Belfast Telegraph

Home Opinion Letters

Obsessive Sinn Fein and intransigent DUP need urgent lessons in the art of compromise

Letter of the day: Irish language

The position on the Irish language is as incomprehensible to many Britons on the eastern side of the Irish (not "British") Sea as is Sinn Fein's obsession with it to the point of preventing political compromise.

For the great majority of the inhabitants of Ireland, on both sides of the border, the language of everyday life is English, just as it is in Scotland, Wales and, naturally enough, England.

The fact that classes in the Welsh language in many Welsh schools and Gaelic in some Scottish schools are provided to varying degrees does not make those parts of the UK any less British.

It follows that, on the one hand, English is not 'British' and, on the other, that Erse, or Gaelic (the Irish Language), is not the everyday language of the Irish.

Where does that leave the two protagonists in this squabble? Sinn Fein may argue that introducing an Irish Language Act would merely bring Ulster into line with other parts of the UK, however, it would probably choke over the concept of such a harmonisation.

However, Arlene Foster is being irresponsible when she says there will never be an Irish Language Act. She says Brexit should leave Ulster no less a part of the UK than any other, yet on matters of language and other controversial differences with mainland Britain, reserves the right to be separatist.

She may have the present Government at her beck and call, but I suspect that increasing numbers of Britons on this side of the Irish Sea are fed up with the intransigence of some so-called 'loyalist' leaders.

Sign In

A modest Irish Language Act would probably cost very little, either politically or financially, and all these kerfuffles would soon be forgotten if it led to a resumption of devolved government and the peace process.

Robert Jones

Maldon, Essex

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph