Thursday, 23 December 2010

One-fifth of teacher training places to be reserved for Irish speakers.

A few weeks back, Minister for Education Mary Coughlan greeted the news that Ireland's literacy levels had dropped from 5th place in 2000 - as measured in an OECD study - to 17th in 2009, as disappointing.

The decline was the steepest of the 39 countries surveyed.  The study, Programme for International Student Assessment, also estimated that one-quarter of Irish 15-year-olds lacked the literacy skills to "enable them to participate effectively in society."

The Government has responded to this problem.  More resources are to be concentrated on promoting Gaelic.   In a truly Irish stroke of genius, one-fifth of teacher training places are to be reserved exclusively for students from Gaelscoils, or those who get high marks in “de Language” in their Leaving Certificate.

The other way of looking at this, of course, is that one-fifth of aspiring teachers who get the highest overall marks in their examinations (or excel at subjects that are not Gaeilge) will be denied places in favour of students who achieved lower marks in their exams but are good at Gaeilge or have attended Gaelscoils.  

Let us not forget that students who answer exam questions as Gaeilge are already awarded higher marks than those who answer the same questions, with the same level of knowledge, through English.  I suppose you could call it a “Double Irish”.

Good news for Gaelic language hobbyists, lobbyists, linguists, and others employed in the Irish Language Industry  - but not necessarily good news for education in general.   We’ve been there before, of course. But that does not matter for those in government, and other agencies of official Ireland, who are programmed to repeatedly carry out failed Gaelic revivalist policies. Witness the following…

In 1934 the government of the time introduced its Revised Programme of Primary Instruction. It abolished English, even as an out-of hours-subject, in infant schools (they were to teach children from English-speaking families only through Gaelic).  Maths requirements were relaxed in national schools to make way for more teaching through Gaelic. Drawing was dropped. Gaelic was made compulsory to pass the Leaving Certificate, grants were given to Gaelic speakers, extra marks were awarded for answering through Gaelic (still in existence, as you know), teachers of Gaelic were given salary supplements (ditto).

Way back in 1941 the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation questioned the strategy of using the educational system as an ideological tool centred on language revivalism.   Some were concerned that  “awarding extra marks [for those answering as Gaeilge] distorted the exam system by allowing less academically gifted students to achieve results which did not reflect their ability” (Wars of Words - The Politics of Language in Ireland, 1537-2004. Tony Crowley).   This is in 1941, remember.

But no matter.  The Irish Free State’s first Minister for Education, Eoin MacNeill (and co-founder of the Gaelic League - Conradh na Gaeilge), had already set the tone for Irish education when he made clear that " 'the principal duty of an Irish Government in its educational policy' was to serve the construction of Irish nationality" (Terence Brown, Ireland a Social and Cultural History 1922-1985. Fontana 1985). 

Indeed, no lesser a proto-fascist than Dev himself had already assured a meeting of Conradh na Gaeilge (along with the Catholic Church a major power on Irish educational boards since the State’s formation) that it was his “opinion that Ireland, with its language and without freedom is preferable to Ireland with freedom and without its language”. (DH Akenson, Pre-University Education, 1870-1921).

Right.  Ireland's educational system remains a sacrificial altar for the failed polices of Gaelic revivalism – and a cash cow for the ideologues and careerists employed in its industries.

Something we have been paying dearly for since 1922.

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anna said...

