Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Irish and Officialdom

A somewhat misleading headline in today's Belfast Telegraph reads "Richard Haass calls for Irish to be official language in Northern Ireland". In fact, he said that "Irish identity could and should be respected in many ways within existing constitutional arrangements, possibly including a larger, official role for the Irish language". Official acknowledgment is a long way from official status, which would presumably mean complete bilingualism in many aspects of Government interaction with the public, something that even the Irish Republic, where the language is "officially" official, has failed to implement.

What is more likely, as Liam Clarke points out, is "more use of Irish on roads signs, State documents and court proceedings", which is hardly the far-reaching change in the culture of the polity that some Unionists would have us believe.

Mr. Haass is in fact calling for a language Act, something that speakers of Celtic languages in Wales and Scotland already enjoy and that Irish-speakers have hitherto been denied for obviously sectarian reasons.

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