Education Minister Caitriona Ruane was today embroiled in a new controversy as it emerged that a vital strategy to improve the dire reading and maths standards of young people leaving school will be delayed by up to two months - because it has to be translated into Irish.
The Department of Education has confirmed to the Belfast Telegraph that the important Literacy and Numeracy Strategy will now "probably" be issued for consultation in June - just as schools are preparing to close for their long summer break.
Bearing in mind Sinn Fein and especially the (let’s be kind) increasingly erratic Ms Ruane’s determination to force this issue of the Irish language at Stormont, there are a couple of curious points here lurking beneath the surface.
There are no translation facilities within the department so this is normally arranged through the Department of Culture Arts and Leisure, which uses external translators
In other words, there are also no translation facilities within the DCAL; all the material is farmed out to external translators at approx 20-25 pence per word (this post would have cost about 60 pounds to translate). Surely with the amount of verbal and written garbage being emitted from the Assembly on a daily basis, it would surely make more financial sense to permanently employ three or four translators?
Anyway,very nice business for whichever company has got that particular job, and you know what, I feel a FOI request coming on to find out that very information
Secondly, a quick flick through Ms Ruane’s speeches (example here on pdf) shows that she is rather erratic (there’s that word again) with her use of the language. On the 5 page transcript, four paragraphs (approx half a page’s worth) are spoken in Irish, but there’s no discernible pattern to when she decides to drift in and out of her “native” tongue.
Does the Muse of the Gael simply grab her at certain moments, or does she suss out at that point Sammy Wilson’s looking particular smug and needs taking down a peg or two? Or is it simply because she's mad?