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Thread: Brian Cowen's rhetoric on Irish language

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    Politics.ie Member Darren Mac an Phríora's Avatar
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    Default Brian Cowen's rhetoric on Irish language

    During Cowen's first leaders questions as Taoiseach in the Dáil Enda Kenny spoke at length to him as Gaeilge; said that he would like to see more Dáil business conducted as Gaeilge and asked him a health related question as Gaeilge.

    Brian Cowen answered him in Irish in relation to promoting Irish in a general way but did not say anything about having more business in the Dáil done through Irish or about the health question. I presumed he didn't answer the latter because it was a difficult question.

    I've come to the conclusion over the last while since Brian Cowen became Taoiseach that he is not actually fluent in Irish. Like me he is competent in the language but he is not fluent.

    I commend him for making the effort and unlike Brian Lenihan I do believe that he likes/loves the language and not simply uses it in a careerist way (if you know what I mean).

    I judge him on the language issue(s) by what he does for the language. Speaking it is the first and a very positive step. Auditing the money spent on it like Fine Gael and Labour are in favour of would also be a positive move. As would making it optional for the Leaving Certificate given that half of the country agree and given that half of those (25% of the population) believe strongly that it should be optional. Of course see the glass as being half-full on this issue but I wish anybody in favour of the status quo on this topic good luck in convincing "the other half" (particularly the 25% of our population who believe strongly that it should be optional) that the policy should be continued.

    I left Fine Gael because (although I have still never met either of them) I thought that I identified more with Brian Cowen from what I could see on a personal basis than I would with Enda Kenny. Although I was a committee member in Dublin of Irish language organisation Gael-Taca I am not stupid enough to believe that the Irish language issue in Ireland is the most important issue but having judged Brian Cowen so far on the language I find him- like his party- at best unimpressive.

    Finally, the Government are going to announce a 20 year national plan for the language by the end of the year. This has never happened before. Oh wait- hold on it's November. Like others targets of the Government I think this one won't be met either. As far as the language issue goes this either will make or break Brian Cowen in the eyes of people who love the language. The ball is in the Government's court.

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    Default Brian Cowen and the Revival of Irish

    I think you're being too hard on Cowen in relation to reviving Irish. The Irish people as a whole simply won't speak it and no politician can make them. What the politicians can do, and have done, is to pass laws which say it is to be used in certain areas of state activity, and have employed state officials to use Irish in that context. Government can do no more. The population is fond of Irish as a political symbol and it was to this that Cowen was appealing when he launched his taoiseach-ship with the Cupla Focal. The population accepts this: officials 'do' Irish for reasons that seem good to officials, and there's no harm in it. It shows that we're Irish.

    Of course, this grates on those citizens who are fond of Irish as a language and wish to see it used as such. Naturally, this section of society is also supported by the state too, with dedicated schools etc. But their's is a minority interest.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fun with Irish View Post
    I think you're being too hard on Cowen in relation to reviving Irish. The Irish people as a whole simply won't speak it and no politician can make them. What the politicians can do, and have done, is to pass laws which say it is to be used in certain areas of state activity, and have employed state officials to use Irish in that context. Government can do no more. The population is fond of Irish as a political symbol and it was to this that Cowen was appealing when he launched his taoiseach-ship with the Cupla Focal. The population accepts this: officials 'do' Irish for reasons that seem good to officials, and there's no harm in it. It shows that we're Irish.

    Of course, this grates on those citizens who are fond of Irish as a language and wish to see it used as such. Naturally, this section of society is also supported by the state too, with dedicated schools etc. But their's is a minority interest.

    You don't want Irish, do you? - and for political reasons.

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    Quote Originally Posted by joel View Post
    You don't want Irish, do you? - and for political reasons.
    A. I have Irish

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    Having Irish compulsory is very worth while in theory. The problem as I see it is that it is not treated as a living language. The reason why people do not want to learn the language is because it is perceived as a difficult language to learn. The language is not treated as a living language but rather it is taught just like French or German; people are bound to resent having to learn it because of this. If we are not going have Irish as a compulsory language then the teaching of it should be radically changed first. Children should be speaking the language everyday and not just in the Irish class. It needs to be conversation based. Will-is-ad?

