Chuid eile i síocháin

A general theme of ‘new’ political thinking is evolution. The concept is basically the view that society changes. So change with it. Old morals and systems have no intrinsic value or legitimacy, sometimes they have less value, and we should not shirk changing them. Traditions should change/ evolve, indeed some should disappear we are told. Society finds its ‘level’ if you like, and what it has chose and is choosing should be embraced without attempts to pull it back and relive the past.

So with that all the latest mini spat in stormont- Irish. Surely society has made its decision and we have moved on from the need for Irish to be any more than a hobby for amateur enthusiasts and promoters? Surely its ‘left’ the modern sphere of work and life and as such society has made its choice and has ‘evolved’? It isnt relevant to the modern working world.

Because it was once present (and of course embraced by a tiny section of Protestants/Unionists as we get bombarded with continually) surely does not give it an unalieable value that deserves reignition? No moreso than a thousand other lost ‘ways of the world’.

Why is it that many who campain for the evolution of society contradict their own philosphy and make an exception for Irish? Its gone. The world has moved on. Anyone who wants to practise or promote go for it- but dont expect public money and special favour. Irish is no different from latin (it has manufactured communities who speak it dotted over the place as well). Irish is a dead language. Let it rest in peace.

  • Concubhar O Liathain

    The world, I imagine, has moved on from triumphalist marches to remember long ago battles too but yet they’re celebrated here in NI. Irish speakers contribute as much to the public coffers as anybody else – and don’t need to be policed at £40,000 per night as the Twaddell marchers do – and contribute far more to the cultural wealth of society than we are given credit for. There are many thousands in NI alone who speak Irish as their daily language – and it cannot be then said, by definition, to be dead. The evolution of society is about moving forward but Irish, despite many attempts to consign it to history only, remains alive and kicking. It is an indigenous part of Irish and British culture and as such deserves to be supported. The evolution of society is far better represented by those who speak and use Irish in their daily lives than those who want to stop the world until they get to march wherever they want to, whatever it costs anybody else.

  • mickfealty

    Are we talking about Gregory’s ‘curry my yoghurt’ remarks here? (I’ve offered him lessons in how to insult people in proper parliamentary Irish on Facebook). BTW, your title is already under intense grammatical scrutiny on Twitter.

    @mickfealty Suaimhneas síoraí is the correct translation of 'rest in peace' What slugger's headline means is 'remainder in peace'— Concubhar Ó Liatháin (@igaeilge) November 4, 2014

    There is a serious delicate issue here about minority languages. The regeneration of Irish from the 60s on has been little short of miraculous, and most of achieved in the first place with little practical help from the state.

    There’s an assumption here that Irish speakers in NI are amatuer. In part thats a judgement you can only arrive at by not understanding what’s going on inside the movement.

    I’d accept the description in its original meaning which is something like ‘done for the love of the thing’ itself. The thing itself is a tradition and in the case of my own family one which only broke with my father’s move from Donegal to Belfast.

    My school and a window cleaning round in Holywood did the restoration bit. Like the Orange tradition, it isn’t going to go away you know…

    Last word from me goes to Strabane man, Flann O’Brien, the comic scourge of fior Gaels everywhere…

    ‘Ambrose was an odd pig and I do not think that his like will be there again. Good luck to him if he be alive in another world today!’

  • SeaanUiNeill

    As well as its full use our in excellent gaeltachts, Irish is in daily use in both communities in the “incorrect” grammatical forms in which we frame English locally. So unless we are all forcibly compelled to learn tight BBC English, its very, very much a living language. And in more ways than one. The possibilities of humorous reversal of meaning in individual words means that almost every sentence can be hilarious in a way English struggles to be.

    Quincey, just try and learn some Irish before you make a call for its extinction, and about Latin, I remember from my time at the Warburg, it can be a very useful language in certain circumstances.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    As W.B. Yeats said in the nineteen thirties, “In my youth I heard much talk of the ‘music’ of the future……..they attack all not of their school.”

    “Pluralism” means just what it says on the can, more than one way of looking at things. Having more than one language is itself an education in understanding why all “final solutions” (including what the Americans call “futurism”) need to be rejected.

  • Michael-Henry Mcivor

    Gregory Campbell and his Poppy have been banned from entering the Assembly today because of his anti Irish insults-( what a martyr )-

  • mickfealty

    And he’s off to Westminster instead…

  • Robin Keogh

    Sir I think you are confusing the notion of progressive social evolution with deliberate cultural exclusion. Societies evolve naturally and unnaturally. Naturally they evolve through unstoppable and or uncontrolable events such as natural disasters and disease. In these circumstances humans adapt and through that adaptation we learn to adjust our lifstyles to protect or prevent against catastrophes. The bi-product of this of course is technological advancement and a change in how we conduct ourselves. Societies also evolve unnaturally in many ways such as war. War forces people to adapt out of fear of their fellow man, fear generated through unresonable and in many cases unnecessary aggressive actions. The Irish language did not naturally die out, the Irish people were not wiped out by a tidal wave, an earthquake or a great war; however their language was almost killed by a sustained effort of cultural aparthied against them. Thankfully it survived and tens of thousands of taxpayers on this Island love it, speak it and want to see it flourish; not to dominate English or any other language, but to revive it adequetly to make it more accessible for those who wish to learn it. Reviving something that was removed unnaturally is very different from refusing to accept natural demise. Irish as a language is not gone, in fact it is growing. Refusal to acknowledge this and help its progress has nothing to do with saving tax payers money or having the intelectual maturity to accept the demise of a section of a tradition. I wont say it outright but I think anybody who is truly fair, truly nondiscriminatory, truly egaitaraian and truly respectful of another groups tradition and culture; will see much of the opposition to the Irish Language for what it really is.

