A right gulpin…

FOR those with access to the Belfast Telegraph archive (…because I forgot to write this while it was still free – oops), David Gordon recently took an in depth look at the extent of spending within the Ulster Scots Agency. Wining, dining, taxis to Dublin – yet the good Lord Laird appears remarkably unperturbed about how he throws your money around. Let’s not forget, this was the same man who rather conveniently resigned as Chairman of the Agency last year, before any of this came out. The “last straw” was, according to his lordship, that the Government wasn’t giving them enough funding. “Where is our slice of the cake?” he whinged. Well now we know – he had it and ate it… and you paid for it.

  • Jo

    The man is a complete hypocrite. His torrent of questions on the minutiae of DCAL business has cots many tens of thousands of pounds in staff time alone to answer and are for no public interest reason other than his own warped interests. His own wastage of public money is a disgrace, he has no contituency interest whatsosver, his work has no tangible or intangible product and the public monies which are poured down this gullet and that of others is simply slavishly satifying his own gross pomposity and servicing the waste of a fat-man- space which he currently occupies.

  • WestChick

    Lord Laird has finally been shown to be the money guzzling egotist we all knew he was….no surprises there then….
    I’ve never been too convinced by ulster scots as a language but people like this really aren’t helping to do a good PR job for them.

  • fair_deal

    Close down the Agency and start again.

  • Ginfizz

    John Laird is an embarrassment to the Ulster-Scots movement. It is because of him, and him alone that many people have been able to parody and ridicule the U-S Cultural revival that is taking place.

    In propaganda terms he is Christmas come early for Nationalists who want to prevent the development and expansion of Ulster-Scots.

  • Biffo


    “In propaganda terms he is Christmas come early for Nationalists…”

    Not really.

    The Ulster Scots “cultural” movement is often open to ridicule because Ulster Scots “culture” is fairly difficult to define in this day and age. Many who “promote” it, like Laird, know next to nothing about it and that’s a situation that invites ridicule.

    Two weeks ago I heard Clifford Smyth say on Radio Ulster that 25% of places in the PSNI should be allocated to Ulster Scots. It was correctly pointed out to him that that would then apply to people like Danny Morrison, Robin Livingstone etc.

    The problem with people like Laird is that they are jealous and resentful of the Irish language (for some bizarre reason that I can’t fathom).

    Laird always maintains that he can’t speak Ulster Scots. Despite the fact that learning Scots would be extremely easy for a native English speaker as they are very similar.

    When pressed on the nature of the Ulster Scots movement has said it’s not just about the language “it’s the culture” -rarely defined it seems to be mostly about kilts and the highland fling.

    Those things are not part of Ulster Scots culture and if you promote them as such you are laying yourself open to ridicule and charges of ignorance. If you spend vast amounts of money

    You speak of nationalists wanting to “prevent the development and expansion of Ulster Scots.”

    What the f**k are you talking about?

    The barrier to the development and expansion of Ulster Scots is the standard English that we all increasingly use; that and people like yourself who want to create a phony cultural ghetto.

  • Ginfizz


    A phoney cultural ghetto – what about the entirely manufactured Irish Gaeltacht in West Belfast.

    1. Pipe bands
    2. Dancing
    3. The Language
    4. The Historical Links between Ulster and Scotland

    All elements that should be developed, explored and promoted. Don’t you agree? If not why not?

  • Jo

    I can go for 1 2 and 4.

  • Gonzo

    I don’t think you two are as far apart as you think. I think there are some completely valid aspects of Ulster Scots culture and speech that are worthy of government funding.

    However, we all seem agreed that the Ulster Scots Agency is not the body that should be doing it.

    I would love to know the views of genuine Ulster Scots activists who actually have a baldy of what it’s all about. The U-S Agency seems to be making it up as it goes along, leading to the accusations of ‘DIY culture’.

    If the U-S Agency is allowed to define how Ulster Scots manifests itself as a culture, it will continue to be both ridiculed and an irritating burden on the public purse.

    Lord Laird was involved with the Ulster Scots Agency for a number of years and in all that time he never bothered to learn how to speak it.

    I think that speaks volumes.

  • fair_deal


    We should probably have numerous coffees and I can fill in you in on the sorry tale that was the establishment of the Ulster-Scots Agency.

