Using sentimental tactics to try to get an Irish language act

Morning View
Morning View

How many times will children be brought up to Stormont in a bid to apply sentimental pressure on politicians to bring in an Irish language act?

Pupils from Irish language schools were involved in colourful demonstrations there once again yesterday.

The children themselves are wholly blameless of course.

But the adults who think that this is going to work are mistaken.

In fact, any mention of Irish language schools ought only to have the effect of underlining the exceptional treatment that such schools already enjoy – being allowed to open with tiny numbers of entrants when other schools with larger numbers of pupils have been closed.

As Jim Allister says, right, the motivation behind an Irish language act is transparent.

Sinn Fein, having manufactured a crisis over the language a year ago, has had 12 months to reassure concerns about aggressive, so-called rights based legislation and has failed.

It has no interest in consensus and goodwill and co-operation but rather wants to use the issue as a wedge.

Not only is there now unlikely to be standalone Irish legislation, Sinn Fein’s tactics have ensured that there will be careful scrutiny of any language laws that are ultimately introduced.

The particular areas that will need the closest scrutiny are road signage, vast and wasteful translations, and any hint whatsoever of quotas in public sector jobs or any hint of schools having to provide access to Irish.

Not only that, but insofar as is possible legislation will have to be proofed against the likelihood of waves of future legal actions, funded generously by British taxpayers, that are a classic republican tactic to try to get their way in areas such as legacy. Any Irish language legislation will get much greater scrutiny now than it would have done a year or more ago.

Jim Allister: the real agenda behind an ILA