Monday, 21 January 2008

La Ulsterskota kaj Irlanda Lingvoj

…de la New Zealand Herald:

Burns Night celebrations across Northern Ireland this weekend will have an added political twist as well as the tartan-wearing, haggis-eating nostalgia of parties in Scots' communities around the world.

A growing number of Northern Ireland's Protestants are working to establish their Ulster-Scot cultural identity in competition with their Catholic fellow countrymen's Irish Gaelic identity…

…Only 4 per cent of Northern Ireland's 1.5 million people speak Irish Gaelic, which was already registered with the EU.

Far fewer speak Ulster Scots, which has only developed its own dictionary and been recognised as anything other than an argot of the Protestant working class back streets since 2000.
But the tiny number of speakers in no way reduces the passion of the many Protestants who want to promote this as their cultural and racial identity.
An important test of their political muscle will come later this year, when the power sharing executive set up last year after the St Andrews Agreement and lead by the Protestant First Minister, the Rev Ian Paisley, leader of the Democratic Unionist Party and his Catholic Deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness, of Sinn Fein, will act to introduce an Irish Language Act, to promote the use of Irish Gaelic.

The legislation will mirror that in Wales and Scotland, which gives status to Welsh and Scots Gaelic and also funds education in those languages. The Irish Republic has similar protection for Irish Gaelic. Protestants, many of them members of Paisley's DUP, want parity.

The debates will sound comical to outsiders, but the separate Catholic and Protestant identities the language issue highlights are far too real for politicians in London and Dublin, anxious to keep Stormont's show on the road, to ignore.

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