An Irish speaker’s reaction to Orangeman’s outburst

13 views

Belfast’s County Orange Order Grandmaster George Chitick may protest that he never intended to offend Irish speakers with his exhortation to Protestants not to learn the language he termed part of the ‘republican’ agenda. But Irish speakers in Belfast and throughout the north are well used to such insults, going back to the time of Sammy Wilson’s infamous ‘leprechaun language’ jibe and beyond. While it’s disappointing, it’s not surprising and life will go on. Grand Master Chitick may be surprised to know – but the fact is that the Irish language is far from being part of the ‘republican agenda’- more on that later.

What is a matter of concern, however, is the naked threat the Grand Master’s comments represent to the growing resurgence of Irish being led by the likes of Linda Ervine and her coounterparts in the Skainos centre on the Newtownards Road, people who could lay as much claim to the labels Protestant, Unionist and Loyalist as Mr Chitick and who feel that speaking Irish is no threat to their identity. On the contrary, they feel it enhances their identity.

Were Mr Chitick’s words to have what appears to be their desired effect – create a ‘chill factor’ around speaking Irish among those Protestants, Unionists and Loyalists who are attending Irish classes in increasing numbers throughout Belfast – it would be a matter of grave concern to Irish speakers everywhere. It’s curious and disappointing that the BBC reporter didn’t actually speak to an Irish speaker to guage reaction, substituting his own assumption instead.

In fact it would and should be a matter of grave concern to anyone who values rights such as ‘freedom of expression’ and ‘identity’ anywhere.

It would be tempting to describe Mr Chitick as a ‘yesterday’s man’ – though Irish speakers, according to 1911 census figures abounded in the unionist community in that era.

The comments that Irish is part of the ‘republican agenda’ are so off the mark in Belfast today however that they could cause amusement except that the subject is so serious.

Irish speakers are in open revolt against Sinn Féin over that party’s failure to protect front line Irish language workers campaigning for language rights from swinging cuts by the crossborder body, Foras na Gaeilge. I attended an emergency meeting on Thursday night at which one of the suggestions from the floor was a picket on the Sinn Féin offices on the Falls Road. The organisations facing the sharp end of the cuts include Pobal, the umbrella group for Irish language organisations which last month had its critique of slow Stormont progress on language rights endorsed by the Council of Europe, Iontaobhas ULTACH, which has for years pioneered cross community promotion of the Irish language, Altram, which promotes early year education for Irish speaking preschool children and Forbairt Feirste who are involved in successful ventures to promote Irish in the economic sphere.

While there are many Irish speakers within Sinn Féin, the party has stood idly by on a number of occasions when Irish language projects were under threat – the case of the daily newspaper, Lá, comes to mind. Sinn Féin’s then education minister, Caitriona Ruane, was sued, successfully, by Coláiste Feirste, over her refusal to allow students from Downpatrick avail of free bus travel to attend the north’s only Irish medium secondary school in Belfast, a right freely afforded to students attending other Belfast schools from outlying areas.

Irish speakers are also angry at Sinn Féin’s Culture Minister, Caral Ní Chuilinn, who has failed to protect the organisations from the effects of a carve up of Irish language funding which has totally excluded northern based Irish language groups. All the funding has gone to southern based organisations even though 25% of the funding for the Foras comes from the Northern Ireland Executive.

So not alone are Mr Chitick’s comments offensive and ill-advised, they are also based on a mistaken understanding that the political agenda of northern Irish speakers and Sinn Féin are one and the same, a contention which may be borne out in the forthcoming elections.

One of the probable effects of Mr Chitick’s outburst, however, is to deepen the antipathy of Irish speakers to the Orange Order – an organisation which also contains Irish speakers by the way – and thus further aid what he terms the ‘republican agenda’. Maybe that’s what he wanted all along.

, ,

  • son of sam

    Interesting to note that “Irish speakers are in open revolt against Sinn Fein” in relation to various matters regarding the language . No doubt they will receive treatment as the Casement Park protesters. They will be accused of having an agenda against the Party and maybe even ultimately of ” being against the Peace Process”!The cynicism with which S F has used the Irish language is perhaps not surprising but many will judge them by their actions not their words.

  • David Crookes

    Conchubar, I have no words for the sheer wickedness of this man’s advice, which I suppose we must regard as the product of some kind of nominally intellectual process. In fact what he says represents the completely ANTI-CULTURAL nature of a certain species of unionism.

    The old boast that was wrongly attributed to Hitler comes to mind. “We are barbarians. We want to be barbarians. It is an honourable title.”

    This man’s hatred of the Irish language exemplifies the anti-culture of those who hate good literature, good art, and good music.

    Let us do our best to crush the infamy. How? Well, whatever side of the fence we’re on, by joining an Irish class! The fence doesn’t matter all that much, and anyway the Irish language is largely unrelated to the fence, as Conchubar has pointed out.

    A tone-deaf man urges people not to listen to good music. Next thing he’ll be demanding that we all put out our own eyes.

