Sinn Fein believes negotiations are now closed…

Good morning. Another week-end looming and still no deal between the DUP and Sinn Fein. The problem is this: as of now, come the first week in May Republicans can put on show as evidence of the transfer of policing and justice powers a justice minister at work and all the attending swearing-in publicity. The attorney general will be visibly seen assuming his office and essentially for Republicans another link has been broken with England, if only symbolically, with local control over policing and justice being the order of the day.Against this background what will the DUP have to show for all Peter Robinson’s negotiating skills? Herein hangs the tale. The DUP has majored “on getting parading right.” The question is what does this mean ?

The existing Parades Commission is a creature of government to remove responsibility from it for having to take charge at Executive level every year regarding where people can or cannot march. In other words the Parades Commission does the government’s dirty work for it.

The government is reluctant to undo this edifice because Sinn Fein/The SDLP/the PSNI/the Police Federation/and the Policing Board all want to retain the parades commission. The DUP is pressing to put an alternative structure or structures in place.

This is a rather difficult area in which to bring comfort to the DUP apart from being awkward. It is the rock however upon which everything could perish. About one third of the DUP’s elected members want visible ‘product’ up and running to coincide with Sinn Fein’s ‘goodies’ in May.

No deal is yet complete.

The DUP is hard-balling. That party wants Sinn Fein to make a concession not stated publicly yet. Sinn Fein is no mood for reopening negotiations. They believe they have been closed. Gerry Adams is adamant that no matter what emerges Republicans will not live with Orange parades marching in catholic/nationalist areas where they are not welcome.

The Orange Order historically marched where it wanted along what it saw as ‘ the Queen’s highway.’ We are all prisoners of folk memory.

One wag said of Irish history: “It is just one f…….thing after another.” Crude but accurate.

, ,

  • Panic, these ones like it up em.

    I think its traditional that tradition evolves.

  • Cynic2

    Stange that SF did sign off Ashdown but now dont want it.

    I actually agree. Given the nature of our councils its proposals are madness. The quality of our councillors is so poor and they are elected on such low poll numbers that this will give every nutter – green and orange – the chance to grandstand.

    Furthermore as a Unionist – albeit one who wants to work in cooperation with nationsilt neighbours who share this sod – anyone wioth half a brain realsies that teh Unionist community largely thinks t6he OO is a collection of fools. Their numbers are dropping and their support was severaly damaged by DRumcree. Who wants to go back to children burnt to death in their beds, grandmothers murdered adn policemen blown up by pipebombs thrown by these brave sons of Ulster and their supporters.

    For the DUP to turn the OO into a shibboleth shows how narrow tgheir out look is within their own community and is a strategic disaster.

  • Medillen

    Eamonn have you recovered now, back on the offensive. AS you, along with Mark Devenport, got very defensive yesterday about your stories. I thought you had more bottle than that and wouldn’t be spooked by a threatening phone call from wee timmy.

  • Dazzler

    Let the DUP play hardball all they want.

    Now that we are told there will be no UUP/DUP pact and that if the DUP do not agree a deal there WILL be an immediate snap assembley election (as made clear by Gordon Brown), it is obvious that the DUP are under serious pressure.

    They either back a deal which 40% of their party reject and face mass resignations and defections to the TUV or they finally come out and say NO, triggering assembly elections where they will be wiped out. This would leave a SF first minister and a SF/UUP government.

    I think they will go for the former, possible bringing some of the 40% on board.

    If I were SF I would insist that the Irish Language Act is implemented as they now have extra leverage to do so.

    Either way its a win win for SF.

  • Dazzler

    “That party wants Sinn Fein to make a concession not stated publicly yet”

    What might this be?

    Also when are the DUP assembly team meeting?

  • J Kelly

    Sinn Fein will now be be looking forward to either election, deal or deal and have stood up to the dup and an wee bonus the sdlp retirement and leadership election a non story.

  • “The problem is this: as of now”

    What’s Eamonn wittering about? I thought it was pretty clear that ‘as of now’ the process is deadlocked.

  • BryanS

    Can someone tell me what the Irish Language act is supposed to achieve. Is it purely a waste of scarce resorses thanslating everything into Irish as well as english – road signs, street names etc|?

  • ardmaj55

    Dazzler [4] I wonder what old Ian is thinking about his invention that he foisted on the north back in 1971? He was quoted in the immediate aftermath of the Irisgate revelations as, ” beyond fury”. He must be apoplectic at the low that his party has been brought to by Robbo, who has managed to mess up the paisley legacy.
    The DUP have seen in their private polls where the have sunk to in the estimation of all but a small rump of neanderthals [who will now switch to TUV]. The last rites are imminent for the DUPPERS and no group in NI will have deserved it more richly.

