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Irish Language Act would simply increase divisions

I have no problem with people using and learning the Irish language in the same way as many people learn and practise other languages - as a useful and enjoyable hobby. My problem comes from it being forced into acceptability.

The driving force is the republican movement in the form of Sinn Fein, who understand that it is another method of increasing the division between republicans and unionists. If Irish had widespread acceptance in all sections of society it would never have been a consideration for Sinn Fein. The Ulster-Scots movement would never have developed without the forcing of Irish.

If an Irish Language Bill is ever passed, it will be a serious backward step in any attempts at reconciliation between the two communities and will result in a lot of unnecessary expense. Any doubts about the utility of such a Bill being passed could be removed with the consideration of the position of Irish in the Republic. Shortly after the State was founded, some 90 years ago, there were about 1,000 Irish-speaking primary school teachers and about the same number of Irish-speaking children. Recent statistics suggest there are now almost 1,000 Irish-speaking primary school children in the Republic - and that after 90-plus years of compulsion and millions in expenditure.

We should learn from this experience, save a lot of money and help reconciliation. If you keep children apart in separate schools for about 13 years and would love them to speak separate languages, what hope for reconciliation?


North Down

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