    Let us pray that people like Linda Ervine, and the linguistic enterprise with which they are associated, will not suffer any violence from savage anti-cultural purists in days to come. If they do, we’ll know who is to be blamed for inciting it.

    It will set a good example if civilized members of the Orange Order, beginning with those who hold university degrees, resign from the order at once in token of their disgust. If they don’t, they will be showing their approval for hideous barbarity.

  • Barney

    What do you expect from a bigot other than bigoted comments.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Just when I think we’ve scrapped the bottom some one manages to claw off another layer of sediment.

    I have a faint hope that the barbaric fringe of Orangism and loyalism will just push the ordinary people too far which will indeed lead to a backlash against ‘anti-culturists’ (as David Crookes calls them, nice one DC).

    I often blame Republicans for making the Irish language a political hot potato but by gum some of the blinkered class of Orangism do a good job of keeping it piping hot.

    The Rev Kennaway must be tempted to cry with despair when he hears things like this….

  • Charles_Gould

    I don’t agree with the guy – protestants can learn Gaelic language if they want – but I don’t think he is “wicked” for holding the view he has expressed.

    I don’t think calling him “stupid” helps either. You could see that he could speak a bit of Gaelic and that he knew that in history the OO has often had a more positive attitude to the language. So it is correct and he is aware that something has changed, which is a very interesting point. WHY did it change? WHY do OO leaders now have a different view than there was in previous times? This is to me the interesting question.

    I think that the Gaelic language lobby should think long term about their relationship with Sinn Féin. Sinn Féin do turn off more people than they turn on.

    It may sound radical and indeed naive. But I couldn’t think of anything more healthy than having an Gaelic/OO exchange programme, and for the Gaelic enthusiasts to try to become friends with the OO. Perhaps not the Belfast OO, and not necessarily the OO as opposed to other groups in protestant society.

    This would bring people together in a depoliticised context to discuss and learn a bit of Gaelic culture, and to discuss and learn about band culture.

    One of the things I would emphasise to OO as to Gaelic language people is that positive engagement with people who are in completely different camps can be positive, civilised and enjoyable. There is a need to take the heat out of all of this, and for people to bring down barriers.

    Long term, Gaelic language could well become something that typical Ulster protestants are not just tolerant, but relaxed and even affectionate towards, there is no reason why not, and I think that Gaelic language activists should forget about Sinn Féin altogether.

  • Charles_Gould

    “Irish speakers are also angry at Sinn Féin’s Culture Minister, Caral Ní Chuilinn, who has failed to protect the organisations from the effects of a carve up of Irish language funding which has totally excluded northern based Irish language groups. All the funding has gone to southern based organisations even though 25% of the funding for the Foras comes from the Northern Ireland Executive.”

    Hypothesis: If nationalists had supported the SDLP which puts northern interests first, this may not have happened. SF are more interested in Southern votes so Southern interests come first.

  • cynic2

    Having heard Mr Chitticks oratorical skills in English little wonder at his difficulty with Irish

  • http://igaeilge.wordpress.com Concubhar

    I think that the problem lies with George Chitick and the faction within Orangeism he represents,rather than Irish speakers. I’d like to think that Irish speakers could be accommodated within any party but,for instance, the ‘moderates’ of the UUP don’t have an Irish language policy,just an Ulster Scot policy.
    I think you’re right about Sinn Féin being more interested in the south than the north. Strange how the United Ireland party has become so partitionist. It must be a strain of the Stockholm syndrome. Maybe we should call it the Stormont syndrome.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Charles

    “Sinn Féin do turn off more people than they turn on.”

    It appears to me that it is so often the case that instead of admitting the damage that SF do to the language in the eyes of Unionists/Protestants the conversation often swiftly twists to an argument about ‘rights’ and ‘cultural pride’.

    Even though the ‘right’ to promote a culture may not be the topic at hand it is swiftly railroaded into that yard at the expense of the subject matter i.e. has the republican use of Irish damaged it in the eyes of Protestants?

    And the great squirmathon shall continue…

    The tragedy being, I am given to understand that there are a lot of nationalist Irish speakers who utterly resent SF’s use of the language.

    I’m certainly open to correction on this though.

  • Charles_Gould

    Concubhar: Be careful your interventions don’t look too much like they’re motivated by jobs for the boys/girls. Just a word of advice if I may be so bold. The Irish-Gaelic language owes its survival probably more to those who did it out of love and for no money than to anyone else!

  • http://igaeilge.wordpress.com Concubhar

    Again you project in order to deflect. Apparently those who are seeking funding for Irish, according to Mr Chitick, should be seeking it for employment projects.
    I merely pointed out that Irish speakers are poorly served by Sinn Féin among others. I await with anticipation the condemnation of Mr Chiticks outburst by unionist politicians.

  • babyface finlayson

    He does have a point though.
    Clearly the Shinners plan is, first get everyone learning Irish. After that how long would it be before we all forget how to speak English? No more than a few years is the answer, according to scientists.
    At that point we could no longer understand our British Government or the Queen’s message at christmas. In despair and confusion we will then welcome the warm embrace of a SF ruled Free State.
    Thankfully we will have An Bíobla Naofa to comfort us.
    Obvious really.

