Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Northern Exposure

The DUP's Peter Weir has asked Culture Minister Carál Ní Chuilín to detail grants awarded to organisations in his North Down constituency (AQW 22291/11-15).

The answer makes for sobering reading — sobering, that is, if one's main interest lies in linguistic rather than sectarian culture.

Ostensible expenditure on "languages" included £11,000 in 2010/11 for digitisation of the Raven maps, while MAGUS spent a total of £35,000 over two years developing Ulster-Scots audio tours. If the Blether Region were an MLA, it would now be asking how many people downloaded the files and what the cost per customer was.

But an even bigger spender has been the Ulster-Scots Agency, which awarded grants, some over multiple years, to a dozen or so kick-the-Pope bands.

On the other hand, the Blether Region was hard pressed to find any spending that might uncontroversially be identified as relating solely or mainly to the Ulster dialect of Scots.

Regarding Irish, NI Events gave £15,000 to Féile an Earraigh in 2010/11, which was presumably not limited to language-related shows. The following year Foras na Gaeilge gave £1,000 to Holywood Irish Society for Nasca Community Festival, which, as the Blether Region can personally testify, did have a genuine language focus.

All in all, it is a depressing litany.

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