Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Clondalkin and Ballymun Gaeltachts now, is it? Things become more bizarre by the minute...

It gets more and more bizarre as the recession bites, with the same old lobby groups fighting ever more vigorously for a slice of the rapidly depleting funding pie. And what more voracious an example of the genre than the Irish Language Lobby

Our so-called republic was founded on the twin stones of Catholicism and neo-Gaelicism. The priests and nuns have more or less faithfully departed.  Unfortunately, the Gaelic revivalists are still with us, nourished by a seemingly still-plentiful pot of taxpayers' money.

The latest example is a campaign to have Ballymun and Clondalkin declared Gaeltachts.  I kid you not. 

It appears that the Gaeltacht Bill 2012, currently in gestation, seeks to redefine the meaning of the term "Gaeltacht" to mean just about anything at all. Hence the above.

Up until now (according to the most recent Sunday Times) regions qualified for Gaeltacht funding if they claimed to have 25% Gaelic speakers among their populations. Another definition was an area where Gaelic is the predominant language.   So, boys and girls, are the burghers of Clondalkin predominantly Gaelic-speaking, or even 25% so?   No, I didn't think so either - but such troublesome provisos don't matter any more.
What this Bill will do, is stretch the credulity of the term "Gaeltacht" even further than it has ever been stretched before, therefore making a complete mockery of the whole idea.  In effect, a charter for grant-grabbers and opportunists.

See the following from the Irish Examiner, Feb 8th:

‘The Department of Gaeltacht last night said that language planning at community level will be central to the new definition of the Gaeltacht. Areas outside the traditional Gaeltacht areas may be recognised as Gaeltacht areas, subject to fulfilling particular criteria.” 

"Language planning at community level"... what?  Why should a language need to be "planned"?  And by whom?  Similarly, it is not clear what the “criteria” will be, but no doubt the Shinners, other cultural nationalists and busybody language hobbyists will be out in force to meet them.  Never mind reality and the compliant, passive majority.

Already it is proposed, according to the Times' piece, to set aside some local authority housing in Ballymun exclusively for Gaelic speakers. Now you tell me what other country in Europe discriminates on grounds of language when allotting State housing? 

And if this comedic scheme gets the go-ahead, will the words Ballymun and Clondalkin be obliterated from road signage in Dublin, as English names are currently expunged in the Gaeltacht proper?  Could the mocked-up pic you see above become reality?

If you consider that, according to the National Adult Literacy Agency,  25% of people even “have difficulty reading and writing” in Ireland as a whole, how much greater is the problem in places like Ballymun and Clondalkin? Places where considerable social and educational disadvantage have remained unaddressed for decades.

Rather than attempting to address the festering problems of Dublin's most disadvantaged areas, however, the Government prefers to give funding and encouragement to vocal Gaeilgeoiri hobbyists,  and enable them in their delusions concerning bilingualism.

Meanwhile, any real evidence of Dublin's true polyglotomy is most likely to be found amongst the capital's Polish, Chinese and other international citizens -  despite Government cutbacks in English language support in the State's schools, while it simultaneously indulges the nonsense bollocksology of Dublin Gaeltachts.


John said...

We have a government in office but without power to make any real meaning full decisions. To justify their existence they have to appear to be doing something so such distractions like the Clondalkin Gaelteacht are perfect offerings to placate the hard core Irish Lingo fan. I am sure that Intel and other multinationals, cannot wait to locate to these "centers of excel lance". How do they square this with the old mantra, Ireland has a well educated , English speaking work force.

Anonymous said...

Tbh the only people pushing Clondalkin/Ballymun are either local activists or politicians. The whole point of changing Gaeltacht boundaries is to remove areas that were artificially added in 1956 by politicians that didn't meet the requirements even then. The report done a couple years ago divided existing Gaeltachtaí into categories (A, B, C) these been:

A - 67%/+ daily Irish speaking - Irish dominant as community language
B - 44%-66% daily Irish speaking - English dominant, with large Irish speaking minority
C - 43%/- daily Irish speaking - English dominant, but with Irish speaking minority much higher than the national average

This produces a map like the following:

One could easily argue that all areas with less then 30% habitual speakers outside of education (eg. people who speak Irish as home language) should be removed from the Gaeltacht. This would produce a map like the following:

Of course you go tighter basically just Category A with some of Category B areas. Either way Dingle would (and should) fall out of the Gaeltacht boundaries no doubt something the local english speaking gaimbíní will complain about.

