The main aim of the project is to open up the Irish Language to all sections of our community in the North of Ireland. It is our firm belief that the language can act as a unifying factor instead of a cause for division. The programme will endeavour to engage both Protestants and Catholics in discussion and debate about and around the language with the expressed intention of breaking down barriers and dispelling myths and perceptions held on both sides. We would hope that the meeting and talking together will have a positive effect on the negative attitudes carried through the misguided belief systems. The language has been solely identified with one section of our community but we hope to show by recalling our recent history that all sections of our predecessors played a full and active role in the language revival in the North of Ireland, so we are not asking anyone to give up their identity or allegiances but to embrace once again an aspect of our culture that we shared in the recent past.
Up to this point the Outreach programme has been slowly building contacts - we hope to base our work on solid foundations - so trust is a vital ingredient in the whole reconciliation process. To date we have been networking with eight local secondary schools and colleges and five primary schools. We would contend that it is long term success we are aiming at through our young people. The Community Outreach Worker is at present working towards compiling a 'road show' that will tour the schools and other public places i.e. libraries explaining our purpose and approach. The show itself will be on computer disk which will make it, hopefully, very mobile, fun and psychologically tied to modern times through the use of technology, emphasising the fact that the language is living and vibrant and certainly not outdated.
Another emphasis will be on the beauty and enriching qualities of speaking our language as opposed to the utilitarian approach often used which points to the uselessness of Irish.
Finally the Outreach programme will be presenting the Irish language in an apolitical and secular context. The only reason why anyone should learn or cherish the Irish language is because " it is uniquely and distinctly our own"- Breandan O Buachalla.
The programme is in its infancy but already we feel that we are
making small but vital inroads in perceptions. We will expand
and build on these in the future.