Jude Collins

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Anna Lo and the case of the frightening road-signs

Bilingual road signs, eh? That’s what Conor Murphy is planning. They can be (and in most cases probably will be, if the plans see realisation) in Irish or Ulster-Scots and would be a voluntary opting-in procedure by each area’s council. Anna Lo of the Alliance Party doesn’t like the Murphy plans and has said so. In her view, it’d just be another way of marking out territory and would deepen division.

I’ve met Anna and I found her a lovely, enthusiastic woman, but in this case she’s talking through her armpit.

Firstly, this is a voluntary signing-up. If a council area doesn’t want bi-lingual signs, they won’t have to put them up. Do it if you want to, don’t do it if you don’t want to. Hard to quibble with that.

Secondly, the problem (if it emerges) is not with the sign or the council which requested it, but with the reaction of those hostile to the Irish language, on road-signs or anywhere else. When any plan is put forward to develop the Irish language they lament the cost involved. But of course it’s not the money that worries them; it’s the language.

Why the hostility? Well, it’s true that the IRA used and uses the Irish language. But to reject Irish for that reason is like saying you won’t learn French because Jean-Marie Le Pen speaks it or Spanish because it was Franco’s language.

“What a shame the Irish language has been hi-jacked by republicans!” you sometimes hear people saying. There’s an easy answer to that: hi-jack it back.

1 comment:

  1. I see even members of Tom Elliotts own family have turned against him.