THis is simply ridiculous! Ireland is one of the few (Possinly only) advanced EU / Western country that does'nt teach computer science
( not just ECDL)at secondary level.
Obviouly Many other subjects need to be tackled in our schools: more Maths teaching, seeing kids in poor areas don't fall behind especially in literacy....but promoting Irish over all? Again? Do Scottish and Welsh education Depts waste millions on this language nonsense?? What was it all about-zealots at foundation of the state trying to find a way to prove they're not British?? I recently read Michael Collins said Ireland declared itself to be a Republic as Britian was a monarchy- but if Britian had been a Repblic, then Ireland would have founded a monarchy!
The Welsh Know they are Welsh: the Scots know they are Scots. They are Proud of their nationalities- withour a small no among them forcing the minority language of the country on the rest.LOOK if there was any real enthusiasm for the langauge, we'd all be speaking it now- that's the crucial missing factor - ENTHUSIASM.
Most people in this country DON'T want to learn or speak Irish; it's no tragedy, if there are enthusiasts out there then lanaguage centres and money can be provided for those: Mary Coughlan, from Donegal, for one is a fluent Irish speaker. But face up to it; the forced teaching and elevation of Irish above the main language- English- of this country has got to be the Biggest and longest running failed educaional policy in the world.As John Mc Gahern said , in the 1940-50s, he estimated 1/2 National School curriculum was Religion and Irish! No wonder Irealnd remained poor so long.
I am not sure what general literacy levels were like when free primary education came in @ 1830's : today most Irish people are literate,( even if some have lower levels) so that's @ 98% literate in English- timespan 165 years.
Enforced Irish teaching has gone on more than 76 years- 4 % of the population speak it- that doesn't look a good result for millions of hours wasted and billions of euro as well.
No, drop this '1st' language nonsense now- we need the money for good education in all areas to reamin a developed country- this nonsense will bring our skills levels back to the 1930' our biggest recession ever.

anna said...

BTW I often wondered how internatiosnl surveys Selected the Irish schools it used for surveys- I did wonder did Dept Education point the survey researchers in the direction of the best fee paying schools?
Thanks to Govt subsidies , Ireland has more fee paying schools than any other EU country ..and more kids in ordinary school system are in crumbling schools than elsewhere in Europe; well Dept of Education Would have a few billion more for these crumbling schools if it wasn't spending it on 'teaching' Irish- oh and on private schools.

anna said...

BTW, GM man I do keep an eye on education news but I never heard this- where did you hear it?

The Gombeen Man said...

Bold as brass in yesterday's Metro, Anna.

Part of the Government's "20 year plan" (why do I think of Stalin) for saving de Language.

Anonymous said...

"The Irish Tea Party"

As Father Dougal McGuire would say "Sure, isn't that great news". Great news that the Irish Tea Party is thriving. These people believe that the world was created on Sunday, 23 October 4004 BC, at 9am. According to Irish Bishop James Ussher The world is 6014 old, and FUCK THE FACTS.

It seems that the Holy Ghost descended upon The Tánaiste as she slept to reveal that Irish was to be the only spoken tongue in Ireland. The Holy Ghost decreed that whereon and henceforth, all communications in Ireland are to be in the Irish only. The dictum decreed that that all newspapers, books. radio and television programmes are to seen and heard in the Irish language only.

The dictum further decreed that all imported programmes like soaps and films must be dubbed in the Irish language. Imagine Peggy Mitchell in ‘Eastenders’ speaking Irish in cockney accent. How do you say "Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn" in Irish?

Even Irish must be taught in Irish. Of course the question is why are thy doing this. In psychology it is called Regression, whereby when a person who is in great distress, wishes to return to a safer time in their life. (Back to the good old days). No doubt, this devious scheme of nationality will be concomitant with some money making racket. So Ireland is once again on the march; marching backward in time until it reaches the Stone Age.

The Irish are moving back in time to the giddy height of despotism where a few ignoramus’s want to destroy the right of people to think and to reason and replace freedom and logic with arbitrary tyranny, and then to hide these dictums against liberty beneath a suffocating cloud of Irish nationalism. How sickening!!

How can the educated people allow this waste of time and money. What about subjects like Philosophy. Psychology, Logic, Truth, Reasoning, Ethics, Rhetoric, Classics, Linguistics, Assertiveness skills, coping skills. The list on positive subjects that would benefit the Irish people is endless.

What a bloody waste, in the land of saints and scholars. [Scholars, My Ass]. The Tánaiste -Palin Irish Tea Party are a menace and an embarrassment to Ireland.

