62 8 mins 8 yrs

Another post from Seimi, he send me it yesterday but I wanted to publish it today, Friday!

15 years ago, a number of commitments were made in the Good Friday Agreement in relation to the Irish language. They were;

  • take resolute action to promote the language
  • facilitate and encourage the use of the language in speech and writing in public and private life where there is appropriate demand
  • seek to remove, where possible, restrictions which would discourage or work against the maintenance or development of the language
  • make provision for liaising with the Irish language community, representing their views to public authorities and investigating complaints
  • explore urgently with the relevant British authorities, and in co-operation with the Irish broadcasting authorities, the scope for achieving more widespread availability of Teilifís na Gaeilge in Northern Ireland
    • seek more effective ways to encourage and provide financial support for Irish language film and television production in Northern Ireland

Also, one line was added to the Education Order, to ‘place a statutory duty on the Department of Education to encourage and facilitate Irish medium education in line with current provision for integrated education’

To date, I feel that the Irish speaking community have been let down in regards to the implementation of the above commitments.

The only ‘resolute actions to promote the language’ have come from departments within the Executive which have Nationalist ministers. The other departments have simply ignored the commitment.

There is little or no encouragement of the use of the language in speech and writing, except in a few cases, for example the bilingual signage on bus routes in west Belfast. There is ongoing debate over bilingual signage on National Trust property. When the new Giant’s Causeway Interpretative Centre was opened, information was provided and notices erected, giving the Creationist view on the rock formations (6,000 years ago), but not a single word of Irish. This was later changed to include the belief (or fairytale) that the causeway was created by the Irish giant, Fionn Mac Cumhaill (still in English though).

When phoning the Assembly, you can ask for the Irish language service in any department. Your call is then transferred to an answering machine, where you can leave a comment, or make your enquiry. Once a week, someone listens, and responds to the messages left. Not a different answering machine for each department – the same one.

Nationalist MLAs begin their comments in Stormont with a few words of Irish. They are then required to translate what they have said into English, but are not allowed any extra time to make their point.

I have a couple of problems with this. Firstly, I think it is unfair to not allow the extra time to translate. Secondly, I can’t understand why the Assembly doesn’t just have simultaneous translation services available, thus doing away with the need to translate from the floor, within the time limit. And thirdly, only a few of the MLAs actually speak Irish, so why do they all insist on using it? It does to me, look like a bit of point scoring, a way to ‘wind up’ their opposite numbers. I hate the language being used as a political football, and in the Assembly, the two teams wear Green and Orange, and the ball they kick is definitely Irish language-shaped.

As to seeking to remove restrictions which would discourage or work against the maintenance or development of the language, I can think of literally dozens of examples which show that this commitment has been completely ignored. If we are to remove restrictions, then we should start by removing those elected representatives (or their staff) who call it a ‘Leprechaun language’, or who say it makes them ‘sick to their stomach’ to hear even a few words of Irish spoken. We should press those MPs (now elevated to much higher positions) who called the biggest Irish medium primary school (and the first) ‘an educational disaster waiting to happen’, to clarify if they still feel this way, or do they recognise now the value of these schools and the consistently high marks their pupils achieve. We should also ask these same elected representatives if they still feel that ‘Smash the Irish Language Act’ is still a good election policy.

As to liaising with the Irish language community, again it is the Nationalist parties who are at the forefront here (quelle surprise, or Iontas na n-iontas as we say around these parts). It should be pointed out though, that there have been some meetings with Unionist parties regarding the language issue, and these haven’t always been negative.

TG4, or Teilifís na Gaeilge as it was back in 1998, was available to just about everyone up until October last year, when we went digital. Now it is only available through Saorview, at a cost of around £75 for the box. So, whilst the original commitment was met, it has now, effectively been discarded.

The Irish Language Broadcast Fund was set up to produce, you guessed it, Irish language films and TV programmes. The fund has been a great success in terms of output (one film, Kings, was almost shortlisted for an Oscar). High quality programmes have been produced for TG4, BBC, and RTÉ. The biggest bugbear for Irish language production companies, is the large amount of the funding which goes to English language producers, who perhaps employ a token Irish speaker for the duration of the production.

