I want to plug the humble Comber potato and the Portavogie prawn

 By tradition in a maiden speech,  an MP is supposed to praise his constituency and his predecessor. The new DUP for Strangford  Jim Shannon proved he was a traditionalist to the core, giving a name check to almost every town and village in Strangford.  He  managed a gracious word about Iris Robinson without embarrassment  in a list of past members. But in one respect Jim as a trailblazer. As promised,  this  was the first time that part of a Commons speech was delivered in Ulster Scots. Hansard writers normally check with speakers that they’ve got it  right.  This time they surely had a supplied text. Jim’s English it must be said spoken at breakneck speed  didn’t sound all that different from his Ulster Scots. 

One of the things that I wished to speak about in the Chamber was my Ulster Scots. I did get permission to do this, so I hope hon. Members will bear with me.

Thaur is monies a guid thang at A cud sae aboot tha fowk o mi Baille-Wick bot yince an firmaist A coont it a muckle oaner tae spake oot oan thair ahauf in tha Hoose O Commons. Tha Strengfird fowk ir tha satt o tha grun, an in thenkin thaim fer thair support A wud promis thaim at A’ll wrocht an dae fer thaim aa at A caun.”

 In this Parliament the SDLP join the DUP on the opposition benches. Sitting on the bench in front of him, Mark Durkan and Margaret Ritchie gave him the odd cheer.   He ended :

In conclusion, Winston Churchill is one of my heroes and always has been. He had a good grasp of the English language, and he was a good historian and also a good soldier. He said:

“This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”

I stand in this place humbled and honoured at the fact that the voters of Strangford have elevated me from the Northern Ireland Assembly to the House of Commons. The Assembly was my beginning, but my election to the House is certainly not the end of the matter. That quote from Winston Churchill reminds me of another of his. I have made it to the end of my maiden speech with no heckling from Irish Nationalists or anyone else, something that I am exceedingly grateful for. I hope this will be the first of many speeches in the House.

Laughter all round.


  • al

    “Whether it be from Portaferry to Carrowdoor, from Comber to Crossgar, Ballynahinch to Ballywalter, Newtonards to Grey Abbey”

    You think they would check their spelling before writing in Hansard.

  • Brian Walker

    This is the uncorrected version.

  • willis

    I just thought it was in Ulster Scots.

  • How do you translate a dialect….or do you write it phonetically

  • Framer

    Lord Kilcooley damned with faint praise –

    “A hard-working MP is nothing new to the people of Strangford. My predecessor, Iris Robinson, was known for years as a conscientious worker. John Taylor was the MP for many years before that, and I had my first meeting with him and his wife Mary in the House of Commons some 20-odd years ago. Before that we had Jim Kilfedder, who represented the area of Strangford within North Down. We have been blessed over the years to have a number of good MPs. I can remember placing my X for the first time ever next to Jim Kilfedder’s name many years ago.”

    Even Popular Unionist Jim Kilfedder (Sylvia Hermon in drag) is name checked.

  • Rory Carr

    “Thaur is monies a guid thang at A cud sae aboot tha fowk o mi Baille-Wick bot yince an firmaist A coont it a muckle oaner tae spake oot oan thair ahauf in tha Hoose O Commons. Tha Strengfird fowk ir tha satt o tha grun, an in thenkin thaim fer thair support A wud promis thaim at A’ll wrocht an dae fer thaim aa at A caun.”

    I can easily read this in clear received pronounciation English:

    There is many a good thing that I could say about the folk of my Bailiwick but first and foremost I count it as a great honour to speak out on their behalf in the House of Commons. The Strangford folk are the salt of the earth, and in thanking them for their support I would promise them that I’ll endeavour to do for them all that I can.

    One hardly needs to be a linguist to understand this. It certainly doesn’t appear to any more than a phonetical rendering of English spoken with a particular Ulster accent and a dubious usage of “wrocht” (wrought -Middle English wroght, from Old English geworht, past participle of wyrcan, to work; see werg– in Indo-European roots.) which here seems to be a past participle to the verb to work yet applied as in the future tense.

  • as i say its a dialect
    It really annoys me the amount of money being wasted on this which to me seems like “themmuns got money for a language we want some too”
    I was at an unveiling of a statue up the Crumlin road last week which the ulster scotch agency contributed towards and one of the board made a speech talking about the agency’s contribution and how they were there to promote the dialect, yet he didn’t speak one single word of it.
    Waste of feckin money

  • Salem

    I was at a gamefair recently where ulster scots had a large stall – it was empty apart from a table with some publications such as oot an aboot and some freebies, there was a fella making what looked like soda bread. No one was talking in Ulster Scots and even when I asked for a pen they responded in english !

    The Ulster Scots Agency office in Great Victoria Street is NEVER OPEN ! I pass this office twice every day and I have never seen a single person or a light on this office. There are boxes and boxes of documents which have never moved, just sit there gathering dust !

    It is a dialect and not a language !

  • Cynic


    Just like Irish, Ulster Scots is a proud part of my inheritance even if I cannot speak it and don’t know anyone else who can.

    It has an important part in our society and culture offering street signs that none can read thereby making it harder for the DSS to find me and the post office to deliver bills.

    It also brings huge economic benefits to Norn Iron by allowing and me to obtain additional credit cards by using several different versions of my name with a combination of English, Irish and Ulster Scots translations of my address.

    So how dare you trample on my cultural heritage you phillistine.

    PS Does anyone know the Ulster Scots for Phillistine?

  • Salem

    Very good Cynic

  • Gareth

    He didn’t sound very Ulster Scots. More like a Belfast person speaking in their ‘native’ language they have a desire to be seen to be able to speak. I suspect there is a shared heritage, crossing sectarian cultural boundaries aspect in there somewhere.

  • Rory Carr

    No. But I do know the correct English spelling for Philistine.

  • Mr. J

    I like Jim Shannon. Fair enough, he’s a lumbering buffoon politically, but he never fails to raise a smile.

  • Odhran Moses

    He’s a big yin fur a haurd quaisten forbye.
    Jim can fair tarragat the meenister’s up on yon humple oer a wheen o’ kittle thingmie’s.

    Sich as:

    Lavender Ice Shoggle
    Mr J Shannon asked the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development how her Department has helped Glastry Ice Cream with the promotion of its new lavender flavour.

    Mr J Shannon asked the Minister of the Environment if he will consult the British Association for Shooting and Conservation and the Countryside Alliance before adding the names of any birds or plants to the Wildlife Bill.
    Mr J Shannon asked the Minister of the Environment if his Department has carried out or is aware of any surveys in relation to bird survival rates during the severe weather last winter.

    Hairmless drogs
    Mr J Shannon asked the Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety whether the PSNI has made his Department aware of the misuse of the drug, Metaformin; and what action his Department is taking to address this issue.

  • Alan N/Ards

    Jim Shannon is the only member of the DUP that I could ever vote for. He is one decent man and I know a few nationalists in Portaferry who have no problem voting for him. One thing about Jim is that he puts the people first. He works his socks off for the people of Strangford.

  • Tochais Síoraí

    There’s quite a difference between having no problem voting for someone and er, actually voting for that someone.