Friday, 26 April 2013

Irish and the Zero-Sum Game

Meon Eile has a predictably disheartening piece about non-fulfilment of promises regarding Irish made under the Good Friday/Belfast Agreement. Indeed, it should by now be clear to all that whatever progress the language makes is likely to be piecemeal, bottom-up and subject to casual medium-term reversal while the current St. Andrews set-up obtains (or while there is no consensus, but that might be an even longer time coming). Despite this, DCAL continues to list an Irish Language Act among its legislative priorities. Is this naïveté or part of some greater plan to keep the matter in the public eye? The issue is in fact part of a wider legislative logjam, since in 2012 the Assembly passed a stomping total of five Acts, all of them financial and, one suspects, to a greater or lesser extent linked to decisions taken in Great Britain.

Meanwhile, plans are announced in Scotland for a much greater role for Gaelic, and on the Isle of Man the first Manx-language cartoon series for children is completed.

It is clear that Northern Ireland, where interest on the ground has, for even longer than the polity's existence, been much stronger, is in danger of being overtaken by its late-developing cousins.

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