But the biggest worries are a) that the fund is far from secure. It currently runs until 2015. After that, there is no plan or commitment to continue it. And b) the fund has remained at the same level since it started. £3 million a year, way, way below what is provided for Scots Gaelic TV production in Scotland, and absolutely light-years behind Welsh language TV production in Wales.

Irish Medium Education, although highly successful in terms of exam results, is still massively underfunded, and teachers and educators within IME are of the opinion that the Department of Education (despite having a Nationalist minister from the start) does not understand the needs of the sector. Considering that they threatened the parents of the first school (my own parents included) with prison, if they opened the school, this is no surprise.

There are many Irish speakers working within the Assembly and Executive. They speak the language because they genuinely love it. They don’t force it down anyone’s throat. They see it as part of their identity. It is part of all our identities, should we wish to embrace it. Irish is not the sole possession of Nationalists/Republicans/Catholics (look at the Irish classes currently being held on the Shankill Road, or the excellent work being done in East Belfast). Irish is part of the culture and history of the island of Ireland, the north-eastern part included. It surrounds us every day. It should be celebrated and cherished, or at the very least, respected. Not kicked about a government building in order to wind up the ‘other side’.

All in all, a pretty poor showing, in my opinion, for an agreement which supposedly had ‘Parity of Esteem’ at its core.

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62 thoughts on “The Good Friday Agreement & the Irish language

  1. Seimi,

    There seems to be a lot of mistrust around the Irish language.

    Unionists often feel it is used for point-scoring and exclusivity by nationalists (particularly SF). To be honest, for certain politicians that mightn’t be without merit. But my experience of those who genuinely love the language is that it isn’t politicised (and they would be only delighted for those in the unionist community to join classes).

    On the other hand, nationalists (inc. myself) often believe certain unionists hide their anti-Irish philistine agenda behind economic arguments (“sure how can we afford funding Irish when the economy is fecked and we can all speak English anyway). That is possibly a bit unfair as well.

  2. I agree, Reg. There’s too much point-scoring involved, from both sides. But I feel that, if an MLA wishes to use Irish in the Assembly, and they have enough Irish to do it, then they should be allowed to do so. If, on the other hand, an MLA needs the Irish to be written out phonetically for them, then it appears that they are only doing it to prove some point, or score points, and in that case should refrain from doing so. It demeans the language and turns it into a political football.

    The economic argument has been tried and dismissed already. The costs which were presented on a number of occasions were hugely inflated, and didn’t take into account a number of important factors, for example the argument that Irish speakers would need to be recruited by each department totally ignored the fact that there are already Irish speakers in each department. Also, the huge price put on administration and printing costs totally ignored the fact that documents can be made available online, where they can be printed if required.

    What needs to be done is to remove the language from the political arena and put it back where it belongs, in culture and history.

  3. I think all countries big or small should keep alive their history, language and customs (which is partly why I am anti multicultural).
    I think it is healthy for a society to retain its links to the past, and its contributions to the world.
    (Think of course, Great Britain 😉 )
    As long as these things are done in a positive “non bolshy” way it actually enriches all our lives.
    What we can’t do, or at least shouldn’t do, is retreat into a kind of nostalgic, defensive posture where we are constantly rehashing past events making forward progress impossible. The Scots national anthem springs to mind.. And indeed our own, which I would like to see changed anyway.
    I hope that Northern Ireland will promote the speaking of Irish, but it should be done on a voluntary basis, not made mandatory, and as you say Seimi cherished in culture and history.
    Although I respect the Northern Irish origins of this blog, I think the great value of it is that underlying flavour, along with the US and UK components.

    I personally hope that ATW continues to broaden its appeal, drawing in other viewpoints and aspects of international life and culture.

