Friday, July 8, 2016

The mask slips...again!

Shortly after this piece was published the Minister blocked the writer from her twitter account.
Translation "You have no permission to follow @mitchelloconnor or to view tweets from @mitchelloconnor!"

The Minister of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, let slip the mask yesterday in the Dáil (7 Jul 2016).

The Minister
In a debate on the "Banded Hours Contract Bill 2016," a private members bill, the Minister is reported as having said, “The Bill adds significant burdens. It requires every employer to display notices in the workplace. These notices will have to show the number of hours being allocated to workers in the next week or month and the relevant bands."

Fair enough but then she continued, “These notices will have to be in English and Irish and in other languages as required. Imagine telling a Silicon Valley company that it has to display work rosters as Gaeilge in Ireland.” 

Other Comments
Here is a comment (in Irish) on the iGaeilge Blog. Its title is good as it draws the attention to the percieved ambivelence of the Irish administration in tax matters with relation to large International conglomerates!
“Imagine asking a Silicon Valley company to pay taxes in Ireland” (8/7/2016)
This also has an unforgettable video of this same public representatives inglorious exit from Leinster House on one of her first days as a TD!
Leaving aside the question as to just how significant a burden is the provision of notices in any language, let alone Irish, does not this little aside from the Minister highlight a bias and a prejudice we have seen before? Does it not highlight the Fine Gael party's attitude in general to the National Language?

One remark on twitter in response stated "Can you imagine telling the people of the Gaeltacht to do their business with the Jobs' Department in English?" (my translation). In effect this is almost universally the case. In fact in my own experience since the abolition of Irish as a requisite for joining the Civil Service, also by a Fine Gael minister in 1974, the matter of dealing with almost any Government Department in the National Language is difficult. It lead to another twitter remark "Fine Gall ar a seanaphort cúng gearr radharcach!" ("Fine Gall at its old narrow shortsightedness!"). Note the change the twitter makes to the name of the party - "Fine Gall" = "Family of Foreigners."

Indeed as eminant a person as Supreme Court Justice, the late Adrien Hardiman stated bluntly, "... the stark reality that the individual who seeks basic legal materials in Irish will more than likely be conscious of causing embarrassment to the officials from whom he seeks them and will certainly become conscious that his business will be much more rapidly and efficaciously dealt with if he resorts to English. I can only say that this situation is an offence to the letter and spirit of the Constitution." (Translation of review: : Ó Beoláin v.Fahy [2001] 2 I.R. 279)

On the same day as the Minister displayed her views President Michael D Higgins was quoting from P. H. Pearse - “The language movement is, of course, only a part of the national movement, but it is its most important part – the part which gives vitality and coherence to the whole.” (Translation from President's Office) Indeed this is not the first time the President has referred to the unique place of the National Language and the "apparant" lack of regard for it by State officialdom.

Not only is he echoing Pearse, Hyde, our First President and indeed the person to whom one would imagine all Fine Gael party members would revere, General Michael Collins. He declared shortly before his tragic assassination, "...the biggest task will be the restoration of the language. How can we express our most subtle thoughts and finest feelings in a foreign tongue? Irish will scarcely be our language in this generation, not even perhaps in the next. But until we have it again on our tongues and in our minds we are not free..." (The Path to Freedom, Michael Collins: 1922).

It would appear that the Fine Gael party as a whole have forgotten if not abandoned that aspiration.

@FineGael @JobsEnterInnov @ceartateanga