Tuesday, 7 May 2013

The Bugaboo and Kickapoo Campaign

The DUP's Alastair Ross recently asked DCAL Minister Carál Ní Chuilín for a breakdown of the Department's grants and loans to organisations in his East Antrim constituency — which total roughly a quarter of a million pounds each year. With regard to the two halves of An Foras Teanga, the answer reveals marked differences in both levels of funding and types of recipients.

The first difference is perhaps unsurprising, since Ulster Scots was traditionally spoken over a far more limited area than Irish, with the result that a little more largesse in Antrim might be legitimately expected. However, that imbalance becomes more difficult to support when one examines who the siller is actually going to.

Of the 12 recipients of Ulster-Scots Agency grants, none appears to be an organisation focussing exclusively on language. Three are community organisations, while the rest are either Orange groups or bands. The largest beneficiary by some way is Cairncastle LOL 692 Community and Cultural Group, which got £86,000 from the Agency between 2008/09 and 2011/12. The sole grant administered by the Ministerial Advisory Group (optimistically headed "language" in the DCAL answer) does little to rectify that state of affairs, since the £17,000 in question went to the Andrew Jackson Cottage.

That all stands in stark contrast to Foras na Gaeilge's modest grant of £1,000 to Glór Dhál Riada in each of the financial years 2009/10 and 2010/11.

It is clear that when the Ulster-Scots Agency appeared on the scene in 1999, it was far in advance of actual demand on the ground. Nor have the non-linguist political (in practice, often Loyal Order) appointees of its board done much to create that demand in the meantime.

As such, one could be forgiven for considering the Ulster-Scots language movement to be more of a threat than a reality.

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