Friday, 28 September 2012

If You Want It

The BBC reports on rising demand for Irish-language classes in East Belfast.

More power to their elbow.

It is high time we all (including the BBC) recognised that an interest in Irish does not of itself render a Unionist less Unionist or turn Bible-reading Protestants into apostates. Indeed, speakers of Scottish Gaelic, a closely related language, would barely recognise the stereotype.

As for arguments about the "politicisation" of Irish, well, it should be obvious to all that cultural nationalism is not an offshoot of political nationalism — not something entered into to rile the political "other". Rather, the two have a common origin: the existence of historical diversity.

Now is the time to create in Northern Ireland, as already exists in Scotland, a pluralist society where language and religion need say nothing about politics.

Let's hope the coming years see more Catholic Unionists and Protestant Nationalists — and above all more Gaeilgeoirí.

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