  4. Language is one area where I’m definitely in the small-government camp.

    There is very little a govt can or should do about any language in society. Where people feel a need to speak it, they will. I think the best a government can do is do nothing.

    The Irish language was spoiled for several generations, and almost totally destroyed, by all the farcical and hypocritical promotion it got through the Irish government language policy. Every language has its own “world”, and the world of Irish was in itself a great place to live in or visit: it was the world of anti-clericalism and anti-authority, of Gaelic anarchists like Pádraic Ó Conaire, Antoine Ó Raifteiri and Brian O’Nolan – in short, an oasis of freedom and fresh air in the oppressive atmosphere of Catholic Ireland up to the recent past.

    Instead we got the drab and oh so respectable Dublin Irish of the state, the Christian Brothers and RTE, where a bewildered people was confronted with Irish names for all kinds of institutions, with – as Dominic Behan remarked – only the Labour Exchange remaining in English.

    Irish became an embarrassment. No wonder nobody wanted to go there; the results of 12 years of enforced school Irish were absolutely appalling, and practically no school leavers could speak even the simplest sentences in the language.

    Speak it in the streets, pubs, homes and prisons – but don’t go looking for state support. Irish is far too beautiful a thing for that.

  5. I agree with you up to a point, Noel. In NI, however, I think there needs to be a show of respect of some sort by those in governance towards the language, given the appalling way in which it was treated here in the past.

    They could start by actually sticking to the committments given in the European Charter for Regional & Minority Languages, to which they, and the British government, are signed up.

    Their report to the Committee of Experts (COMEX), which they are committed to submit every 2 years, was only a year late this time (last time it was closer to a year and a half).

    Having shown that respect though, they should then withdraw, supporting it simply by recognising its existence as a threat to no-one, and a treasure for those who wish to embrace it, and recognising the value of irish Medium Education by funding it on a par with single language schools.

  6. Seimi and Noel,

    Now that would be a useful and educational avenue to explore:

    “the world of Irish was in itself a great place to live in or visit: it was the world of anti-clericalism and anti-authority, of Gaelic anarchists like Pádraic Ó Conaire, Antoine Ó Raifteiri and Brian O’Nolan – in short, an oasis of freedom and fresh air in the oppressive atmosphere of Catholic Ireland up to the recent past.”

    For one thing we in England didn’t have that “oppressive atmosphere” in the same way.
    We DID have the awareness of class and status, but perhaps our brand of Protestantism brought with it a dynamism of its own which enabled change at a faster rate. Perhaps the English character is one of a certain lazy phlegmaticism where frustrations have found vent in cynical humour?
    But if possible it would be interesting to hear people’s world views from their own perspective Seimi?

  7. But if possible it would be interesting to hear people’s world views from their own perspective Seimi?

    Can you expand on that, Agi?

    In terms of your ‘brand of Protestantism’, it should also be recognised that in the 18th Century in Ireland, and specifically in Belfast, it was the Presbyterians of the day who were the revolutionaries. They had the money and the power, yet they championed many causes, being at least partly responsible for the continuance of the Irish language (it was they who produced the first Irish language publication in Belfast, in 1795, the same year as the Orange Order was formed). Robert McAdam, the industrialist, was Presbyterian, and compiled an Irish language dictionary (never published, it is currently on display in Queen’s University Belfast), as well as gathering a collection of old songs and phrases.

    It was this group as well, who were the leaders of the 1798 rebellion against the English, and they were the people who provided the money for Belfast’s first Catholic church. They did this because, at the time, practicing Catholics had to travel outside the city limits to worship, which they felt was unfair.

  8. Seimi
    I know very little about Presbyterians other than I think they were very influenced by John Calvin’s theology? I will read up on it online.
    What I meant was that I like to understand people and what has shaped them. So for example I can respect your love of your culture and language, and I want to understand without getting into recriminations or name calling or tit for tatting, how you and others see the world and your relationships to other people.
    People are extremely complicated, and our worldviews are shaped not just by what we have been taught, our education, our family life etc., but by the unsaid stuff we absorb through our pores as it were.
    It seems to me that on ATW there is a lot of talk about right world and left world, but I think you will agree that when we discuss certain issues such as the Middle East or exploitation or discrimination, then our subconscious experiences come into play and we almost start talking at cross purposes because our experience of life colours our ability to be objective.
    Does any of that make sense to you?!

