Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Still here but in danger!

I disagree with the tenor of Colm Ó Giollagáin's article in todays Independent, "There is no denying the clear threats to future of Irish". I think he is reading far too much into what Rónán Mac Con Iomaire wrote in his earlier piece, "Irish and the Gaeltacht - they haven't gone away, you know". Certainly I did not read it as a condemnation, still less as a refutation of the Údarás Report, rather was it a refutation of the gleeful interpretation of this report in some parts of the English language media here in Ireland. I hardly think he deserves this vituperative response!

Of course there is no denying that the real problem outside observers face is the fact that the "Authorities" have treated these reports with nothing little short of contempt. Studies which he and his collaborator undertook in good faith are not only ingnored but are delayed in publication or even worse are only published in part. Is it possible to come to any other conclusion but that this is because the forces referred to by the President as those "for whom the language is not half dead enough," are pulling the strings?

Yesterday we saw an Oireachtas Committee discussing this latest study without having at least one of the authors present. Mr Ó Giollagáin is reported on as saying that he was not invited, and that he did not even know of the meeting until that morning. Yet at the meeting it was claimed that he had been invited, by telephone, but was unavailable on the day. Is that the way to treat an eminent academic? It begs the question as to how these meeting are organised and exactly how relevant is a examination by the Oireachtas of a scientific study if they don't actually engage with the authors in a professional way? (Meeting as reported on in Irish Times 21/10/2015)

Scientific studies are just that, scientific studies. Perhaps we sometimes read these more as opinions, like an article by Kevin Myres say, rather than conclusions reached after the measurement of certain parameters and identification of facts. This takes study, examination ourselves of the parameters and verification ourselves of the modus operandi used in the study. Too often we look at the catchy headline "The end is nigh!" and attack accordingly. In addition reports like this are held back or only released in part by the "Authorities" who requested them.

Indeed the treatment of Dr. Ó Giollagáin's expertese in the area of language planning has been largely ignored by those charged with that responsibility. A cursary reading of the reports of the Coimisinéir Teanga over that last ten years will show just how little planning comes into anything Government decides in matters of language. Indeed their lack of adherence to the implimentation of the 20 Year Strategy, the all Party agreed plan,  demonstrates eloquently the policy "Speak Irish among yourselves but speak English to us!"

I do think that Colm Ó Giollagáin is correct in its last paragraph. "Those in positions of influence will not be treated kindly by history if the trajectory towards the dominance of English in the Gaeltacht - and the extirpation of Irish as a social and cultural entity - is allowed to continue unabated, despite official protestations." 

Compare with the last words of Seán Ó Cuirreáin to the Houses of the Oireachtas before he left office (in translation): "But I would say to you with certainty here today in the Houses of the Oireachtas, that it is with heavy hearts that the people of the Gaeltacht and the Irish speaking community in general will approach the centenary of the 1916 Rising in two years time if our national language is to be merely a symbolic language, and rather than being an integral part of our culture and heritage, that it is pushed aside, marginalised and left in the in the halfpenny place in the life of this nation." (Address to Oireachtas Sub Committee 23/1/2014)

Since this item was published Dr Ó Giollagáin has written to the Director General of RTÉ as reported in this article in  (20/10/2015)

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