  • ardmaj55

    I think Brown is intending an assembly election here [if this is proved needed]to be held on the same day as the westminster poll. this is a good move as the DUP won’t be able to work out what they need to do as regards strategy, because the crash will hit them in both polls at the same time.

  • Neil

    The DUP need to realise that Republicans have lived up to their side of the bargain so far. Time for the DUP to do the same. Initially it looked to me as though the Shinners were in self destruct mode. After stressing the importance of P&J and stressing how it would be devolved in no time, they made it very straightforward for the DUP to do them real damage. All they had to do was hold out, and no agreement on a date for devolution on paper left the DUP free to show the electorate how the Shinners had taken their sworn enemies word that devolution would occur.

    Now the DUP, having seen this, and played their part in dragging the situation out, are doing the same thing. They’re selling something they realistically cannot deliver (without the help of SF, and from Gerry’s statement it looks like that’s out the window), they’ve stressed how important it is that they ‘deal’ with parades, get rid of the PC, and all this without having the Shinners sign up to that. On paper.

    Personally I feel that the DUP is a party that will do anything to survive. And while things are heading down the road of stonewalling each other I see an election coming. The DUP’s only real hope to salvage the situation is to try to keep the party in one piece, try to win the election in the hope of re-entering later negotiations in a position similair to the one their in now.

    Reality bites though. and it’s tough titty for the DUP, they’ve made an enemy of everyone over the years. They’ve no friends left, and few will be sad to see them lose their position to the revitalised, well funded UUs, while the TUV eats up a few vital votes in the background.

  • Can someone tell me what the Irish Language act is supposed to achieve. Is it purely a waste of scarce resorses thanslating everything into Irish as well as english – road signs, street names etc|?

    Posted by Bryan


    Show some empathy old son, that you ask such a question shows you just do not get the peace process, or do you perhaps and are being mischievous in the hope of collecting the odd fool along the way?

    Empathy, empathy we must have empathy.

  • Neil


    Can someone tell me what the Irish Language act is supposed to achieve. Is it purely a waste of scarce resorses thanslating everything into Irish as well as english – road signs, street names etc|?

    I can understand it means little to yourself, but can you imagine the response you would get from an Orangeman if you put the same question? “Why should the entire working population of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland pay for the twelfth, the 11th night, the bonfires, the security (especially on hot years where it runs to millions upon millions) for the benefit of less than a million people in Northern Ireland?”

    They would respond (were they not rendered incapable by rage at the suggestion) that it was their culture. I don’t expect a Unionist to care much about the language that is not your language, but we also pay taxes, and we don’t use them on parades through loyalist areas, so if it’s ok by yourself, we’ll use them on the preservation of the Irish language.

  • JohnM

    Well said Neil.

  • BryanS

    Hold on Neil. I asked the question because I dont know the answer. What is involved?

  • Maith an fear Neil – díreach an rud go raibh mise ag iarraidh a rá .. Good points Neil and exactly what I wanted to say

  • BryanS

    And in case you are interested I agree that parades where they are not wanted are ridiculous and should not be facilitated. i just wondered if the Irish language thing was tit for tat for parades. It honestly sounds like that to me.

  • Medillen

    Ken Reid reporting that devolution date is as early as April 12th.

  • jack

    J Kelly

    Agreed ,the election of a new leader is a non story ,what happens after it could be the real story.

  • Scaramoosh

    If the negotiations are indeed closed, and there is closure on this matter then “Republicans” need to get out of their ghettos, and to try and embrace some real politics.

    They need to understand that after the resolution of policing and justice, the so called causes of the war have been neutralised.

    It is then time for real secularised politics. A United Ireland is an aspiration, not a political philosophy. The notion of a united Ireland will not solve poverty and injustice and nor will it rid society of sectarianism.

    The Shinners have now also go to understand that they do not get votes in the South, because they are tolerated as a sticky plaster solution to a problem in the backyard, that nobody can be bothered with.

    To be taken seriously they are now going to have to start to read some economic textbooks; no more playing the oppressed card.

  • Critical Alien

    Bryan, Mickhall

    Empathy, or ‘comhbhá’.

    You’re welcome.

  • Neil


    apologies for my abrasive nature, it’s just the way I am, no offence.