    From DCAL spinning the Ulster-Scots movement a long line of s***e about the agency and its role and what its relationship with the groups would be. Trimble wanting to play games with the Agency and Laird was both a willing and unwitting accomplice in this. Neither had any great understanding, empathy or care for what it was really about.

    I was also the author of an internal Ulster-Scots memorandum outlining why an Ulster-Scots Agency was a bad idea and why nearly all the predictions came true.

  • Gonzo

    Can you email it to me? It won’t be seen by anyone else if that’s what you want. I imagine it’s probably out of date now, but the most recent relevations hark back to the early days anyway, so it would be interesting to see how someone inside saw it.

  • fair_deal

    I don’t have a copy in my personal possession anymore but I should be able to get one even it won’t give you the full picuture hence the caffeine injection suggestion

  • Biffo


    “A phoney cultural ghetto – what about the entirely manufactured Irish Gaeltacht in West Belfast.”

    Those people have made the effort to learn and speak Irish.

    They set up bi-lingual schools with no funding. They eventually got funding because the education they were providing for their kids proved to be first-rate.

    “1. Pipe bands
    2. Dancing”

    People do that anyway. The Republic Of Ireland can produce a world champion band like the St.Laurence O’Toole pipe band without special Ulster Scots funding.

    I have heard superb pipe bands from India and Palestine.

    Does it mean that people in Northern Ireland are a bit retarded and need a special agency and funding to do.

    Do pipe bands in Scotland get thet type of funding?

    And..why should pipe-bands be promoted as “Ulster Scots” when they are not. This is the phony cultural ghetto. Prod = unionist = bagpipes = shortbread = tartan kilts = the Highland fling = Ulster Scots.

    “3. The Language”

    That’s a real issue see my previous comment on the threat to Ulster Scots and quet with the knee-jerking.

    “4. The Historical Links between Ulster and Scotland”

    I had to laugh at that one. How do you develop and promote historical links between Ulster and Scotland without the use of a time machine?

    No doubt the Ulster Scots Agency spent money on one.

    Did they ever produce all their accounts in the end?

  • stu


    The ‘hilariously’ patronising ‘use’ of ‘inverted commas’ in your earlier piece draws away from your legitimate points. Patronising people is not noted as a good way to promote engagement. Here are some points I would like to engage with you:

    1. Perhaps people like Laird are resentful of the Irish language because so much money was, to their minds, wasted on remerchandising every piece of paper that came out of the Assembly and NICS since its inception. Bairbre de Brun springs to mind.

    2. Laird and his cronies in the U-SA are quite possibly guilty of wasting vast amounts of taxpayer money, and should anwer allegations against them in a court of law.

    3. Ulster-Scots culture is not easy to define. Neither is Irish. The whole beauty of culture is that it is a myriad web of different influences, and the vast-majority people who see themselves as Ulster-Scots and want to celebrate their culture do so for cultural and historic reasons, not out of resent for Gaelige. Take a trip down the Ards peninsula, many of the roads in and around Ballyhalbert have Ulster-Scots roadsigns, similar to around the Falls and Short Strand where they are in Gaelige.

    4. Calling people in Northern Ireland ‘retarded’ undermines the credibility of your arguments. As does the ‘Prod = unionist = bagpipes = shortbread = tartan kilts = the Highland fling = Ulster Scots’ logic. I’m sure your maths teacher must have told you at some point only to use the = sign when something is exactly equivalent. If I drew up a similar logic chain involving the Irish language I’m fairly sure a lot of people would be insulted. I might even get called a bigot. Yet another example of how people who would claim to be for an Ireland of equals expose their hypocrisy.

  • Biffo


    I’m not patronising anybody by my use of inverted commas.

    When I say “The Ulster Scots ‘cultural’ movement is often open to ridicule because Ulster Scots ‘culture’..”

    I making it clear that I don’t accept the terms they use – although I am repeating those terms, I put those terms into inverted commas.

    I haven’t time to deal with the rest of your comments but I’ll come back to it because it’s you who is being patronising and you totally misunderstand or misprepresent what I was saying

  • Biffo

    Stu – briefly

    1. “Perhaps people like Laird are resentful of the Irish language because so much money..”

    And if those people then advocated inordinate spending on Ulster Scots, what would that tell you?

    “and the vast-majority people who see themselves as Ulster-Scots and want to celebrate their culture do so for cultural and historic reasons..”

    That’s fine. But when people put on a kilt and do the highland fling and say its Ulster Scots culture, that’s rubbish.

