Irish Republican News · December 20, 2007
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Aer Lingus language move provokes anger

Aer Lingus has scrapped its familiar Irish-language greeting in the North of Ireland because it might upset unionists flying to and from Belfast.

Aer Lingus launched services from Aldergrove airport in Belfast earlier this week, but without any of its traditional Irish-language in-flight greetings or informational announcements.

This is depite the fact that Irish, Ireland’s official first language, is a recognised minority language in the Six Counties, where more than 10 per cent of the population have some knowledge of the language.

“We looked closely and sensitively at the issue of language in order to address the needs of all communities in Northern Ireland and concluded that it would be operationally impractical to de-liver announcements in English, Irish and Ulster Scots and so the decision has been taken to make announcements in English,” an Aer Lingus spokesman said.

Responding to the news, Sinn Féin Irish language spokesperson in the Assembly Francie Brolly has said that this is “political correctness gone mad”.

“The fact of the matter is that the Irish language is a threat to no-one and is the property of all the people on the island of Ireland.

“The St Andrews agreement provides safeguards for the Irish language and businesses should be reminded of this. Aer Lingus should know that multilingualism and multiculturalism should be championed rather than lambasted.”

The decision was “based upon the lie that there are two Irelands”, a spokesman for Republican Sinn Féin said.

“Aer Lingus sought to treat Aldergrove as a ‘foreign base’ when negotiating contracts for staff based there, despite the fact that it is situated on Irish soil. Once again they are shamefully treating County Antrim as a foreign place through their refusal to use the national language on flights in and out of the airport.

“We in Republican Sinn Féin do not accept the lie that there are two Irelands. Nor do we agree that workers in the 26-Counties should be entitled to higher pay than those in the Six Occupied Counties. Aer Lingus have long claimed to be the national carrier, but their actions in relation to their new Aldergrove hub shows that they have only self-interest rather than the national interest at heart.”

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© 2007 Irish Republican News