Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 31 August 2014

Nelson's argument on Gaelic language starting to wear thin

Letters to the editor should be sent to: 124-144 Royal Avenue, Belfast BT1 1EB. E-mail: writeback@belfasttelegraph.co.uk

Nelson McCausland's argument (Write Back, August 30) that Irish Gaelic is somehow being used as a 'weapon in a cultural war' is wearing thin with many intelligent and open-minded unionists.

The language is not just the preserve of nationalists, but of all people in our society. By blocking the proposed Irish Language Act, Mr McCausland's party is not only contradicting best practice as implemented in other parts of the UK, but is also denying the unionist community any meaningful contact with Ulster's most widely-spoken native tongue.

He also mentioned that, according to the 1851 census, only a small percentage of Ulster's population still spoke Irish.

He did not include, however, that it is widely accepted by scholars that many people chose to conceal their knowledge of Irish, not only because the language was associated with poverty, but also because it was thought the British authorities had ulterior motives in obtaining such information.

As I'm sure he is aware, Irish Gaelic remained a community language in some parts of Armagh and Tyrone until the beginning of the 20th century and is today again the language of many communities throughout the north.

Rather than concentrating on the past, Mr McCausland would serve his community more effectively if he focused on creating a better future for all in our society, English and Irish speakers.



R G Cuan Belfast

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