  • Robin Keogh


  • Alan N/Ards

    Quincey, You’re thinking is in line with that of Gregory Campbell and is wrong. Unionists (myself included) have listened to people like Gregory for far too long. Yes, I know the SF and militant republicans have turned it into a battleground over the years, but unionism have made the mistake of engaging in a phoney war regarding the language.
    My first introduction with Irish was the hunger strikers funerals. During the funerals the “enemy” was speaking in a language which I knew nothing about, so right away I had to reject it. I have matured over the years and I now know that it belongs to me as well.
    Yesterday, I watched (on You tube) a programme by William Crawley in which he tried to learn Irish. He interviewed Linda Ervine and a guy from East Belfast who had served in the Royal Irish. They spoke passionately about the language. Linda spoke about her background as British and Unionist who has embraced the language. She most certainly hasn’t embraced Republicanism.

  • Robin Keogh

    Language dose not have to be inclusive to be respected. By its very nature language is exclusive simply because it can only by understood and therefore be of benifit to people who espeak and understand it.

  • Paddy Reilly

    You fail to take into account the degree to which having your own language acts as a protection. Each European country has its own language, which facilitates or hinders the penetration of immigrants to the degree that the country has interfered in the affairs of the third world. It’s a sort of karmic comeback. You don’t get race-riots in Bratislava, or suicide bombers in Budapest.

    England’s interference in the world exceeds all other countries, and so as a result London is swamped with immigrants, (so much so that even the immigrants complain about it!) and indeed it may be the first European town to be hit by Ebola. Ireland has always imposed an Irish language requirement in civil service employment, assuming the identity of a colonised country with a local culture. This means that the Republic is predominantly still inhabited by Irish people. The pseudo-province has managed to achieve almost the same effect through general horribleness: firstly by being permanently at war, and more recently by racist attacks.

    If hardline Unionists do not care to benefit from this wise policy, all well and good: it may be that they are some of the unpleasantnesses which an expanding Republic would wish to diminish.

  • Robin Keogh

    Alan, lets not be fooled by Greg and his cohorts rejection of Irish. They are intelligent people who know the language is spoken across the Island by tens of thousands of people. The “battleground” nonsense is just that, nonsense, Irish people just want to support the Irish language, But because it is “Irish”, Greg and his budies need no more of an excuse to try kill it. His Queen has no problem with it.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Linda is an excellent example of outmanoeuvring the attempts ( on both sides) to politicise the language issue. She’s well aware that quite a bit of “protestant” east Belfast learnt the language before WWI. Thank you Alan, for mentioning her.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    But “inclusive” in the sense that any one of us, from any “tradition” can learn it (even rather badly, like myself) and so enjoy one of the great cultural inheritances of Europe!

    And the likes of me can go on to employ the work of Dáibhí Ó Bruadair or Aodhagán Ó Rathaille to criticise Gerry Adams, or “Pairlement Chloinne Tomáis” to suggest that certain characteristics seem to endure amongst my fellow citizens, or the majesterial Breandan Ó Buachalla’s “Aisling Ghéar” to encounter an historical tradition of Irishness that shows just how very “English” the Republican tradition actually is, just as William Rooney told us a hundred years back!

    But yes, Robin, the language is of intrinsic value, should be respected for its own sake and does not have to meet anyones criteria! I hope my descendants will be speaking it with delight another hundred years from now.

  • Séamus

    Ráiméis aineolach ó thús deireadh.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    I seem to remember that my family’s old friend Liam MacGolla Brid (Lord Ashbourne) was the first person to speak Irish in the House of Lords. But then he firmly believed that speaking English deformed the mouth, as wearing leather shoes deformed the feet (both true). He is long dead so, luckily, Gregory will not have to run into him.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Does Quincey perhaps need a translation? “A blather of senseless ignorance from top to tail.”

  • RG Cuan

    There are many points to raise about this ‘opinion’ piece by Quincey Dougan (note his Gaelic-origin surname) but the most delusional is the claim that ‘Irish is a dead language’.

    Mr. Dougan obviously doesn’t want to remove his head from the sand. Over 100,000 people use Irish as their main language everyday throughout this island. We have an active media and increasingly vibrant social networks online.

    I would like to invite Mr. Dougan to join myself and some friends to visit one of the country’s Gaelscoileanna where currently around 40,000 children receive education through Gaelic. He is also welcome to join us for a pint in one of the many social venues and pubs throughout Ireland, north and south, where Irish speakers meet and socialise.

    Ná bí i d’ostrais a mhic / Don’t be an ostrich.

  • Am Ghobsmacht


    Although my assumption of how you arrived at such a conclusion may be wrong it does give the impression that you arrived at this conclusion by consulting other like minded souls, a sort of echo chamber if you will.

    Even if my assumption is wrong (apologies if it is) that is nonetheless how it comes across.

    Firstly, you employ the simple technique of demeaning and disregarding the use of Gaelic amongst Protestants in Ireland.

    Fair enough, it’s hardly been the focal point of their (various) culture(s) this past while. However, you can’t say it was a tiny minority without hanging the band scene and OO out to dry.

    If you go way back, it was at least half of Presbyterians who spoke Gaelic (either Scottish planters or Irish converts and the various Scottish soldiers stationed in the land) and more recently around 1/5th of the Shankill area (pre-WWI).

