Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Eamonn McCann's view of the Orange Order

I came across this old quote from Eamonn McCann in the Andersonstown News (4 January 1997).  According to the newspaper it was a statement he had made in October 1996 and it was reprinted as part of the Andersonstown News review of the previous year.

Eamonn McCann said: 'There is a direct line of connection between marching in an Orange parade and putting a foot through the window of somebody who has married a Catholic.'

As someone who has been a member of the Orange Order for just over forty years, I can honestly say that I have never put a foot through anyone's window.  Such demonisation and misrepresentation of the Orange Order is utterly appalling.

For many years there has been widespread demonisation of the Orange Order and such demonisation helped to create the 'authorising environment' in which so many republicans felt it perfectly in order to break the windows in Orange halls and even burn them down.

A look at the Gaelic Language Act in Scotland

The demand for a 'muscular' standalone Irish Language Act continues to be made and so it is interesting to look across to Scotland to see the outworking of the Gaelic Language (Scotland) Act 2005.  The Act was passed more than a decade ago so we can look back over that decade to see something of that outworking.

One of the more recent examples is the five year Gaelic Language Plan for Police Scotland, which was published on 29 December 2016 and runs to 50 pages.  Here are just a few commitments from the 50-page document:

  • Use of bilingual corporate logo on all branded material including letterheads, business cards, and compliments slips - this would become standard across Scotland
  • Police Scotland uniforms to have Bilingual markings with agreed brand of Poileas Alba on a replacement basis.
  • Encourage staff to use the bi-lingual e-mail signature
  • Increase the visibility of Gaelic in marketing materials
  • Police Scotland Vehicles to have bilingual markings on a replacement basis
  • Of course this involves the creation of new Gaelic terminology for technical terms

The intention is that every police officer will have the bilingual logo on their business cards and that every police vehicle will have bilingual markings and that will be across every part of Scotland.

As regards the cost it is rather evasive: 'No new budget allocations are presumed to deliver the elements of this partnership activity and the use of staff time. Police Scotland have accessed external funding and will continue to explore opportunities to add value to the delivery of this plan.'  However it does not detail the source or level of external funding and neither does it cost the use of staff time.

That is what is proposed for the next five years and you can imagine what the next plan will produce for the subsequent five years.  This time the business card has a bilingual logo - the next logical step would be a fully bilingual card with Gaelic on one side and English on the other.

So is everyone in Scotland happy with these developments?  Clearly not as this newspaper article from Dundee demonstrates.

Most Scots will already be familiar with the Scots word 'polis' which is the Scots translation of police but the Gaelic 'poileas' will be unfamiliar to most folk.

And of course since Scotland has three languages, English, Scots and Scottish Gaelic, it seems that Scots is being overlooked once again.

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Irish language argument is disingenuous

I listened tonight to The View on BBC and was struck by one argument that was made during an item on an Irish Language Act.  It is an argument that has been made before by some Irish language activists but it is a flawed argument.

Linda Ervine said that since there is a Welsh Language Act in Wales and a Gaelic Language Act in Scotland, there should be an Irish Language Act in Northern Ireland, because that would bring us into line with Great Britain.

In fact this is a thoroughly disingenuous argument because it implies that Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom where an indigenous Celtic language is not empowered through a Language Act.  However that is simply not true and completely ignores the situation in England.

There is an indigenous minority Celtic language in each of the four constituent regions of the United Kingdom.  There is Scottish Gaelic in Scotland, Irish Gaelic in Northern Ireland, Welsh in Wales and Cornish in England and all four are recognised by the United Kingdom government, along with two other minority languages, Scots in Scotland and Ulster-Scots in Northern Ireland.

So of the four indigenous Celtic languages, there are languages acts for only two of the four.   There is no common practice across England, Scotland and Wales and it is disingenuous to imply that there is.

Of course we shouldn't be surprised because most of the arguments put forward for an Irish Language Act are disingenuous.