Friday, 21 March 2014

The Rules of the Game

This week the Irish Times carried stories discussing the fortunes of Gaeilge North and South. In the august halls of Parliament Buildings, Stormont, an event was held to celebrate Seachtain na Gaeilge, with special emphasis on the Líofa campaign and an impressive contingent of musicians lending their talents. However, the extent to which warm words can suffice given the Minister's failure to defend the existing, functional configuration of language groups in the North is open to question.

In the South, 50 employees of RTE have written to the head of the corporation raising the issue of whether its news service is providing adequate, grown-up coverage and analysis of Irish-language issues, chief among them the resignation of Commissioner Seán Ó Cuirreáin, which recently seems to have merited only a voiceover. The letter compares the way RTE dealt with his departure — owing to dissatisfaction at the Government's enforcement of its own laws — with how it might have covered reaction to the resignations of similar ombudsmen responsible for children or the Garda Síochána.

Overall, it seems that much of the progress that Irish makes, whether it be through Líofa or the Official Languages Act, is negated shortly afterwards by ill-thought-out policy or half-hearted enforcement. Activists and experts are left to plan as best they can for a game of whose exact rules they remain ignorant.

One step forwards, two steps back.

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