Thursday, 10 February 2011

Compulsory Irish: survey commissioned by Irish language teachers supports their interests.

 Despite the country’s perilous situation, the loudest pre-election demands are still to be heard emanating from the usual suspects - Ireland's narrow interest groups.

And what more insipid, entrenched and damaging an interest group is there than the powerful Irish Language Lobby?

Some time back, Enda Kenny – a fluent Gaelic speaker – announced a plan to make Gaeilge non compulsory for the Leaving Certificate.  The party had commissioned a poll, carried out by MRBI, which found that 62% of Irish people believed that Gaeilge should be an optional subject after Junior Certificate. That is, close on two out of three adults believed that it should be made non compulsory.

Funny then, that a poll now commissioned though MRBI by Irish language teachers’ interest group, Comhar na Muinteoirí Gaeilge, came up with the diametrically opposite conclusion  -  that 61% actually favour the retention of compulsory Gaeilge instruction for Leaving Cert!  He who pays the piper calls the tune and all that.

Kenny is coming under intense pressure from those who work in the Irish language industry to do a U-turn on his non compulsion plan.  Yesterday he was besieged in the Gaeltacht by “bean an tís" (landladies) who run lodging establishments for students attending language courses there.  They fear for their businesses if compulsory Irish is scrapped. 

I would like to see Enda Kenny show some courage - for once - and stand up to these vested interests.   What is more likely, however, is that he will crumble in the face of the lobbyists’ pressure.   Sadly, it seems that Irish politicians are incapable of differentiating between the interests of lobby groups – be they publicans, developers, investors or the Irish language industry –  and the common good.

If Kenny did stand up them, and state so clearly, he and his party would get a vote of some kind from me for the first time ever - and others too, I imagine.  I am sure that will not happen, though.

For the record, 15.8% of students who sat the Leaving in 2009 did not even sit the Gaeilge exam (excluding exemptions), despite its compulsion in the curriculum, with the number of no-showers increasing by 600 a year since 2006. (Irish Examiner Tuesday, May 04, 2010).

Have Comhar na Muinteoirí Gaeilge bothered to take note of that very real, and incontrovertible, statistic? 

Back to Gombeen Nation main page


Dakota said...

Beginning to have serious doubts about FG. The rest of them of course don't seem to be much better. As for speaking the Irish language, no thanks. Rather knit a cardigan while wearing mittens. If they want to squander money on daft surveys then make sure it's with their own money. Gone beyond a joke.

Anonymous said...

“Fuckin Eejits”
God news!! Good news!! Make Irish compulsory for everyone!! Let all TV programmes and newspapers be in Irish only. Let all Films be dubbed and heard in Irish only !!! Let all products in the shops be labelled in Irish only. Let the birds sing and the dogs bark in Irish only.

Ban the English Language and kick the shit of anyone who does not obey. After all there is no point in being an “Island of Fuckin Eejits” unless people behave like “Fuckin Eejits” (Irish Eejits).

Pony mubarak said...

Is it just me or does the Comhar na Muinteorai Gaeilge logo look a lot like someone being force fed something they would prefer not to have to swallow. Funny how art sometimes imitates life.

The Gombeen Man said...

@ Dakota. That's the problem... where are the opposition? Kenny gets the predictable quota of representations from these chancers and careerists and he's now snivelling about having an educational audit before he'd do anything. The only "audit" he needs is the last figure quoted in the post.

@ Anon. Yes... I'd say Irish-only newspapers and TV programmes (run on a commercial basis rather than govt subsidies) would be real recession-bucking money-spinners alright... not. But their folding would at least be a salutory lesson.

@ Pony mubarak. Genius. I'm still laughing here. Do you know that - to my shame - I hadn't noticed that? But you are right. Hats off to that subversive designer!!

Ella said...

@GM - I agree, I think Enda will cave in to the Irish language lobby. He thought it would be a populist idea (remember this is the man who was going to compensate eircom investors if FG got elected some years back), but with a growing tide of xenophobic paddies, it will probably be a non-starter. Irish should be a subject that people choose to learn and not have forced down them, as the graphic above so handsomly illustrates.

@Pony Muburak - LOL here! Brilliant observation.

Anonymous said...

While you're at it, why not get rid of all the other subjects like maths, physics etc. deemed too hard for the decent, down to earth, run-of-the-mill "Tick Paddy"?

There would be a few populist votes in that, no doubt.

anna said...

I am sure the west of Ireland has dramatic enough scenery to Always have many tourists- so the BannTis shouldn't be wailing; but just stop making school kids from places like Dublin, who descended from Norse speakers among others learn Irish beyond Junior cert:
NB- yes many Ordindary level Leaving cert school kids don't sit the Irish exam: Look up recent reports which show that about the same % turn up, and sit in exam hall till first 1/2 hour of exam is over- and then get up and leave- hardly attempting the exam.
WE are in many ways a superlative country , remember the USA or Texas or both used to often claim the World's biggest in everything: Ireland has many superlatives Too-
Biggest property bubble
Biggest bank bailout
Biggest failed educational/ language policy in human history.

anna said...