    “Take a trip down the Ards peninsula..”
    Now that is genuinely patronising

    “Ulster-Scots culture is not easy to define…”. I already made the point, but you could make a start if you talked about language, presbyterianism etc

    “..not out of resent for Gaelige..” – The problem is, there are unionists who look at the Irish language and things like riverdance and see it as the trappings of nationalism and they resent it because they are jealous. They want something similar.

    It seems to be the sole aim of the Ulster Scots agency – if they haven’t got what they think nationalism has, they’ll invent and fund it themselves.

    “Calling people in Northern Ireland ‘retarded’ undermines the credibility of your arguments.”

    I am a person in Northern Ireland and I didn’t call anybody retarded. Maybe you should re-read what I said.

    I asked how countries like Scotland, England, the Republic of Ireland, India, Pakistan etc etc etc can produce wonderful pipe bands, but in Northern Ireland people tell us we need a specially funded agency to produce them, (what’s the matter with us are we retarded?)

    The answer to that is no – of course we’re not because we already had them in the likes of the Field Marshall Montgomery Pipe Band.

    “If I drew up a similar logic chain involving the Irish language I’m fairly sure a lot of people would be insulted.”

    You wouldn’t be able to, there is no equivalent.

    And there is no logic chain.

    Open your eyes, I’m talking about the message put aout by the likes of Laird or the Agency. I’m not talking about anybody’s genuine cultural heritage.

    “Ulster Scots” promotion turns out to be whatever those involved want it to be. It turns out be funding for language, funding for kilts, funding for activities at Orange Order marches, funding for sending Scottish Highland dancers on holidays to Italy, dinner, wine and a taxi home from Dublin.

    “..Yet another example of how people who would claim to be for an Ireland of equals expose their hypocrisy.”

    Maybe if you and people like Ginfizz could try to avoid the automatic sectarian kneejerk reactions you might become a bit more enlightened as to what I’m talking about.

  • stu


    There was nothing sectarian in my post. I am not and never will be sectarian. As a proponent of free speech, I accept that you have a different opinion on this than I, and that we both have the rights to do so.

    Your post reminded me of that boy in primary school who said ‘I know you are but what am I?’ Unintentional, I’m sure, but that’s the impression I took. You seem to have misunderstood my argument, and I seem to have misunderstood yours. Let people celebrate their culture how they see fit, at least they’re not throwing bricks at the PSNI.

    If you’re still offended, come up to Belfast and I’ll buy you a pint.


  • Stu


    I live in Belfast and you are welcome to buy me a pint the next time you see me.

  • Comrade Stalin

    fair_deal, it does sound to me awfully as if nobody is stepping up to the plate to take on the job of working to promote Ulster Scots on a daily basis.

    I’m in favour of ongoing investment in an Ulster-Scots agency, particularly if it addresses the “cold house” thing that unionists are complaining about at the moment. But if no-one seems to be interested in actually doing it except for this eejit Laird …

  • IJP


    Basically at the time I entirely shared Fair_Deal‘s concerns and constantly said ‘Be careful what you wish for’ to Ulster-Scots activists. An Agency was never a bright move.

    And yes, they are just making it up as they go along. The problem is, they’ll get away with it, for two reasons:
    1. Frankly, most cultures are ‘invented’ to some extent (kilts are not traditionally Scottish for a start);
    2. It’s part of the sectarian carve-up.

  • maca

    If you want to know who’s damaging the U-Scots movement then look at Laird and other people like him within Unionism. It has been claimed before that U-Scots is a “branch of Unionism”. Making it political has damaged it, just like it has Irish. People like Laird don’t give a toss about U-Scots, they promote it purely to combat the Irish language and that’s a big part of the reason why some see it as a sham.
    Minority languages like Irish and U-Scots need to work together if they want to survive. And for that they need leadership, and not the kind shown by Laird and his type.

  • Dandyman

    Did Stu just reply to his own post there, accepting the invitation to buy himself a pint?

  • emer

    great debate folks. Ulster Scots is the best craic. Great to see proponents of the whole thing tie themselves in knots over it. it does exist. most inhabitants of North Antrim slip into it now and again, whether inadvertently or not, but whether it warrants an agency or all the hype surrounding it is another matter entirely. i find all the shortbread tin stuff and the antics of Lord Laird in his kilt all a bit contrived to be honest. still, i suppose its all harmless enough fun considering….