Thursday, 19 July 2012

The Blether Legion

DCAL's long-awaited strategies for Irish and Ulster Scots have now gone out to consultation, with Carál Ní Chuilín having reversed the previous Minister's two-tribes insistence on crow-barring them into a single equal-aqual document.

So far, so good. Irish and Ulster scots are, after all, different speech varieties with different needs and, dare one say it, attracting different levels of public interest. Gaeilgeoirí will, however, be making the point that only through legislation can Irish secure real protection from politically motivated attacks and Irish-language organisations enjoy the certainty they need to plan ahead.

As far as Ulster Scots goes, it seems to be a case of — as Henry Ford once said — any colour as long as it's black. Only in this case, it's orange. Yes, Ulster-Scots language has been bundled with a strategy for "heritage and culture", which, if interpreted as the Ulster-Scots Agency has done hitherto, will almost certainly include Loyalist bands and a whole lot of other toxic stuff.

This of course suits everyone: the professional Ulster-Scots because — whisper it — they're not actually that cultural and can't think of any worthwhile language projects but quite like the idea of spending a wee bit siller on sectarianism; the Minister because it saves money and might at some stage far in the future buy a little tacit acceptance from Unionists when it comes to spending money on Irish; the civil servants, who are spared thinking about Scots too much or taking it too seriously before their biennial change of section; the professional peace-processors, who are pleased to see Loyalists co-opted by the state and helped to "modernise" their "culture"; and, last but not least, Nationalists and Republicans, who for the most part are interested only in Irish, don't particularly care if Scots dies in Ireland, and quite enjoy it when Unionists are given enough rope to hang themselves.


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