Monday, 19 November 2012

Waste ... and Garbage

Liam Clarke has an interesting article on the Assembly in the Belfast Telegraph with which many people will sympathise.

However, one point is blatantly false.

"There doesn't seem to be the talent pool in local politics to fill all 108 places at any price. Many debates are leaden affairs. Many members read monotonous speeches written by taxpayerfunded backroom teams. That wouldn"t be allowed in other parliaments. Here, anything goes, and every word is translated into Irish and Ulster-Scots."

The fact is that there is no simultaneous translation into either speech variety. Neither is there written translation in the Official Report, which Mr. Clarke evidently seldom consults; as far as the Blether Region is aware, the only parliamentary assembly in Britain or Ireland where that happens is Wales. The Speaker has a translation facility from Irish and Ulster Scots into English so that he or she can be sure that no Standing Order is being broken. Despite the fact that the facility could be extended to ordinary Members at comparatively modest cost, the Assembly Commission has consistently refused to allow it for political reasons.

The only material translated into Irish or Scots is the occasional paragraph in a speech, usually during Second Stage debates, when MLAs do indeed often "read monotonous speeches". However, it would be impossible to prevent them from spending their money on such translations, and in any case the Blether Region strongly suspects that many are provided by supporters free of charge. Other MLAs will ad-lib in Irish or use their own notes.

Mr. Clarke has unthinkingly regurgitated dinner-party prejucide against minoritised tongues and — as the BBC recently found to its cost — not bothered to go and check the facts.

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