Friday, July 08, 2005

DUP up in arms over Irish

Anne Cadwallader:

The Democratic Unionist Party has criticized the recent EU decision to officially recognize the Irish language as a "Gaelic ego-trip" and said it represents "a colossal waste of tax-payers' money."

Member of the European Parliament Jim Allister said the decision had been taken "for the basest of political reasons" and accused Irish language activists of thriving "on a pretence of being deprived."

All Irish MEPs, he said, had English as their first language and for 25 years had found it "more than adequate". He criticized the Irish government for "giving in to pressure from Sinn Fein" and of "putting the pursuit of republican ideology above pragmatic common sense."

His party leader, the Rev. Ian Paisley, said the move would require between 20 and 30 translators "and will cost £3.5 million per year". Paisley also accused the Irish government and Sinn Fein of joining forces out of "republican ideology, not financial considerations."

But SDLP Irish language enthusiast, Dominic Bradley, accused the DUP of "a meanness of spirit which is breathtaking even by DUP standards".

Allister's "bad-tempered outburst", he said, was itself made for "the basest of political reasons."

"He knows that there are votes in certain quarters for saying nasty things about the Irish language, the nastier the better. From this political perspective, the fact that his words were deeply hurtful to hundreds of thousands of his neighbors is an added political bonus."

The change in status was, said Bradley, "just the simple recognition that this is an important issue for millions of Irish people. The language is still part of their culture and identity.

"Jim Allister is in deep denial. It is not Irish speakers who thrive on a pretence of being deprived, but those who would pretend for political reasons to be threatened by a vibrant Irish culture," Bradley said.

Sinn Féin South Down assembly member, Caitriona Ruane, said objections to the funding of £12 million over the next four years for film and TV production in Irish was an attempt to obstruct the "phenomenal growth" of the Irish language in the Northern Ireland.

"Jim Allister's comments are typical of a party that is fundamentally opposed to the promotion of anything Irish. The EU has an obligation to spend money on cultural development, as has the British government," Ruane said.

Meanwhile, Patsy McGlone, the SDLP assembly member for Mid-Ulster, has received an undertaking from the minister for the Gaeltacht, Eamon Ó'Cuív, that he will raise the matter of bilingual road signs for the North with the British government.

This follows a refusal by the Northern Ireland Roads Service to accept proposals for bilingual road signs for nationalist areas on the shores of Lough Neagh. McGlone described the policy as "discrimination."

"I simply do not accept the nonsense being trotted out. Parity of esteem is more than a phrase to be flippantly trotted off the tongue, or inserted in glossy government brochures. I will pursue this matter at every available opportunity," McGlone said.

DUP up in arms over Irish


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