  9. “Instead we got the drab and oh so respectable Dublin Irish of the state, the Christian Brothers and RTE…”

    Noel,

    My Donegal mother-in-law is a fluent (albeit not native) Irish speaker. When she first came to Dublin she tells of her Irish often being “corrected” by those that spoke the artificial state Irish of the day. Crazy.

  10. Interesting piece. I do feel when in the Republic of Ireland that the Irish language is more imposed than loved, perhaps I am wrong. It obviously has its followers. Bi-lingual efforts can be rewarding as well as divisive (see for Example French Canada for divisive),

  11. Noel 959

    The Israeli govt did a magnificent job in restoring Hebrew to life, very quickly too..

    True, they had a population that cared passionately about it.

  12. //The Israeli govt did a magnificent job in restoring Hebrew to life, very quickly too..//

    No. It was the Israeli people who did that. The actions of the govt had almost no effect on the revival of Hebrew in Israel.

    And this great success is of course because the Israelis had little choice. New immigrants were arriving from all over the world and they needed a common language:
    I mean, they could hardly have been expected to adopt the language of the oldest Jewish community – as that was Arabic, and even less the language of the majority – as that was a dialect of German!

  13. It does, Agi, thank you.

    I think my own experiences growing up, have played a major part in how I see things in the wider world (as is to be expected).

    Whilst I fear that I’m leaving myself open to the charge of MOPEry, I have to say that my past experiences have been (at least partly) of discrimination, sectarian and bigotted abuse, marginalisation and naked hostility.

    NOW

    Before the above charge is fired at me, let me say this. I could have taken a number of paths, considering the aforementioned experiences.

    I could have become bitter and twisted in regards to the groups and individuals who visited these experiences upon me, constantly attacking them at every turn, both physically and verbally.

    I could have become a MOPE, constantly complaining about how badly we were treated and how much society now owes us.

    I think I took a different path.

    Yes, I feel resentment towards those groups and individuals. I feel anger that I, and my family and community were treated the way we were, simply because we made a conscious choice to speak the language of our ancestors.

    Yes, I do feel that we were extremely hard done by in terms of the help and support we believe, and still believe, we should have been wilfully given, by both state and church.

    But these feelings of resentment and sadness are not what shape how I view things.

    Because of my being raised bilingually, I feel I have an affinity with, and an understanding of other cultures. I feel that I can connect with them in a way that I may not have, had I not been raised the way I have. I felt this when I met members of the Indigenous American people in Canada, and when I met local people in tiny dusty villages in Zambia. I feel it when I speak to Basque people, and Philipinos, and Indians here in Belfast.

    I feel that I have a tolerance of other beliefs and religions, because I was raised to respect others, and not to let my own beliefs cloud out others’.

    I suppose that it could be viewed as a weakness, but I tend to side with the underdog in conflict situations, but that is tempered by the understanding that I need to educate myself in the beliefs and cultures of both sides. Sometimes, it is the underdog who is the bad guy.

    I hope that helps.

  14. Mahons

    I do feel when in the Republic of Ireland that the Irish language is more imposed than loved, perhaps I am wrong.

    I think this is one of the fears of the (mainly) Unionist community here, that the Irish language will be ‘imposed’ upon them, or ‘shoved down their throats’.

    This is completely wrong. No-one is being forced to speak or learn Irish. It is a 100% voluntary decision. perhaps if more understood that, then they might be more open to it.

  15. Seimi,
    It most certainly does and that is what I was getting at.
    The funny thing is that we all see the world through our own “prescription spectacles” and it is only in understanding ourselves and what went towards making us what we are that we can see things that little bit more clearly. But none of us see things perfectly, so we compensate by using argument and bluster (or even violence) to convince others that OUR view is the correct one.