    And you can’t say it hasn’t been a theme of Ulster Protestant culture, but anyway, I’m sure you’re sick of hearing all this ‘hidden’ history stuff.

    Anyway, WRT yer post:

    “A general theme of ‘new’ political thinking isevolution. The concept is basically the view that society changes. So change with it. Old morals and systems have no intrinsic value or legitimacy, sometimes they have less value, and we should not shirk changing them.
    Traditions should change/ evolve, indeed some should disappear we are told”

    I agree and I apply this thinking to the OO and the band scene as I believe it needs pruned and needs to evolve.

    A lot of your fellow bandsmen disagree with this concept and rigidly defend the current shape of things by utilizing the word ‘culture’ quite a bit and as such are most opposed to the evolution of traditions.

    “Surely society has made its decision and we have moved on from the need for Irish to be any more than a hobby for amateur enthusiasts and promoters?”

    No. Society is divided over the matter (as usual) and society has (if I’m not mistaken) witnessed a growth in the use of Gaelic.
    I’m puzzled by your use of the word ‘need’ though.
    Sure, people are trying to lock it into the political identity of NI, which to me seems rational enough, we are the Irish part of the UK after all.

    Just because SF use it/promote it doesn’t mean that the language is inherently evil or anti-Protestant and we should stop acting as this is the case.

    Furthermore, IF there is a demand for the language then how can you claim that it is dead and deny it the backing that would be advantageous to its development.

    Hypothetically speaking, imagine the fantasy scenario where everyone in NI could speak Gaelic to some degree. How many people would shift their political or religious convictions to accommodate ‘the tongue’?

    At present Irish is tied to nationalism, true.
    If unionists got involved then this is no longer the case.
    Issue over.

    Not going to happen I’ll admit, but there it is.
    There are ways of dealing with the Irish language act maturely and lets be
    honest, the main reason for holding back the act is simply to annoy the

    I would go the other way, welcome it and amend it to include some sort of effort to revive the older form of Antrim Gaelic – the stepping stone between Irish and Scottish Gaelic.
    Perhaps it could be called ‘The Ulster Gaelic Language Act’ or even ‘The Ulster Language Act’, whatever, the ‘U’ word has a peculiar hold on some people.

    That would sate the ‘anti-Irish’ brigade a bit as it would probably annoy SF (therefore mission accomplished) but at the same time the language is allowed to progress.

    But I imagine it’ll just be the same old zero-sum carry-on.

    “Because it was once present (and of course embraced by a tiny section of Protestants/Unionists as we get bombarded with continually) surely does not give it an unalieable value that deserves reignition? No moreso than a thousand other lost ‘ways of the world’ “–

    What does give it an ‘inalienable right’ is that it’s survived this long and nearly everyone has some link to it through their family ties, that includes Gregory ‘twisted mouth’ not to mention that there is a clear demand for the language to be elevated in status.

    The arguments against it are flimsy and mostlythinly veiled signs of contempt for the language.

    I am saddened that it is seen as a SF language,but, there’s not much I can do about that, but posts like this certainly don’t help.

    “Why is it that many who campain for the evolution of society contradict their own
    philosphy and make an exception for Irish? Its gone. The world has moved on.
    Anyone who wants to practise or promote go for it- but dont expect public money
    and special favour. Irish is no different from latin (it has manufactured
    communities who speak it dotted over the place as well). Irish is a dead
    language. Let it rest in peace.”

    There’s no contradiction whatsoever; trying to resuscitate a once integral part of the
    land’s culture is not a paradox. The language can be slowly and inexpensively
    re-introduced into society, I just imagine that the way SF want to do it will
    be expensive, provocative and in many instances pointless (Irish translators in
    court for instance, that’ll just breed suspicion and resentment).

    But starting off at nursery level and bi-lingual charts and primary schools could
    be an effective and cheap starting point. As could (amateur) translations for TV programs (with an option to turn the subtitles off for fear of ‘offending’ people).

    The language is not dead, and if it is tagged onto Scottish Gaelic (somehow) then the manufactured communities comment would be even more inaccurate and unfitting.
    If you don’t like the language then fine.
    If you just want to annoy the Shinners then you’d probably do more damage by getting involved….

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    No matter how bad I believe things to be within political unionism I can somehow always be certain deep down that someone will yet surprise me in a negative fashion.

    This (Campell’s comments) is incredible.

    Sure, he’s just saying what a lot of ignorant unionists believe (ANTI-MOPE DEVICE: I refer to unionists who happen to be ignorant, I am not branding all unionists to be ignorant, so don’t even attempt to plant that one on me) but it is nonetheless contemptible.

    Normally at this point of the conversation I have a sideswipe/rant against SF for their tarnishing of the language, but even I can’t blame them for this low level, juvenile, ill-informed, insulting, half-witted, arrogant display.

    The DUP harp on about ‘expressions of culture’ every summer whilst defending the actions of some sun-burnt, buzz-cut adorned, lager-drinking, union flag clad moron (or such like).

    Yet, when it comes to a cultural niche that doesn’t suit them they don’t even have the good grace to be ‘political’ about it, instead it boils down to a playground name calling session.


    All aspects of Ulster culture should be encouraged, it’s just unfortunate that they can be politicised.

    In my opinion a lot of the ‘party approved’ Scots-Irish culture has been rehashed to suit an agenda.

    Even the name ‘Scots-Irish’ is too scary so it’s been rejigged to Ulster-Scots (no pun intended). And some other ‘ugly’ aspects of Scots-Irish culture (the Gaelic bits) have been removed e.g. shinty and Gaelic culture.

