When It Comes To The Irish Language Saoradh Looks to Éirígí For Inspiration

Saoradh, the self-styled “Revolutionary Irish Republican Party”, has published the organisation’s constitution on its Facebook Page (though not on its inexplicably still dormant official website). I would commend Saoradh for making this document available to the general public when so many other political parties in Ireland fail to do so. Such openness is to be welcomed. However one thing in particular struck me about the Facebook post, in which the organisation commits itself to the following:

“3.6 To actively promote the revival of widespread, everyday usage of the Irish language across Ireland, and to encourage a deeper understanding and appreciation of Irish culture in contemporary Ireland.”

Which reminded me of this line from the constitution of éirígí, a small left-wing republican party, which features prominently on its website:

“3.5. To promote the revival of widespread, everyday usage of the Irish language across Ireland, and to encourage a deeper understanding and appreciation of the role of Irish culture in contemporary Ireland.”

Oh dear. Well, I suppose imitation is the sincerest form of flattery! Of course neither clauses are particularly inspiring or detailed and none of the bigger parties – Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin and so on – have any better ideas in this policy area. What would a real commitment to Irish look like? Try this:

“1.1 The Party shall seek as a matter of immediate policy the linguistic and cultural decolonisation of Ireland through the restoration of Irish as the majority vernacular of the island (while also giving due regard to other historic traditions within the country). In order to achieve this imperative the Party shall pursue appropriate legislation or constitutional amendments to,

(a) affirm the preeminent position of Irish as the national and first official language of the State, without derogation or exemption, and the necessity for its active promotion

(b) affirm the use of Irish alone or Irish and English together for all official business within the State, without derogation or exemption, while still demonstrating the preeminent position of the national and first official language

(c) affirm the right to communicate through Irish within the State, without derogation or exemption

(d) affirm the right to education or training through Irish within the State, without derogation or exemption, while also pursuing as a matter of policy the universal application of Irish medium education

(e) affirm the right of monolingual or multilingual Irish-speaking communities to safeguard, promote and expand their numbers through the active assistance of the State, as a matter of policy

I’m sure others could come up with far better thoughts and wording than me. However, that is what a genuine concern about Irish in a party constitution – or policy document – would look like. Any takers?

 

 

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12 comments

  1. Such a policy could not be implemented presently — there are literally too few fluently bilingual individuals in Ireland capable of offering services through the medium of Irish. Indeed, few could provide a largely accurate, idiomatic translation of your proposal above or the excerpts from Saoradh’s constitution.

    In 2014 I visited the official website of every major (and some minor) political parties in Ireland. At that time only the Communist Party had a fully bilingual site! Even Sinn Féin’s Irish content was limited to drop downmenu headers and a handful of press releases in Irish.

    1. But where and when to start if not now? There has to be some point at which the process begins. The wording is shaped in such a way as to reflect the actual intent of the party which would have it in its constitution or rules.

      We could begin by prioritising Irish medium schools instead of inhibiting their establishment and growth. We could begin by adding Irish streams to English medium schools and expanding Irish beyond its current status as a hermetically sealed subject, as was strongly recommended by an expensive government policy group nearly a decade ago.

      Yes, I highlighted the lack of bilingual websites and poor Irish policies of our parties some time ago. But Catalonia started from a similar low level and look what it has achieved.

      1. English and Russian were taught like hermetically sealed subjects to me at school as well. Those languages were not used anywhere else. I only got “immersed” in English after arriving to Ireland. And yet I speak both of those languages much better than an average Irish person speaks Irish?
        Why is it so?

          1. No – what I meant is that – in my country it’s nothing special. You would NOT impress anyone by saying that you speak 2 or 3 languages in Latvia. Most if not all of us are fluent in more than one language and it was achieved without immersion education or the state providing services in more than one language.

            1. And for Latvia read e.g. Denmark, Holland, Switzerland … most of Europe in fact. This seems to be a ´disability´ restricted to L1 English speakers for some reason.

            2. For one English is a far more domineering and dominating language than Russian. English has been spoken in Ireland for several centuries. I think it is amazing the language survived at all.

  2. The English language is the reason we get investment into this country , as for culture please define? Dancing at the cross roads?

    1. Is French culture bicycles and onions, German culture beer and brass bands, Danish culture woolly jumpers and saunas? Non-English speaking Europeans also get investments in their countries too and have done so for decades.

      I’ve spent several months working on an off in a small East European country of ten million people and a language no one else speaks yet they are taking some €20 million euros worth of business from Ireland. I know because I am part of the transition team handing off the business while knowing that it will eventually lead to my own redundancy. That is happening across the board as manufacturing companies in Ireland make the move to the eastern non-anglophone borders of the Continent.

  3. O, táim ag teacht leat, a mhac. Is maith liom “without derogation or exemption”, tá sé tábhachtach. Bheadh sé maith clár níos láidire fhéicint óna páirtithe-sin.

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