  • Marcionite

    To be honest, I’m more of a political nationialist than a cultural one. I believe the Irish language should be saved and encouraged to grow where it is already a living everyday language like the Gaeltacht areas. However, there is no such Gaeltacht in Northern Ireland and I do suspect that those protagonists for an Irish Language Act (ILA) are doing it for tit-for-tat reasons.

    I know there are people who speak Irish everyday in Northern Ireland but since when? A few years ago? For political reasons no doubt in the same way Mass attendance is higher in the North, not that northern Catholics are more religious but its one in the eye to the Prods/Brits.

    Didn’t Danny Morrison say that every word of Irish spoken is a bullet against the British? Good old SF, that’s how you encourage Protestants to learn Irish.

    Everyone who knows Irish in NI also knows English. Its the Lingua Franca.

    As for the ‘two cultures’, lets speak some home truths, there are no ‘two cultures’ here. We all have one culture and let me tell you what that culture is:

    Its getting up on a cold morning and going to work and coming home in the evening OR
    It’s getting up and looking for work or signing on

    Spare time is spent watching TV or going out with friends. Differences in sporting preferences is not a cultural division anymore than those who prefer darts to snooker are a culturally distinct entity

    We all wear the ubiquitous epilette riddled rubbish that passes for clothes from Next and River Island

    We watch the same TV and the same movies and read the same magazines

    So tell me, what exactly is the Great Divide in terms of modus vivendi? Are there really two cultures or is it as I suspect, a fiction at best and a magnified quirk at worst to suit an extreme highly/overly politized minority who claim to speak for everyone?

    I possess an NI tourist brochure from the late 1950’s produced by the old Stormont government. It has shamrocks galore and not a single mention of Britishness, in fact, it refers to various aspects of NI as ‘Irish’ more so than ‘Ulster’.

    I thank SF for bastardising and making Irishness a cold house for Protestants. It’ll take generation to put right if it can.

    Shinners, you kicked the dog so often do you really wonder why it doesn’t want to fetch your rotten sticks?

    I don’t think I will vote SF next time actually. Who really wants child murderers heading what passes for government here. Rather a rabid Unionist in charge who hasnt blood on his hands than a fork tongued Provo with bathtubs of blood behind him.

  • Scaramoosh – there are ghettos of the streets OK, and a good question would be who created them.
    But more pertinently, the key problem we have is a ghetto mindset on the part of unionists. Can you name a unionist party existing at the moment that is willing to share real power with those ghetto dwellers you refer to? A party that would serve under someone hailing from that same ghetto.

    There isn’t one.

  • BryanS

    Well now Marc, Im glad you got that off your chest!
    A lot of sense and realism there. Very refreshing.
    I have always said that the bank manager on the Falls road has more in common with the bank manager on the Shankill than anyone else in the world. Same is true of the unemployed person.

  • Nordie Northsider

    Mickhall wrote: ‘Empathy, empathy we must have empathy.’

    Isn’t one Reg Empathy enough for you?

  • ardmaj55

    EM if it comes to going into the election with the unpatable or the utterly unpalatable for the DUP [the latter being P&J job done foer shinners, or the former with no deal and therefore elections to assembly, the DUP will opt for the former, even though this could lead to meltdown for them in any case. the UUP could face SF after elections and govts will get the P&J job done anyway.

  • Nordie


  • If all the Irish Language Act is about is creating a layer of bureaucracy wherein unread material in English is translated to Irish, where it can be equally unread as Gaeilge, then I want no Irish Language Act.

    The Irish Language Act has to be about making the language more accessible to people, in schools, in the media, in the courts, in public view, rather than in unread ‘official documents’.

  • JohnM

    Eamonn now reporting Gerry Kelly has said that negotiations are definitely over.

  • Garza

    The ILA should be giving every person easy access to learn Irish if they choose to do so and promote irish language media programmes, but that is all it should be about.

    I would only agree with courts and road signs being influence by Irish if 10% could only speak Irish, but there isn’t. Everyone speaks English here. I’m all for promotion of the Irish language but its should triumph common sense and it def should not be about trying to get one over the unionists.

  • BryanS

    Well that is a refreshingly reasonable response. Let us hope that is what is on the agenda. How do we find out?