  • SK
  • Rory Carr

    The tragedy being, I am given to understand that there are a lot of nationalist Irish speakers who utterly resent SF’s use of the language.

    I’m certainly open to correction on this though.” – Am Ghobsmacht.

    Since resentment is a negative, destructive emotion, unfortunately endemic in the human condition, you may indeed be right, Am Ghobsmacht. Indeed I believe that there are also a lot of nationalist English speakers (sometimes call Stoops) who resent Sinn Féin’s use of that (or indeed, any other) language, a character defect they share with some unionists who also resent their cheek in insisting upon breathing.

  • son of sam

    Rory Carr
    Perhaps you could explain in plain English what you mean by your post above.It appears to be a dig at the S D L P.

  • Rory Carr

    Not really, Son of Sam. In my own whimsical way I was simply including them among that group of people for whom nothing Sinn Féin does will ever meet with approval and hoping that more astute readers might pick up on the nonsense that is the idea that, if republicans all stop using and promoting the Irish language, then all barriers to its expansion will quickly disappear and (to the horror of Babyface Finlayson) all signage on the Shankill and in East Belfast will be rendered as Gaeilge; Linfield supporters, hopeful of attaining league supremacy, will march to their games chanting, “Tiochfaidh ar lá“; and The X Factor will be broadcast with Irish subtitles to assist the enjoyment of all those fans in NornIrn.

    But clearly, in your case, I failed in my attempt to get the message across for which, profound apologies. I must try harder.

  • sherdy

    Babyface, – If we are all in danger of forgetting how to speak and use the English language, how are we to do business with the rest of the world? Not going to happen.
    And your worry about not being able to understand your queen’s Christmas message? The way she’s progressing with the Irish language, she’ll soon be as fluent as you will be.

  • babyface finlayson

    sherdy
    “If we are all in danger of forgetting how to speak and use the English language, how are we to do business with the rest of the world? Not going to happen.”
    Phew, that’s a relief. Clearly I didn’t think it through.

  • Michael Gillespie

    The Irish language is in the ears of many loyalists the language of the enemy. There are reasons for this. Douglas Hyde (a Protestant) who founded Conradh na Geailge to preserve the Irish language wanted Conradh na Gaeilge and the Irish language to be areligious and apolitical. Unfortunately Conradh na Gaeilge was infiltraed by Republicans who ousted Douglas Hyde as President and took the Gaelic League over and made it Catholic and Republican. In this way the Irish language became a turn off for Loyalists

    There seems to be a growing interest in the Irish language in the Protestant community. That is to the good but the Language Act is still blocked by the DUP.For the DUP the Irish language is still the language of the enemy with a “Republican Agenda” of a United Ireland as a Republic as the agenda of Sinn Fein is. But if one could wave a magic wand over the head of Ian Paisley and have him become fluent in Irish he would then say Ní beidh go deo Ní beidh go deo Ní beidh go deo ( Never Never Never) to a united Ireland as a Republic so that dream of Sinn Fein would be as unrealisable as ever.

  • Barney

    “to the horror of Babyface Finlayson”
    And
    “Babyface, – If we are all in danger of forgetting how to speak and use the English language”

    You do realise that he was taking the piss don’t you?

  • Rory Carr

    As was I, Barney.

  • babyface finlayson

    Barney
    “You do realise that he was taking the piss don’t you?”
    Even my wife doesn’t get me. It’s lonely sometimes

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Rory

    ” nonsense that is the idea that, if republicans all stop using and promoting the Irish language, then all barriers to its expansion will quickly disappear and (to the horror of Babyface Finlayson) all signage on the Shankill and in East Belfast will be rendered as Gaeilge; Linfield supporters, hopeful of attaining league supremacy, will march to their games chanting, “Tiochfaidh ar lá“; and The X Factor will be broadcast with Irish subtitles to assist the enjoyment of all those fans in NornIrn.”

    Such a digital reaction is indeed a nonsensical notion, but the idea that life would be easier for those in the unionist/Protestant community who promote the Irish language if the Shinners left it alone is not so nonsensical.

    It would of course take time and people like Chittick are never going to be convinced but they’re able to use ‘the publican agenda’ as a bogeyman to work up their own community and if that bogeyman gives off the impression of being an Irish speaker then they don’t want to have anything to do with this parseltongue.

    And those that do (as usual) are suspected as Lundys.

  • Rory Carr

    Oh do come off it, Am Ghobsmacht. You know better than that. Your argument is nothing more than that which blames rape on the brazenness of those women who dress in a titillating fashion applied to the Irish language.

    It doesn’t wash there and it will not wash here.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Well Rory

    I was one of those people put off it by the republican use of it.

    As were many of my friends.

    No doubt there were other factors too lurking in the background but the bulk of it was seeing it attached in some way to Adams & co.

    But that, as they say is that.

