Wednesday, 17 October 2007

Dingle is a cautionary tale

An interesting story has been unfolding in the southern Irish press over the past couple of days. The main source of intrigue for me personally, is watching the Irish Language lobby, which in Northern Ireland persists in framing its arguments as part of a spurious “rights based” agenda, merrily trampling over much more fundamental rights from their position of ascendancy in the Republic.

The issue arises in Dingle, where the population have had their run-ins with the Irish Language extremists before, demanding that the name of their famous town, popular as a tourist destination, remain in the anglicised form. Irish people from County Kerry are now being denied education in the main spoken language in the Republic, English, in Dingle.

The Irish Examiner today published a fierce and entirely justified rebuttal defending the priority of children's education.

The controversy in Dingle is a cautionary tale in the north where legislation to go down a similar hubristic road is a current political battleground. We can see the damaging and exclusivist effects of extremism in the language issue, as it is used to forge an ethno-nationalist agenda at the expense of good sense and in a way damaging to individuals.

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