Tbh most people living in actual Fíor-Ghaeltacht would probably agree with boundary changes, as it would (a) reflect the situation on the ground (b) get rid of politically selected boundaries which never reflected reality even in 1956.

The reality is that large areas have basically been ignored by the state, it's lot easier to assign an area "special status" but then do nothing. After all wouldn't that entail actually spending money and putting your wallet where your mouth is (if you are a politico) which is lot harder to do then "selling aspirations".

As a result unsurprising you would see unemployment of 29% in Iorras Aithneach (2008 figures).


anna said...

If you want to preserve the language, then give money directly to those who Want to speak it: Norway has a network of Government funded folk schools attended, part time, by adults, which teach old norwegian culture and an old version of modern Norwegian- to those who Want to learn. I don't think there are 'Nortacht' areas where old Norwegian is still spoken BUT the Government does not pretend old Norwegian is still the official language of the country. It does give the population the chance to learn it for few years at school- but it is not obligatory for so many things like Irish is here. 45,000 live in Clondalkin- many have hardly even junior cert education, as is reflected in unemployment figures.Well done the 1300 at Clondalkins Irish schools- the government can carryon funding you without making Clondalkin a Gaeltacht area. OR would galetgacht status generate more pupils for irish schools-as these might end up being the only ones available under such a policy?? What kind of government encourages these policies- that smack so much of social enginerrig- at at time when special needs teachers are cut ., cuts made to early school leaving programs...cuts all across the ordinary English speaking irish school system?

Dakota said...

There should be no surprise about this GM. It has become the norm now for surreal proposals to be "put forward." Lambs to the slaughter, dosile cannon fodder. If such a "proposal," was suggested in any other juristiction, in such an economic climate, for example France or Germany,it would end in SANGUINARY.

Speaking of France, why not be done with it and plonk a big shouty Disney park in the epicentre of both esteemed areas and call Dublin Paris. Both are in Europe afterall and there isn't an awful difference in latitude?

We are privileged to live in such a paradise where all the citizens are so obviously sane and their representatives are the exemplification of rational behaviour. If you're not scared now, then you are either not breathing or have reality issues. The Irish genuinely can't govern themselves. Mmmm they don't........But they still have the authority to squander hard earned money on puke schemes and think they are realllllly clever.........It's German money, not Irish........

Anonymous said...

What I want to know is, what is the number of Irish speakers who are unable to function socially or civically (not sure that's a word, but you know what I mean) in an English-speaking world, who are not confined to cots in nursing homes with "do not resuscitate" tags pinned to their nightshirts? Is the number greater than zero? I wouldn't bet on it.

My memory is not the best, but I seem to recall during the last election cycle Dame Enda promising to end compulsory Irish. Or was I dreaming?

Every state needs a common language for the simple purposes of getting daily stuff done. Israel chose Hebrew, and it works because the country attracts immigrants from all over the world and some common language is required. (Admittedly, Arabic would have been the more practical, common-sense choice.)

Ireland never needed a common language; it already had one. It should be obvious that language can't be forced on people when it is unnecessary. It only works if it satisfies a *real* need. Why do we still refuse to acknowledge this? There has never been any real need for the Irish language. There never will be. It should be promoted strictly as an academic elective for people (unlike me) who are interested in archaic, useless languages.

The futility is obvious in every government office where we confront signs in English advising us that "Service in Irish is available". Well, if I can read that message in English, I don't bloody need service in Irish, do I?

What a hoax.


The Gombeen Man said...

Once again, the Gombeen Nation comments section proves to be haven of sanity... but will it last?

To look at the Journal.ie comments space on this very subject, distorted as it is by the flash mob gaeilgoeirs no doubt behind the nonsense in the first place, you would think these activists were the majority of the population. Vocal interest groups, eh?

Ironically they will be all the more vocal in communities where the populace feel most alienated and don't engage at "community", that is "community political" level.