    Titillating fashion doesn’t come into it.

    Again, I don’t deny that many of the uber-Brits in the Unionist community are pleased at this state of affairs as it saves them having to actively discourage people in a fashion similar to Chittick.

    You may not believe me which is fine, but it is certainly true as far as myself and my school friends were concerned.

    I find it hard to believe that we’d be the only ones in all of Unionism who felt that way.

    I’m astounded that people have trouble accepting this, here is someone from the unionist outfit telling why he and people that he knows had difficulty with Irish and though this could be used as an opportunity for people to study and discuss this ‘revelation’ instead I’m subjected to the following stances:

    a/ “bollocks”
    b/ “Don’t believe you”
    c/ “rapey comparisons”

    Is there NO chance that I might have a point and for some one somewhere to say “hmmmmm, it appears the Shinners might be doing more harm than good these days to our beloved language, maybe we’d better do something about it or have a pow-wow…”

    So, that’s my 2 cents, if it doesn’t compute then fine.

  • Droch_Bhuachaill

    “What do you expect from a bigot other than bigoted comments.”

    Or, as us rabid-republican-themmun-hating gobbildeygook speaking Leprechauns would sat, “Cat a dhéanfadh cat ach luch a mharú.”

  • JR

    Am Gobsmact,

    I believe you that Gerry Adams has put you and others off the Irish language, but what I don’t understand is why it put you off the Irish language specifically. Why you and your friends not have a similar reaction to beards, 7up, tea, English etc. All things I have seen GA make use of.

    My theory, and I am open to correction on this is that there was no part of your brain looking for a conveniant excuse to explain your dislike for those other things.

    Rory Carr,

    “Indeed I believe that there are also a lot of nationalist English speakers (sometimes call Stoops) who resent Sinn Féin’s use of that (or indeed, any other) language,”

    As a member of the Irish speaking community, your comment says to me that you have no understanding of us whatsoever.

  • DoppiaVu

    JR

    I can’t speak for AG’s reasons, but I know that I personally still retain a very mild antipathy towards Irish language. Growing up in 70′s-80′s North Belfast, the only times I ever heard Irish being spoken was when someone from SF came on the telly, or when there was some coverage of an IRA funeral. I can honestly say that I never heard Irish being used in any other context until I was in my early 20′s. That kind of thing tends to taint your attitudes for a long time.

    Fortunately, my childhood self experienced beards, 7up and tea in a wide range of contexts, so I don’t have any baggage around those. Although having said that, I don’t like tea, I’m getting increasingly irritated by beardie hipsters and 7up gives me indigestion.

  • http://igaeilge.wordpress.com Concubhar

    There’s a tendency on the social media and in commentary to try and turn what happened on Saturday – George Chitick’s outrageous statement – around and make the person who made the oppressive remark the oppressor and the person who was oppressed, in this case the Irish speaker, the oppressor. Generally speaking I don’t care who speaks Irish – the more the merrier. It’s not about politics, no matter how much people, with their own vested interest in mind, try to make it so. To my mind George Chittick was 100% wrong and will always be 100% wrong on this issue as long as he holds to the view expressed on Saturday. There’s a context in the north that has been used as a figleaf to deflect charges of bigotry but it doesn’t hold up in this instance and, generally speaking, in any instance.

  • JR

    DV,

    Both me and my wife and kids have direct experiance of prejudice against us while speaking Irish. From being mocked by teenagers shouting random Irish words at us and sniggering. Being inacurately refered to as shinners, being criticised by the health hurse for your kids lack of English, friends and relatives thinking you kids are a bit slow because they don’t understand an equivalent ammout of english to other kids their age. A general disbelief that English is genuinely your kids second language. The prejudice is not from one section of the comunity or the other nor is it that serious but it is there and is regular. Irish was my Grandmothers first languge and I always used to wonder why my mother couldn’t speak it, why it wasn’t passed on. Now with my own kids I understand.

    As a youngster I only heard German in war films, but I was able to know from a very young age that all those who spoke German were not Nazi’s. I still don’t buy the excuse. BTW, How do you feel when you watch this video?

  • David Crookes

    Yes, Concubhar, we can see that phenomenon in other areas.

    Behind the man’s statement is a fascistic desire to stop people thinking their own thoughts and choosing their own interests. But here’s the worst thing about it. If the teachers and students of the Irish language in East Belfast have their premises petrol-bombed by some tattooed patriot, the man who made the statement will protest that he never intended to incite violence.

    Light blue touch paper, and stand well back. Don’t blame Chitty-Chitty for the Bang-Bang.

    It would be good to hear a bit of straight-down-the-line out-loud up-front condemnation from our politicians.

  • Son of Strongbow

    “Chitty-Chitty” (nice) was expressing a view, or making an “outburst” if you prefer.

    To some it may appear to be both an unacceptable and unpleasant view, and unless the ‘fascists’ really are in charge he has a right to voice his opinion (much as people on this site are free to post their views, or is that also “a fascistic desire to stop people thinking their own thoughts”?).

