Iris(h) Robinson and DUP makes case for the Irish language schools

25 10 2008

Stirling work by the DUP. They’ve made a certain kind of financial case for Irish language schools.

What headline were they looking for?

Irish-medium schools are financially efficient & save money, says DUP

Possibly not. But take a bow Iris(h) Robinson and Michelle McIlveen.

In terms of Assembly questions, the rule of thumb tends to be that you don’t ask the question unless you already know the answer. The DUP were clearly planning to drop a full frontal assault on Irish, but they’ve somehow arrived at the wrong landing zone ie. they got the wrong answers.

First up, Iris(h) who asked the following:

how many pupils have attended Irish medium (i) primary; and (ii) post-primary schools, in each of the last 10 years, broken down by parliamentary constituency

The answer turns out to reveal massive growth across the board. Irish in the primary sector in 1998 was 1,065. It had risen to 2,746 by 2008. In post primary the number of pupils more than doubled over the same period.

Erm… okay.

So this is a vibrant and expanding sector? Thanks Iris(h)! [Could she be suggesting that the GFA made NI more Irish? Hope note. The growth in Irish coincided with growth of the DUP. So which is bad?]

Next up, Michelle McIlveen. She asked:

the Minister to detail the total cost, in each of the last five years, of taxis or pupils attending Irish medium post-primary schools, broken down by Education and Library Board

The answer is that the cost of taxis is down £13k to £8k.

Erm… during a time of expansion, the Irish medium school bean-counters managed to reduce costs. In the present climate, well done chaps!

Undeterred, Michelle asked another (same same, but different). The answer?

Níor chuir aon scoileanna faoi chothabháil iarratas isteach ar stádas imeasctha le 10 mbliana anuas.

Erm.. okay. But surely the Irish-speaking Minister is under pressure from all these clever questions(slash)opportunities to speak Irish(slash)opportunities to defend Irish.

But like rocky, Michelle keeps coming back. She asks:

the Minister of Education to detail the total cost of taxis in each of the last 5 years, for pupils attending maintained primary schools, broken down by Education and Library Board.

So how much did the BELB spend on taxis in the Irish Medium sector last year? Erm… zip. Those 1.100 pupils are very efficient.

Nevertheless, Michelle asks a total of 17 questions on the transport costs for various sectors (Irish-medium). She finally seems to hit pay dirt when she:

asked the Minister of Education to detail the cost of school bus transportation for pupils attending maintained secondary schools, broken down by Education and Library Board, for each of the last 5 years

Costs for buses nearly doubled in four years. Hooray! Ah, alas, it’s much smaller overall than the cost in other areas. Whoops.

Okay, the DUP just made the case for Irish-medium schools but Staff at Bobballs do have some sympathy for the DUP on this occasion.

Yes, this eager fascination with one of Western Europe’s rare and valuable languages is entirely puerile. Yes, it is thoroughly depressing to see sentient adults spend their lives learning and evolving… to reach the top of the political pile. And for what? To spout some bollocks antipathy about a language that is more intrinsic to life of Ulstermen through the ages than English.

And yet… the manner in which the responses have been framed suggests much about the politicisation of the civil service. In making a pathetic and appalling assault on a language of great antiquity the DUP may have inadvertently revealed something more damning than their own stupid bloody intolerance.

PS. Staff at Bobballs understand that, according to the ancient English idiom, to pull off a self-defeating act of cultural violence is known as ‘doing a total McNarry’. We also understand that the collective term for a ‘bunch of bigotted c***s’, according to the ancient English, is a known as a ‘Collarette of McNarrys’. We are willing to be corrected though.

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