  • Driftwood

    The (British)Government already funds Irish language schools, produces all GCSE/GCE Exam papers and materials in Irish medium for those schools and a great deal else. Many local councils provide street signs and publications in Irish. All funded by the long suffering (SE)English taxpayer. Also the ridiculous Boord o’ Ulster Scots guff.
    I cringe on my way home every night at the big sign ‘Fair fa ye t’ the Airds’ as I pass through Ards Borough Council territory. As daft as the graffiti in big letters in Raffrey counseling me to ‘Remember 1960!’

  • BryanS

    So in other words the ILA is a red herring and a tit for tat for parades. A curse on both!

  • abc123

    cynic2 – “anyone wioth half a brain realsies that teh Unionist community largely thinks t6he OO is a collection of fools.”

    Anyone with half a brain wouldn’t make so many spelling mistakes in one sentence! You are incorrect in your assessment of the Orange Order.
    It isn’t just about the people in the lodges. It’s Northern Ireland’s biggest cultural event.
    Trying to make yourself appear more ‘modern’ by making such comments doesn’t work. So much for your inclusive new future.

  • abc123

    Neil – “The DUP need to realise that Republicans have lived up to their side of the bargain so far.”

    Really? So they didn’t drag their heals for years over getting rid of their illegal guns and bombs?

  • The Board o’ Ulster Scotch guff may be ridiculous but it’s a mistake to lump that in with Irish, which is a living breathing spoken language in NI.

    As for the ILA being a red herring, it’s most decidedly not so. There’s language protection legislation in Scotland for Scots Gaelic, in Wales for Welsh. Why not in NI for Irish?

    I believe that the emphasis should be on access rather than bureaucracy in whatever legislation is eventually in place. The starting point should be the media – and after that the schools. Courts is not a priority – not many Irish speakers break the law, you see….

  • abc123

    Good post by Marcionite. Especially “Shinners, you kicked the dog so often do you really wonder why it doesn’t want to fetch your rotten sticks?”

    Exactly. Also agree that most people are just trying to get enough money to live rather than being worried about some false crisis over P&J.

  • David Crookes

    Get real, everyone. The Irish Language Act when it comes should be about enabling ALL of us to read our own classical literature. Do we want to be able to read Táin Bó Cúailnge in the original? Yes! Do we want to hear illiterate people expressing their squalid opinions in either Irish or English? No! Well, then. Let us not demean the Irish language by ignoring its literature.

    A note for certain unionist politicians. To hate an Irish language of which you know nothing is altogether irrational. If you’re scared of the Irish language, you’re scared of culture. And now I shall not say another word.

    How shall we make room for useful subjects like Irish and Latin in the school curriculum? By getting rid of Peace Studies, Personal Development Studies, Education for Employability Studies, Minoritarian Yelping Studies, Media Studies, Manure Studies, and so on.

    It will be a fine thing if one day we have an Irish television version of Táin Bó Cúailnge to take its place beside the Chopra Brothers’ Mahabharat.

  • Neil

    So they didn’t drag their heals for years over getting rid of their illegal guns and bombs?

    Yes they did. Some would say they dragged their heels for 30 years, others would say they shouldn’t have given them up at all.

    It’s irrelevant though, the situation is what it is. It’s time for the DUP to shit or get off the pot. P&J is devolved and we’re happy, or it’s not and there’s an election for the DUP which in all likelihood won’t go well. In other words heads SF win; tails DUP loses.

  • BryanS

    Get real, everyone. The Irish Language Act when it comes should be about enabling ALL of us to read our own classical literature. Do we want to be able to read Táin Bó Cúailnge in the original? Yes! Do we want to hear illiterate people expressing their squalid opinions in either Irish or English? No! Well, then. Let us not demean the Irish language by ignoring its literature.

    What is stopping you reading Irish classical literature? It is a free country. You can read anything you like in whatever language you like. It dosen’t need an act of parliament.

  • John Joe

    Eamonn’s latest two tweets: (1) Prime Ministers are not expected today. Peter Robinson has to manage his party! We await the outcome of a DUP assembly meeting. (2) We are still awaiting information as to the DUP’s intentions.The governments believe Peter Robinson has to manage his colleagues today.

    If Eamonn is reading this right, it seems like things are really threatening to move on without the DUP, which will definitely mean an election etc. I’d love to be a fly on the wall of that DUP Assembly team meeting.

  • Marcionite

    David Crookes with all due respect, I think you rather miss the point here. When SF made statements about every work of Irish being a bullet against Britain, I cannot honestly blame unionists for taking a hostile view of the language, as irrational as that might be.

    Emotion is just as valid and if not more real than cold reasoned logic.