    Now if “Chiity-Chitty” is crocked because of Crookes are we to cry ‘incitement’ at the digital blue paper’s incendiary?

  • sherdy

    SOS, – Chitty Chitty certainly has the right to express his views on the Irish language, but it is a different matter to tell anyone they should not learn it.
    And then he went on to show a certain limited knowledge of the language himself. Why did he not close his own ears to that learning if it is so obnoxious.
    Did learning that smattering of the language do him any harm or contaminate his Orange Order thinking?
    By the way, are there any educational qualifications required before one can be elected grand master?

  • David Crookes

    A shocking thought, SoS, but nobody ever listens to me. There’s more chance of me being crocked by my own family.

    When you tell ‘Protestants’ not to study this or that subject, you are setting yourself up as a member of the Thought Police. It isn’t a matter of you expressing your own opinion. It’s a matter of controlling other people.

  • Son of Strongbow

    sherdy,

    The inner workings of the OO are a mystery to me so I can’t comment on the qualifications for internal appointments in the organisation. Also, alas, I lost my crystal ball sometime ago so I’m afraid I also cannot comment on his “thinking”.

    His views, including his view that people should not learn Irish, are seemingly his views. Given that he has absolutely no authority or power whatsoever to impact on people’s decision to learn the language that aspect of his views are not a “different matter” at all.

  • Son of Strongbow

    Au contraire Mr C.

    I could ‘tell’ you to return your land to its rightful inhabitants, the peasantry of County Down, but as I have absolutely no authority to do so, or any available sanctions to compel you to comply with my demand, my view is to you I suspect rather inconsequential.

    All that’s left for me therefore is to tip my Thought Cop hat to you and be on my way.

  • between the bridges

    I disagree with Mr Chitick views on this and i dare say a few other things (at best they were petty and at worse vindictive), however he is entitled to express them and it must be recognised he is not alone in holding these views. Therefore rather than howling indignation accept reality, in any society (let alone a ‘divided’ one) nothing has to be liked.

    JR were any Germans murdering people and using German as part of their propaganda while you were watching these films? If they had been do you think it could have influenced your opinion…

  • between the bridges

    * should be’ nothing has to be liked by everyone’,

    Mick are we ever getting an edit function?

  • David Crookes

    All right, SoS, I’ve been excessively polemical, and your respectful gesture deserves a response. If local peasants ever catch you picnicking with your family on the piece of moorland at the foot of See Finn (very top of the Quarter Road, with a lane running behind it), please tell them that this local peasant has given you and your heirs permission to do so in perpetuity.

    Maybe the civilized thing for those of us who disagree with CCBB would be to invite him to discuss the matter with us over tea and buns. Turn off the megaphones and turn on the charm, so to speak.

    Protestants like me who see a unified monarchical Ireland in the not-too-distant future come up against one thing above all others when we talk to our own folk: fear. CCBB’s statement should be construed as an expression of fear.

  • JR

    BTB,

    Don’t give me that crap. You couldn’t have heard SF in any language untill 1994 because of the broadcasting ban and even after that very little of what they said has been in Irish. The queen has said more in Irish on TV than most SF polticans.

  • between the bridges

    JR chara, i am merely inviting you to think outside of your own box, surely that is what you hope for from the likes of Chitick? You can not deny that SF/IRA were and are closely associated with the Irish language and that association causes problem’s for the language within the unionist community. Tiocfaioh ar la.

  • JR

    BTB,

    I think we are saying the same thing, I am trying to challenge others to think outside their box too. I just feel that the problem people here, Nationalist and Unionst have with Irish is deeper that that. I have been made fun of for speaking Irish in Crossmaglen, Mullaghban, Dublin and Killarney, none of those Unionist strongholds. I have heard the SF association argument here and elswhere manytimes before and I personally don’t accept it. I think, for reasons outlined above and on previous threads on this topic that it is an argument of conveniance. Maybe I am wrong. I would however challenge you, DV and AG to ask yourselves again, Is it really just about the cúpla focal Sinn Fein use now and again. Doesn’t seem to have put Linda Irvine and many like her off.

  • Son of Strongbow

    Mr C,

    I tug my forelock to your kind gesture. If I’m ever down your way I’ll be sure to tote a couple of rough hewn slabs of bread with a rude lump of cheese betwixt them and a recycled jam jar full of cold tae to wash down my son-of-the-soil repast. All wrapped in my favourite Paisley (!) patterned hanky.

    As for the other Mr C, perhaps your designated doppelgänger in the fearful parallel universe you allude to, what can I say? The intent of his comments seem confused at best.

    Perhaps he was trying to make some crude point about public resource expenditure on Irish? He appeared quickly to reference the Irish language antecedents of his own organisation, so surely any “hatred” he may harbour for Irish would seem to be built on shaky foundations?

    His evident concern with the politicisation of Irish may not have been finely linguistically sculpted but the import of his view is not without some merit (although he is wrong to attribute it to contemporary ‘republicans’, the hijacking of the Gaelic revival to politically nationalist aims goes back many decades).