Interestingly there have only been a couple of searches of "Clondalkin Gaeltacht" or "Ballymun Gaeltacht" registering in the blog's stats... despite it coming up third, or so, on Google searches.

Anthony said...

I know it sounds bizarre, but things are only bizarre until you place them within an appropriate context, in which case things start to make sense.

If you consider this political activity within the context of a democratically elected government by the people, of the people, and for the people, then no, this makes no sense. But if you consider this political activity within the context of:

1- severe lack of democracy & political accountability at all levels

2- severe lack of voter involvment in politics (as opposed to party-politics )

3- the need to preserve the delusion of being a European nation state like any other, with its own independent language, its own independent culture, and its own independent history (all of which are either nationalist myth, exaggeration, or fabrication), for the dual purpose of touristic consumption (external) and political control (internal)

4- and the need, by the Department of Gaeltacht, to at least be seen to be doing something, no matter how half-baked it looks like

... then suddenly, this all makes sense. This activity is meant to show progress of the Irish language, and to prevent people from actually realising that, according to statistics, excluding microstates, Ireland is the most English-speaking country in the world and that Irish is in terminal decline. If you're a tourist, finding a Gaeltacht in Dublin might make you want to plan more time in Dublin and spend more money there (until/if you realise that this is fake, by which time you're already here). If the Department of Gaeltacht genuinely wanted to promote the Irish language, you'd imagine they'd take a page out of Alliance Francaise's / Goethe Institut's / Institut Cervantes' books, and teach young pupils how to actually communicate in Irish instead of imposing memorisation. This, however, takes a lot more time, work, and effort than just planting an Irish Gaeltacht flag in the Irish capital.

Sometimes, I lay on a field, stare at the clouds, and wonder what Ireland would look like if it had genuine accountability. Would the busses have schedules? Would we all be speaking Irish and be functionally bilingual like other modern small nation states like the Netherlands or Sweden? Could we have school boards and vote for who's on it, and sack the school boards that fail to institute curricula that succeed in producing functionally bilingual pupils? Or would we just choose to not know and choose to live in blissful mediocrity?

In the end, it's great marketing for within (citizens) and without (tourists). Put this in the same category as DCC trying to get Phoenix Park UNESCO listing. It's a UNESCO World Heritage candidate !

Anonymous said...

This Gaelic nonsense is really starting to get out of hand. I almost got a headache in that new Terminal Two, with all the signs written in English and equally as clear in Irish, the same bull out at the bus pick up area. I did notice they only used English to denote "no parking" and "set down" areas. Even temporary road works signs are now confused with this gibberish. Is this the legacy of that great Irish patriot and statesman, O'Cuiv?

In the area I live in, the people on the school boards, parish committees etc. are all the same type of parochial yahoo. None ever lived outside the country, most never lived outside the area. The local councilors/politicians are all drawn from the same ranks, albeit they are a lot more clever and devious. There is no hope overall, these are the sort of morons and cute hoors you are up against. They know nothing else.

We are a bankrupt country, not just financially, but politically, democratically, socially and spiritually. It seems the scumbags that inhabit both ends of the social spectrum are thriving. Despite all this, the people cannot conceive that there may be an alternative way of running a society, they will continue electing gombeens and headbangers. It's pointless.


The Gombeen Man said...

@ Hobnob. I know how you feel, believe me. The only good thing for me doing the blog is knowing there are a few more of you out there (not just those of you who add so much lucididy through your comments, but fair few readers who drop in regularly too). That, and the fact that it annoys certain people due the blog coming up rather well on searches... Ah sure, a bit of divilment is no harm.

@ Anthony. That's my local park now, I'll have you know ;-) Yes, the UNESCO people should have a look at Ireland's bustling youth necking cider in the playground of an evening. And a day, for that matter.

@ All. Just a thought here, but I'll run it by you:

Do any of you think that this Gaeilgoeir stuff has been ratcheted up a few notches since citizens from other EU countries and the rest of the world took up residence here? Is it Padraig and Mhuire's way of trying to confuse them and the rest of us?

I counted four letters with middle class addresses "as Gaeilge", along with the names, in today's Irish Times. The letters themselves were in English of course. I always have to laugh at that one.

