Irish language activist dumps on Sinn Fein…

FORMER Lá Nua journalist Gearóid Ó Cairealláin is yet another Andytown News republican unimpressed with Sinn Fein. Writing in the North Belfast News, he reveals he won’t be voting for the party again after its four representatives on Foras na Gaeilge acquiesed in the Irish language body’s decision to stop funding Ireland’s only daily Irish-language newspaper. Ó Cairealláin writes:

We always assumed that Sinn Féin supported Irish so much that they would have banged the table, and shouted and roared their opposition to this act of short sighted cultural homicide. But no, Sinn Féin agreed totally, with the result that Lá Nua, the first and only Irish language daily is no more and ten people in west Belfast’s Gaeltacht Quarter were dumped onto the dole and started 2009 out of work. The amount of money involved was miniscule (sic). So, it’s no more votes from me and mine for Sinn Féin.

I thought that Sinn Féin could be trusted as regard to the Irish language. I was wrong. Now I wonder, can they be trusted with anything?

  • Yokel

    Is the North Belfast News office not closing down?

  • Belfast Gonzo

    Don’t know, maybe a reader will fill us in.

  • Muhammad O’Donnell

    They are in a coalition government with the DUP after all. When you lie with dogs catching a few fleas is to be expected.

  • Dave

    He is wiser now that he has copped-on to the Shinners, but he is still a tad deluded if he thinks that the survival of the Irish language is dependent upon the actions of folks in NI. It is the national language of the Republic and it is well supported by it.

  • Expense

    The reality is that very few want Irish Language. It is only something Sinn Fein can play political football with.

  • Yokel

    The survival of the Irish language is dependent not on the efforts of politcians or subsidy or anything else other than those who see it for what it is, a language and an expression of cultural therein, not a political tool, not a charity for funding.

    No amount of politicians using it as a football will help it as much as the desire of people to use it because they love it and are immersed in it.

    Sure look at Ulster Scots, now I didnt even know that existed yet it survived without fat subisidies. In fact its living proof that pumping state cash in and getting the support of politcians who use it for political ends makes no difference at all, I havent seen to too many people at Ulster Scots classes myself….

    As much as Ulster Scots lingo to me looked like a rather clever little ruse by unionists to counterbaance the while Irish business at political level, the day the languages of this place get taken out of the political arena is the day they will really stand on their own two feet because those who love them will carry on regardless whether 1000 people speak it or 100 000.

  • Im shocked that they published the story given that the publication is controlled by the ‘movement’. They have resorted to extreme measures to censor discontent elsewhere.

  • Belfast Gonzo

    It’s probably not as serious a charge as Squinter’s challenge to Gerry Adams last year – resulting in an embarrassing front page apology – but it’s still something SF have to address.

  • rightandwrongisirrelevant

    Quelle surprise!

    Will Gearóid and ‘(the) ten people in west Belfast’s Gaeltacht Quarter (who)were dumped onto the dole’ continue an occasional brunch in Culturlaan?

    In spite of this incident, many upstanding and responsible members of the community have been, and will remain, firm supporters of free lunches.

    With regard to the ‘vote’, or unaccountable nod many will describe this particular as politics. Some may describe it as progress. Few dare call it corruption.

    If Gearóid & co are barred from Culturlaan break fast, Stormont is an alternative, and yes, it is subsidsied.

    Although SF may be of meagre nutritional and political value in the current downturn of La, it is especially disheartening to see the link between cultural and political liberation damaged. Hopefully it is not broken.

    Que sera.


  • picador

    God forgive me and pardon me for saying so, but I will never vote for Sinn Féin again.

    What church does this guy belong to?

  • slug

    I am disappointed to learn that he voted for them in the first place. Irish language is better promoted by the SDLP.

  • “The devil can quote scripture to his purpose”. Apparently the Irish language has similar uses…

    Hell, half the time a government minister in the Republic reads speeches in Irish it’s with the hope that no-one has bothered plugging in their translation earpieces.

