Friday, June 12, 2015

Government continuing its policy of "fudge, farce, falshood?"

The derogation on Irish usage in the European Union was mentioned recently in the Dáil. This was instituted when Irish was recognised as an official language of the Union some 10 years ago in order to allow facilities, translators etc to be instituted. This expires at the end of 2016.

Liadh Ní Riada'a frustration. 
The effect of this derogation (the length of which is unprecidented in the European Union experience) was dramatically demonstrated when one of our members of the Europeam Parliment, Liadh Ní Riada was instructed to "Speak in another language...." at one of its meetings. Think of it, a member who from a Gaeltacht Area, whose mother tongue from the cradle it is, is forbidden from speaking in Irish, a recognised EU language, at an official parliamentary meeting.

Earlier this year a crowded meeting in Dublin's historic Wynn's Hotel was addressed by Dr Professor P. B. Ó Laighin and MEP Liadh Ní Riada among others. 

"I know that a decision in principle has been made
by the Government that the derogation will not be
ended by 31st December 2016 and that the  derogation
will be renewed from  the 1st January 2017.
Dr Ó Laighin is an acknowledged expert on language matters in the European Union. At that meeting he stated that there was little need for this derogation to be continued from the end of 2016. In trying to ascertain the attitude of the current Government he approached various branches of  administration both in Europe and in Ireland. The EU sources all said that it was a matter solely for the Irish Government. When he approached the Government Departments he was frustrated and delayed again and again and was unable to get a clear response one way or another. (Indeed this writer was quite shocked at the discourtesy shown to such an esteemed expert in the field.) However from his experience and the talks that he did have with them he felt that he was able to make a statement on the matter. He put it up on the screen during his presentation. He stated baldly that "To my knowledge a decision in principle has been made by the Government .... that the derogation will be renewed from the 1st January 2017."

He also stated that there were virtually no reasons any more for the continuation of this derogation. There are translators available, the vocabulary for technical and legal terms is more complete that that of some fully recognised languages and indeed the European institutions are more than prepared to accommodate Irish on equal terms to the other smaller languages like Maltese, Estonian, Latvian etc. Indeed Irish was reported in the Irish Times (13 Nov 2013) as the 14th biggest language in the EU terminology database.  That Ireland and the Irish are ready for the ending of this derogation is without doubt. Indeed it is of great advantage to those whose mother or cradle language is Irish as things stand. 
Crucially many  jobs require applicants to have at least a “thorough knowledge” of an official EU language and “satisfactory knowledge” of either English, French or German. Many third level courses are available such as Kings Inns. The law school offers a number of Irish language courses that are designed to help graduates secure lucrative translation jobs in Europe including some non-degree courses. (cf Article in The 42 13/6/2015).

Government response?
The recent statement in response to a question in the Dáil - itself no paragon of virtue when it comes to facilitate the use of the National Language - elicited a response from the Minister of State for Gaeltacht Affairs, Joe McHugh TD which appears to confirm Dr Ó Laighin's assertion. (Source: Report in Irish from Seán Tadhg Ó Gairbhí in 11 June 2015).

He said that an examination was been made by his department, the Taoiseach's Department and EU Institutions of the services at present provided in Irish and on “the potential to expand these services”.

In short, as in so many matters (and not only in the matter of the Language) the name of the game is obfuscation and pretence. The sort of thing that lead to the resignation in frustration of Seán Ó Cuirreáin, "The choice I had was to stand aside from my appointment as Coimisinéir Teanga on principle to draw attention to these matters or to continue in my role and, consequently, to participate in a pretence!" (to Oireachtas Committee 23 Jan 2014). He was the first Ombudsman to resign on a matter of principle in Ireland, and maybe in Europe, since the foundation of the state.

As many people have been saying of late there is little purpose in trying to rely on The Irish State in these matters. "There are stronger and more widespread forces in place (in the administration) who have little or no concern for the future of our national language." These are those, in the words of President Michael D Higgins, “for whom Irish was not half dead enough.” 

This is year 5 of the adopted 20 year scheme for Irish and this Government cannot point to any one of the recommendations that has been adopted - even those ones which would cost little or no money.

"As we begin to regain our economic sovereignty, it would be a travesty if we were to lose our linguistic sovereignty – a cornerstone of our cultural identity, heritage and soul as a nation. I believe this to be a clear and present danger." (Seán Ó Cuirreáin as he announces his resignation 6th December 2013).

It appears this belief is still valid some eighteen months later!

Saturday, June 6, 2015

"Let's do this!" - Invest in Identity! @SeoLinn Please RT (& help kick ass to grant culture!) #cicsatóin

At 10.47 - 3 Jul'15 there were 340 Backers 
€50,410 donated & 52 Hours to go!
Why not join 'em!

