Monday, 21 May 2012

Northern Ireland Gaelscoils - integrated education receives another blow

It is notable, even after decades of inter-communal murder and mayhem, that some people in Northern Ireland still haven't grasped the importance of expressing the commonality of the province's "two tribes", but prefer to promote and encourage difference.

There has been an ongoing debate up there on the merits of non-denominational education for as long as I can remember. 

Given how there is still much hatred and distrust between the "Catholic" and "Protestant" communities - I use quotation marks as even the relatively irreligious, in a normal sense, might describe themselves as such up there  - most might imagine that properly integrating these communities would be in everyone's interests. 

Sadly, however, there are those who make a living from sectarianism on both sides.  In the past, whenever workers from the two backgrounds showed signs of uniting on a class basis, the bosses used the politicians and preachers to stir up old sectarian hatreds.  

Apart from a few neanderthals such as Óglaigh na hÉireann/Continuity IRA and the Real IRA, who brought us Omagh, very few people have a desire to return to the era of day-by-day sectarian murders.  However, there is still a distinct distance between the two communities in general and a lack of mixing that any continent-dwelling denizen,  for whom the religious wars stay firmly in the history books, would find puzzling.

It is plausible that properly integrated education could bring the communities together within a few generations, so surely non-religious, secular schools would make sense in that regard?   People can have their religions - anachronistic as they are -  if they like, but they don't have to be promoted and funded by the State. 

Now we have another distraction, as evidenced by this article about a gaelscoil in Cookstown. Cultural nationalist party Sinn Fein is in favour of these, as they promote difference.  If that "difference" had not been carefully cultivated in the past,  the Shinners - and loyalist counterparts such as Paisley, the IRA's best recruiting agent in his prime - would never have had a look-in.  

It is ironic that the neo Gaelicism promoted by the Shinners and other cultural nationalists makes the prospect of their dream - a reunited Ireland - ever more unrealistic.  While at the same time making the prospect of one peaceful, united community in Northern Ireland even less likely.

What's next?  Ulster-Scots medium schools?  

Then we will know there really is no hope.


Anonymous said...

Hear hear. Let us concentrate on what we have in common and educate though our vernacular in secular schools. There has been enough weasel-like derisiveness in that sad province over the years. Let it end.


The Gombeen Man said...

Thanks DB, and cheers for your comment.

It seems, sadly, that some people are doomed forever to repeat the mistakes of the past, and even live in it if they can.

Of course education that draws both communities together is the only answer.

Anonymous said...

More socially-integrated, liberal education would be a good change. But give any Irish person a choice between something familiar that is guaranteed to fail, and something unfamiliar with a reasonable chance of success, and we all know which way they'll go.


The Gombeen Man said...

I think they call it tradition, thomas...

Anonymous said...

Integrated education in Northern Ireland isn't going to happen - just look at the reaction Peter Robinson received after stating his support for it. The Catholic bishops enjoy wielding their vast amounts of power too much, and will not be acting as turkeys voting for Christmas. Despite the popular mendacious propaganda to the contrary, the reality is that Catholics in Northern Ireland have had it too good, with their own top-class British-taxpayer-funded separate education system, right from the foundation of Northern Ireland, being one of numerous perks.


The Gombeen Man said...

It's such a shame, P, as integrated education is the only way forward, IMO. But there are too many vested interests in division.

Anonymous said...

is the idea of multi-denominational Gaelscoils too idealistic I wonder. It might help depoliticise the Irish language if everyone had the same chances to learn through it.

The Gombeen Man said...

Is that the sound of cuckoos I hear reverberating throughout the land and clouds?

The Gaelscoil campaign in NI - or down here in the "South" - has feck all to do with integration. Quite the opposite.

I thought Sinn Fein's Danny Morrison's take on every word of Gaeilge being a bullet in the "struggle for Irish freedom" said it all in the context of Up North. Can see the unionists queueing up outside Gaelscoil Eire Nua.

Anonymous said...

This post shows more about your own understanding (or lack of) of the conflict in the north than anything else.

The idea that it is a religious war is something I would expect to hear from an American child and not an Irish person.

Anyway, the fact that you basically want to deny people the right to learn their own language because it might foster "difference" is really and truly pathetic.

My sister lives in Omagh and her son is attending an Irish-language school. They are fast becomeing the most popular schools in the state. A friend of mine also runs Irish language classes in loyalist Sandy Row in Belfast. Despite him being a bit wary initially, he said the response has been great, there's 11 young protestants taking part.

The Gombeen Man said...

Your "own language", and mine, and that of the rest of the island, is English, not Gaelic.

The fact that you have to make a conscious - cultural nationalist - effort to learn Gaelic is proof of this. Cultural nationalism creates division, and ensures the dream of a united Ireland will remain a dream forever.

It is reactionary, insofar as it tries to turn the linguistic clock back. Language shift occured centuries ago. We are English speakers. Get over it.