Ella said...

The country in tatters and the good and great are concerning themselves with this important matter and in such a discriminatory fashion, where there are no winners, save the Irish language industry.

oh I note the source of the photo, Stormfront no less, a right wing Nazi organisation.

Anonymous said...

Is it not fair to say though that anyone who can explain how glaciation influenced the Irish landscape is smart, but that anyone who can do this and then translate it into and write it 'as Gaeilge' is even smarter and should get extra points?

Your suggestion that these kids will be less able sounds odd since the vast majority are not native speakers, so it is an extra intellectual task.

Is it not also the case that these smarter bods would make smarter teachers?

Anonymous said...


A very subtle point has just been raised. This idea of teaching Irish is not really about teaching Irish; it is much more sinister! It is about control of people. It allows the state to bypass Civil Liberties. For example, if they want a particular type of person or coterie of people to suit their political ambitions then it is possible to use the excuse that the rejected person did not have a sufficient command of the Irish language that is deemed mandatory.

In this way they can build up a sort of SS contingent of loyal followers. If they speak in Irish then they exclude those who do not speak Irish and can use this to question their allegiance to their SS ideals. There are a few unsettled, idealistic politicians who do not want to give up being in power, with the same idiotic political aspirations of self made hero General Eoin O'Duffy, the founder of an Irish fascist party. Do not forget how the National Socialist German Workers' Party (Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei) began.

Do not forget Hitler’s Munich speech and the consequences thereof. I am not a conspiracy theorist or armchair philosopher, I read the worlds newspapers every day on the Internet and I talk with and listen to informed opinion. Ireland has the perfect conditions, (as Germany did) for some dictator to pronounce and pontificate the solution to all Ireland’s problems.

David Aaron Ayelon
New Jersey. (Irish Jew)
PS. Not Irish Stew

Anonymous said...


A regular visitor to Stormfront are we?

Why does this not surprise me?

Anonymous said...

Stormfront.Com are a very nasty but very clever organisation who know how to use and manipulate vulnerable people. Ireland is vulnerable at the moment and when people are feeling hopelessness, they will cling to anything that comes their way. The church in Ireland will not, as Pius XII did not condemn Fascist ideology. I am very glad to be old.

The Gombeen Man said...

Funny, Max, accusing me of affections for Stormfront. Regarding your earlier comment about Passing a test "as Gaeilge" (for it was you) does not mean your blue-eyed Gaelic student is smarter than the rest of us. It means they are good at Gaelic.

They can know less about glaciation than someone answering in English and get more marks.

Anonymous said...

In conversation, I sometimes say to people "Oh!, I agree with you", but I am generally saying it figuratively , just to be polite.

But by God, I do agree with the previous post. There is Fascism in the air. This time the Irish have someone to kick; emigrants, and some have started doing this as the Garda turn a blind eye. Their very best characteristic.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

This is all rubbish. All this Irish Language is just a distraction from the financial crisis. If they have not succeeded in doing this in 90 years of freedom, they are not likely to do so now. How does she control the Internet

Anonymous said...

This story is like: Fahrenheit 451 and Nineteen Eighty-Four. The Ireland I remember was one of fun and laughter, How can the educational minister, single handily impose such a radical policy. She must be like Mrs Thatcher. Is she?

Ella said...

@Max/Anonymous whoever. 2 laughs from GM's current post, the first the source of his picture. I suppose he chose it to link it with Gaelic enthusiasts and given the subject matter of the blog.

The second laugh on the post was you linking GM with Stormfront, I don't think so... if you read GM's blog with any regularity it's obvious he's an antifascist. Come to think of it even the post on which you comment on would demonstrate that.

@GM, perhaps you should be more discriminate when moderating your comments?

Dermot said...