  • Catholic Observer

    IMHO the Irish language should have been marketed as Ulster Gaelic rather than Irish. Appeals to 800 years or the traditional orthodoxy are likely to inspire interest across the divide.

  • Catholic Observer

    are not likely*


    A lot of us are starting to see through Sinn Fein. The Good Friday Agreement and subsequent offshoots like St. Andrews were ALL about Sinn Fein negotiating better deals for the Republican heirarchy NOT Nationalists, their own grassroots or issues like the Irish Language. Their sole concern is not to annoy Peter Robinson & the DUP who are running rings around them. The Shinners have been turned by the whiff of devolved British government, ministerial power & perks and the unreal world that is Stormont where they vote in pay rises and eat themselves sick on a la carte subsidised menus. Orwell couldn’t have written a better novel that sums up Sinn Fein, Animal Farm where ALL Nationalists & Republicans are equal……….but some are more equal than others. I look forward to chasing them when they have the cheek to knock on my door looking for a vote. They are on the same road that people like Gerry Fitt (RIP) took, a Republican Socialist who ended up in the House of Lords and more Unionist & Tory than those parties. The Shinners are half way there already. Sir Gerard of The Murph and Lord Martin of Creggan Heights have a ring about them. It’s only a matter of time before Sinn Fein take their seats in the House of Commons and the oath to Lizzie Windsor.

  • Mick

    Gearoid’s anger is understandable. I bought a year’s subscription for Preas an Phobail from him in the Students Union bar in 1983. It was great value for money.

    I was also sorry to see the paper fold, but to be fair to SF, I am not sure further lobbying alone would have saved the paper.

  • Belfast Gonzo

    Shouldn’t you be having a pint right now?! Tried calling there, but I guess it’s been a long day.

  • cynic

    “No amount of politicians using it as a football will help it as much as the desire of people to use it because they love it and are immersed in it.”

    Ok and good luck to those who do…..but there aren’t that many of them

  • cynic

    The truth is that like most of the dead tree press, La was hopelessly uneconomic.

    Those involved need to realise that they need a new business model if they want to promote the language. On-line offers greater prospects and the ability to reach a much bigger audience.

    Of course I suspect that’s not the only reason the Shinners withdrew support. Anything/one that doesn’t totally toe the party line and might be part of a counter-culture must be eliminated.

  • cynic

    “It’s only a matter of time before Sinn Fein take their seats in the House of Commons and the oath to Lizzie Windsor.”


    ……and proper order, as we all voted for a settlement where they remain her subjects

  • cynic

    “Is the North Belfast News office not closing down?”

    …. how will we tell?

  • The N Belfast News has a circulation scraping above 5,000…
    Now for other newsrags/language propoganda tools can they say what circulation they reach? I doubt it is an economcally viable circulation. Hence the Sinners abandoning the language quandry.

    Ultimately the problem all Irish language enthisiasts face is that ‘A’ levels maths, physics, etc in Irish are not available…nor are university courses. Irish/Gaelic Ulster(ish)/Ulster Scots are not languages that are relevant to modern society or development. Sorry to all the devotees, but you cannot make them relevant to investors/local entrepeneurs, and government subsidies all run out eventually.
    Time to produce the dictionaries for posterity and abandon them to posterity

  • Jimmy Sands

    I find it hard to understand someone who draws the line at what he somewhat melodramatically calls “cultural” homicide, but has no problem with the common or garden variety.

  • NB News not closing down last I heard.

  • Archie Purple

    As Brendan Behan said…..with Republicans the first item on the agenda is the split….great to see acrimony amongst the chukkies

  • fair_deal

    “Politics, you see is a two way street: we vote our politicians into positions of power and influence, but we expect them to stick up for us when the time comes and the chips are down. Unfortunately, on this occasion Sinn Féin turned their backs on Belfast’s Irish speakers.”

    GC is describing the situation in a normal democractic system but NI doesn’t have one. Was GC unaware that it was never going to be Sinn Fein in sole control but a mandatory power-sharing executive with multiple vetoes checks and balances?

    As regards the behaviour of the four reps on Foras if they had been given orders from SF that they followed, how would it have made the irish Language movement? Key activists in pocket of Sinn Fein?

