1737 Languages (Ireland) Act, which prohibits the use of any language but English in a court of law, has been abolished in Wales and Scotland, as it was seen as discriminating against Welsh and Gadhlaic, and biaised towards English. But it still exists in NI. Do you agree with it? Or is it biaised?

  31. Of course defendents should be allowed to defend themselves in their first tongue, otherwise fair trials could not occur. That is not the same as forcing street signs in Belfast to be bilingual or every school to have to provide Irish language education.

  32. but you need to understand, this is David vance shamelessely electioneering

    LOL!

    And of course it’s not electioneering by the Shinners.

  33. ‘That is not the same as forcing street signs in Belfast to be bilingual or every school to have to provide Irish language education.’

    Nobody said it was, Ross. And, no-one is ‘forcing’ street signs to be in Irish. Where is the harm in it anyway? Translink already have most, if not all, bus stops in West Belfast in Irish and English. They provide bilingual timetables. They have bilingual signage in many places. Has the world ended?

    West Belfast is the home of the Gaeltacht Quarter. There are thousands of Irish speakers, young and old, of varying levels of ability in the language, from a few words to completely fluent, living and working there. That’s just one part of one city in the North/Northern Ireland/NI/the Province/whatever. The Gaeltacht Quarter attracts thousands of visitors every year, most of whom wish to see and hear the Irish language. If certain people here don’t want the locals to have bilingual signage, for whatever reason, then surely, as some here claim to be business men, they can see the economic benefit in providing these signs etc. for the tourists? Aren’t we trying to build a tourist industry? If not, then why are millions of pounds being pumped into the Titanic Quarter? And why is there no outcry here about that money?

    As for the ‘…forcing…every school to have to provide Irish language education.’

    As I pointed out on another thread, nobody is forcing anyone to do anything. It was a wish, a hope, an aspiration. And it also falls into the category of electioneering, as pointed out by Peter. It IS electioneering, and it bugs the f*ck out of me. Every election, SF and SDLP become Uber-Gaels, and, every election, DUP, UUP and recently TUV start the usual ‘leprechaun language’ bollox.

    I have to say, there ARE members of SF and SDLP who are Irish speakers who genuinely want the best for the language – Bairbre de Brún and Doimnic Ó Brollchain spring to mind, AND there are those in some of the ‘other’ parties who aren’t as visceral in their comments about it – Ian parsley was one, and Trevor Lunn is fairly open-minded at times about it. Unfortunately, they all have to toe their party line, and unfortunately, any mention of Irish by a politician from either side immediately politicises it.

    As someone who speaks Irish as my first language, not for any political or religous reasons, I have to say that it angers me that people on both ‘sides’, who have no actual interest in the language other than to score sectarian points, won’t just leave it the f*ck alone. They don’t speak for me on language issues, nor for most of the Irish speakers I know.

    A language is for everyone. There is nothing to fear from it. It is there purely for the purpose of communication, nothing else. It doesn’t define you politically or religiously. The more languages you speak, the more people you can speak to. Forcing someone to learn a language doesn’t work, but showing them that it is THEIR language, to be cherished and celebrated does.

    I know that a certain percentage of the posters on here will just dismiss what I wrote, or will criticise it, or mock it, but d’ye know what? I don’t care. I wasn’t raised with the ‘Every word of Irish spoken is another bullet…’ crap. I speak Irish because it’s my language, and I’m proud of it.

  34. I speak Czech (and a little Serbo Croat).
    I demand that my street name be in Czech and English!

  35. Seimi

    I’m in favor of the Irish language. I actually paid my own money for a single course in it, attended on my own time, without any possible gain other than the intellectual, and there wouldn’t be too many Irish people who could say that.

    The past hundred years indicate that the Irish people aren’t committed to it much at all. They want the taxpayer to pay for this course, that broadcast, or that road sign, but very few are willing to commit time and effort to learn what they claim is their own language.

    If the above was in any way exaggerated, you’d hear Irish once in awhile in normal situations in Dublin or Belfast. But you don’t.

    I’d love to have my argument demolished, but it cannot be.

    It’s all talk.

  36. ‘I’d love to have my argument demolished, but it cannot be.’

    But it can, Phantom. As I pointed out, both myself and Paul McMahon suggested places you could go in Belfast where you would hear Irish being spoken in ‘normal’ circumstances. We offered to take you, and David. You refused. So, the only reason your argument can’t be ‘demolished’, is because you declined the offer to have iot demolished.