Great article. Scary stuff, hardly surprising though. Zanu FF time and again invoke their half-wit friends in mythical rural ireland to stay in power (or in this case stay alive) at the expense of everybody else. Progress is only valued insofar as it might serve the FF agenda at a particular time, cast aside if not needed.

The life-support machine of Irish is kept switched on, not just by it's direct promoters and irish language industry beneficiaries, but by culture drones who come out with inane, meaningless crap like "irish is part of who we are".

Your statement "Ireland's educational system remains a sacrificial altar for the failed polices of Gaelic revivalism – and a cash cow for the ideologues and careerists employed in its industries" is brilliant and succinct.

Keep up the writing on this subject, well done.

The Gombeen Man said...

Thanks Dermot. Keep visiting. You never know, some of us here might get a lobby group of our own eventually to put our view across.

Ella, Anons etc. Thanks!

ANNA said...

I saw a photo in paper last week- a 9 yr old boy with electrodes strapped to his chest , he’s on a waiting list at Crumlin hospital for a life saving operation. This made me Angry and sad; criminal banking crooks didn’t have to wait any length ( just weeks ) before Billions of our money, money for this boy’s operation were thrown at them. And Just to make damn sure that boy may not get his operation, FF is now throwing more money on the Biggest failed language and educational policy in history:
How many billions of our taxpayers money went down the drain on this in nearly 90 yrs??
I was just looking up the website of Conradh na Gaelige ( major Irish language organisation) they get funding from a Government board ( Forbairt na Gaelige I think) also got a lot of Govt money to repair their HQ. They were around at establishment of state, a lot of early nationalists learned Irish there
( their building on Harcourt St) and it was also a refuge of one I think during the rising. This is also well and good ,and part of the history of the nation. But founders of the state may well also have spoken Esperanto, Italian etc for all I know- without having it erroneously inserted in constitution as the Main language of the nation. There were MANY wrong things in the constitution ( one ,removed by referendum in the 70’s was to guarantee the Catholic church a ‘special place’ in the life of the nation!). So don’t think because something is in the constitution it is Right OR sacrosanct.

Teach Irish to junior cert- then kids can be allowed to drop it. And get it removed from being 1st official language by referendum.
And give a few million to Irish language centres- so they can carry on teaching to adults who actually WANT to learn it.
* I was very interested to see Conradh na Gaelige has 200 centres- they would be a good choice for the Government then to develop adult learning centres for the Irish language. BUT please - stop forcing every secondary school to keep teaching Irish after Junior cert- unless school kids really want to .
** ANYWAY Why this big love of the irish language- when their is NO love for kids on waiting lists critically ill??
I SUSPECT it is FEAR OF Sinn Fein at the ballot box.

Anonymous said...

Do you know who the members of "Conradh na Gaelige" are, and how much they earn and how much they claim in expenses? I do, and I can only equate that organisation with "Big Bill Thompson's City Council in Chicago in the 1930's. They are all crooks and swindlers, and that is why they are so interested in promoting the Irish Language. Ask them to open their accounts for public scrutiny and transparency. They will not do it because they are as crooked as a corkscrew. I know who they are.


anna said...

Actually C na G have a role in teaching the language- but their contributions to improving the nation are Not always useful; - as a former UK resident and current Dublin civil servant, I know the 2011 intro of postcodes will be Very useful in stopping the large amount of returned post I get in Dublin:
Yet C na G can even get a row going that we must have IRISH LANGUAGE CODES:

