In praise of ….Gerry Adams and Fainne…

Right, hold on to your Frosties, because I’m going in to bat for a Mr G Adams, and his casual but regular use of the Irish language. Gerry may not have the best Irish ever to have emerged from the ‘Jailtacht’, but he does use as much as he has as well as he can.

He also wears a Fainne. A big old fashioned one presumably so that the cameras can pick up. Now, there’s an argument made by some that Gerry’s public love of the language makes it problematic for others to similarly use the Fainne to flag up not simple that we are Irish speakers but would welcome a conversation or three as Gaeilge.

It only makes problematic because too few of us do wear our Fainnes these days. I try to make a point of wearing it (at least when I’m all jacketed up), regardless of where I happen to be at the time (with the possible exception of the lower Shankill).

It’s not rewarded that often, but I still think we need some of form of public marker or signal that allows even the slightest of human commerce to take place between strangers as Gaeilge…

I’m not sure remonstrating with possibly the best sketch parliamentary sketch writer on these islands was best advised, Ms Lord bashes pretty evenly and thoroughly where any politicians gives in to their weaker instincts.

Of course there is a party political edge to this, as in almost everything that Mr Adams does and says, but he has a point worth taking note of…

In my modest way I use Irish whenever I can. With my Sinn Féin colleagues and other Oireachtas members. In my everyday life. With my family and friends. That is what language is for.[emphasis added]

Agus leis an chlásal sin caite go bhfuil sé sin é go direach. Caith le bród é, agus le ionchas…

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty