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Northern Ireland people learn Irish language for reasons of identity

By Ed Carty

Published 07/08/2015

People in the Republic learn Irish because they have to, but in Northern Ireland they learn the language because they want to, an official study has found.

In the south the language is an exam to be passed, but in Northern Ireland people are motivated by the love of it, according to the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI).

It said the stark cross-border differences also showed that people who are passionate about their native tongue for reasons of identity are more likely to use it.

The State think-tank warned Irish will not flourish unless ways are found to encourage people to learn it and use it in everyday life.

Using data from a number of studies the ESRI reported that in the Republic 30% of people who learned the language for "its own sake" used it every week, compared to 19% who learned it for another reason.

The ESRI said about half of those who learned Irish in school in the Republic did so to pass exams while almost nine in 10 people in Northern Ireland wanting to have Irish were drawn to it for reasons of identity.

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