Méid an Téacs

Disaster for Irish Language

Eanáir 30, 2014

The Decision to centralise Irish Language resources in Dublin has been branded as “disastrous” for the future of Gaelic in the North.

Foras na Gaeilge has been charged by the North South Ministerial Council to reorganise core funding for the 19 Irish language organisations. Seven of these are based in the north – but Foras na Gaeilge is so centralise its resources around six Dublin-based organisations from June 30.

Pobal, the advocacy organisation for the Irish language, has said the decision is a serious blow for the promotion of Gaelic in the north. Janet Muller, Pobal’s CEO said: “This will mean a loss of services and support for Irish speakers in the north. “Not one single organisation selected by Foras na Gaeilge is based in the north. “This means that they do not have the same local knowledge and experience at the heart of their policies and approaches. “This will have a fundamental influence on the development of the Irish language here.” The six directors of the six organisations to be funded will meet via a Foras na Gaeilge chaired forum to co-ordinate all provisions and services from Dublin. “There will be a massive drop in the authoritative , leadership and strategic roles for northern workers,” Ms Muller said.

“Even if a small number of people with northern expertise get jobs, it will be very difficult for them to determine or influence organisational policy, to negotiate with politicians and service providers or to structure a work plan according to the specific needs of the north. “All these things will be decided in Dublin. Pobal claim Foras na Gaeilge’s proposals will also severely damage the language throughout the country. “This has been a divisive and highly flawed process,” Ms Muller said. “The language in the north has come out of it very badly. “Pobal has always carried out coordination, research and project work on an all-Ireland basis. “But it is obvious that in the north the infrastructure is less developed, and the social, political and legislative position of the language is completely different from that in the south. “the effects of these decisions from Foras will be disastrous. “We urge the minister for culture, arts and leisure to intervene and make clear, detailed instructions as to how the damage from these proposals must be mitigated.”

The move comes as Europe’s leading human rights agency, the Council of Europe, claims that the promotion of the Irish language in Northern Ireland is being blocked by hostile attitudes in Stormont, as well as by a lack of support for its use in the courts and in education. The Council of Europe criticised attitudes to Irish in some official circles and what it said is the Stormont Assembly’s “persisting hostile climate”.

Caral Ní Chuilin, the minister for culture, arts and leisure, said she would bring in new legislation during the current assembly term. “There is a large body of support for an Irish language act in the north,” she said “As languages are now a devolved matter full legislation will require the agreement of the executive and assembly. “I hope that all supporters of the Irish language will work together to convince the executive the assembly and all our people of the merits of supporting an Irish language act.”