    They’ve effectively just lifted the bits of Scottish culture that they like and transplanted it to NI and attached the usual tribal rubbish to it, I don’t see much that is idiosyncratic about it, which is unusual for a culture that should be over 400 years old (or more, depending what way you look at it).

    Scots-Irish culture should be more of a blend though one that is particularly Antrim centric and should involve more people of a nationalist background (especially Glensmen of Gallowglass descent). I like the way the Americans do Scots-Irish culture; they take bits of both and clash it together. Brilliant.

    But no, for us it’s now a case of this is for themuns, that is for oursuns.


    Personally, I want Gaelic AND Scots-Irish culture: Lambegs, bodhrans, Irish dancing, highland dancing (and various hybrid forms), Gaelic, shinty, hurling, fyfes, drums, more drums, bagpipes, horn pipes, red hands, whisky and whiskey.

    All of it.

    I don’t want it parcelled out amongst those of particular political view of religious background, I’d like to see it as ‘the mothership’ and people to take what they will from it.

    WRT to Campbell’s comments, I find it ironic that he should say such things burdened as he is with a Gaelic surname.

    I also find it very fitting that his surname means ‘crooked/twisted mouth’ (methinks – open to correction from learned types –
    whither JR?).

    Gregory Twisted Mouth – Our very own Dickens character; I wonder what the Gaelic word for ‘twister’ is…

  • Morpheus

    Gregwardo’s comments are nothing more than a ‘Cincinnati Shuffle’ – fill the airwaves with bollix so people are focussed in one direction when something more important is happening elsewhere…highly likely the budget and the impact it will have on the people of Northern Ireland.

    (Plus a hint of trying to keep both salaries/expenses/pensions until the 2016 Assembly elections)

    The phrase ‘what do you expect from a pig than a grunt’ is extremely apt – he has done nothing more than show his character and play to the gallery so leave him to it I say. I wouldn’t be surprised if enrollment at Irish classes increases in line with the Irish contributions at Stormont as a direct result.

  • sk

    “Because it was once present….surely does not give it an unalieable value that deserves reignition? ”

    I’ll remind you of that line next time you whinge about not getting down a Catholic road.

  • Concubhar O Liathain

    It’s a pointless exercise and further demonstration of the futility of the Assembly to ban Gregory Campbell from speaking there for a day, a day when he’s actually going to be in Westminster. He and all other’s who deny the vitality of the Irish langauge – including Jim Allister who issued a far more offensive press release about the language today – should be compelled/invited to attend a Líofa class before being allowed back into the Assembly.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    I’m trying hard to ignore it but I just cannot get the image of “Watermelon man” out of my head:

    Now if Gregory woke up tomorrow speaking nothing but Bluestacks Donegal Irish……..

  • Biftergreenthumb

    Support Irish to keep the immigrants out? Seriously?
    Immigration is ‘karmic comeback’ is it? Immigration is such a terrible thing that it is used as form of cosmic punishment for the terrible deeds of colonialism? This is why London is “swamped with immigrants” some of them carriers of Ebola?

    Describing fellow human beings in terms of ‘disease’, ‘karmic comeback’, ‘swamped’, ‘penetration’ is a sickening tactic worthy of the BNP or UKIP. Using such language isn’t going to convince anyone but the most racist that we should continue to support and promote the Irish language.
    Perhaps you should read the article on the Challenging Racism report.

  • Ernekid

    AG. Once again you post well argued, cogent and informative points on culture and language.

    Just want to say Thanks for being a sane voice in a sea of madness.

  • Paddy Reilly

    I think we need to distinguish between the Oriental notion of karma, which is basically cause and effect, and the Abrahamic notion of punishment.

    Apparently a third of the UK would vote for UKIP if they thought they could win:
    This confers on them a certain respectability, though I must admit I don’t care for them myself.

    Immigration needs to be conducted for the benefit of the host country, not according to the desires of potential immigrants, of whom there are obviously too many to be accommodated. The UK has failed in this matter, while the Irish Republic has largely succeeded. But then a country which has exiled generation upon generation of its own children, should not be thinking of taking people in from abroad, if not for a very good reason.

  • Tacapall

    Just like Sammy Wilson’s spat with Jim Allister, Greg the planter managed to disrupt and divert attention from more pressing matters like the budget, welfare reform, the past, flags and parades but his choice of words sure gives a glimpse of the mindsets of some DUP politicians in regards to dealing with those issues.

  • patrick23

    Maybe Quincey could come BTL and tell us, but is there any chance his rather bitter rant is intended to make us reflect on one’s own prejudices (perhaps re Orange marches ), and the value that society ought to place on such traditions?
    If not and it truly is just an uninformed diatribe, then perhaps there is little point in him having a voice on Slugger, it’s hard off hand to think of a useful contribution he’s made

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Having said that, WHY do SF use it at every turn (IF what Campbell says is correct?)
    Tagging SF’s image to the Irish language DOES NOT help it.
    I condemn ‘Crooked Mouth’s’ comments (see below) but why do SF have to do it?
    They’d be doing the language a favour by backing off a bit.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    I thought Gregory’s Scottish-Gaelic MPs & Welsh MP’s remark was quite valid.

    Around the 23 – 25min mark he trounces thon Kevin fella…

  • Morpheus

    His comments are in no way valid AG – they are childish and show a lack of respect – but when it comes to the Welsh then surely a like-with-like comparison would be to compare the Welsh Assembly to the NI Assembly. Here are the Hansard records from Plenary meeting on October 22nd

    Notice anything?

