Belfast Telegraph

Poll: Strong public support for producing official documents in three languages

By Liam Clarke

The poll shows that there is substantial support for government documents and letters to be issued in Irish and Ulster-Scots as well as English.

The provision of translation services into both our native minority languages has been criticised on grounds of cost.

It has also been argued that the money might be better spent promoting the languages through material that would be more widely read than Stormont reports.

Despite such quibbles 35% of respondents wanted all three languages used with 11% wanting English and Irish (a total of 46% for Irish).

Just 7% wanted English and Ulster-Scots, giving 42% support for Ulster-Scots.

When the 21% who expressed no opinion were taken out of the equation a clear majority of respondents who expressed an opinion want both Irish (58%) and Ulster-Scots (53%) used with only a third of people opting for English alone.

Support was highest in the public sector (66% in favour of Irish and 61% in favour of Ulster-Scots).

Depressingly for the language lobby the young were least enthusiastic, with half of them wanting English alone used. Only 28% of 18-24 year-olds favoured all three languages with another 13% wanting English and Irish only, and a further 9% wanting English and Ulster-Scots only.

According to the 2001 census 167,487 people (10.4% of the population) here claimed “some knowledge” of Irish.

Ulster-Scots wasn’t covered in the census so the most recent estimate was in the 1999 Life and Times survey which found that 2% of respondents claimed to speak the language (about 30,000).

Neither language is believed to have any speakers who are not at least equally fluent in English.

Belfast Telegraph

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