    So as an example when we discuss say Israel and the Palestinians we see the struggle for freedom and self determination through our own worldview, and to varying degrees of consciousness we interpret the conflict through our own struggle for freedom and self determination.
    And then, personal/cultural emotion comes into play and impairs our ability to be objective.
    I shall read your last comment over a few times!

  16. interesting comments. The contrast with Hebrew is instructive, but as Noel says there was an imperative there that isnt found in Ireland.

    One of the unfortunate side effects of the success of Hebrew is the decline in Yiddish. For anyone interested, this is a podcast on the issue:
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/documentaries/2009/03/090313_yiddish_pt1.shtml
    (its on itunes too)

    Phantom:
    Saw this today & thought you may be interested:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-21541887

  17. Seimi

    My mum was born and brought up in Connemara and only spoke the local Irish gaelic. She did not learn any English until she came to live in the UK as a young woman. However, she always told me that she could not read or understand the official Irish language she saw on Irish documents or bilingual notices. Is there that much of a difference between localised and the ‘State’ version of Irish ?

  18. Interesting to note as well that strength of indigenous language isn’t always an indicator of a desire for self-determination. Look at the strength of Welsh and Galician languages versus Scots Gaelic/Lallans in Scotland and Euskera in the Basque Country and yet it is the latter two nations that are more associated with seeking independence.

  19. Colm,

    there can be an awful lot of difference in the different dialects, even when we ask each other how we are.

    Your mum, being from Connemara, would have asked, ‘Cén chaoi a’ bhfuil tú?
    A Corkman would ask, ‘Conas ‘tá ‘n tú?
    A Donegal man (or Ulsterman) might ask, ‘Caidé mar atá tú?
    Or, especially in Belfast, the more vernacular, ‘Cén dóigh?

    I have always found the different dialects to be more flowing, and poetic, than the Standardised form, which in many cases stripped that away, for example – I was taught the word(s) for a shark were Liamhán or Míol Dráidte – lovely, flowing words. The standardised term for a shark is Siorc, which I think is cold and functional and also Béarlachas – Anglicisation.

    Thankfully, they kept the proper term for a jellyfish, Smugairle Róin, or Seal Snot 🙂

  20. MourneReg, that’s an interesting subject in its own right. In Ireland, the independence movement was never strong in Gaeltacht areas. It was the friction generated between planter and dispossessed that generated separatism, even into the 20th C, not any cultural oppression.

    Gaelic culture was in fact generally ignored under British rule, not oppressed, and certain old gaelic customs prospered up until the Free State, when our local puritan gombeens suppressed them.

    There’s also a school of thought (I hesitate to mention this in the company of so many Northerners :-)) that says that those in the Gaeltachta are in fact the most “English” people in Ireland, in terms of their genetic origins. Apparently there are som of those Allan-type genetic studies that support this.

    In the Cromwell Plantation an area of five miles (I think) from the western coasts were reserved for Roundhead settlers; the idea was to protect the Irish coaast from sea attack, prevent smuggling of priests etc.

    I wonder are there many Thatcherites among the Gaelgeori there now…..

  21. Seimi,

    Just on dialects – there was a girl in my primary school class who couldn’t say “school bag” she could only say “school beg”. So far, so bizarre.

    However…I read somewhere that the extinct Co. Down Irish dialect often pronounced “a” as “e”. For example: seacht (seven) – pronounced “shacht” in the south, “sharcht” in Donegal but “shecht” in Co. Down Irish.

    It would also explain why the common Co. Down name Kearney (pronounced “Carney” in the south) is pronounced “Kerney” where I come from.

  22. Native Languages are something should be encouraged for every group to know. The problem as Seimi points out is Dialects, and as Colm pointed out his mum spoke it but couldn’t read it.

    When the majority of any nation speak and write one language, to force a variety of other languages/dialects and a written language that would not be understood by the majority is just counterproductive.