    There are videos available and you will notice that some choose to begin their contributions in Welsh – a simple thank you to the Speaker or good morning- and some choose to begin their contributions in English…all done without a fuss. You will most definitely not find a member being as pathetic and disrespectful as Gregwardo was.

    If we are talking Westminster then how do you think it would go down if he stood up and did the same disrespectful, take-the-mickey-nonsense about Welsh or Urdu?

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    His initial ‘curry my yoghurt’ remarks were a disgrace and childish, I said as such earlier and maintain that view now.

    And yes, completely disrespectful (I hinted as such earlier).
    That being said, after listening to the Nolan episode I’m afraid he has a point regarding the un-necessary acts of starting EVERY discourse with a phrase in Irish given that they (SF) are fully aware of how controversial the Irish language is in NI.

    They do NOT need to do that.

    A language revival does not depend on a few ‘openers’ every time a politician speaks.

    It depends on the motivation of the people, alienating one half of the people is therefore an impediment in this regard.

    Given the twisted nature of NI is it unfair to say that the language’s chances of revival are hobbled by the perception of it being associated with republicanism?

    People go completely hysterical at me when I suggest such things (well, as it’s on the internet there’s a lot of exclamation marks and angry ‘smilies’, so not properly hysterical) yet I have been completely unaware of SF doing such things, jeez, can you imagine if I had mentioned this in my rants?!

    J Hilary Christ, what are they thinking?!

    Do they really not see what they’re doing?

    I want an Irish language act and I even wish for the day when everyone in the land will be bi-lingual in Gaelic and English but I am utterly opposed to SF’s current handling of the matter (but I am given to understand some of their previous work regarding language preservation is nothing short of breath taking).

    So, whilst I deplore Gregory Twisted Mouth’s childish comments I must equally deplore SF’s ham fisted use of the language in such circumstances.

    They do not NEED to do it.

    It does NOT help the Irish language.

    Also, the Welsh language in Wales is a different animal altogether from Irish/Gaelic in NI.

    We all know this, but nonethless I did appreciate GTM’s remarks about Scottish Gaels and Welsh speakers.

  • A Boring Gobshite

    Pull that stick out of your ár5e you boring little +wá+. Insulting a
    member of SF/IRA who doesn’t even speak the dead language either after being exposed to a few sentences in the jailtact is insulting no-one other than the scúm of SF/IRA.

  • Morpheus

    Right so we both agree that his comments were disrespectful and disgraceful, moving on.

    The ongoing revival of the Irish language evidently does not depend on a few ‘openers’ – usually “go raibh maith agat, Ceann Comhairle”…a simple thank you to the speaker – but if MLAs chose to do it then so what? That’s their choice. It should be no skin off anyone’s nose. Do we need reminders of articles 3 and 4 of strand 1 of the GFA?

    Where is the respect, understanding and tolerance?

    If they get up and regularly make their entire contribution in Irish with no attempt to translate then fair enough, that is stifling debate, but “thank you Speaker”……c’mon.

    Regardless, if it has been said soooo many times and Gregwardo still doesn’t understand what it means then it reflects more on his intellect – but even ignorance doesn’t excuse his behaviour.

  • Old Mortality

    ‘Irish speakers contribute as much to the public coffers as anybody else…’

    How can you make this assertion unless you know the source of income of every single Irish speaker in N.I..

    A significant proportion of them will be teachers of the language whose incomes are entirely paid by the state, not to mention a handful of MLAs. How many Irish speakers of your acquaintance do not relay on the state for a living?

    As for the £40,000 per night applied to policing the Twaddell protest, that is more to do with the extravagance of the PSNI: never send one officer where six will do.

  • Old Mortality

    “Thankfully it survived and tens of thousands of taxpayers on this Island love it, speak it and want to see it flourish…”

    Good for them. However, many of us have private enthusiasms which we share with others but we do not demand that other taxpayers should subsidise them.

    “The Irish language did not naturally die out,”

    Nor did Welsh which is in a much healthier state despite not have the advantage over the last 90 years of an independent state which could have given it primacy over English but didn’t.

  • Old Mortality

    How many other languages does Linda Ervine speak? None, I suspect. But then she wouldn’t get much attention if she was organising Spanish classes in East Belfast.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    And, “A Boring Gobshite”, your point is……….

  • Concubhar O Liathain

    There is no evidence of any description anywhere that suggests Irish speakers in NI do not pay our taxes on the same basis as everybody else. I don’t know where your comment about teachers is going but you will acknowledge, I’m sure, that the children taught by teachers in Irish medium schools have a right to be taught the curriculum on the same basis as every other child. And their teachers deserve to be paid on the same basis? And of course these teachers also pay taxes. So whether or not they are working in the private/public sector matters little. As for your point re Twaddell, I suggest you raise that with your local MLA. That IS the cost and I’m not going to second guess the police on what they believe the requirement is for safety on all sides.
    Irrespective of that, I shouldn’t have drawn an equivalence between the argument in Quincey’s post re Irish and the Orange/Protestant marching tradition. I believe Irish is non sectarian – if not non-political (all language is political) – and I shouldn’t have reacted in a sectarian way, as I did, to the post by Quincey. I believe there’s alot of poision in political discourse in Ireland, north and south, and I shouldn’t add to it. So apologies to anyone who was offended….

