A wee bit o' da Oirish...
A wee bit o’ da Oirish…

It’s that time of year again when Ireland’s political establishment trots out its bit of lip-service and tokenism in relation to the country’s national and first official language. Except this year, in line with the increasingly discriminatory policies of the Fine Gael and Labour Party coalition government, they couldn’t even be bothered with that much. From the Irish Times

“It was “disastrous” and an “insult” that no senior Minister was available to take leaders’ questions through Irish on the one day in the year the Government assigned business to be conducted in Irish, the Dáil was told.

Minister for Jobs Richard Bruton, who took leaders’ questions yesterday, told the Opposition: “I would not feel competent to answer questions as Gaeilge with the sort of exactitude that would be necessary in this House”.

He was responding to Sinn Féin’s Aengus Ó Snodaigh, who sharply criticised the Government’s failure to provide an Irish-speaking Cabinet Minister for Dáil business yesterday.

Earlier, during a debate on the Irish language strategy, Mr Ó Snodaigh also said: “It’s so insulting that the Minister for the Gaeltacht who as a senior Cabinet Minister doesn’t have Irish.”

Mr Ó Snodaigh said the Government should follow the policy the PSNI used to encourage Catholics to join the police force and should reserve 25 per cent of public sector jobs and not the planned 6 per cent, for employees fluent in Irish.

Socialist Party TD Joe Higgins compared the extinction of plant and animal life with the threat to Irish.

He said it took thousands of years for a language to develop and a “community’s life and history was interconnected with the language”.

Independent TD Maureen O’Sullivan could not understand why since the foundation of the State every primary school was not a Gaelscoil up to first or second class. “Children are like sponges”, and even if they started with no Irish, within a year or two they could speak Irish, she said.”

From a report in the Irish Independent on the same event:

“THE Opposition has slammed the “farcical scenario” where the Government could not provide a single minister fluent in Irish to take Dail proceedings during Seachtain na Gaeilge.

There were bizarre scenes in Leinster House after Jobs Minister Richard Bruton admitted that he could only respond in English during a debate that was scheduled to be conducted in Irish.”

Constitutionally and legally the primacy of the Irish language is explicit: it is not only Ireland’s “national language” it is also “the first official language”. The secondary status of English is made clear in its description as “a second official language”. Note the crucial positioning of the words “national”, “the” and “a”. However, in reality, the government, the public services and the courts act as if it were the other way around. The bits of the constitution they find awkward they gloss over or ignore. So we have the bizarre situation where the national legislature of Ireland needs to designate a specific day in the year when it debates its laws and policies in its own language.

The ultimate Irish joke.

4 comments on “The Ultimate Irish Joke

  1. an lorcánach

    you know what was really shocking, sionnach? i watched the Oireachtas repeat broadcast around 2 o’clock this morning on tg4 and what tv viewers deliberately didn’t see was the camera shot that normally cuts to the front bench when “opposition” speakers had the floor: how humiliating for us as a people would it be for a senior cabinet minister of an EU-Dublin administration, where for almost 10 years Irish has been an official language of the Union and a muppet like Bruton with translation headphones on his dyed noggin!


    • Given the day that was in it (tokenism included) the coalition government could have at least put up one Irish-speaking minister of rank. The fact that they didn’t think it important enough says it all. Even the cloak of lip-service is thrown off by this Fine Oibre government of unbridled Hibernophobes (or as you would say, Gaelophobes). The disdain for Ireland’s indigenous language and culture is writ large across the faces of the Fine Gael and Labour TDanna.

      Just for anyone reading this, as far as I am aware no one is criticising Bruton for simply being an Anglophone or not being bilingual (as some are trying to imply in some online fora). I certainly understand his desire to make himself understood in the language he is comfortable or fluent in. I’m in the same boat. I use English because otherwise my views would be masked by incoherent Irish. While “Is fearr Gaeilge bhriste ná Béarla cliste” is a fine sentiment for learners there are some obvious exceptions.

      The reason why so many are protesting this farce is because of the message it sends to the people of Ireland, both English- and Irish-speaking. And that is the inferior social and legal position of the latter, especially in a week that is supposedly about everything that is Irish.

      As a friend said to me last year, St. Patrick’s Day is for the Béarlóirí. Samhain is for the Gaeilgeoirí! He may have said it partly in humour, partly in frustration but it is increasingly easy to understand that point of view.


      • an lorcánach

        you’re right of course — still richard bruton (and all principal politicians – mary-lou, joan burton, leo varadkar who’ve said they will make more efforts to learn irish) have had years and plenty of opportunities to learn irish but some /most really just don’t care: political capital if it can be called wouldn’t be worth a fig to them anyway


  2. Athbhlagáladh é seo ar da Zenà..


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