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    Politics.ie Member Darren Mac an Phríora's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by malman View Post
    Having Irish compulsory is very worth while in theory. The problem as I see it is that it is not treated as a living language. The reason why people do not want to learn the language is because it is perceived as a difficult language to learn. The language is not treated as a living language but rather it is taught just like French or German; people are bound to resent having to learn it because of this. If we are not going have Irish as a compulsory language then the teaching of it should be radically changed first. Children should be speaking the language everyday and not just in the Irish class. It needs to be conversation based.
    40% of the Leaving Irish exam will be going on oral Irish in the next year or two. I don't know about the Junior.

    The problem is that half of the country according to polls think that the language should be optional for the Leaving Cert and half of these (25% of the population) believe strongly that it should be.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Darren Mac an Phríora View Post
    40% of the Leaving Irish exam will be going on oral Irish in the next year or two. I don't know about the Junior.

    The problem is that half of the country according to polls think that the language should be optional for the Leaving Cert and half of these (25% of the population) believe strongly that it should be.

    No second class Irish!

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    Politics.ie Member Darren Mac an Phríora's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by joel View Post
    No second class Irish!
    I was in favour of the status quo in relation to it being required/compulsory. I know what it feels like to be in favour of it being required. Most Irish people like Irish and I do think that it would be possible in the event of movement on several fronts for 75% of the population to be in favour of it being required or compulsory but the 25% who believe strongly it should be optional minds won't be changed. That is one in every four people. They are to be found virtually everywhere. How do you change their minds??? The status quo on this issue feeds negativity and that negativity will never be eradicated.

    The glass IS half full. The language has grown enough over the last 20 years in particular with the growth in Gaelscoileanna and TG4 for it to be optional.I'd say, based on one two polls, that 50% of young people would still study Irish for the Leaving Cert in the event of it being optional. I can't see what is wrong with this.

    The status quo on this issue is like a national "project". The problem is that most people don't feel part of it. It's romantic and even most people who do subscribe to it don't speak Irish. While most of the people who do agree with this "project" like Irish they have a tokenistic attitude to the language. Having students studying Irish for the Leaving Cert who actually want to study it will make the language grow.

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    Cowen made a big play of his "love" of the Irish language in his acceptance speech. To me, it rang very hollow, and it reminded me of Gordon Brown's repeated grasping of "Britishness" when he took over.

    When men who stand for nothing suddenly find themselves under a microscope, they often turn to patriotism and love of the flag to paint themselves as visionaries.

    As several journalists pointed out earlier in the year, Cowen was not exactly noted for his love of Irish up to his election as Taosieach, and rarely if ever used it in the Dáil

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    Quote Originally Posted by Darren Mac an Phríora View Post
    I was in favour of the status quo in relation to it being required/compulsory. I know what it feels like to be in favour of it being required. Most Irish people like Irish and I do think that it would be possible in the event of movement on several fronts for 75% of the population to be in favour of it being required or compulsory but the 25% who believe strongly it should be optional minds won't be changed. That is one in every four people. They are to be found virtually everywhere. How do you change their minds??? The status quo on this issue feeds negativity and that negativity will never be eradicated.

    The glass IS half full. The language has grown enough over the last 20 years in particular with the growth in Gaelscoileanna and TG4 for it to be optional.I'd say, based on one two polls, that 50% of young people would still study Irish for the Leaving Cert in the event of it being optional. I can't see what is wrong with this.

    The status quo on this issue is like a national "project". The problem is that most people don't feel part of it. It's romantic and even most people who do subscribe to it don't speak Irish. While most of the people who do agree with this "project" like Irish they have a tokenistic attitude to the language. Having students studying Irish for the Leaving Cert who actually want to study it will make the language grow.

    Make that apply to ALL subjects then - English, Maths, science, etc. Only those who are 100% popular will be taught.

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