    Ireland lists both Languages as Official. It should be just Irish. All communication in the country should be spoken in Gaelic and written that way.

    When you go with duel languages as official, you create involuntary segregation.

  23. Looking at all these Gaelic words maybe that partly explains the poetic and musical bents often associated with the Irish.

    Wales has not I think I am correct in saying, had great success in encouraging the use of Welsh alongside of English, and yet when you listen to a Welsh choir or especially at the Millenium stadium before a rugby match, you can feel the passion.
    Maybe that’s what we Agit8eds respond to.

    But Wales seems to have come to a kind of uneasy/indifferent peace with England. There is little overt hostility to us from the Welsh, but we fought them over many years.
    And even within our own countries who has not visited another county where they speak quite a distinct version of our own language?
    I remember going through some remote part of Yorkshire and going into a little pub where they all stopped talking when the heard us order at the bar..
    And in my “homelands” around Newcastle and the working mens’ clubs. They hear you speaking with a dahn Sarf accent and all the sterotypes kick in.
    Must also be true in Northern Ireland?
    Man is a tribal creature… 🙂

  24. ps
    re dialects and spelling.
    that all originated from isolated communities developing their own peculiar “inbred” way of speaking, and the fact that many people couldn’t read and write anyway..
    So at the very end of the day, the best kind of person is the one who whilst appreciating and enjoying cultural expressions, nevertheless knows that the really important thing is the desire to truly communicate..
    It is my belief that all true friend/relationships have to go through disappointment and disillusionment before moving into a deeper appreciation of the fact that by baring their soul, someone else has made themselves vulnerable to you.

    I think perhaps that is why travel provides amongst other things a neutral stage where people of different cultures can come to understand each other.

  25. Troll, I’m not saying the dialects are a problem – certainly not in terms of keeping the language alive. They add to it and make it more poetic. My problem was with the standardised version – the ‘official’ State version of the language, which I feel ‘sanitises’ the language to a degree, removing many of the most beautiful and poetic nuances from it.

    Also, and Colm can correct me here – I don’t think it was the case that his mother couldn’t read Irish, it was that she couldn’t understand the written standardised version, which would be understandable, as the spelling might differ somewhat.

    Although both languages are ‘official’ languages, it would be foolish to assert that Irish is on an equal footing with English. Ireland is, and probably always will be now, an English speaking country, with Irish a poor relative. It’s sad that a country’s indigenous language is categorised as a Minority Language on its own shores, but that’s how it is.

    When the Constitution was drawn up, Irish had to be included. DeValera had visions of a Gaelic, Catholic country, and history has shown that on both counts, he made a mess of things. Forcing every child to learn Irish was a huge mistake (as pointed out by Noel earlier), and allowing the church so much power? Well, look what happened there. In hindsight, had he merely encouraged the use of the language, rather than forcing people to learn it, things might have been different.

    There’s also a school of thought (I hesitate to mention this in the company of so many Northerners 🙂 ) that says that those in the Gaeltachta are in fact the most “English” people in Ireland, in terms of their genetic origins. Apparently there are som of those Allan-type genetic studies that support this.

    It’s difficult to argue with that, Noel, at least regarding some of the more southerly Gaeltacht areas.

    Regarding Northerners – I attended a meeting a lot of years back in the Glencolumkille Gaeltacht, and spoke about Irish language development in the north. After the meeting, an old fella from the area came up and shook my hand and said, in the most beautiful Donegal Irish, ‘It’s strange. You came to us to learn the language, and now we look to you to save it.’ Very poignant moment, because the Gaeltacht areas are shrinking every year, whereas the numbers of speakers in the North are rising.

    Agi, there are very distinct Belfast dialects, never mind the County ones! 🙂

  26. Seimi – imposed might be too strong a word. How about undue emphasis? However, I do think it is great for those who have interest in it.

  27. Seimi

    Thanks for the informative explanations on regional forms of Irish. I was very impressed with your immediate knowledge of the different written versions of what I presume is a ‘How are you’ greeting (I know no Irish of any kind).