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Oh dear, Am Ghobsmacht,

    “(ANTI-MOPE DEVICE: I refer to unionists who happen to be ignorant, I am not branding all unionists to be ignorant, so don’t even attempt to plant that one on me)”

    There’s been a sudden lurch to scorched earth leave no prisoners replies, especially since GA has been up for informed criticism over Maíria and the contradiction of his behaviour towards her and the declared SF policies on such matters he presented recently. My own attempts to understand the motivation of those choosing to vote for such people, (“post-colonial lack of self-worth”) have had me castigated as a racist (by both “sides”!!! Belfastboy and crisjones2) despite the fact that I had carefully pointed out that the comment employs perfectly respectable post-colonial theory. I had met with something similar when I tried to account for the “No” vote in Scotland by suggesting the possibility of Stockholm Syndrome, for if a few days can dispose the “controlled” to identify with their “controllers”, I can only imagine what three long centuries can achieve!

    All too often other commentators do not seem to realise that debate requires careful listening to another’s points rather than knee jerk demands that any attempt to stretch the imagination of the all too committed should be dealt with by some kind of Slugger Final Solution to the non-conformity problem.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Take it you have not met her, Old Mortality! Linda’s sincerity is transparent to any who have, even those who have simply come to one of her talks.

    And, no, her Irish is far from a ploy, she engages in the language culture with intelligence and passion.

  • Concubhar O Liathain

    Well the Good Friday Agreement, to which the parties signed up, did state that there was a “statutory duty on the Department of Education to encourage and facilitate
    Irish medium education in line with current provision for integrated education;” This was endorsed by a significant majority – 70% of those who voted – and therefore it has a democratic mandate.
    Please accept my further apologies if my previously apology rang so hollow in your ears…..

  • SeaanUiNeill

    “A significant proportion of them will be teachers of the language….”

    Where do you get this from? A significant proportion of Irish speakers are ordinary people who have sustained the language through years when there was no trough available for “the other kind.”

    Get out to a few Irish classes, meet the real people speaking the language, note the welcome and see just how vital the language movement is for yourself, rather than imagining something in the darkness and stating it as fact!

    The original Old Mortality was inspired by the propaganda stories invented by the extreme Covenanters to waste his life travelling the countryside carving graves for terrorists, ie, chasing the unreal delusions impressed his impressionable mind by unscrupulous men. perhaps you might consider changing the script…….

    Oh, by the way, welcome to the thread!

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Respectfully, Concubhar, the language is “cultural”, rather than “political”. Strictly speaking, no language can ever be “political” in itself, but political use may be made of it, always to its detriment.

    But you are right in saying (as anyone can find out if they are willing to try) that the language movement is entirely non-sectarian and very welcoming to anyone simply interested in the language itself and the access it offers to one of the great cultural experiences in European culture, the gift of our ancestors to us all.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Actually, although it diminished, the Irish language did not actually die out, and since the encouragement given to local usage by the Gaelic League a hundred years ago, there has even been continuity in areas such as the Antrim Gynnes and the Sperrins.

    Although much play is made of “the last native speaker” in various places, with any luck the language will continue to be passed down in families and never die out. Many Gaelscoils have classes for parents that ensure that the language is spoken at home as children grow up, and watching the bi-lingual play of bright four and five year olds is an earnest for this grass roots revitalisation! Everything cultural needs to be regenerated in every generation, and no language continues in some reified Platonic essence independently of those who use it for everyday life or for cultural purposes.

    And Old Mortality, something similar happens in Wales, and having experienced both language cultures, when I produced some animation work with Sianel Pedwar Cymru, I would hardly say Welsh is “in a much healthier state.” There’s not a lot to choose between the real vitality of both language cultures. As I said below, nothing beats actually checking out things on the ground rather than repeating what, I assume, you have simply read somewhere.

  • Concubhar O Liathain

    Seán, a chara, I do appreciate your point regarding the Irish language not being political. It is used politically though – which is no fault of the language but rather by its opponents mostly who want to put in a box out of the way. All language is political is my general point – not necessarily in a petty party political way as in the north or the south of Ireland.

  • Old Mortality

    You’ve completely missed my point. NOBODY IN A PUBLIC SECTOR OCCUPATION MAKES A NET CONTRIBUTION TO THE STATE. Their direct taxes are simply a book-keeping exercise.
    Now just answer this question honestly: Do most of the Irish speakers of your acquaintance fall into this category?

  • Old Mortality

    The big difference is that in Wales you don’t have to go very far out of your way to encounter the Welsh language being spoken spontaneously. Tell me where I would be likely to have the same experience in NI.

  • Old Mortality

    Are teachers of Irish who exist in almost every CCMS school not ordinary people.
    I’d guess that most of the people in an Irish language class could not be described as Irish speakers since they are in the process of learning.
    As for myself, there are many more languages that I would like to learn before I got round to Irish.

  • Concubhar O Liathain

    Irish speakers come from all walks of life – including business and enterprise. I have in fact set up a bi monthly breakfast event for business people with Irish to attend here in Belfast. However your contention that nobody in a public sector occupation makes a net contribution to the State is balderdash. (By the way, there’s no need to shout!) I can read perfectly well in upper case, lower case. A teacher who teaches a child makes a contribution to the State and is paid for their teaching services – because they don’t work in the Private Sector doesn’t mean anything. Were it so that the education system wasn’t there, and there were no teachers paid for by taxes etc, who would teach our children? The Private Sector – and we would have to pay them more probably for a far inferior service than we would get from the State. Or would you prefer if our children weren’t taught at all? That opens an entirely different line of argument! Does that tick your box for you?

  • Old Mortality

    Do you happen to know if she speaks or understands any other language?
    I find it incomprehensible that a monoglot should want to learn Irish ahead of other languages that can be used and have a much richer literary heritage.

