Thursday, 26 May 2016

Dia ár Sábháil!

Irish-speakers, and the parents of children attending Irish-medium schools, will be feeling sorely let down at the fact that the two key Departments for language, Education and Communities, have been handed over to the quasi-racist DUP. One Nationalist party, the SDLP, has withdrawn from the Executive entirely, and looks set to slide into obscurity as a result, while the other, Sinn Féin, stayed in but showed no interest in opting for the relevant ministerial posts when it had the opportunity.

It may be the case that Sinn Féin is scared at the modest success in the recent Assembly elections of People Before Profit, a party widely regarded as drawing its support from disaffected Nationalists. Or perhaps the Shinners are taking a leaf out of the DUP's election game plan and trying to force their voters to turn out by talking up the dire consequences of staying at home. But the DUP's Jeremiads concerned the title of First Minister, which its candidate was never seriously likely to lose; even if it had, any difference vis-à-vis the post of Deputy First Minister is more symbolic than real. In any case, if anything, Sinn Féin's failures on this occasion are more likely to encourage folk to opt out of participating in electoral politics altogether.

Were the Blether Region a devotee of conspiracy theories, it might even be tempted to suggest that the party was attempting to underline the extreme dysfunctionality of the Stormont system lest Brexit render a return to violence desirable. However, that seems not to be the case. While Education went early in the d'Hondt process, the word from the grapevine is that Sinn Féin made a conscious decision not to take the Department of Communities because it did not want to be seen to be implementing welfare reform — the ultimate victory of style over substance.

None of this would be quite so bad were it not taking place in a context of shrinking budgets. Irish can now look forward to having its funding not merely frozen but actively reduced.

The loss of Education to the DUP's Peter Weir is particularly depressing, since the fact that the party wished to take it this time around was well trailed. One of its election promises involves ending the supposed "preferential treatment" shown to Irish-language schools.

Communities, on the other hand, has gone to the evangelical Christian Paul Givan. Ironically, in Scotland, no one would bat an eyelid if control of Scottish Gaelic policy were to be given to a (suitably qualified) evangelical, since so many native speakers of the language are just that. No, the problem with Mr. Givan is politics, not religion. Expect funding for Irish to be cut to the bone while funding for Ulster-Scots projects, most of which will not involve language to any meaningful degree, will be puffed up into an artificial parallel.

Or perhaps the creationist Mr. Givan will confine himself to promoting English. If so, the Blether Region suggests starting with this quote from Shakespeare's longest play Hamlet:
"There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,Than are dreamt of in your philosophy."

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.