Orange Lodges opposed to plan to grant Irish official status

Rev Richard Kane former Co Grand Master of Belfast and an Irish language enthusiast.
Rev Richard Kane former Co Grand Master of Belfast and an Irish language enthusiast.

Two local Orange Lodges have expressed opposition to a new Irish language bill, which proposes giving Irish status as an official language on a par with English as well as establishing statutory Gaeltacht areas across Northern Ireland, amongst other measures.

Donemana LOL 503 and Tullintrain Purple Star LOL 1969 were among 39 organisations and individuals who responded to a public consultation on the proposals.

The responses have now been published by the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure (DCAL).

In an unsigned response to the consultation, Donemana LOL 503, opposes giving Irish official status.

It also opposes legislating for the use of Irish in the Courts, the Assembly and in public bodies, various educational provisions, the establishment of official Gaeltacht areas, and the institution of an Irish Language Commissioner.

“It is firmly our opinion that an Irish Language Bill does provide some issues in equality, however, if such a Bill were to become law it could affect the relationships between both communities,” the respondents stated.

“Roman Catholics are more likely to have some understanding of Irish than Protestants.

“This makes the whole idea one-sided. It forces people against their will to accept the language.

“As stated earlier in this response the fact is that most people in Northern Ireland neither speak Irish or have any interest in the language.

“Therefore, in closing we feel that it would be a waste of time, money and effort in passing such an Act,” they added.

Tullintrain Purple Star LOL 1969, in a response co-signed by Ernest McCay, William Houston and Alan Lindsay, argues that Irish shouldn’t be given official status, that it shouldn’t be provided for within the Courts, the Assembly or public bodies, and publicly-funded Gaeltacht areas shouldn’t be introduced.

In its submission the Tullintrain Lodge states: “Whilst this Lodge does not have Irish speakers within their ranks, the author did a short Irish language course during his Law studies in Dublin.

“We are aware of the historical facts of Irish speakers holding high office within our Order and of minutes of meetings being written in Irish.

“Dr Richard Rutledge Kane, a native of County Cavan held both high office in the Orange Order and the Gaelic League.

“His main complaint about the language during that time was the politicisation of both the Language and the Gaelic League, something we have similar complaint with, due the abrasive in your face use of it by Republicans in the Assembly and elsewhere.”