  • Morpheus

    Stormont 🙂

    Most recently I experienced this spontaneity in Derry at their excellent fireworks display. I didn’t have a scooby-doo what they were saying as they bounced between that sharp Derry twang and Irish but they were having fun none the less.

    Prior to that was in a coffee shop in Omagh – a bunch of local teenagers (CBS uniforms) showing off.

    You’re so lucky. I have spent many, many happy days in Wales, from Cardiff to Rhyl, and have yet to experience the Welsh spontaneity for myself which is a real shame – maybe you have been to different places than me.

    Maybe you experienced it more because the Welsh have one of these:

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Semantics, dear boy! Teachers, also a much greater body of non-teacher ordinary people. Surely you could see what I was getting at. Also, even “advanced Irish” speakers continue to learn. Most of us continue to learn in varying degrees until the proverbial Ox treads on our tongue.

    But I’d still suggest that knowing the cultural mileau of a language at first hand is a necessity if you are trying to authoritatively support the kind of points you are waning to make.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    I take your point about self appointed opponents trying to make a political point against the language, Concubhar, but I think we may be at cross purposes about the use of the word political. I tend to think that culture develops before politics and that politics then employs culture to as AE said in the 1920s “gild their tawdry things.”

    But I agree entirely with the point you are trying to make.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    All round Falls Broadway, etc, for the “in the street” version if you do not know any Irish speakers, and I’m sure that if you are really interested you can find enough places in the numerous community development Gaeltachts across the province. I find I hear it in the street all the time, but that may be the people I’m seeing, rather as in Wales.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    I’ve never asked her. Feel free to do so yourself, she’s not difficult to contact.

    Large numbers of monoglots from both of our communities learnt Irish before the Great War. Its not so difficult to understand, as the language articulates virtually every aspect of the place they were living in, from place names to the very unique grammar of the English used here. The same remains true today, and anyone with an enquiring mind who is not completely buried in the Anglophone Global culture, and who actually wants to understand the culture both communities are steeped in will find it invaluable in their quest.

  • Old Mortality

    I’ll try again, Concubhar. You made the assertion that “Irish speakers contribute as much to the public coffers as anybody else.”
    This argument is deployed by many groups – by no means only Irish language enthusiasts – seeking to get their arm more deeply into the public coffers. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve had to point out on this site that members of these groups who rely on the state for a living, be they barristers or just living on DLA, cannot possibly be described as contributing to the public coffers. Therefore, in the absence of any supporting evidence, your assertion is probably false.
    By the way, I’d be interested to know the types, if not the identities, of the business people who attend your event. Bear in mind that my benchmark for genuine business people excludes any whose organisations are in receipt of public subsidy.

  • Old Mortality

    Thanks Sean
    I’ll try the Falls Broadway. How long do you think I would need to hang around there on a weekday to give myself a fair chance of hearing Irish?

  • Old Mortality

    I think Cardiff is one of the last places you’d be least likely to hear it.
    Rhyl is on that coastline where the lingua franca appears to be a variant of Scouse.
    How about Caernarfon, Aberystwyth or Dolgellau. all towns where Welsh is readily heard, and some adjacent rural areas where, in my experience, it is more likely to be heard than English.

  • Old Mortality

    I infer from your answer that even if you don’t know for sure, you reckon she’s probably monoglot.
    By the way, I’m not steeped in Anglophone culture. I speak French fairly well and can read it more or less fluently (a couple of novels in the last year). I can also speak a bit of Italian and German as well as managing to read Spanish and Portuguese fairly well.
    How about yourself since we keep getting told that Irish speakers are so much better at other languages than English monoglots?

    Then there’s Russian and several other languages before I even get round to thinking about Irish.

  • Concubhar O Liathain

    I’ve answered your question in full. Your latest post seems like trolling to me. Your attempts to curtail the discussion to one dictated by your terms are questionable. If you genuinely want a debate/discussion, you’re going about it the wrong way. Your assumptions regarding public service contribution to the coffers are based on false premises and assertions

  • SeaanUiNeill

    About ten seconds!

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Had to learn some Polish to keep up with my first wife, and after that Irish was a daudle. Learnt Latin and a bit of Greek at school, did some seventeenth century military French (reading rather than speaking, not many contemporaries of Louis XIV left) to help with my seventeenth century studies, using my schoolboy French as a base. I’ve picked up some Italian and German, also some Californian (yes!), in the film business, do you want me to go on?

    Doubt that Linda is monoglot (she speaks Irish as well as English, for a start)……..

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    “There’s been a sudden lurch to scorched earth leave no prisoners replies…”
    It’s all very ‘Newsletter-esque’ dontcha think?

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Well well well, what have we here? AYM? UR?

    Thankyou for your articulate analysis of my remarks, we can all see that there is simply no need to debate Twisted Mouth’s comments when we can just open up a can of ‘pure fleg’ and post it on Slugger instead.

    That’ll keep the union together…

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Yes Morph, we both agree his comments were disgraceful.

    If that is the height of the bar set by the unionist political class then how low must it be when filtered down to the flegging classes?

    Straight talkin’ Ulsterman has been replaced with mockery-loving Ulster-teenager.

    “but if MLAs chose to do it then so what? That’s their choice. It should be no skin off anyone’s nose. Do we need reminders of articles 3 and 4 of strand 1 of the GFA?

    A jeez Morph, please, not you too?

    You know NI is not a normal place where normal rules apply.
    Everything has a consequence, especially where politics and culture are intertwined.

