Leave aside the fact that the dialects of Irish Gaelic are merely descendants of the language spoken by the Iberian Celt blow ins who only invaded us as lately as around 500 BC.
Leave aside the fact that since the island was inhabited for thousands of years before it can hardly claim to be our original tongue.
What cannot be left aside is that Sinn Fein’s call for an ‘Irish’ language act is based on a transparent and cynical political fiction. The very concept of an Irish language is an wholly political construct.
It was launched in a RTE radio speech in 1943 (Language and the Irish nation) when De Valera said that to be recognised as a nation Ireland must have its own national language.
Given the experience of the likes of the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand using English that seems questionable.
Anyway, he went ahead, gathered up the different dialects into standard ‘Irish’.
He made its teaching in schools mandatory as was speaking it for employment in teaching, police or civil service. The employment policy largely failed and was abandoned in the 1970s.
Interesting to note that a man in the Republic recently had a demand for his trial in court to be conducted in ‘Irish’ rejected.
Sinn Fein’s language act demand here is not a cultural initiative but an attempt to waste more money, gum up the works, further divide society and discriminate against non ‘Irish’ speakers.
It should be resisted not only for those reasons but because as soon as it’s implemented another red line, sticking point demand will be waiting to make sure Northern Ireland remains permanently ungovernable.
Davy Wight, Carrickfergus