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The East Belfast woman who has shown what leadership means

Linda Ervine who runs the Turas Irish language programme at the Skainos centre on the Lower Newtownards Road, with the Community Relations Council’s annual Award for Outstanding Civic Leadership
Robert McMillen

Go mbeannaí Dia daoibh agus bhur gcéad fáilte isteach chuig The Bluffer's Guide to Irish.

The Bluffer, like Martin Luther King in the past, has a brionglóid - a dream.

He dreams that pople who are naimhdeach - hostile to the Irish language learn to see its intrinsic value and to see it as something AND rather than OR.

That it is no bagairt - threat to their féiniúlacht - identity and that they will be more in touch with the place they call home by knowing some Irish.

Many people have already made that particular turas - journey but one has person has taken it to a whole new level.

The outstanding leadership shown by this bean as oirthear Bhéal Feirste - this woman from East Belfast in championing the Irish language within the unionist community was last week recognised with a high-level gradam - award from an Chomhairle um Chaidreamh Pobail, better known as the Community Relations Council.

The recipient was, of course, Linda Ervine, who runs the Turas Irish language programme at the Skainos centre on the Lower Newtownards Road.

Ms Ervine, who is employed by Misean Bhéal Feirste Thoir - the East Belfast Mission, has faced criticism and opposition from some quarters for her efforts to encourage unionists to learn more about the language and its shared history.

The Bluffer agreed with

CRC Chairman, Peter Osborne, who says that the award recognises Linda's misneach - her bravery in challenging myths and stereotypes, in the face of opposition, to create understanding and bring people together.

“Leadership is often most acute and brave when someone stands up from within ‘their own community', which Linda has done to champion the Irish language as something aontachas - unionism should also embrace,” he said.

Mr Osborne went on to mention that Turas is now thriving, with 10 language classes per week and over 120 students, a testament to Linda's fís - vision, bravery and leadership

Ceannaireacht is (leadership.)

The raison d'etre of the CRC award is to recognise exceptional contribution to civic leadership in Northern Ireland and no-one could deny that Linda's demonstration of sustained leadership has helped promote community relations, peacebuilding and intercultural work.

She is not afraid to take to task those who show, shall we say, a misunderstaning of the Irish language be it George Chittick of an tOrd Oráisteach - the Orange Order or Gregory Campbell of “Curry My Yoghurt” imfamy.

The 2015 award was presented at a special symposium featuring a range of guests who spoke on their own approach to civic leadership.

These included Bishop Harold Miller, CoI Bishop of the Down and Dromore and former Lord Mayor of Belfast. Máirtín Ó Muilleoir.

brionglóid (bringloydge) - a dream

naimhdeach (nyvejakh) - hostile

bagairt (bagertch) - threat

féiniúlacht (faynyoolakht) - identity

turas (turiss) - journey

bean as oirthear Bhéal Feirste (ban iss eeraher vayl farshta) - a woman from East Belfast

gradam (gradam) - award

an Chomhairle um Chaidreamh Pobail (un khorlya um khadge-roo pubble) -

the Community Relations Council

Misean Bhéal Feirste Thoir (mishin vayl farshta hir) - the East Belfast Mission

misneach (mishnyakh) - bravery

fís (feesh) - a vision

ceannaireacht (kyanarakht) - leadership.

an tOrd Oráisteach (un tord oraashtyakh)

- the Orange Order

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