Paul McCann is checking out the breakfast menu at the Irish Cultural Centre on Belfast’s Falls Road. The fact that he’s doing so in Irish reflects this part of the city’s staunchly republican identity. But the Irish language group that Paul works for, Pobol, wants more opportunities and rights for Irish speakers in Northern Ireland. Paul explains why.
“What we want to try and do is ensure that people have the ability to use the language in every aspect of their life – with government, with major companies, with parliament. Opportunities to use the language as a mode of expression are limited and that’s what we’re concerned about”.
Northern Ireland’s department of Culture, Arts and Leisure has issued draft plans which would see the appointment of an Irish language Commissioner and the establishment of Irish language schemes for public bodies. The proposals and public responses to them are still being considered. But the bill needs cross community support in order to be passed by Northern Ireland’s Assembly and the main Unionist Party, the DUP, has already said it will veto the bill. The DUP’s Alastair Ross says his party didn’t agree to the legislation in the run-up to power sharing and says Sinn Fein is simply using language as a political football.
Irish speakers in Northern Ireland can already tune into Belfast-based Radio Fáilte, read their own newspaper and get an education in Irish. Paul McCann from the language group Pobol, says more than 10% of the population has some knowledge of Irish. The legislation, he says, would simply mirror the Welsh language act and the Gaelic Act in Scotland.
“We’re not asking for these things overnight. What we really would like to see is, you’re building a new road and there’s got to be new signage, come on let’s have them bi-lingual. How can you have a shared future if you don’t share people’s culture? To provide services in another language that’s added value. You’re showing that you’re open.”
But just how open is Northern Irish society? Gordon McCoy is a fluent irish speaker. But he’s Protestant not Catholic - an exception to the rule here in Northern Ireland. Gordon works for the Ultach Trust which promotes the Irish language, but admits that the language issue is extremely sensitive.
More and more republicans in Northern Ireland are learning and using Irish in their everyday life. Convincing unionists to do the same seems an impossible dream.
So what will happen when the proposed language bill is vetoed by the unionist DUP party? Gordon McCoy doesn’t believe it’ll be the end of the issue. But despite a devolved government, Northern Ireland’s Irish speakers, he says, may well have to rely on the British government to realise their calls for recognition.Listen to the report:
The European Union is taking aim at manufactures this week with a proposal for tougher controls on toys made in China. The European Parliament will vote on Wednesday to introduce more rigorous checks on imported toys and impose fines on companies that make dangerous products. The move comes after a recall of Chinese-made toys by the US toy giant Mattel this summer because of loose parts and lead content in its products. So will this toy story have a happy ending? Radio Netherlands world wide’s Brussels correspondent Vanessa Mock reports.
In Sweden, all films are subjected to the watchful eyes of one of the world's oldest film censors, Statens Biografbyrå from the National Board of Film Classification which is a governmental body. Now even though a movie hasn't been cut in over a decade, film Director Gunnel Arrbäck is opposed to the agency's censoring activity: Radio Sweden’s Elisavet Sotiriadou has this report
The polish government hasn’t endeared itself to other European states this year, upsetting Germany with references to the war many deemed inappropriate. And it seems intent on following that path again now. Less than a month before parliamentary elections in Poland it is still not clear if observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe will be allowed to monitor the campaign and the ballot itself. The OSCE has slammed Poland for refusing to issue an invitation but as we hear in this report from Michal Kubicki of Polish Radio’s External Service the story is not that simple:
The politics of traffic is congesting the capital. Visitors coming to Prague from Holland or Scandinavia may get the impression that Czechs don't like cycling. Seeing bikes on the streets of the Czech capital isn’t unknown, but compared to other European cities, there are still very few of them. Besides, you almost never come across bicycles parked in the streets. Yet, strange as it may seem, statistics say that every second inhabitant of Prague is a bicycle owner and Czechs claim that cycling is their favorite sport. Radio Prague’s Ruth Frankova has been finding out.
From the silent dance of bicycles we go to the silent dance of the body, and to the man who made this form of art known around the globe. The world-famous master of mime Marcel Marceau died on September 22nd at the age of 84. Marceau achieved world fame when he created Bip, his on-stage persona, a sad-faced tragi-comic figure. Bip expressed happiness and hope, solitude and despair. He showed life in all its beauty and fragility. Radio France International’s Christine Pizziol-Griere has this report:
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