    You obviously move in different Protestant circles than I do. I do not see this “fear” that you speak of. Although I am loath to pass comment on the other Mr C’s motivations it seems to me that it is annoyance and frustration that drives him.

    Annoyance at the weight of opprobrium directed at his organisation (wether right or wrong) and a frustration with not having any acceptable (to him) and effective means to make his case and challenge his detractors. Thus we observed him lashing out in a ham-fisted manner and flipping from the Irish language to Nazis on the Sudetenland (all delivered in that ebbing and flowing intonation so beloved of Orange speech makers and Christian pastors).

  • Billy Pilgrim

    What’s interesting about this is that we’re seeing the sectarian discipline of the PUL community beginning to break down.

    Many unionist posters here have spoken about the antipathy they had / still have towards the Irish language. By way of explanation, they say that SF made them hate it.

    The truth is more mundane. Hatred of the Irish language -indeed most things culturally Irish – has been the mainstream unionist position as long as there has been such a thing as unionism. And it was a position that went virtually unchallenged within the tribe.

    Consequently, young Protestants like AG, DoppiaVu and others, grew up hating the Irish language simply because that’s what they were acculturated to do. Guff about how SF made them hate it, is just a lie PULs tell themselves, because it’s easier than admitting that their hatred is really just sectarian bigotry.

    But what’s interesting here is that this sectarian discipline is breaking down before our eyes. (An Irish language centre on the Newtownards Road? Who would ever have believed such a thing?)

    Of course the Orange Order is alarmed by this. It’s an institution which exists to foment and maintain PUL sectarian discipline and hatred.

    What’s heartening is how this episode illustrates the dramatic reduction in the OO’s ability to impose sectarian discipline. Increasingly, people from the PUL tradition are starting to see in the likes of Mr Chittick exactly what CNRs have always seen.

  • between the bridges

    JR ‘Is it really just about the cúpla focal Sinn Fein use’ no but that is one major factor and dismissing it out of hand is merely avoiding the issue. You want PUL to look beyond that and some do, some don’t and never will and many just don’t care.

  • between the bridges

    BP was the RCC opposition to Irish also sectarian? as for ‘unionist position as long as there has been such a thing as unionism’ the ulster convention held by unionists in 1892 (to appose home rule) had a ‘Erin go Bragh’ banner to greet participants…

  • Son of Strongbow

    How can a “hatred” for the Irish language, or indeed ‘culture’, be “sectarian”?

    Those arguing from that position are by implication suggesting that Irish is the preserve of those outside the ‘PUL community’ and thereby a sectarian target for some Protestants.

    It is truly ironic that they reinforce the stereotypes playing on the mind of such as Mr Chitick.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    BtB

    ‘…was the RCC opposition to Irish also sectarian?’

    No. It was no less shameful, but it wasn’t because the hierarchy hated Catholics. Nor was it that they hated Irish culture. They just sided with the prevailing power of the day, which wanted to destroy indigenous Irish culture as thoroughly as they did in Scotland, where ‘Scottishness’ was reduced to whisky and shortbread. (Even tartan was banned!)

    This attempted (and harrowingly successful) ethnocide was the real ‘politicisation’ of Irish. We will always be in the debt of the heroic people who led the cultural revival, without whom we would be an entirely broken people.

    ‘…as for ‘unionist position as long as there has been such a thing as unionism’ the ulster convention held by unionists in 1892 (to appose home rule) had a ‘Erin go Bragh’ banner to greet participants…’

    The biggest banner, of course, declared: ‘We Will Not Have Rome Rule’.

    The handful of occasions where Irish turns up in the midst of uber-unionism is interesting and amusing, but tells us very little. Of course there have always been unionist Gaeilgeoirí, but let’s just say that the anti-Irish bigots within unionism have always been pushing at an open door.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Strongbow Óg

    ‘How can a “hatred” for the Irish language, or indeed ‘culture’, be “sectarian”?’

    I cannot for the life of me see how that can be a serious question?

    ‘Those arguing from that position are by implication suggesting that Irish is the preserve of those outside the ‘PUL community’ and thereby a sectarian target for some Protestants.’

    No such implication exists. In fact, the exact opposite implication has been the mainstream nationalist position since time immemorial.

    (See for example the 1916 Proclamation’s reference to ‘differences carefully fostered by an alien government, which have divided a minority from the majority in the past.)

    Nationalism’s position has always been: youseuns and ussuns are all the same.

    Unionism’s traditional position has been: No we’re not. We completely fucking hate youseuns and everything about you.

    But it’s good to see this beginning to break down, and even better to see that the OO’s ability to crack the whip and reimpose sectarian discipline is not what it was.

  • Charles_Gould

    I think a lot of things have freed up in recent years – people on all sides are generally more relaxed and confident these days now the troubles are over.

  • Son of Strongbow

    Oh Liam, Liam, Liam. I fear you’re conditioning is too deeply ingrained.