    Maybe its the sunday morning haze before the caffeine kicks in but is this not all an opportunity for the Northern Ireland Irish language movement in the long-term? It has a distinct credibility problem with a fair chunk of one community and the only chance for it to get the things it wants is to tackle that problem?

  • Comrade Stalin

    I suggest that Gearoid start his own political party, which will conduct all it’s meetings in Irish and issue all it’s leaflets and election addresses in Irish. Then we can see how they do at the next election.


    It’s only a matter of time before Sinn Fein take their seats in the House of Commons and the oath to Lizzie Windsor.

    You have to look at the practical aspects of this. One reason why Sinn Fein cannot afford to annoy the DUP is because the DUP may soon hold the balance of power in Westminster – indeed, they already do hold it for marginal votes – and this is the ticket to getting favours from the Prime Minister. If Sinn Fein were in Westminster, it would counterbalance this and take a lot of the wind out of their sales. Sinn Fein’s absence from Westminster benefits the DUP significantly and prevents Sinn Fein from delivering for their electorate.

  • Bender B. Rodriguez

    “I suggest that Gearoid start his own political party,” With blackjack! And Hookers!

    Ah! Forget the Blackjack!

  • Comrade Stalin

    Blackjack and hookers is going a bit far.

  • To give a response to the last point from Jimmy, who is without sin, first, I doubt if you’ll find any more peaceloving person than Gearóid Ó Cairealláin.

    The fact is that many people voted for SF for its strategy to end the war and secure a worthwhile deal – they didn’t support homicide of any variety. If everyone is to be judged by Jimmy’s standard, most if not all parties in the north have associations of one sort of another with paramilitary organisations. Wasn’t it the UUP which formed the UVF? And aren’t guns brought in to Ulster by the DUP”s Third Force still in the hands of loyalist paramilitaries? I remember being told that Paddy Devlin had asked for some of the money collected for the rebuiding of Bombay Street so it could be spent on buying guns…. And then we have all those NI worthies forming an orderly and obedient line to get honours from the regime which allowed the paras loose in Derry…. Jimmy should realise if he’s to apply his holier than thou standard that there’s blood on all sides in this conflict, not just on the hands of the perpetrators but also on the hands of those who were prepared to allow the conflict go on as long as it didn’t interfere with their cushy lives on the gold coast, where the notion of the welfare state took on an entirely new meaning…. I make these observations not because I support violence for political ends but it’s important to note that there are many forms of violence and the absence of war doesn’t necessarily mean the absence of violence.

    As for Mick’s point about lobbying alone not being enough to save Lá, he’s probably right but SF reps on the Foras board were in the position to save the paper had they seen fit to see past the paper’s questioning of the party’s commitment and effectiveness on the Irish language issue. SF, however, doesn’t brook criticism and they promptly voted against the newspaper when the issue came to board.

    The proposal which could have saved Lá was tabled by myself in February 08 when I said the paper should be produced online as a daily news service with one print compendium edition being posted to subscribers per week. That was rejected by Foras and abandoned by shortsighted management[not me!] at the time.

    It’s interesting to note that after they voted against Lá Nua, SF started back tracking feverishly, first attempting to boast that their vote actually meant a better deal for Irish language newspapers [it must come from hanging new Labour types that they’re able to describe a cut of £200,000 per year in funding as a ‘boost’!] and then calling for a daily Irish language news service – there is one but it’s not being funded – and also saying that they’re working towards the day that a new Irish language daily newspaper can be launched, when the market’s ‘right’ [ Tiocfaidh ár lá! no doubt they want to be sure that it’s their own version of Lá which eventually comes – not a newspaper with a backbone which is prepared to stand up to their fascist bully boy tactics]l

    I’d like to think that they’re acting under the bad influence of the DUP – the truth is I don’t think that makes a difference. I believe Sinn Féin’s policy is exactly what the name of their party says: Ourselves Alone. The party shouldn’t be surprised if that comes to pass….

