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Extra resources for Language and Conflict in Northern Ireland and Canada: A Silent War

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Neither the precise meaning of ‘une majorité claire’ / ‘a clear majority’ nor ‘une question claire’ / ‘a clear question’ was defined. Instead, the Court specified that this would be a matter for politicians to decide. Both supporters of secession and those opposed to it welcomed some aspects of the Supreme Court ruling, although this approach may owe more to realpolitik than considered legal or political evaluation. Schneiderman (1999, p. 6) in fact reports some sovereigntists comparing the Court ruling to the Tower of Pisa, that is, leaning significantly in one direction – in their view, towards the federal position.

Hepburn (1996, p. 134) has drawn similar conclusions and Malcolm (2009) has argued that Protestants should take possession of the Irish language as part of the North’s shared cultural wealth, an argument that tallies with those of Ó Snodaigh (1995), Rushe (1921, pp. 25–6), de Blácam (1935), and Mac Con Midhe (1968). These writers cast doubts on the presumption that most planters came from English stock, suggesting that a percentage originated in Gaelic-speaking areas of the Highlands. As examined later in this chapter, the primacy of Westminster legislation in security matters, in the courts and the policing and justice systems of the North, the reality of Direct British rule and the physical presence of British troops on the streets of the North for such extensive periods in the current phase of the conflict are direct evidence of British control over all aspects of its governance.

Certain of the arrangements deriving from CR talks of the late 1990s signal an all-Ireland approach to LPP, of course. Most notable of these is the establishment of an all-Ireland language body, an Foras Teanga,1 answerable jointly to the South’s Roinn Gnóthaí Pobail, Tuaithe agus Gaeltachta / Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs (RGPTG / DCRGA) and the North’s Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure (DCAL). Foras na Gaeilge, the Irish language component of the language board, therefore not only carries great responsibility for effective LPP for Irish, but also its structural relationship with the two governments makes it a two-way conduit whereby British / unionist influence can be exerted on LPP North and South.

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