“Conradh na Gaelige DEMANDS (!!) Irish post codes for an Irish country: (30 Sep. 2009 )— C na G welcomes postcode system in 2011, but warns(!!!) against system based on place names in English. Pádraig Mac Fhearghusa, President of C na G: “Conradh na Gaelige welcomes a system which will facilitate delivery of letters with Irish addresses : there are problems with the delivery of these and too many of them go astray.
“But the Irish postcode system should not be based on English versions of place names; this would take from the status of Irish and not be in accordance with the place held by the Irish in our constitution. It would also fly in the face of the spirit of the 2003 Official Languages Act and the 20 Year Irish Strategy . A postcode system based on numerical co-ordinates could avoid this problem,(WHAT PROBLEM???) and facilitate emergency services as well.”Julian de Spáinn, General Secretary : “C na G is not advocating a choice of an Irish-language version of any postcode, as this would confuse the public and create numerous problems. There should be only 1 system in use and it could be based on Irish-language placenames; on numbers and the abbreviation IE; or on numbers and letters unrelated to placenames in any language, as is already the case in the PONC system developed by GPS Ireland. Using this PONC system could also save the government millions .
“It is essential that we avoid the fiasco (!!) of basing postcodes on placenames in English only, as happened when the car registration system was changed to a system based on county names in English only. This system created opposition and had to be changed , to incorporate county names in Irish also. C na G believes we should avoid such problems this time around, and seize this opportunity to promote a bilingual society with our postcodes.(!!) We could show the world that Ireland genuinely promotes language equality.!!!!”(!! EQUALITY! “
When there is no interst in letting the languge spoken by 96%- and understood by 100% o - (English) to be used?

NB: here are some typical ones for NI:
Newry: BT35 8CP
Warrenpoint : BT34 8XA
Strabane/ Derry *BT80 2NS BT 79 7NX

* First bit derives from the major sorting centre in a UK region- in this case it is always Belfast. As for the last 3 character bit, it could be generated at random.
LOOK ; IT S JUST A CODE- nothing to do with any nationalistic notions . However to avoid rivalry Genuinely bi-lingual countries DO choose numeric only codes
( Finland Belgium). Reason- because towns there do Have 2 names- that are in common use. NOT SO HERE.
Gaeltacht towns are known by their Irish names ( Carraig Rua) and non Gaeltacht towns by their English ones ( Balbriggan, Ashbourne etc)- which is fine.
HOWEVER local town names don’t even Have to have to be used if UK system of starting code with the city for the region is used:
EG postcode for a house in Dublin : DD66 7NP
Galway GG71 8GD

anna said...

BTW: I have Nothing against Irish. I don’t want it to die out- I just think Far less money should be spent on it, instead a few million should be directed to those who DO want to learn it. I know more from 3 years of it at Grammar school in NI than many friends do after 12 yrs teaching here- time to end this ‘1st language ' nonsense: a nonsense that further drains this country of funds, desperately needed for health system etc, and ruined the education of many here:
In early years of this state useful subjects were thrown out of National school syllabus, leaving many 14 year old school leavers having an education that was 50% Irish + Religion, as John Mc Gahern said ( can't see that education being much use on emigration to USA/ England).
And even those who graduated secondary school could not get to college without Leaving Cert Irish - enough of this nonsense. And yet the AMADAN ** government has brought in this 20 yr plan- presumably to try to win votes from Sinn Fein!
** I KNOW The GM policy on Irish, but I do hope a beag focal can be inserted, like nudity and profanity in the movies, IF it is strictly ‘artistically necessary.’

anna said...

Dear Beelzebub: I am RIVETED by your comment; can you do a 'Gaelige Leaks' on it?: There is SO little info on unscrupulous people creaming off money from ALL Government funded bodies; it even took blogger Gavin & Sunday Business Post journalists hundreds of euro to pay for FOI info on expenses of John O'Donoghue etc .
More info please? BTW - I have NO problem with Goverment funded bodies preserving Irish Government money.) But CREAMIMG off large amounts of public money for personal use?? DO TELL.lanaguage, any more than I do with Irish Seed Savers Assocation preserving trees. ( ISSA preserves genetic stock of useful rare Irish trees etc- actually I'm not sure this worthy body gets any

Anonymous said...

Fianna Fail Corruption, Privilege and Nepotism.

This concept is summed up in "Little Dorrit". where the department of "Fuck All" passes you on to the the department od "Bugger All" and the person is given 'the run-around' for days on end. The people in these departments have no education or qualifications of any sort, except, they are well connected to the people in power. They get paid for doing nothing. This is a bit like Fianna Fail corruption, privilege and nepotism.