    Conchubar Welsh is actually a living modus vivendi language that is spoken in Wales since time immemorial and not just learnt in a night class 10 years ago. Ditto for Scots Gaelic. If this conversation was about the entire Ireland, then yes, I would support the ILA but only in this regions which truly are bilingual. But this conversation is about the 6 counties of Northern Ireland which does not have a Gaeltacht as well you know and don’t be telling me that we have Bun Scoils etc, these are not the equivalent of Gealtachts.

    Orange marchers: do they or do they not march happily with UVF/UDA banners and sing songs derogatory to a religious community here of very significant size? Just because something is a tradition or has been done for a long time is not a self-justification for its existence.
    Beside, referring to my first point in this thread, Orange culture is not a culture anymore than GAA is a culture, its little more than a noisy hobby taken up by a very small minority but its given more attention and power than it deserves thanks to the overly politized minority that exist in the Unionist political classes.
    Being hostile to the OO is not the same as being hostile to Protestants. A lot of Protestants think the OO as boorish anochronisms. Just because you and your friend may support the OO does not mean that you can logically extrapolate the supposition that all/most Protestants support the OO.
    Like most things in life, empty vessels make the most noise

    By the way, I forgive Cynic2 spelling mistakes. Its hell doing this on a handheld device. I’m on my PC now and its a sheer delight not to see every ‘of’ being rendered as ‘if’ and vice versa.

  • Marcionite

    I suggest an English Language Act and make Belfast people speak better English than the strangled, shouting, aggressive swear-ridden squalking that masquerades as language.

  • David Crookes

    Thanks for your reply, BryanS. People need to be made aware of what is there. Otherwise they’ll be content with the very little that they already know. It is a disgrace that so many of our politicians are content to know almost nothing about the history and literature of their own country. I keep hoping that Belfast International Airport will be named after C S Lewis, but I know several persons who would prefer to have it named after a motorcyclist. Ulster culture!

    ‘Free country’ is an ambiguous phrase. I was compelled to take violin lessons for eight years. At the end of eight years I was ‘free’ to play the violin competently, if I so desired. I should not have been ‘free’ to play the violin competently without that antecedent period of compulsion.

  • Marcionite

    On the point of respecting RC/Protestant traditions, the following are Protestant traditions that you would find virtually no RC objecting to:

    -Going to your place of worship
    -Naming your first born males after mother’s -maiden name thus we have a lot of people here called Wilson Twiddy and Campbell Soupe
    -Bad haircuts

    Also there are a lot of RC traditions that virtually no Protestant would object to

    -Going to your place of goat sacrafice, I mean worship 🙂 (that was a joke by the way, I’m RC myself)
    – Naming all your male children one of the following names, Paul, John, Sean, Paul, Brian, John, Seamus, Paul, John-Paul, Sean Pol if from West Belfast, John
    -Bad haircuts

    there. On the whole, we’re more tolerant than we think

  • BryanS

    Excellent Marc. Thank goodness for a sense of humour among all this nonsence.

  • FitzjamesHorse

    Sinn Féin have played a blinder.
    They got thru Plan A quicker than they expected.
    If there is an Election for Stormont their vote/representation will be much the same.

    DUP will lose some seats and maybe lose defectors to TUV. Even as UUP gain seats there will be a balance between UUP/DUP and a third force on the right.
    Thus unionism is unlikely to have a clear “leader” but republicanism will have a clear leader.
    Nothing can happen without them.

    The division today in DUP indicates two things. To get their people back on board they NEED crumbs from SF. SF COULD actually do that but are probably thinking “why?”

    I am surprised nobody has mentioned Brian Feeneys piece in yesterdays “Irish News”. Feeney points out that the DUP still act in a superior fashion to SF….rarely speaking to them being deliberately rude and offensive at every opportunity while SF are polite to the point of madness.

    Now of course many here will agre that the DUP are fully entitled to be offensive to the Party which represents Terrorism and that DUP members (Jeffrey Donaldson) have lost family members. True of course but much of the antagonism stems from old fashioned bigotry.
    In this particular case the DUP “bigotry” has blinded them. They are so offended by having to deal with SF-IRA that they are making bad decisions.
    Deep down SF can laugh at this.
    In any negotiation Robbo and the negotiating team can seemingly make a deal and it will never be accepted by the hardliners.

  • joeCanuck

    McGuiness said there would be a crisis in the New Year. DUP went hahahahaha. Well who would have guessed what the crisis would be.
    He who laughs last…..