  • As said further up, is La going to the wall because govt won’t subsidise it, or because the business model behind traditional print publications is going to the wall. There are few print papers of any kind – national, regional, local, cultural – doing well these days. In these economic times, the bar has been raised – chucking money down the well of “if we subsidise enough community groups and causes will be grand” is no long tenable.

  • Jimmy Sands

    “I doubt if you’ll find any more peaceloving person than Gearóid Ó Cairealláin.”

    What a depressing thought. I think we may differ as to how convincing whataboutery is as an argument. [[text removed – mods]

    And if you want a defence of unionist parties, ask a unionist.

  • William

    Mark Dowling would make an excellent joiner…he’s hit the nail on the head 100%…totally agreed with you….Community groups and all the other community initiatives are in for a reality check come the next round of them seeking funding….Peace III will fund some but not by any means all. The idea of a community group of one variety or another, so loved in the Republican areas will come to a grinding halt in the near future. It will be a case of only the ‘fittest’ surviving, I think.

  • picador

    Maybe its the sunday morning haze before the caffeine kicks in but is this not all an opportunity for the Northern Ireland Irish language movement in the long-term?


  • Billyo

    Concubhar, I’m lead to believe that Sinn Fein actually means ‘we ourselves’ as opposed to ‘ourselves alone’.

    I think this is thought to be significant.

  • circles

    Jimmy maybe you should Concubhar’s post again – the point eing “The fact is that many people voted for SF for its strategy to end the war and secure a worthwhile deal – they didn’t support homicide of any variety.”

  • Big Bird

    La closed down because people didn’t buy it. Sin é. Does giving public money away to a loss making enterprise make any sense, when it was clearly never going to increase its sales. I have heard that outside of “good will” subscribers it actually sold less than a 100 copies per day on the whole island!

  • I think Big Bird should stick to the Sesame Street News. As far as Lá’s sale go, it was selling in excess of 1500 copies daily when I left in February 2008. Not alot of sales when compared to English language newspapers but huge sales when compared to the average sales of an Irish language book, 284 copies, or an Irish language magazine such as COMHAR (counted in dozens).

    The problem is that all of Foras na Gaeilge’s marketing money is spent on marketing Foras na Gaeilge – a body which has nothing to sell – while the groups it funds are left to market as best they can on shoe string budgets.

  • Jimmy Sands


    As I understand it he was of voting age right about the time the provos were formed so that seems very prescient of him. His loyalty has not wavered through Bloody Friday. proxy boms, pub bombings, disappearances or Enniskillen, but he draws the line at having his gums pulled off HMG’s teat. That does not suggest to me a particularly robust moral compass.

  • I think Jimmy that you know nothing about Gearóid Ó Cairealláin and you should desist from libelling him any further.

  • Seán

    SF have 4 appointees out of 16 on FnaG board. They can influence but cannot dictate FnaG policy.

  • They didn’t bother their arses to try to influence Foras policy in favour of Lá Nua – as was evident from Eoghan Mac Cormaic’s defence of the decision in his An Phoblacht column.

  • big bird

    I think Big Bird should stick to the Sesame Street News. As far as Lá’s sale go, it was selling in excess of 1500 copies daily when I left in February 2008.
    Posted by Concubhar O Liathain on Feb 09, 2009 @ 02:21 PM


    Sesame Street News would be a infinitly better read than Lá ever was, i am sorry to say!

    How many of those 1500 sales went to subscribers that set up the donation(myself included), from the paper going daily and those bought in retail outlets? Even so… 1500 sales enough to sustain a newspaper, with salaries, overheads, etc? Or should good money continue to be thrown away at something that is never going to become sustainable. Surely, if it was a decent paper, more than 1500 sales could have been achieved, with the large irish language community and the growing numbers of learners. Also, how can 4 influence 16…..??

    You dislike of SF is clouding your thinking, me thinks.

    Maybe its time to move on…… or it may consume you, in the same way it has mr o’connell. You’ll be telling us that you have a theory about, lá, numbers and gerry adams that add up to …666!!!

  • picador

    Tá eagrán a seacht den iris nósmag ar fáil anois.

