Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Irish in Education

It has been revealed that more than half of those pupils in the South who are granted an exemption from studying Irish on disability grounds go on to register for another modern language.

Many will see in the news further evidence of the half-hearted and ineffective way in which successive Governments have promoted the language, which also gave us circular 44/2007.

On a related point, one hopes that, should there ever be a single Education Minister for the island, no such exemptions are ever granted on the basis of confession. Like racism, sectarianism becomes a form of child abuse when it is handed down through the generations. Intergenerational transmission of philistinism and ignorance is no different. Arguably it constitutes a disability in itself.

Irish Nationalist attempts to accommodate elements of Unionism that across the Straits of Moyle are regarded as shameful have already given us the tricolour. Rather than the blue of Lowland Scotland, it is the orange of the bigots that finds its place there. And there are no doubt also Irish Nationalists content to allow Unionist enthusiasts to butcher Ulster Scots. Perhaps they even agree that a dead and independent Ulster Scots is better than a living one shared with Scotland. Allowing an opt-out for learning Irish would be absolutely in the same vein.

Within the next few years it is likely that, rather than introduce bilingual signage across Northern Ireland, a dispensation will be given to majority-Nationalist areas to do so while more Unionist areas stay English-only. That will be a mistake. The Irish language is the common property of all and bears with it no political manifesto — yet opposition and half-measures have conspired to project one.

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