Anonymous said...

Anna, there is a tendency to think of these people to be like the Irish-American concept of the Irish people, a bit like Barry Fitzgerald.

These people are nothing of the sort; they are more like the Kray Twins and they will go to great lenghts to keep the money within the Fianna Fail families.

I am not tempted to do a 'Gaelige Leaks' on this story at present, but I will take advice on the best way of telling the story and still remain alive. Ireland is rotten; rotten to the core.


Anonymous said...

"Conradh na Gaelige" MONSTERS AND PERVERTS

If I could write this message in Irish, I would do so, but I do not know how. My association with the Irish Language is not very pleasant.

Cardinal Sean Brady's Christmas Message. Irish Independent Christmas Eve 2010

Cardinal Sean Brady said 2010 has been a very difficult year with the prospect of smaller incomes and enormous debt looming over the country. The Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland said two big freezes within a month have also not helped by challenging the health of the vulnerable and placing extra pressure on household heating bills"

The Cardinal and the Bishops live in palaces with their butler, chauffer and housemaids. So talk is cheap.

The Cardinal said: "What is it about Christmas that makes people so anxious to be at home and so distraught if this is not possible?" he asked. He continued with: "Home and family, love and parents and birth are natural signs of peace and new life. They are natural gifts that take us to the heart of the meaning of Christmas. Just as an individual may spiral down into a state of depression, so too a community can allow itself to be overwhelmed by negativity. Nobody wants to minimise the pain that many are suffering, but having a positive attitude and coming together to support each other really can help us to get through these difficult times." .

Imagine Christmas in Artane in the 1950’s, my Dad had died in the war and my mother died of tuberculosis three months before Christmas. I did not know where my sisters were and I was not allowed to see them at Christmas. We had not committed any crime, we were orphans.

At Christmas dinner 1954, a Christian Brother spat on my dinner and after I had finished it he told me that he has pissed on it too. I had been there only three months and did not know the rules, so when i complained I was hammered mercilessly. Your words are hallow and shallow.

Does your Christmas message mean that all the churches will be open 24 hours per day to care for the sick and poor, the distressed and depressed. No it does not, Christ would be willing to open the church, but then The Catholic religion is far removed from anything to do with Jesus Christ.

anna said...

Dear anon last poster: please accept an electronic Xmas hug.
Only a very few stories made it to abuse enquiries and reports, thousands and thousands d1d not. Lucky people like me can only say I admire you for telling your story and letting people know how truly horrific Ireland was only 50 yrs ago, for those who only crime was to be poor and vulnerable: none of this happened in the likes of Belvedere College etc.. When you speak out you shame the dark evil forces that ruined our country and you make it a better place.
I hope you had many happy Christmases throughout your life, that this will be an enjoyable one, and that 2011 will be a great year for you, happy Xmas.anna

Anonymous said...

We've too many teachers in ireland. We're a nation founded by primary school teachers with little to do but enter politics
we need to give kids a boot up the ass, get them to study non spoof subjects like maths, physics and chemistry, get them to realise life involves working in a drudge job in manufacturing and begin training people at 3rd level to work in many of the industries we excel at such as pharmaceuticals, bio-engineering, chemicals, food industry etc.
One word sums up all our problems as a people "Mania"! We're dominated by delusional dreamers who seek to teach the next generation in schools and who will destroy our kids if we don't bring them up to aspire to a normal life and job as many other nations do

Ben said...


The viciousness of some of the comments directed at an attempt to revive the Irish language is astounding.
Much energy spent on thinking of ways to remove support from some who have 'Nothing against Irish'.

An attempt is also made to associate this with the Nazis - by a Jew, no less.
Oh, the irony!
The Jewish people who successfully resurrected their own language in a just a few decades.

Methinks something else is going on here...