  • BryanS

    it aint over till the big girl sings. Do I hear Orange Lill tuning up or is that daniel O’D?

  • abc123

    Marcionite – “Orange marchers: do they or do they not march happily with UVF/UDA banners”

    If the banners are marked 1912 UVF then most Protestants wouldn’t have a problem with that. Of course, if they are referring to the modern day versions, then bands which carry them should be disciplined. The argument some of these bands give is that the GAA is state funded and glorifies P-IRA/INLA terrorists. Something should be done about that too.

    But like BryanS, I also say – Excellent posts. We have much more in common than many want to admit. I particularly liked the proposal of an English Language Act for Belfast!

  • Marcionite
    I think that it’s a bad idea to try to skew the debate by bringing in this notion that the people who speak Irish have to be speaking it from time immemorial. If they learned it and have built an entire community in Belfast and elsewhere around the Irish language – not just Bunscoileanna as you so dismissively suggest, that has to be a good thing. And their demands can’t be dismissed. They do pay taxes. They are citizens of NI. They have acted responsibly and therefore their rights should be respected on the same basis as other citizens in other part of the UK who speak other indigenous languages.

    After all the Scots Gaelic language is spoken by far fewer people in Scotland than Irish is in NI – even though Scotland is a bigger and more populated country. Welsh language learners are protected as well as those who are Welsh language ‘native speakers’.

    Of course language protection of Irish has to be discussed in a UK context as well as an all Ireland context – and under both jurisdictions Irish should be protected in NI. Ie Irish is protected in the south via the Constitution and the Official Languages Act while in ‘mainland UK’ Scots Gaelic and Welsh are protected. NI is the exception in all of this, the anomaly. There is no valid reason for the maintenance of this differential treatment.

    There is also a valid argument to be made that the unionist regime between 1920 and 1969 allowed Irish to die out as a native language in the parts of NI where it was spoken by native speakers – Tyrone etc. To complain now that only ‘native speakers’ deserve the protection of Irish language legislation is a bit self serving and hypocritical.

  • David Crookes

    Marcionite, every lambeg drum involves the sacrifice of two goats!

    I still think an ILA would be good for all of us. If unionists embrace the Irish language intrepidly, non-unionists will have to start and work at it in earnest. No more Heaneyesque ‘mythopoeic’ use of the language (that is, not bothering to learn it properly).

    In time we can start campaigning for a Latin Language Act. It excited me greatly to learn when I went to my first lunchtime Irish class (shocking thing for a unionist in the 1970s) that inniu came from Latin in die, and that leabhor came from Latin liber.

    I do hope that our deliberations are being followed in Hillsborough.

  • joeCanuck

    People, especially the DUP would do well to remember that once great political parties can disappear virtually overnight.
    Remember the once great UK Party called the Liberals. In recent times the then Conservative Party in Canada was reduced from a comfortable parliamentary majority to 2 seats in the early 1990s. They split hopelessly and had to constitute a new Party eventually 15 years or so later.

  • Marcionite

    abc123 hmm. I understand the difference between the UVF of 1912 and the latterday one but when I see the words UVF, my blood runs cold.

    Similarly, the GAA need to be sensitive about naming grounds after IRA/INLA. There’s room for improvement on both organisations. politics and sport need to be seperated

    however, I am also rendered cold whenever I see a Cromwell Road/ Street.

    Perhaps a new quango, headed by Monica Queen Quango McWilliams herself (NICCI indeed, what a pile of dung) to take the next 5 years into assessing the offensiveness of each street and townland name in NI.

  • Nordie Northsider

    Two corrections to the language posts:

    (1) Get real, everyone. The Irish Language Act when it comes should be about enabling ALL of us to read our own classical literature. Do we want to be able to read Táin Bó Cúailnge in the original? Yes!

    Sadly a knowledge of modern Irish will not enable one to read An Táin in the original Old Irish. There isn’t even a decent translation of the entire text in modern Irish. Most people read Kinsella’s English version.

    (2) Conchubhar wrote: After all the Scots Gaelic language is spoken by far fewer people in Scotland than Irish is in NI.

    Well, the Scottish Gaeltacht is home to 60,000 native speakers whose habitual language is Gaelic. I don’t care what wishful thinking people indulge in when filling out the NI Census forms, but nothing like that exists in the North of Ireland.

  • BryanS

    Do you realise that while we our exercising our typing fingers the Dow is down 180 and the little dog Footsie is down 100 and even oil is down $2. We are doomed!