    It would be fair to say that my mum probably had little knowledge of written Irish even locally that she remembered. Her childhood teaching and experience was almost entirely verbal. However she was aware in adulthood that the official Irish language both spoken and written was considereably different to that which she had been familiar with.

    N.B. One amusing tale I remember from my childhood here in London was being on a bus with my mum and 2 women opposite us were talking in a ‘foreign’ language. They were in fact talking the same Connemara Irish that my mum knew but were of course completely unaware that the woman(my mum) sitting opposite could understand what they were saying. My mum was grinning and looking at me, and when we got off the bus she explained that they had been discussing how awful they thought my shirt and shoes were !

  28. Seimi – imposed might be too strong a word. How about undue emphasis? However, I do think it is great for those who have interest in it.

    Mahons, the Belfast Telegraph ran an edition, when Caitríona Ruane was still Minister for Education, expressing it, and its readers horror at the fact that she had said that all children should have the opportunity to learn Irish. Never mind that she said ‘should’, they, and their readers, took this as Irish being ‘imposed’ on them.

  29. N.B. One amusing tale I remember from my childhood here in London was being on a bus with my mum and 2 women opposite us were talking in a ‘foreign’ language. They were in fact talking the same Connemara Irish that my mum knew but were of course completely unaware that the woman(my mum) sitting opposite could understand what they were saying. My mum was grinning and looking at me, and when we got off the bus she explained that they had been discussing how awful they thought my shirt and shoes were !

    So your fashion sense was as dodgy in youth as it is now? 😉

    A similar incident occurred when my sister and her friend were travelling into town in a black taxi. A guy got in, and they started talking about him in Irish (all complimentary, apparently). He got out before them, and as he left, he turned to them and wished them a good evening – in perfect Irish 🙂

    They were mortified 🙂

  30. Wow! what a civilised, cultured conversation, A real breath of fresh air. It seems your arrival as commentator on ATW has brought a sense ot tranquility with it. Well done!!

    A similar incident occurred when my sister and her friend were travelling into town in a black taxi.

    Yeah, a similar thing happened to a guy I know when him and his brother were getting the ferry to Inis-Mor. . . .

  31. “Wow! what a civilised, cultured conversation, A real breath of fresh air. It seems your arrival as commentator on ATW has brought a sense ot tranquility with it. Well done!!”

    Early days yet Paul.
    We are very much in the “honeymoon stage” of the writer-reader relationship..
    😉

  32. Wait until Allan comes along with ‘proof’ of how a Jewish cabal are using the Irish language to undermine social harmony in Ireland 😉

  33. Yeah, a similar thing happened to a guy I know when him and his brother were getting the ferry to Inis-Mor. . . .

    No idea what you’re gettin’ at Paul…

    And anyway, it was Inis Oírr, not Inis Mór 🙂

    Actually, I don’t know why I’m worried about it. It was my brother who messed up, not me 🙂

  34. We are very much in the “honeymoon stage” of the writer-reader relationship..

    To be fair, I think the “honeymoon stage” ends as soon as you hit ‘send’ on your very first thread, Agi 🙂

  35. Irish is part of the culture and history of the island of Ireland, the north-eastern part included. It surrounds us every day

    Agreed. The problem is that the language became a weapon in the Shinner kulturkampf and it will take time for the hostility which that generated to fade.

  36. Seimi
    Both RTE 1 and 2 TV3 and TG4 are available on freeview in Northern Ireland on channels 816 to 819 but thay are only available in HD so you have to have a full HD freeview box or tv to receive them. TG4 is currently showing the Ulster Rugby match with commentary in gaelic for those Irish speakers who want to SUFTUM.

  37. Even though I garee to an extent Pete isn’t that a bit hyperbolic?

    Having said that, no matter what is or isn’t done to make the language more accessible / acceptable to others sadly there are those ‘leprachaun language’ unionists who will continue to sneer and deride it simply because it is identified as a cultural element of the island of Ireland.

