It is not true to imply that people are prevented from speaking the Irish language

Children with their mouths taped were accompanied by activists and Sinn Fein politicians at the Irish language protest at Stormont on September 28
Children with their mouths taped were accompanied by activists and Sinn Fein politicians at the Irish language protest at Stormont on September 28

It makes for a good photo opportunity – cute primary school pupils at an Irish language protest outside Stormont with their mouths cruelly sealed shut with a piece of red tape.

Who could tolerate such cruelty?

Of course the supposed injustice is faked and the campaign it is part of is, in my view, less about promoting Irish and more about promoting Sinn Fein.

For months we have been subjected to this dishonest pretence that people are prevented from speaking in Irish but this is not true.

It is just that the people who want to speak Irish cannot find enough people to talk to that can understand them, the rest of us just aren’t that interested in the years of effort to learn it.

A few months ago in a related piece of propaganda we had a child call for an Irish act in order to be able to read the signs at the local leisure centre.

Can that child not read English? If not what went wrong in their education?

I am a secondary teacher who has avoided becoming embroiled in such a divisive issue because to oppose Sinn Fein on this is to invite demonisation.

However, on several occasions over my 25 years of teaching I have sat opposite the deaf parents of hearing children as they relied on their children to translate what I was saying.

Remember that unlike Irish speakers the deaf are totally reliant on their own native sign language, they cannot choose to communicate in English; why is there is no massive campaign to provide deaf signing at all parents’ nights, at all GP surgeries, at all benefits offices etc?

Apparently, it would be too expensive.

No doubt someone will tell me not to be worried about Irish, that Protestants speak it too, but this is just a subtle way of demonising as sectarian bigots, all who speak out on this dishonest campaign.

If anyone wanted to promote Irish among the Protestant community they would start with a non-threatening voluntary campaign within the state education sector but, in my opinion, the Acht Anois campaign is not about promoting Irish, but about distorting the promotion and employment criteria within the public sector.

Sinn Fein have a right to launch political campaign but I find it offensive to see primary school children used as actors in a SF publicity stunt.

Their teachers should protect them from being used in this way, in what looked like a Sinn Fein campaign. I trust that any teachers involved in the protest took a day’s unpaid leave.

Mr AJC, Belfast BT6 (Full name and address supplied)