Covenant Rules for the gated new Town

It was estimated that there were more than eight million people in the US living in gated communities in 2001 (see Prof. Dr. Klaus Frantz), & gated communities exist in 19 other countries. The Disney Corporation has built such a community in Florida, which is planned to have an eventual population of 20,000 people in 8,000 housing units. The covenant for Disney's Celebration "dictates the length of time that you can display, as well as the size of, political signs during an election period, and limits the number of signs to one. Yard sales are limited to one per year, and cars cannot be parked in an individual's driveway for more than 24 consecutive hours, but must be stowed in the garage, so that they cannot be seen from the street. If the Celebration Board, which again is made up of unelected officials, receives complaints from other homeowners about a resident's pet, they can remove the pet from the community without the owner's permission. The agreement bars more than two people from occupying a single bedroom". It apparently also says that "residents do not have elected representation on the local level" (The official web site for Celebration does not give details of the covenant. These quotes are from http://www.lib.virginia.edu/etd/theses/ArtsSci/English/1998/Hogan/main.html). According to Wright and Saville "There is the community home owners association, of which residents are members, but the Celebration Corporation retains the power to overrule the home owners association decisions". All this accepted in the USA, which has a constitution guaranteeing the right to freedom of expression and the pursuit of happiness. The covenant for the Irish-speaking town would be much less restrictive,

Because even a few people speaking English can have very destructive effects on existing Irish-speaking communities, potential residents would have to agree not to use English for any purpose. This would be part of the convenant they would sign. Anyone wishing to join the new town would have to go through an absorption centre, where they would learn to use Irish for all purposes and be closely monitored for an initial period a year, or until speaking Irish was an established habit. Hindley states (p205) that the coláistí ullmhúcháin (preparatory colleges) which were in or near the Gaeltacht "gave an all-Irish education in near monastic conditions" and "achieved a high degree of linguistic success for their non-native Irish students too". What was done by the coláistí ullmhúcháin must be done by an absorption centre. It may be possible to add refinements to the methods used by the coláistí.

It is essential for the success of this scheme that, before entering the town, all new residents can speak Irish like a native, with correct use of idiom & all the inconsistencies which learners find so infuriating. Hindley says that native speakers are alienated by non-native speakers who use the official standard, but also says (p166) "Trained Irish-speakers can cope easily with the regional dialects and move from one Gaeltacht to another without difficulty".

It is also essential that people understand the reasons for any rules which they are subject to, and agree with the necessity for enforcing them, because the first line of enforcement would have to be what is socially acceptable. Another function of an absorption centre would be to educate people on the importance of the such rules, to achieve the necessary level of consensus.

Everything possible must be done to ensure that social and economic pressures within the new town operate in favour of Irish and against English. The core of its population would be drawn from dedicated native speakers. New recruits must have a positive desire to live in an Irish-speaking community. They should ideally be unattached young people who are just leaving the education system & setting out on an independent life. This is because, as both Hindley & Shaping The Future agree, one of the factors undermining the Gaeltacht is the return of native-speakers who bring with them English-speaking spouses or children, and as Shaping The Future points out (p30) "it seems to be very difficult to transform an existing English-using relationship into an Irish-using one".

No books or periodicals in English should be available In the town. Technical means should be used to ensure that English language radio and TV is not listened to. Mobile phones should be banned so that only land lines are used for phone and internet connections (these can be monitored unobtrusively by electronic scanning for use of the English language).

Initially it may be difficult to find Irish people with the right skills to fill some positions, but this can be turned to advantage. All Irish-speakers today are bilingual in English and Irish. If everyone in the new community speaks English, it will be that much more difficult to break the habit of speaking it. By recruiting foreign contract workers who have the necessary skills, but who don't speak English, and teaching them Irish, it would be possible to create a community where Irish is the only common language. These people should be drawn from as many different language groups as possible. so that few share a common language other than Irish. They should also be distributed evenly through the community when allocated accommodation and jobs. Otherwise they might they would tend to socialise among themselves, defeating the whole purpose of bringing them in. However, it would probably be unwise to bring in people whose physical characteristics or cultural practises mark them out as obviously non-Irish. Doing so might alienate the very native-speakers the town is supposed to attract.

A panel of experts, such as sociolinguists, anthropologists, psychologists, economists and urban planners should be established to supervise the town and ensure that it achieves the aims for which it will be established. The task of monitoring compliance with the No English rule and the targets set for the town should be carried out by a body which cannot be influenced to give falsely optimistic reports, nor to downplay or undermine what is achieved. UNESCO (the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) should be approached to enlist its participation (& possibly get some cash out of them). Alternatively, academics from foreign Universities could be asked to perform this function. There are many who might find this an interesting project in which to be involved.

Obviously it would be impossible to populate a sizeable town with Irish-speakers overnight. The new town would have to start with fairly small numbers of highly fluent and highly committed volunteers. Once a functioning community was established, a steady flow of people would have to be added to built up the population.