  • Big Bird’s agenda is clear – he is a Sinn Féin apologist. Understandably the party is feeling the pinch, given its abject failure to achieve leadership in the south and its second fiddle act to the DUP in Stormont.

    I note that you’ve moved from your initial assessment of sales of 100 to 1500 – the reality is that’s the sales that any Irish language newspaper can expect if there is no marketing and inadequate distribution. Lá had sales of 4,404 when it was first ABC’d in August 2003. That was a great result and it could have been built on had the Foras seen fit to support it back then – but it didn’t. It waited until 2006 before stepping in with a contract for a daily news service and after failing to attract the Irish News to take that contract, it proceeded to offer Lá a paltry sum, knowing our dedication to the service would compel us to take the challenge. When Lá ran into difficulties, it sat on its hand and refused to help. At that stage SF’s representatives on the board of Foras sat on their hands.

    There’s no way four can influence sixteen if they don’t try. But the party’s didn’t try out of a fit of pique over being challenged on their effectiveness in advancing the Irish language within the executive and their reaction was kneejerk and shortsighted and fascist.

    Now SF’s has been exposed as a Shoneen party in what it thought to be its hinterland, its apologists are trying to ‘metaphorically’ shoot the messengers who are pointing out, like the little boy and the naked emperor, that the party has lost its trousers.

    Sinn Féin is now a marginal player in the national debate – at a time when it should be playing a central role given the failure of the establishment parties. I don’t dislike SF – I used to support the party and voted for Gerry Adams in the past. I am disappointed by SF as, I believe, are many more.

  • Jimmy Sands


    I’ve no wish to libel anyone. I’m happy to correct any inaccuracies.

  • Big Bird

    Any questioning of your analysis and its “your a SF apologist”

    I must be a self hating irish language supporter..!!


    Hope you and J O’Connell are happy counting to 666 together….


  • Poor Big Bird, it seems he can’t let it go. That’s why he’s trying to ‘shoot’ the messenger with smear tactics. Keep it up – that’s the way to win voters and friends for Sinn Féin.

    See how far it gets your past it party in the forthcoming elections….

  • An fhirinne gharbh

    Nior mhiste do Ghearoid breithiunas tomhaiste ionraic a thabhairt ar chaighdean an nuachtain sula gcuireann se an locht uilig ar Shinn Fein. Cad chuige nar togadh gair i measc lucht na Gaeilge i ndiaidh do La imeacht? Mar ba chuma leo ann no as e.

  • Is cinnte go raibh lochtanna ar Lá Nua ach bhí an mianach ann agus an cur chuige agus ní raibh ar iarraidh ach infheistíocht leor dhothaineach chun an aislíng a fhíorú. Creideann SF go bhfásann nuachtáin Ghaeilge ar chrainn, ní foláir.

    Maidir le gáir a thogáil i measc locht na Gaeilge nuair a cuireadh Lá chun báis, níor tharla sé mar gheall ar an easpa bri, den chuid is mó, i measc pobal na Gaeilge.

    Cac orthu san a bhionn ag caitheamh anuas ar Lá agus an méid a rinneadh ó 1984 agus 2008 chun nuachtán laethúil a chur ar fáil do phobal na Gaeilge. Snobairí gan brí nó eifeacht iad a chaitheann cuid is mó dá gcuid laethannta ag déanamh scrúdú ar phoil a dtónacha….

  • Gregory

    “It’s only a matter of time before Sinn Fein take their seats in the House of Commons and the oath to Lizzie Windsor.”

    Why not, I have to get prods to do my PQs. Gerry is a dead loss to me.

    Who really cares?


  • Gregory

    “I think Jimmy that you know nothing about Gearóid Ó Cairealláin and you should desist from libelling him any further.”

    When a person bales from SF is up to the individual,

    I can relate to people feeling let down in a personal way. I can also relate to folks pointing out that they didn’t bale soon enough.

    I regret every vote, I gave SF, I’m really sorry I ever voted them, they didn’t deserve it.

    I suckered myself, I was an eejit, and I am a fool no longer, better late than never.