  • Marcionite

    As much as I object to the old Stormont regime, they didn’t exactly round up and shoot Irish speakers, did they?. Irish was on decline anyway, just as it was in the 26 counties. Despite all the protections and money the 26 Counties threw at Irish, it didn’t turn the nation into a nation of Gaelgeors (Irish speakers as they refer to themselves). While the old Unionist Party didn’t encourage its survival, its decline was on the cards anyway. Besides, Irish was/is taught in every RC secondary school anyway so you can’t use the educational argument.

    As for the Bunscoileanna (Irish language schools), you cannot just set up a linguistically separatist school and demand political and financial recognition. Irish was not the everyday language of the Falls or Lower Ormeau in the 20th century so what is the reason for trying to reconstitute it now?

    I’m a taxpayer, if I set up a Francophone school in Belfast, should there be a FLA and automatic state funding?

    There’s a right and a wrong reason for everything and as a nationalist who has the inside track on nationalism by dint of growing up and living in nationalist areas, I know fine rightly that 95% of new Irish speakers are doing it for political and many for hostile reasons, or rather for politica and hostile reason of their parents.

    Everyone can quote the exception but those are my findings.

    For balance, I apply the same to Ulster Scots, a language I never heard off until after the Anglo Irish agreement was signed. I’m only waiting for the more extreme elements of the Alliance Party to come up with their own language any day now.

    My objection ultimately is that Irish is being used as a stick to beat the DUP with. As much as I dislike the DUP and what they stand for, waiving totems does not make for an inclusive society.

    If you are bona fide Irish speaker who genuinely believes in hte language, I apologise if my posting cause offence but Sinn Fein have a lot to answer for for politicising the language and turning it into the bogeyman it is today. I sincerely wish that was not the case but here we are

  • David Crookes

    Thanks for making a good point, Nordie Nordsider, and please allow me to expand upon it. First we learn modern French. In time we come to read La Chanson de Roland. First we learn modern German. In time we come to read Das Nibelungenlied. First we learn modern English. In time we come to read The Canterbury Tales.

  • Panic, these ones like it up em.

    Posted by BryanS

    ” Do you realise that while we our exercising our typing fingers the Dow is down 180 and the little dog Footsie is down 100 and even oil is down $2. We are doomed! ”

    At least there is a comforting certainty about being doomed.

    Much better than if/but/maybe doomed. Oh for the comfort of certainty.

  • georgieleigh


    “I’m a taxpayer, if I set up a Francophone school in Belfast, should there be a FLA and automatic state funding?”

    No, because Belfast is not in France.

    Two weeks ago Robbo was finished, his political obituary written.

    One week ago he was the brilliant strategist steering a new united unionist political movement.

    Today he is the ruiner of the Union and observes a wreckage where the DUP used to be.

    Week, politics, triumph, disaster……..

  • IanR

    From the Belfast Tele:

    “You are still down to getting the big boys onboard,” a talks insider commented — a reference to those very senior sceptics including Gregory Campbell, Willie McCrea, David Simpson and Lord Morrow.


    As someone pointed out the other day, they’re the ones that have MPs salaries to fall back on if the Assembly collapses or, in the case of Morrow, isn’t even in danger of losing his Westminster seat at all (although House of Lords membership doesn’t attract quite the level of perks as the Commons).

  • Marcionite, I too am thoroughly enjoying your recent contributions.

    The thing that bothers me most about the current state of the Irish language in NI is the way it is being used to mark territory. At least in the South it is applied generally – ridiculously wasteful, but even-handed. In the North we find bilingualism being applied on a street-by-street basis, which is just compounding our existing problems of ghettoisation. Whatever comes out of the ILA, the first priority should surely be to depoliticise the language. If that means bilingualism on all road signage then maybe it’s a price worth paying? It would be a one-off expense, unlike the translation of court documents (for example) which would be ongoing.

    Speaking of road signs, has anyone else noticed how the word “Londonderry” is studiously avoided as much as possible on the A5? South of Omagh, only Omagh is signposted; north of Omagh, only Strabane. You have to drive past Strabane to find the first “Londonderry”. Fear of vandalism?

  • Greenflag

    What SF need to do now is to reach out to those ‘unionists ’ who favour neither UCUNF nor TUV and who are somewhat queasy about the FP wing of the DUP .

    SF can maintain their Irish Unity aspiration while at the same time taking their seats at Westminster and offer their support to Gordon Brown’s Labour. In this way they could be seen to support the economic and social interests of ‘liberal’ or left unionists who are now ‘disenfranchised ’ at Westminster .