But are they trying to freeze "non-Irish" people out with all this bullshit?

Like that arsehole O'Cuiv giving out about the terrors of globalisation (read "commonality")? He ranted too about how "some people" wanted to also "destroy the Catholic Church, the GAA and Fianna Fail". Yes, and?

It's a bit like Luxembourg. Years ago (I lived there for a little bit) Luxembourgish was only a gathering of different spoken dialects. Now it is suddenly a written language and possibly a requirement for State jobs (though I admit I'm surmising here).

I just wonder, there and in Ireland, is it all about excluding "forreners"? And the majority of us, into the bargrain.

What do yis think?

Anthony said...

In times of crisis, people become more nationalistic. It's not just in Ireland. There is a whole scapegoating of foreigners and multiculturalism, all across over Europe. What with the head scarf thing in France, the immigration quotas in the UK, extreme right parties in Netherlands now having seats... Overall there is a mood of making stricter requirements for migrants, all the while forgetting the majority's role in lending a welcoming hand to the newcoming minority for integration and assimilation to take place.

This certainly takes place in Ireland with Irish. I've heard numerous parents complain about being 'flooded' with the children of foreigners in schools (all two of them... little Pedro and Antonio, damn rascals) that many are turning to Gaelscoil to 'flee' from foreigners. Trouble is, other than the moribund Irish language, there isn't much else to differentiate 'indigenous' from foreigner, which ironically overwhelmingly come from wild and crazy countries... well actually from mostly White European Christian countries.

So while you might be right about Irish being used as a demarcator, that's actually pretty normal when times are tough, even more so when talk of the inevitable doom of the Euro is afoot. I think the only thing really weird about it, is that such topics are openly discussed in media, politicans, and private citizens in Europe. But not in Ireland. No no, such things just don't exist here.

Anonymous said...

Funnily enough though most children born to immigrants tend to have better Irish then Irish children after the age of 8. Two factors seem to be showing up in this regard.
1. Children already have two other languages (English and home language eg. Polish, Yoruba, Lithuanian etc.), in which case Irish is just another language to learn. When you are already effectively bilingual a third language is a doddle.
2. Parents of the children don't have same level of negativity towards Irish as many Irish parents do. If anything you often see alot of immigrant parents doing Irish classes themselves.

Question I often hear is why don't we teach the likes of Chinese or German at primary school? Tbh we should, however given practises in the teaching profession I would reckon you probably end up same poor results. Of course other question about teaching is why do our teachers got to be "Jack of all Trades" (and master of none). Surely better solution would be to have a number of specalist teachers at primary level. So for example a school would have:
1. Dedicated music teacher
2. Dedicated language teacher -- preferably a fluent speaker (so native German to teach German etc.)
3. Dedicated Science/Computer teacher
4. Dedicated special needs teacher

These teachers would be "floating" and would have their time divided between all the relevant classes in a primary school. Of course I wouldn't hold my breath that anything sensible will ever come when it comes to changing the teaching profession given the vested interests.


Anonymous said...

Comming from the Gaeltacht, thought you might like this one http://www.galwaynews.ie/24320-farmer-comes-clean-his-diy-septic-tank-%E2%80%93-buried-cortina

The Gombeen Man said...

That's a great one! That Cortina's beyond restoring, I think, Redneck. Thanks for the link.

Anonymous said...

they wont be happy till were barefoot again and living of spuds as long as its all oss gayilgeh and the grants are rolling

The Gombeen Man said...

And twasn't that Dev's vision, Anon, begob? A Catholic, Gaelic idyll of simple rural living, with sturdy youths and comely maidens - their souls cleansed of all Anglicisation (and Vikingisation, and Normanisation, and Ireland's pre-Gaelic-inhabitantsisation) speaking the tongue of the Gael. A backward little crock of shite on the western periphery of Europe, that rejected modernity and the outside world.

Dakota said...

GM it's all about power and control. It maybe somewhat blurred but the Irish social stratum is by appointment only. Passports at the ready.......next stop the whest....Doesn't matter what level of social movement was achieved in the last 20 years, it is a dishonest and devisive system, based on principles which value complete deference to nothingness.