  38. Peter

    Aren’t you engaging in the same politicisation of the language by using references like ‘shinner kulturkampf’ ?

  39. Seimi
    You can also receive both RTE channels and TG4 through a sky box without having to subscribe .

  40. I know Turk, but the original agreement was that they would be available on terrestrial tv, the same as BBC1 & 2. Since going digital, they aren’t. Not everyone has a Sky box.

    Peter,

    Three paragraphs of my post deal with acknowledgement of, and unhappiness at, the politicisation of the language, by both sides.

  41. “To be fair, I think the “honeymoon stage” ends as soon as you hit ‘send’ on your very first thread, Agi :)”

    That is just so unfair!!

    (I couldn’t find the original Gaelic version)

  42. They are available on freeview as I said in my first reply you don’t need a sky box but everyone needs some type of digital receiver now.

  43. I don’t mean you personally, Agi! 🙂

    I mean, as soon as I wrote the post, and hit send, the honeymoon period was over, as I am now at the mercy of you lot! 🙂

  44. Seimi

    But you have the advantage. You can insult us back in Irish and only Paul will understand what you’ve said 🙂

  45. Colm,

    I would never do that! What would be the point? I want you to understand every single insult I throw at you! 😉

    Agi,

    There there, old chap. Dry your eyes and have another Bengalese sherry, or whatever 🙂

  46. You need full HD because that is the way the southern tv companys broadcast it. The biggest rip off is the retailers selling people saorview boxes they don’t need. We can still receive it via terrestrial tv as per the GFA

  47. We can still receive it via terrestrial tv as per the GFA

    As long as you have full HD. So for those who don’t have full HD, they can’t. Which is a lot of people.

    So, at best, some people can receive it, others can’t, which is more or less the same situation as before.

    I do get your point, though. If it’s the way the southern tv companys broadcast it, then that is a hinderance. But, as it was written into an international agreement between the 2 countries, this should have been taken into account and remedied in some way. It wasn’t.

  48. Colm,

    this is the actual wording from the GFA

    explore urgently with the relevant British authorities, and in co-operation with the Irish broadcasting authorities, the scope for achieving more widespread availability of Teilifís na Gaeilge in Northern Ireland

    It hasn’t been met.

    Paul

    They are actually called saorview boxes 🙂

  49. Seimi
    It’s more available now than it was before the digital switchover ,before you needed a separate ariel usually with a booster plus you had to live in an area with good reception.

  50. Three paragraphs of my post deal with acknowledgement of, and unhappiness at, the politicisation of the language, by both sides.

    Yes Seimi, and good point about the Giants Causeway.

  51. It’s more available now than it was before the digital switchover

    Would you say it’s fulfilled this committment?

    explore urgently with the relevant British authorities, and in co-operation with the Irish broadcasting authorities, the scope for achieving more widespread availability of Teilifís na Gaeilge in Northern Ireland

    After 15 years, the best that can be said is that it’s more available than it was?

    ,before you needed a separate ariel usually with a booster plus you had to live in an area with good reception.

    But that was all about the digital switchover, which took place simultaneously in both jurisdictions, and meant that those people not in possession of Freeview in full HD, a Saorview box, or a Sky box, were immediately unable to access TG4.

    The point was, you were supposed to be able to access them as easily as BBC etc. You simply can’t

  52. It is just as accessible as BBC when it all went digital everybody had to upgrade their tv or buy some sort of digital receiver. What you seem to want is for the gaelic channel to be subsidised in some way , perhaps free receivers for those that want them.

  53. Did I have to buy a full HD box or tv to watch BBC? No, I didn’t. Do I have to buy a full HD box or tv to watch TG4? Yes, I do.

    Do I want the Gaelic channel to be subsidised in some way? No. I didn’t say that anywhere. Both governments committed to making it more widely available, and it is – if you already have the correct type of tv or box. If not, then you have to pay for it.

    Look, we can go round and round about this, but the bottom line is neither government has fulfilled this committment.

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