Irish pupil numbers being in freefall is a sign a language act is not needed

A letter from John Ross:

By The Newsroom
Friday, 8th October 2021, 3:36 pm
Updated Friday, 8th October 2021, 3:55 pm
Letter to the editor
Letter to the editor

The open letter from Gael Linn published on Thursday morning highlights some uncomfortable facts for those who demand Irish language legislation [the letter spoke of “urgent and decisive action” being needed to reverse a decline in pupils studying languages].

The open letter from Gael Linn published on Thursday morning highlights some uncomfortable facts for those who demand Irish language legislation [the letter spoke of “urgent and decisive action” being needed to reverse a decline in pupils studying languages].

The stark truth is that, at the very time when Nationalism is calling for movement on the Irish language act agreed by the DUP as part of New Decade New Approach deal, we have objective evidence that demand for Irish in the classrooms of Northern Ireland has plummeted.

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With a fall of more than 40% in the number of pupils taking Irish in the past 15 years, it is clear that however it is dressed up an Irish language act is simply not needed nor wanted.

It has always been clear to me that this was a politically motivated campaign, not one about rights and equality as is so often claimed.

Doubtless Irish language zealots who see an act as providing them with employment advantages in the legal profession and civil service, as well as a means of imposing their culture in places where it is not wanted, will spin this.

But the simple truth is that the demand is not there.

Northern Ireland already provides Irish medium schooling at a cost of over £20m per year. An Irish medium school was even opened with just 12 pupils a number of years ago.

We already have a lavishly funded North-South body with executive powers to promote Irish. Irish street signage is already facilitated where there is local demand. Yet with all that interest in the language is not growing but declining.

Introducing an Irish language act in such circumstances would be scandalous.

John Ross, TUV east Belfast candidate

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