    Tell you what, I’ll make the offer again. Next time you’re in Belfast, let me take you to a few of these places. How about it?

  37. interesting stuff Seimi (genuinely)
    However – what is to be gained by bilingual street signs? (and the cost issue is presumably not irrelevant)

  38. As I mentioned, the Gaeltacht Quarter has thousands of visitors throughout the year. Most of them come because of the language, culture and music. The erection of bilingual signs adds to the over-all image of the area. So, purely in terms of tourism, it’s a good, and logical move.

    For the many Irish speakers in the area, it’s an acknowledgement, a recognition, of the language, and also recognises that many, if not most, of the local placenames derive from Irish anyway – Falls; na bhFál, Shankill; an Sean Chill, etc.

    As to cost. I know it isn’t irrelevant. My argument is that the nay-sayers always use cost as one of their main arguments against funding Irish, usually citing the huge costs involved in its translation. These figures are usually ‘bumped up’, and fail to take into account the fact that most deaprtments within government and civil services etc. already have fluent Irish speakers working in them, who could do the translations themselves.

    The Language commissioner in the south talked about this only last week. The example he gave was a report recently published by the Irish government. The cost of the report in total was €350,000, but the cost of the Irish translation was only €10,000. He also argued that this cost itself could have been reduced, had the translation only been published online, which is possible with all such documents.

    So, I find that the ‘cost’ argument is a fairly spurious one. Jim Allister recently complained about funds being ‘diverted’ to fund Irish medium schools. Absolute rubbish. Funds are not ‘diverted’ for these schools. They are allocated a certain amount each year, the same as any other type of school. Diverted from where, anyway? Hospitals? Defence?

    Don’t get me wrong – I am totally against pointless wastage of much needed funds, but I do believe that where funds are allocated, they should be spent.

  39. Ok thanks. To be honest I could see the point about putting up bilingual signs around areas they would be welcome – certainly the gaeltecht area.
    I had thought (probably erroneously – if so my apologies) the proposal was that all street signs would be made bilngual. In that case the cost would likely outstrip the benefit, and it would just p1ss off unionists if their areas had their sings changed to bilingual ones.

  40. No, the signs were only to be erected in those areas which requested them. There was also a suggestion that Ulster Scots be featured in other areas.

  41. I will be happy to take you up on that in a future visit, which hopefully will come soon.

    But you absolutely know that my larger argument is true- most Irish care a lot more about a hundred different things than they do about a language that they don’t bother to learn or use.

    I could care less about what people say. I pay attention to what they do.

  42. Is this meant to fulfill a need among minority language speakers, poor Irish or Ulster Scots speakers who will never find their way home otherwise?

    or is it prosecution of a political conflict by alternate means?

  43. ‘I could care less about what people say. I pay attention to what they do.’

    You can’t pay attention if you’re not there to pay attention.

    ‘But you absolutely know that my larger argument is true- most Irish care a lot more about a hundred different things than they do about a language that they don’t bother to learn or use.’

    I was speaking about the Irish speaking community. I thought you were too. You made assertions that you wouldn’t hear Irish being spoken in normal circumstances in Dublin or Belfast. I disagreed re Belfast. So, in terms of Irish in Belfast, No, I don’t agree that I absolutely know.

    I’m glad you’re going to take up the offer. I can pretty much guarantee you will change your view. Let me know when the next trip is planned.

  44. Not to beat this to death, but I’m not beating up the tiny community devoted to the language.

    But I can’t have a lot of respect on this issue for the 95% or so who give lip service to it, and who may support bilingual signs, but who couldn’t hold a conversation in Irish to save their lives.

    Road signs won’t save any language. Hard work does.

    The example of how to do it is that of the ( much reviled ) Jews of Israel, who fully restored Hebrew as a living language in the blink of an eye some decades ago.

    They did it because they were entirely devoted to it. Among the vast majority of Irish people, you see none of this intensity.

    It’s all talk.

    Do not think that I take any pleasure in writing any of this either.

  45. My point is, it’s not a tiny community. It’s quite a large community, and it’s growing all the time.

    And I would take those who pay it lip service over those who dismiss it as a ‘leprechaun language’ (like TUV)any day. You can support a language without speaking it. I know plenty of people who don’t speak more than two words of Irish, who work to promote and develop it. I see nothing wrong with that.