    To those who would see such a move as a betrayal of Republican principles I would point out that the voters have long since given up on so called ‘principled’ politicians for two reasons
    a) very few if any exist and b) they have not been unknown to change their principles when opportune .

    With the dual mandate ending for the Assembly and Westminster a move to Westminster would surely sharpen SF’s parliamentary skills for the future and presumably with a an extra couple of SF MLA’s would strengthen the party and enable them to move on to the post Adams era stronger rather than weaker .

    Such a reach out might even help SF win an extra seat at Westminster -it would also strengthen the GFA .

    It would also enable some ‘unionists ’ to vote for SF candidates WITHOUT putting the ‘union’ at risk .

    SF probably have a better chance of picking up that extra Westminster seat than the SDLP and/or Alliance given their base support .

    If the Tories can stick their noses into NI politics and upset the ‘applecart ’ why should’nt SF do the same at Westminster ??

  • Greenflag

    mickhall ,

    ‘Empathy, empathy we must have empathy.’

    So NOT we nust have Empey , Empey , Empey ;)?

    Empathy doesn’t pay well in the Old Testament . Eye for an eye or better still two for one .

  • Marcionite

    Notice near the border that they try to squeeze as many NI towns in their bilingual form as possible, no matter how improbably distant from the signpost itself. I find it quite humourous.

    I propose Derry is renamed Dublinderry. That’ll keep us in arguments if God forbid the P+J issue is sorted.

  • We should be grateful, I suppose, that the old Stormont regime didn’t round up and shoot Irish speakers. However the Irish language died in these areas on their watch and if they had any respect for the minority culture in NI, they would have done more to ensure its suvival. The opposite holds true. Unionist politicians spoke vehemently against the Irish language and NI was a cold house for Irish speakers in that time.

    Despite this the Irish language survived and is now thriving. Life’s too short for people in their thousands to be speaking and spending their days as Gaeilge as an act of hostility against the Brits or Unionists. Most people in NI, where I lived for many years myself, don’t encounter the Brits or the Unionists from one year to the next. Most young speakers of Irish – ie the hundreds of students at Coláiste Feirste – weren’t even born when the first IRA ceasefire was announced. They are as much ‘native speakers’ as our Gaelic friends in Scotland.

    Irish is a minority language in a country, on an island, on an island where the majority language is English. As such I accept it’s not practical to suggest that Irish only Gaeltachtaí be set up throughout the North. At the same time, the Irish language is a vibrant spoken indigenous language. As such it deserves the same protection as other indigenous languages in the UK – Scots Gaelic and Welsh – and in Ireland, Irish.

    Your argument suggests that Irish speakers in the north should lie down and accept a second class status to indigenous minority language speakers in the other parts of the UK. Surely you realise that this is what politicises the language and radicalises its speakers! And more of the same will push people who are peacefully and reaasonably carrying on with their lives, as Gaeilge, paying their taxes etc into extreme political positions. These Irish speakers have no interest in using the language to beat the DUP with – but if the DUP continues with its extreme anti Irish stance then that’s what will happen. At the same time as one SF many was saying that every spoken word of Irish equalled a bullet in the struggle, the DUP’s Sammy Wilson was describing Irish as a ‘leprechaun language’. This colourful rhetoric continues today and is all the more hypocritical because the DUP claims that the Irish language is being politicised by Sinn Féin and yet sits in government with that party. Either the DUP is sharing power with SF and the two parties are partners in government pursing a common agenda or its not. The two main parties can’t be pursuing opposite agendas while sitting in the same government – or can they?

    The Ulster Scots language and culture is not to be bundled with the Irish language. They’re entirely different things and there is a valid argument that the Ulster Scots language has become secondary in a movement which is aimed at promoting ‘Unionist culture’. I have no objection to the promotion of Unionist culture – but call it what it is.

  • Greenflag

    conchubhar ,

    ‘ The two main parties can’t be pursuing opposite agendas while sitting in the same government – or can they?’

    Well that’s exactly what they’ve been trying to do these past three years .
    As you can see it’s “working ” on and off like with more off than off it seems 😉

    Excellent post btw .

  • IanR


    “If [Orange Order] banners are marked 1912 UVF then most Protestants wouldn’t have a problem with that.”

    Surely by that logic, ‘most Protestants’ wouldn’t have a problem with banners marked ‘1916 IRA’ passing through their neighbourhoods?

    I somehow doubt that.