Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Tá sé fear

Joe McHugh TD

Is this the nail in the coffin of the Irish language, or just a statement of the obvious, or both?

The Government has now appointed a junior minister, Joe McHugh, with responsibility for the Irish language, whose Irish is not up to scratch.

The Taoiseach tells us that Joe's first priority is a "refresher" course in Irish but it is not clear how much will be refreshment and how much new learning. He must, at least, have school Irish, which is a sort of a block to build on. But one would have expected him to be beyond the refreshment stage by now as he was already Fine Gael Seanad Spokesperson on Gaeltacht Affairs between 2002 and 2007.

He lives in Carrigart, which is described in Wikipedia as a Gaeltacht village, and it does seem to be part of the official Gaeltacht, though Scoil Eoin Baiste is described as "ar imeall na Gaeltachta". In any event a significant proportion of the area represented by Joe McHugh is Gaeltacht.

As the Taoiseach seemed unprepared for the onslaught that has now hit him, is it possible he was not aware of the Deputy's lack of fluent Irish, given that he was appointing him principally for geographical reasons (to counter Sinn Féin in Donegal)?

In any event it does not say much for the Government's, and in particular Fine Gael's, respect for, or interest in, the Irish language.

Needless to say, the opposition are in a steam and Éamon Ó Cuív was reported to be apoplectic. No shortage of baying hounds there.

Raidió na Life reported that the Government refused to supply a participant for their programme today, Beo@2, which covered the street protest and had contributions from Conradh na Gaeilge, Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin. The programme's being in Irish can't have helped and the Government could hardly have expected Dinny McGinley,who had just lost the job, to do the needful.

And Fianna Fáil needn't crow either. I remember when a crew from BBC Alba (TV) were in town doing a programme in Irish on the banking collapse, the best Fianna Fáil, then in Government, could do on the day was field Martin Mansergh who did his section in English.

You get an increasing smell of tokenism these days in almost everything to do with the Irish language. For example, Newstalk puts out little shorts in Irish where the reader (very obviously reading) seems to think the quality of Irish is gauged by the frequency of séimhiús and the amount of spittle going into them. His grammar (what's that?) is also atrocious.

The old argument for holding onto, or reviving Irish, was that it gave you access to much of your background which would otherwise be inaccessible and it represented a different way of looking at things.

The current pidgin Irish that I hear around me does nothing for anybody. It degrades any true Irish that might remain and is nothing more than a bad transliteration of the speaker's native English.

Go bhfóire Dia orainn.


Póló said...

I have been asked what I meant by "a statement of the obvious".

Well, in the first place, it is obvious that the Irish language does not figure on the Government's radar when it comes to such important matters as getting re-elected.

In the second place, it is clear that the Irish language has now been on very ropey life support for a long time and, while very few people see a future for it or are prepared to make an effort to assist its "recovery", nobody is prepared to pull the plug and take responsibility for the patient's demise.

Póló said...

I don't believe it.

After what I said above, who have the Government out defending Joe's appointment but his sacked predecessor Dinny McGinley.

He has my sympathies. That's loyalty for you. He even descended to the post-hoc rationalisation that Joe's learning Irish would inspire others to follow his example.

Dia, agus Muire, agus Pádraig.

Vivion Mulcahy said...

I was amazed. You couldn't make it up.