Thursday, 16 July 2009
The worst proposals for the Irish language since the Statutes of Kilkenny
If 'An Bord Snip Nua,' or the New Snip Board as it should be known, deliberately set out to undermine the Irish language then I doubt they would have come up with worse proposals regarding it than the ones in their report today.
Those proposals are:
1. Abolishing the Department of Community Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs.
2. Effectively abolishing Údarás na Gaeltachta.
3. Abolishing Comhairle um Oideachas Gaeltachta agus Gaelscolaíochta (COGG), the body which produces text books for Irish language schools.
4. Transferring the Irish language responsibilities of the Gaeltacht Department to the Department of Education, a proposal that will send a shiver down the spine of anyone who values the language and has experience of the department's attitude to it.
5. Cutting TG4's budget by €10 million.
6. Scrapping most (all?) Gaeltacht grants.
7. Reducing the number of state documents in Irish.
I'm not all that bothered about scrapping grants for infrastructure and houses in the Gaeltacht, or the amount of government documents produced in Irish, but the cut in support for households who host Gaeltacht College students in the summer could have a serious effect on the language and the economy in areas of the official Gaeltacht where Irish is actually spoken.
1-5 are an absolute disgrace however and are a serious attack on Irish.
The Gaeltacht Department, the Údarás, COGG and TG4 were all set up because English speaking Ireland can't be trusted to look after Irish speakers.
The industrial development duties of Údarás na Gaeltachta will be transferred to Enterprise Ireland and with it any attempt to attract industry that won't undermine the Irish language.
For some reason the report says €10 million should be cut from TG4's budget, but no proposals are made to cut state English language broadcasting.
Some may argue that the spend on TG4 and many other cultural initiatives are not justifiable at present, but no such argument can be made regarding the worst proposal of all, the decision to scrap Comhairle um Oideachas Gaeltachta agus Gaelscolaíochta (COGG) in order to save the grand total of €1.2 million of the €5.3 billion in cutbacks proposed.
This body was set up due to the utter failure of successive Irish governments to ensure that Irish people have the basic right, in Ireland, of getting an Irish language education for their children.
COGG was charged with producing Irish language text books and study aids for Gaelscoileanna because the Department of Education has refused to do so.
Now the New Snip Board wants to scrap COGG and let the Department of Education look after Gaelscoileanna, the same department that has recently banned immersion education in Ireland under the false belief that it damages the English skills of pupils (when all the research shows that it actually improves them), and a department that won't recognise new Gaelscoileanna.
The message from the report couldn't be more clear: Let them read English textbooks in Irish language schools.
What kind of a country are we that doesn't allow all parents to send their children to Irish language schools and then forces* the ones who do make it in to use English language textbooks while learning through Irish?
It was bad enough that Irish language education was suppressed in Ireland for centuries, without us, still one of the richest counties on Earth, now doing it ourselves, on a spurious economic basis.
The government has to cut spending, so I suggest merging the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht affairs with the Department of Arts, Sports and Tourism to form a new slimmed down Department of Culture and the Irish Language, I never agreed with having a Gaeltacht department, the language belongs to the entire country.
(*In case anyone was wondering I think Irish should be optional in English medium schools).