Letters irish independet Fri 10/2/1011
'policy on Irish language will be divisive
Were Fine Gael to succeed in making Leaving Cert Irish optional it would be mission accomplished for the dark forces in the Department of Education, which for the past 30 years has been sticking pins in the doll that is our national language.
National bilingualism is not a pipe dream but aday-to-day reality for many thousands.
That we still have an Irish language at all is testament to the courage and vision of concerned parents who decades ago realised the importance of setting up their own Irish language primary and secondary schools.
These very same schools top national lists of high achievement every year.
If the vast majority of our school leavers were illiterate and innumerate it would be a national scandal and yet it has become somehow acceptable that after 14 years of instruction our young people can leave school having been denied any meaningful relationship with their own language. Optional Irish -- a very 'Oirish' solution to an Irish problem!
Colm Mac Con Iomaire
Co Loch Garman

'The stated policy of Enda Kenny to drop the Irish language as a compulsory third-level subject has just ensured that he will have my family's vote.
There is no doubt as to the cognitive and developmental benefits of learning another language, but whilst you may be able to compel the learning of a subject, ***you cannot compel an interest in it***. (***- excellent comment here! hear!! hear!!-anna)
The majority of students across the country may accept the cultural importance of the Irish language but they have long ago discovered its irrelevance.Indeed as thousands of our young people emigrate to pursue jobs in foreign lands the last thing that will equip them for this is being able to speak Irish. If people have a genuine interest in the Irish language then let them indeed learn to speak it. This apart, our educational system should be extolling the huge benefits in the ability to speak such languages as Spanish, French and Mandarin; skills that will prove more beneficial to them than to join the dwindling ranks of those that speak a language that has essentially become little more than a hobby.
Derek Ross
Blessington, Co Wicklow

well said Derek

Anonymous said...

What does it matter whether people speak Irish or English. Lies are lies in any language.
History has shown us that the people of Ireland are likely to vote along traditional party lines, just as their forefathers have done; logic and reason do not apply in Irish politics. Even if the TD is a barefaced liar and an blatant thief, they will still be elected again, as Ireland knows to her cost.

There is a great deal of sense in the context of Brendan Behan’s quotation: “If it was raining soup, the Irish would be out with forks”. There seems to be an intrinsic cognitive disorder in the Irish mindset, perhaps it is pig ignorant stubbornness and hostility caused from years of British colonisation.

I heard a guy say in a Birmingham pub: “The Queen of England has no right to come into our country”. He has lived in Birmingham for 45 years, and his children and grandchildren are English This is an example Irish mega- stupidity that is an embarrassment to the Irish race.

Anonymous said...

"There is no doubt as to the cognitive and developmental benefits of learning another language," This is often used by Militant Gaelgoirs to defend their position but its a load of crock.

Sure learning Irish might make it easier for someone to learn say German later down the line but learning German in the first place would be far more effective and would have the added benefit of making it easier to learn Irish subsequently if doing so floats ones boat.


Anonymous said...

A Sincere Enquiry
I am puzzled by the ambiguous attitude of Conradh na Gaeilge and Comhar na Muinteoirí Gaeilge regarding the pending changes to "The Liturgy". Let me explain: These organisations declare that the Irish language is the first and official language of Ireland.

Many people have read the kafuffle and indignation by some Irish church-persons because of the pending new liturgy. It has been agreed that the Generic Mass, where priests were free to paraphrase the words of the mass as much as they liked, must end.

Now it has been decided that the Mass must be celebrated in the appropriate cultural language with an exact translation of the Latin Tridentine Mass. The Vatican has chosen that the English language is to be used in the United Kingdom and Ireland.

My puzzle is this: Why do Conradh na Gaeilge and Comhar na Muinteoirí Gaeilge not insist that there be an exact translation from Latin to Gaelic? If Gaelic is the official language it seems that all church services should be conducted in Gaelic. Or, are Conradh na Gaeilge and Comhar na Muinteoirí Gaeilge all Hot Air?

The Gombeen Man said...

@ Anon. My guess is that they are, indeed, hot air.

@ Mike. How are things? Yes - I've heard that old chesnut many a time. If that's the case, considering they start teaching Irish from infant school, we should all be multilinguists.

Funny enough - I came out of the Irish educational system with no Irish to speak of, but an honours in LC German. Says it all about compulsion. Plus, if you learn a real living European language it makes it easier to learn another, as they are related. German, Dutch, Swedish etc. French, Spanish, Italian.

@ Anna. Thanks for posting those two letters, one of which makes sense.

@ Ella. Agreed. Surely a teacher wants to have people in their class who are interested? All they are really concerned about is the meal ticket compulsory Irish is for them.

On the subject of letters, a good one appeared in the MetroHerald:

"If you want to talk about culture, Joyce, Beckett, Heaney, Wilde, et al have contributed far more to out literary heritage - through English - than Peig or Cathal O Searchaigh ever did.

If you want to talk about the value of being bilingual, learn Spanish or Mandarin and you can communicate with millions of new people around the world.

Irish will allow you to speak to perhaps 10,000 people, nearly all of whom can already speak English [they all can, Eoin. GM].

The Irish language is indeed part of our culture. But, like traditional music, it's a specialist pursuit. There is no reason why it should continue to be compulsory."


Emma said...

I speak Irish every day and when I have children I will speak only in Irish to them because I feel that it is a special gift that I can give to them. If I were to follow the majority voice in these comments I would stop all this talking Irish immediately and focus, focus, focus on all things economic and forget about Irish. I don't exactly know why but Irish means something to me and to many others and I will never be able to stop using it. Do ye think I should just stop and forget about it?

The Gombeen Man said...

No, you can speak Gaelic as much as you like if you feel it important.

Just stop your compatriots from forcing it on the rest of us and make it non-compulsory.

Margaret said...

ah now 'Gaelic'. Nice choice of wording to have a quick mock. Gombeen man get off your high horse will you? I like Irish and I woould like my children to have a chance to learn it and I did leave school with Irish. The main problem is the lack of opportunities to use it and not thefact that it is being taught.

The Gombeen Man said...

"Gaelic" = "Irish Gaelic", to give it its full term.

Nobody is denying your kids - or anybody elses - the chance to learn it, if it's that important to you.

It is simply about making it non-compulsory for Leaving Cert (officially so, in the light of the last two paragraphs above).

That's all.