[lg policy] The two PMs ought to ignore open letter on the Irish language

Harold Schiffman haroldfs at gmail.com
Fri May 31 11:40:01 EDT 2019

The two PMs ought to ignore open letter on the Irish language
[image: News Letter editorial]
News Letter editorial
Published: 17:09Thursday 30 May 2019
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It is becoming a feature of politics in Northern Ireland that every so
often a group of republicans and nationalists, occasionally with support
from a few people who would not designate themselves as such, write an open
letter about the alleged denial of their rights.

This time, the letter has been sent to Theresa May and Leo Varadkar. Their
two governments ought to ignore such a tactic, for the simple reason that
such letters cannot be the basis on which political policy is developed.

After all, nationalism would not tolerate it for five minutes if relentless
pressure and open letters from unionists were to influence policy in favour
of unionism in any respect.

But there are no such letters from unionism, apart from a letter from
‘civic unionism,’ in response to a previous complaint about denial of
rights, that was so mild and placatory in tone it was hard to see what the
civic unionists were saying.

Despite that shortcoming in the ‘civic unionist’ response, they were right
to try to put forward a counter point of view, because in Northern Ireland
those who shout the loudest are tending to prevail. Not at first of course,
but they succeed in making their demand the baseline for negotiations.

This has been the defining feature of legacy, in which the great bulk of
victims of the Troubles, relatives and survivors of the 2,100 people
murdered by republican terrorists, have been silent and dignified but are
now losing out in investigations due to republicans pushing a focus on
state killings.

Most of all, it is apparent with regard to the Irish language.

The language is only spoken to an advanced level by around 1% of the
Northern Ireland population, yet it is, rightly, generously funded as a key
part of a heritage that has a special place in the affections of one
section of the community.

But republicans want more, beginning with an act that will be used to
change the very feel of NI. A weak UK government has let Sinn Fein collapse
Stormont in pursuit of this aim. And Simon Coveney, on behalf of Dublin,
merely agrees with SF that we all must have this act.
[image: The letter-writer said there are no SF complaints about the lack of
unionist representation in West Belfast, Gerry Adams' former constituency,
which has not had a unionist MLA at all since 2007]
Does Sinn Fein care about the fact...
[image: Letter to the editor]
Prayer initiative is spreading across...


 Harold F. Schiffman

Professor Emeritus of
 Dravidian Linguistics and Culture
Dept. of South Asia Studies
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6305

Phone:  (215) 898-7475
Fax:  (215) 573-2138

Email:  haroldfs at gmail.com

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