Thursday, February 3, 2011

Enda to complete work of statutes!

"....if any English, or Irish living among the English, use the Irish language amongst themselves, contrary to the ordinance, and thereof be attainted, his lands and tenements, if he have any, shall be seized into the hands of his immediate lord...." Statutes of Kilkenny 1366.

The final irony in all this is that the Statutes
of Kilkenny were in fact written in Norman
A recent issue of Fonse, the weekly supplement in the Irish Independent has secured commitments from all the main parties except Fine Gael on mantaining the current position of the Irish language in Ireland. Fine Gael uniquely have committed to abolishing the status of the national language in secondary schools. They have been unable to establish a scientific reason for this and still less have been unable to to explain the contradictory position described in the party's official policy with the laudable vision of their leader:

Enda Kenny: (2006)
"My vision of Irish in our education is simple. I believe we should equip our people particularly our young people, with a real, useful and a communicative knowledge of the Irish language!"

Official Fine Gael Policy: (2007)
"All students to be offered a choice as to whether to study Irish after the Junior Certificate"

It doesn't require inordinate intelligence to see where these two statements disagree. It reminds one of the law stated in the Statutes of Kilkenny and in a way completes the destructive work of those notorious laws down through the penal laws, their own abandonment of insisting on the neccessity of knowledge of Irish in the civil service in the seventies and eighties. (This latter has led to the inability of 98.5% of those in the Department of Education unable to work in the national language - a frightening statistic which harks back to Pearse's name for the English education system in Ireland as the "murder machine.")  In this regard seee "Richie Ryan decision made language marginal" on address by the Language Commissioner.

Foinse have secured commitments from Labour, Sinn Féin and the Green Party that they will not change, nor permit change and in some cases will augment and strengthen the position of our national language. It is presumed that Fainna Fáil too, as the party which produced the 20 Year Plan for the Irish Language could hardly be so duplicitous as to abandon it...or could they?

Alone the Fine Gael Party stand with no such commitment.

There are of course economic implications in this attitude, not least in the multimillion business in Coláistí Gaeilge throughout the last stubborn bastions of vernacular Irish use in the country. In implementing this policy this industry will be eliminated, destroyed with nothing to replace it. There are other  considerations to as alluded to in a scientific study of Dr John Walsh in his recent work: Contests and Contexts: the Irish Language and Ireland’s Socio-Economic Development. (See critique by Lorna Siggins in Irish Times.) Do Fine Gael have such a complete scientific basis for their policy?

Every time we abandon another defence of our language we abandon ourselves. Fine Gael do not  quite obviously get this. The leaderr of the Union of University Teachers asked some years ago:
"Would any other country propose, that its national tongue not be compulsory in its exam system?"

Fine Gael will in abandoning the last vestiges of support for Irish in its native land complete in a short time complete the work commenced by the English in 1366 and will ensure that "exclusive use of the English language," and who knows include as did the Satutes the use of Irish "when naming children..."

The final irony in all this is that the Statutes of Kilkenny were written in French!

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