  46. From afar, I see those people as fakes, phonies and frauds, every last one of them.

    They are exactly who I am referring to- people who bellyache about road signs, yet who won’t bother to learn the thing themselves.

    Like I said, its all talk!

  47. i did read about some ulster-scots signs being vandalised by the denizens of the loyalist housing estate where they were put up. Much to the consternation of the ulster-scots industry – it was vandalised as the local spides thought it was Irish!

    I have less of an issue if its only areas that request them.

  48. It would have a greater imprimatur if the local areas paid for the things themselves by voluntary subscription.

    I have a funny feeling they’d all come up with a case of alligator arms and deep pockets if that were to ever be proposed.

  49. Actually, Phantom, a lot of streets already have bilingual signs, erected by locals, paid for by – guess who? Yes, the locals.

  50. ‘From afar, I see those people as fakes, phonies and frauds, every last one of them.

    They are exactly who I am referring to- people who bellyache about road signs, yet who won’t bother to learn the thing themselves.

    Like I said, its all talk!’

    Your kinda lost the argument at ‘from afar’….

  51. >>showing them that it is THEIR language,<>I will be happy to take you up on that in a future visit, which hopefully will come soon.
    But you absolutely know that my larger argument <<

    I first thought you wrote "lager argument"!

  52. Yes, except that the Irish still do not speak their own language, nor do the huge majority have even the slightest inclination to learn it. It is a polite fiction to pretend otherwise.

    This situation is not caused by the lack of any government funding, as the RofI has spent untold millions on the cause over the past 50 years and more.

    I only point out the 24,000 pound elephant in the room.

  53. ‘…except that the Irish still do not speak their own language…’

    That’s a pretty broad brush you’re using Phantom.

    I keep telling you, there’s a large Irish speaking community here in Belfast, and it’s growing every day. You should come up here and tell them your thoughts sometime, I’m sure they would benefit from your experience 🙂

    Listen, I know that a lot of Irish people don’t speak Irish; I know a lot have no interest in it; I know that some are opposed to it; But I also know that there are many who, whilst they don’t speak it themselves, support those who do. Many parents of children in Irish medium schools want their kids to learn it, even though they don’t speak it themselves. Not for any political or religious reason, but simply because they want their kids to learn Irish. Would you label these parents as ‘fakes, phonies and frauds, every last one of them’?

    ‘This situation is not caused by the lack of any government funding, as the RofI has spent untold millions on the cause over the past 50 years and more.’

    It’s pretty well accepted now that the problems associated with teaching and promoting of Irish in the R of I came down to the delivery, rather than the subject matter, hence the new 20 year plan proposed by the last government down there. Personally, I think this scheme is badly flawed itself, but we’ll see.

    As for up here, the situation the language found itself in was mainly because of sectarian intolerance and successive governments and their agents here denying Irish speakers funding and recognition. My parents were amongst a small group who opened the first Irish medium school in NI, back in 1971. They were threatened with prison if they did so. They recieved death threats from Loyalist paramilitaries. They were constantly harrassed by the British Army and RUC, and the school was continually searched for munitions. When the school finally received recognition from the Department of Education, in 1986, one prominent Unionist was extremely derisive, calling it ‘an educational disaster waiting to happen.’ I often listen to him now, as leader of his party and apparently leader of us all, and wonder if he still feels the same way, with 4000 kids going through the Irish medium sector every year.

    I know exactly what the Irish speaking community here went through, and every day I see how it has grown and how it continues to grow.

    The sooner you visit here, the better. You’ll meet, hear and see a large group of people who have come through the mill and continue to live their lives through Irish.

  54. The ‘lager argument’ will happen if and when Phantom comes to visit 🙂

  55. >>showing them that it is THEIR language,<<<

    Seimi, I meant to write: why do you say it is THEIR language?
    Surely if you have to show them that (and, what's more, probably As Bearla), it isn't.

  56. At Madden’s or another joint of your choosing

  57. Maddens will be grand 🙂 Paul McM will be SO jealous 🙂

  58. I was talking of languages in general, not just Irish.

    Sorry, I could probably have been a bit clearer there 🙂

  59. Ta fhios agat go beidh éad orm. Nil ach tu ag labhairt agus ta éad orm!!