It is “appropriate” for classes in different languages – including Irish – to be offered to pupils in all schools, according to the Orange Order.
That was one of the views voiced in its official response to the 2015 proposals for an Irish act – a response which contained a number of warm words about the language itself whilst essentially rejecting the whole plan for an act.
The consultation response, penned in April 2015 by Dr David Hume (the Order’s then-director of services), said at one point: “The Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland believes that it is appropriate to offer classes in different languages to pupils at all schools. This would include Irish.”
But he added the Order does not believe there can be “a right to education through the medium of Irish any more than there can be for other languages”.
Summing up, Dr Hume said “we do have Irish language speakers within our membership” – adding that among Irish’s prominent advocates in the early 20th century was Cavan Orangeman (and later County Grand Master of Belfast) Rev Dr Richard Kane.
“However, where the Rev Dr Richard Rutledge Kane disagreed with others in the language movement at that time was in relation to the politicisation of the Irish language and the Gaelic League.
“We believe that we reflect his memory by taking a similar position; we respect the right of people to learn and speak the Irish language and we respect the Irish language as one of the indigenous languages of the British Isles.
“However, we do not believe that there should be an Irish language act as it is a very proscriptive measure.”