Here we are! How about a bit of uplifting news about Irish! And you, dear reader, have 28 days to make it happen!
Seo LInn ag Lá Mór na Geailge
Seo Linn showing what they can do - let's show 'em what we can do!
One of the reasons I set up this site was to report on happenings concerning Irish and the Gaeltacht areas especially with regard to language rights. This are for the most part ignored by the English language media except of course when there appears to be bad news. This means of course that the Irish media has an disproportionate amount of reporting in this area. A case in point is the recent publication of Conchur Ó Giollagáin's report update by Údarás na Gaeltachta. The reports in English Language media concentrated entirely on the negative aspects of the report. "Irish will be dead in ten years!" "The end of the Gaeltacht is nigh!" etc etc.

In passing 
I wonder is that also what happens to these reports when, if ever, they cross a Government Minister's desk. Certainly the lack of adherence by the State to the advice the sought on language matters would lead one to that opinion. Indeed the situation lead the first Coimisinéir Teanga to state baldly.

"I believe that the language is continuously being edged aside, pushed towards the margins of society and that includes much of the public sector. I would not support the premise that the fault lies primarily with politicians but it appears to me, notwithstanding those within the State sector who support the language, that there are stronger and more widespread forces in place who have little or no concern for the future of our national language." 
In reading most of these press stories it is obvious that these writers have only superficially examined the actual report. There was in fact some good news contained in this report which was highlighted by writers in the Irish electronic media. (Unfortunately there is no Irish print media any more since this has been forced off the face of the earth by the actions of State bodies!)
Gripe over (until the next time!)

Enterprising initiative!
But that is not what I want to talk about now but rather a story of independence shown by a group of talented young men who apparently realise the futility of engaging state bodies or indeed political parties have taken a bold initiative. In the colourful phrase of the writer of the iGaeilge blog "cic sa tóin do chultúr na ndeontaisí" (A kick in the arse to grant culture!).

This enterprising group, which perform as Seo Linn, who electrified the 10,000 people who marched on Lá Mór na Gaeilge (See more pics on their Facebook page) have already proved themselves musically and now want to share their expertese in music and language to the wider audience that the know are out there. They have achieved an incredible 4.6million viewings of one of their live performances in the Conamara Irish College, Coláiste Lurgan on YouTube. (Take a look - the words are included - and sing along!) They have performed on television and before President Michael D Higgins.

The inspiring thing about this initiative is that it ignores the usual well trodden paths used by Irish Language organisations braving the dispiriting, soul destroying and interminable bureaucracy seeking grants for their initiatives. Those who are lucky enough to be successful receive this largesse but often bound up with conditions that often times render the initiative ineffective. Without the grant of course the venture falls. A small coterie of enterprises have tried this "modh díreach" of start-up with reasonable success before now. This is an exciting one and worthy of our support!

So what are they planning?
They are going directly to the public with a request for €50,000. They have definite proposals they have a date when the initiative is a success or, God forbid, a failure. We'll know by the end of the month.

Let them speak for themselves: "Seo Linn are asking YOU for help. We know that we are on the path to generating a new kind of Irish music, one that has the potential to portray the Irish language in a progressive, relevant light. We want to make Irish available.

"We have thought long and hard about this and our biggest challenge right now is to raise this money. Our hard work over the past two years has gotten us to this point and we are ready to take on a new challenge! We are confident that we will overcome any obstacles that may appear in our way."

So what practically do the intend to do with this money? They outline three practical objectives.
  1. Set up a Company that will provide music WORKSHOPS with the Irish language - These will incorporate the various elements of music production and performance into a polished, tried-and-tested workshop that teenagers will really enjoy.
  2. Record and publicise an original ALBUM - We have so much music in our unique brand that we want to share with you. An album of our work would give life to Irish language music in Ireland and abroad along with providing us with the opportunity to expand our horizons as a band and progress up the ladder as recording artists.
  3. TOUR - a crucial part of every band's road to success is touring and gigging. We want to bring our music all over the world and provide the show that gets people talking. Our unifying of the old and new of our cultural identity is an aspect to our show that doesn't go unnoticed and we pride ourselves on ensuring that everyone enjoys the experience.
"As you can see, we have a long, tough road ahead that every single one of us is relishing! With your help, we can make our dream a reality and do something that has never been done before. We have something to offer.. and this is our chance! Go raibh míle maith agaibh."

Tacaigh le Seo Linn!
Click here to support us!
I see that they have over 9,000 followers on their facebook page, If each of those contributed €10 they will have exceeded their target handsomely.

As I write this article only 78 have backed them contributing amounts from €10 to €1000 (Yes €1000) and there are 28 days left to achieve the target. (Since we started writing about an hour ago it has risen to 82!)

When I first saw this I thought "Nah! not possible!" But then I saw the figure grow to €4000 in the first day and almost double on the second and I now believe it is eminently achievable!

In the words of the famous Buxton Water advert, Lets do this!"

Seo Linn

Is you want to read what has written about this and view another video.
€50,000 ag teastáil ó Seo Linn dá dtogra Kickstarter!(Irish)

And take a view of this unforgetable appearance on the Late Late Show.