    Read over what you just posted. You equate Irish directly with political nationalism. You even reference the ’1916 Proclamation’ FFS!

    For you Irish culture is simply nationalism by another name.

    Simple question for you: do you consider the Orange Order as an Irish cultural phenomenon?

  • Charles_Gould

    Important for people on each side to respect the *integrity* of each other’s basic position.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Strongbow Óg

    ‘You equate Irish directly with political nationalism.’

    Do I? Where? Please demonstrate.

    Because I say your allegation is totally false.

    ‘You even reference the ’1916 Proclamation’ FFS!’

    So?

    My reference to the Proclamation is to demonstrate Irish nationalism’s attitude towards the indigenous culture of Ireland (ie that it belongs to all of us) – NOT to suggest that the two are the same.

    Though of course both nationalism and unionism are certainly aspects of Irish culture.

    Poor marks for comprehension I’m afraid.

    ‘For you Irish culture is simply nationalism by another name.’

    Nope. Please either back up this defamatory allegation or retract.

    ‘Simple question for you: do you consider the Orange Order as an Irish cultural phenomenon?’

    Of course it is. What else would it be?

    And it’s ‘your’, not ‘you’re’.

  • Son of Strongbow

    Liam,

    You claimed that a “hatred” of Irish was “really just sectarian bigotry”. When I challenged you on how could that be, given the meaning of ‘sectarian’ in a local context, your response was to avoid the question.

    You then went off on a riff about 1916, weirdly citing the authors of the militant nationalist Proclamation’s partisan understanding (an understanding that did not in practice cherish all the children of the nation) of the “indigenous culture of Ireland” as some sort of a justification.

    Your little “Though of course both nationalism and unionism are certainly aspects of Irish culture.” bit of revisionism of 1916 won’t wash either.

    As for your hissy-fitting: take a hike if things are too tough for you.

  • GEF

    learning Irish may not help towards achieving employment in GB or NI. But in the ROI after partition learning the Irish language helped to add 6 points (until recently) towards employment in the Irish civil service or armed forces etc.

    “State criticised for civil service Gaeilge U-turn”

    http://www.independent.ie/irish-news/state-criticised-for-civil-service-gaeilge-uturn-29713408.html

  • Charles_Gould

    GEF

    That’s an interesting story.

    “For almost 40 years, those who speak Irish have been entitled to a 6pc points bonus on their civil service job interview score if they pass an Irish language test. And Irish-speaking civil servants have also been entitled to a 6pc points bonus when going for promotions. But the Cabinet has replaced the system with a recommendation that 6pc of all new civil servants hired should be able to speak Irish.”

    They seem wedded to the number six in these various forms of (ahem) different-treatment for Irish speakers.

  • Son of Strongbow

    C_G,

    Look at the numerical highlights of the passage you quoted – 666!

    What’s to be made of that?

  • David Crookes

    The sum of the squares of the first seven prime numbers. Tremble!

  • tacapall

    “Look at the numerical highlights of the passage you quoted – 666!

    What’s to be made of that”

    Probably the same as below – nothing.

    The King of England Henry the VIII executed six of his wives, the first English monarch raised as a protestant was Edward the VI and the English queen claims ownership of six counties of Ireland.

  • Charles_Gould

    S-o-S, Mr C:

    Indeed I had the same thought! Eek!

  • David Crookes

    Three persons thinking about 666 makes 1998, and guess what happened then.

  • David Crookes

    Anseo a éilítear an eagna! An té a bhfuil éirim ann, comhaireadh sé uimhir an bheithígh, óir is uimhir duine é. A 666 a uimhirsean!

  • Charles_Gould

    Mr Crookes you have reminded me – as I do the mental maths – that 2 is a prime number and 1 is not. I had forgotten that.

  • Son of Strongbow

    Yes 1998 indeed.

    The year when blogs began to appear. Surely a catastrophe to rival the barbarian sack of Rome?

    Go bhfóire Dia maith dúinn.

  • SK

    “What’s interesting about this is that we’re seeing the sectarian discipline of the PUL community beginning to break down.”

    ____

    Theatre protests, Flag Protests, Human Rights carmper vans, Anti-language rants, Paisley broadsides, Skainos riots, Michael Copeland hitting his wife and blaming it on the cops…and we’re barely out of January.

    I don’t what major malfunction is currently underway in unionism but I love watching them go; it trumps any reality TV show.

  • SK

    Teacher intimidation, Lord Mayor assaults, “Go Home Haass”, Anti-Alliance arson, BBC studio invasions…

    Car crash television

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Indeed SK.

    It does feel as if we’re watching what we have traditionally known as ‘unionism’ collapsing before our eyes.

    To think it has been barely eighteen months since Robinson’s ‘confident unionism’ speech.

    And to think all it took to inspire unionism’s collective breakdown was the removal of one little flag.

  • Reader

    tacapall: The King of England Henry the VIII executed six of his wives,
    Not so:
    “divorced, beheaded, died;
    divorced, beheaded, survived”

  • SK

    Mike Nesbitt, on the UUP website, explains the unionist disdain for the Irish language quite succinctly:

    “Sinn Féin have created the problem by politicising the Irish Language, so it inevitably falls to them to fix the problem.”

