english | Gaeilge


'Language Transcends Politics' is a campaign for the status and protection of the Irish Language in Northern Ireland. Our campaign and interventions invite people to look at the language from a different point of view.


The Irish language is often stigmatised by the misconception that all speakers of the language must be republicans. Contrary to this ancient language’s more recent misappropriation as inseparable from catholic nationalism and as the lingua franca of republican armed struggle, it is a shared heritage of all communities in the North of Ireland. The language’s recent reappearance in traditionally unionist areas reflects the historical importance of Irish as having associations with protestantism since the 17th Century. In the 1830s the Presbyterian General Assembly termed the language ‘Our sweet and memorable mother tongue’ and during the 1840s they made it a requirement for all of their trainee ministers to have a knowledge of the language.

The fate of the language was influenced by the increasing power of the English state in Ireland. Elizabethan officials viewed the use of Irish unfavourably, as being a threat to all things English in Ireland. Its decline began under English rule in the 17th century. By the end of British rule in the Republic of Ireland, the language was spoken by less than 15% of the national population. The partition of Ireland happened in 1921 and separated the Republic of Ireland from a newly created 6 county state in the North who are still under British rule and between then and 1972, Northern Ireland had devolved government. During those years the political party holding power in the Stormont Parliament, the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), was hostile to the language. A thirty year violent conflict (The Troubles) began in 1968 and continued until 1998 over the constitutional status of Northern Ireland and the context of the UUP’s hostility towards the Irish Language was the use of the language by nationalists. The language received a degree of formal recognition in Northern Ireland from the United Kingdom, under the 1998 Good Friday Agreement. While the British government promised to create legislation encouraging the language as part of the 2006 St Andrews Agreement, it has yet to do so.

The Irish language has historically traversed religious and political divisions and should do so again. The language needs a new lease of life and the status and protection it deserves, but above all a sense of ownership between the two communities. Language should never be divisive but rather should be a tool for understanding the myriad of differences that threaten to separate us.

Contemporary Irish typeface
joyce, joyce rounded & joyce light