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14th Feb 2024

Ivan Yates not backing down on Irish language comments after viral clip deleted

Stephen Porzio

ivan yates

While appearing on a TV programme with Síle Seoige, Yates said he “couldn’t be arsed to learn Irish”.

Broadcaster and former politician Ivan Yates has reiterated controversial comments he made on TV last week regarding the Irish language.

Yates appeared as a guest on The Six O’Clock Show on Virgin Media Television, alongside TV presenter and fluent Irish speaker Síle Seoige.

The pair were interviewed by presenters Brian Dowling and Fionnuala Jay and during the episode, the conversation turned to the topic of the Irish language.

This led to Dowling asking Yates: “Are you kind of Gaeilge?” with Yates replying: “Níl focal ar bith agam. I couldn’t be arsed to learn Irish and I’m sorry about it if you’re offended.”

At this point, Dowling stood up and reached over to Yates to shake his hand.

Yates then added: “All this money we put into it and there’s only 16,000 people in the country speak it naturally now. I’m not against it”.

Immediately taking issue with the former minister’s comments was Jay and Seoige, with the latter stating: “I’m not even going to have this debate with Ivan. This is what he does.

“He just likes to wind people up. Stir the pot.”

She also said: “[The Irish language] isn’t dead. It’s very much alive. It is having a resurgence. Thank you very much.

“And it is intertwined in our Irishness. It’s in our culture. It’s in our heritage. It’s who we are.”

A clip of the interaction was shared by Virgin Media on social media, before being taken down after a backlash to Yates’ comments.

That said, videos of the segment of the programme are still being circulated online.

You can watch one such video right here:

Ivan Yates reiterates comments on Irish language after controversial TV appearance

And you can also view some of the negative responses to Yates’ comments below:

Speaking to The Journal on Tuesday, Yates reiterated his comments, telling the outlet that he is “not bothered by Twitter spats” before saying: “If anyone watched the programme, they’ll see that I was on to speak about politics and the power of podcast.”

The former minister stated that he has “no problem with Síle Seoige or anyone else” but that he believes “we need to have an adult conversation about the resources allocated to the Irish language”.

He also questioned whether it would be better that the resources committed to the Irish language be instead allocated towards healthcare or childcare.

“I think it’s worthy of a national debate and not one that’s left to zealots. The people and organisations who get defensive about Irish every time this is brought up,” Yates also stated.

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