    Now that would be fair enough if folks like Mike Nesbitt advocated an across-the-board separation of culture and politics, but they don’t and therein lies the problem.

    Why is it that a community that freely and regularly intertwines their politics and their culture feels qualified to demand that others refrain from doing so? The UUP was officially linked to the Orange Order until very recently, yet it demands nationalists keep culture and politics separate; the DUP invites Meryvn Gibson to negotiate Haass with them, yet chides nationalists for not keeping culture and politics separate; the Orange Order facilitates meetings between all the unionist parties to further political unity, yet complains when Sinn Fein mixes culture and politics.

    I am at a loss as to how unionists can be so oblivious to the contradiction that lies at the heart of their argument when it comes to Irish. For, if an ostensibly cultural organisation like the Orange Order can wade into politics with the tacit support of unionism’s elected representatives, how are they in a position to lecture anyone?

  • BluesJazz

    Both the Irish language and the Orange Order have no relevance to 95% + of NI society. And that’s giving both a positive spin.
    Chelsea’s win over Manchester City tonight has relevance to a majority (of males) at least.
    In 4 months time the World Cup will dominate the lives of 95% of males here. much to the chagrin of some females.
    No-one outside the Chucky hardliners gives a frig about the (pigeon) irish speak. No-one outside the dying OO gives a frig about parades.
    The sooner both die the better.

  • Sp12

    “No-one outside the Chucky hardliners gives a frig about the (pigeon) irish speak”

    Pidgin, a different word with a different meaning from Pigeon.
    You know, like ‘opinion’ and ‘fact’ are different words with different meanings.
    Actually you clearly don’t.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    JR and Billy Pilgrim

    Gents

    I’ll make this relatively simple (in a rush, lots to do) so it won’t be pedant proof so rather try to hear what I’m saying as opposed to just looking for weak chinks in the poorly armoured viewpoint.

    1/ The idea of disliking something by association is not new and we all know that the Old Firm until recently adopted dual sponsorship for that very reason, e.g. McEwan’s Lager and CR SMITH would be effectively writing themselves off sales wise in areas populated by ‘themuns’ as without the corresponding sales growth in areas populated by ‘ursuns’.

    (AG boring anecdote time; I was told by a work colleague that a pub in Drumchapel, owned by a Celtic fan stopped stocking Oranjeboom because he discovered the link between the beer’s name and the Dutch Royal House of Orange, i.e. King Billy’s outfit. This could be nonsense but it demonstrates a way of thinking that clearly exists)

    2/ I also think that it is unfair to be so digital as to lay the blame exclusively at the feet of Sinn Fein and the IRA, they could perhaps be considered as additional nails in the would-be Gaelic coffin.

    Other nails would include the politicisation of the Gaelic League with the subsequent departure of Douglas Hyde, partition, obsessive pro-Britishness at the expense of older more traditional Ulster-Protestant culture etc.

    It’s been a century long work in progress, not and overnight coup.

    It may not make sense to you but you are all being told by people from the Unionist background that Republicans have made this quite difficult for us to embrace the Irish language.

    We could just be ALL mad hate filled bigots seeking for any excuse but if you were a marketing executive would you really ignore such an overwhelming statistical result and sample?

    This is how many of us see it (needless to say, I’m not a very representative spokesperson for unionism, borderline Lundy that I am) but there you have it.

    You can lampoon it, disbelieve it, see it as an opportunity to stick the knife in further and twist it to demonstrate to the world another example of our narrow-minded Hibernophobia (totally made that word up) or you can store it in the back of your mind for some later date and maybe even bring it to the table should you be in a discussion where people might not be aware of these views.

    Getting SF to publically leave the language alone won’t be like flicking a switch but it’ll help to give some breathing space to those in the unionist community who are trying to re-embrace the language or who are just curious.

    You are now armed with this information (well, point of view), do with it what you will, just please don’t ignore it.

    I truly wish Linda Ervine all the very best and hope she will prevail over Chittick shaped obstacles.

  • Rory Carr

    JR writes:

    Rory Carr,

    “Indeed I believe that there are also a lot of nationalist English speakers (sometimes call Stoops) who resent Sinn Féin’s use of that (or indeed, any other) language,”

    As a member of the Irish speaking community, your comment says to me that you have no understanding of us whatsoever.

    It appears that my failure to understand “the Irish speaking community” might be reciprocated. My comments made no mention of this group, whoever they may be. (Did they include, I wonder, a dear friend of mine, an English Jew, who became so proficient in the language that, until his recent death, he was constantly being invited to conferences on the promotion of the language ?)

    The strange thing is that we are on the same side of the argument and I made no mention of this “community” but instead spoke of the nationalist English speaking community (to coin a phrase). As a member of that community I might say that you misunderstood what I was trying to say.

    On the other hand you might just feel injured by my reference to “stoops”. No ?