    If this were in Scotland, then fair enough, but even then it might annoy other members of the Scottish parliament who have no love of Gaelic culture or simply don’t see it as part of their cultural inheritance (e.g. members from the Northern Isles), who knows.
    (Probably they wouldn’t care but then there’s not ‘Norn’/Shetland word for ‘flegger’.

    But in NI, there’s much demand for an Irish language act.


    Irish is perceived by many as the ‘IRA language’.

    Not good.

    So then, for the sake of the language it makes sense to break this perception (insofar as that is possible).

    SF using it for EVERY point they make merely reinforces this perception.

    It IS their right to do so, but it does not make them right to do so.

    “Where is the respect, understanding and tolerance?

    As this is the DUP we’re talking about I’ll assume that’s a rhetorical question…
    Morph, we’re broadly in agreement on this issue, but I think for the language’s sake some hard decisions are necessary from our politicians.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Aw shucks….

    Did ye ever read this?

    Fascinating, probably on the ‘subversive literature’ list in some places…

  • SeaanUiNeill

    I just wish the damned see-saw would break! Can’t any of them see that there are two sides to every issue, at the very least?

  • Morpheus

    The hard decision being that SF MLAs must give up their minimal use of the Irish Language at Stormont because some hear it and automatically think “IRA”?

    Is it any wonder that the Irish Language Act is nowhere to be seen with thinking like that coupled with MLAs publicly taking the mickey out of the language and a former Minister for Culture, Arts and Leisure (who sat on the back benches laughing like a gormless lemming-like idiot during Gregwardos embarrassing display) saying that his greatest achievement while in office was ‘burying the Irish language act’?

    If that is what the Irish language is up against then I don’t think the odd “thank you Mr Speaker” is too much to “endure”

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    There was a classic example of this on Nolan you could hear him face-palming. It was regarding haass’s recommendation that NI has a flag.

    The first caller was suitably disgruntled that we should satisfy republican demands and concluded all those not happy with the (non existent) flag) should leave NI (or summat).

    Nolan pointed out that SF were opposed to a new flag for NI.
    Disgruntled caller imply ignored the former foundation of his argument.

    Next caller offered a refreshing counterpoint by stating that all those who don’t want a tricolour and a united Ireland should leave the land for Britain.

    Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    “Is it any wonder that the Irish Language Act is nowhere to be seen with thinking like that coupled with MLAs publicly taking the mickey out of the language and a former Minister for Culture, Arts and Leisure (who sat on the back benches laughing like a gormless lemming-like idiot during Gregwardos embarrassing display) saying that his greatest achievement while in office was ‘burying the Irish language act’?”

    I’m afraid that is where we are Morph.

    It is the tragic reality of the situation at present.

    Linda Ervine has shown that the door can be opened for Protestants and Gaelic but this door needs all the help it can get to creak open even a little bit further.

    So yes, small things like SF calming down on their public use of the language will help.

    It won’t cause an instant 180 deg. turn or a flood of legions to Skainos overnight but it will help.

    I say this as someone formerly of a fleggy mind set, I understand the triggers and mental blocks and SF using the language so overtly is a definite barrier for many.

    So, in a similar vein to your point if SF do want the language to flourish then surely restraining the odd “thank you Mr Speaker” isn’t too much to endure?

  • SeaanUiNeill

    I just had a momentary flash of what it might be like if they all actually did leave…….

    Long hollow echos……..

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Everybody leaving for a couple of years was the conclusion that PJ O’Rourke came to as a solution when he came to ‘tha Pravince’ in the 80’s…

  • Morpheus

    So SF MLAs should encourage the use of the Irish language by not using it. Is that logical?

  • Concubhar O Liathain

    Why is it necessary for you to diminish Irish to promote Welsh, as it seems to me? Wales has a Welsh Language Act and a TV station which gets a huge investment from the UK Government (huge in comparison to the investment given by the same government to Irish langague TV in the north). Nevertheless Irish is getting new life in the north thanks to the enthusiasm of communities in all parts to make the language their own, including East Belfast etc. Irish speakers are very proud of our connections to our Welsh counterparts and how well they’ve done.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    In other parts of the world it wouldn’t be logical, but in NI they can still work towards the advancement of the language without using it overtly in public e.g. SF don’t need banners written in Irish with the SF logo alongside and they don’t need to open each point in Stormont with a polite thankyou in Irish.

    None of these moves would be detrimental to the Irish language but would (slightly) break the association between republicanism and Irish.

    A win-win situation of sorts.

    I know they have the right to avoid this win-win situation should they choose, but, it’s worth pointing out that it’s an option.

    So, to bring logic into it, I’d choose the option that would further advance the goal.

    I know it’s not nice having to change one’s behaviour or culture to accommodate those who would never reciprocate such sacrifices, especially when they behave like Poots and Campbell, but, if it’s for the greater good then surely it’s small fry?

  • Morpheus

    Ah right so SF can do it as long as they don’t do it overtly…the old “I don’t mind people being gay as long as they do it behind closed doors” routine. Is it just the Shinners who should refrain from using the language or should the SDLP stop too?

    The win-win here is getting on with life by accepting that some people choose to say a few words in Irish (or Ulster-Scots) and others don’t – the words are not offensive, they do not stifle debate, they take up very little time, no one gets hurt and best of all, the world keeps on turning. We have much, much bigger fish to fry

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Well Morph

    Put it like this, if you were given a marketing assignment of some type with the aim of ‘normailising’ the perceptions of the language in NI (as much as anything can be normalised there) would you or would you not recommend that SF reel it in a wee bit knowing that every time they use it they reinforce a certain perception?

    Do you believe that the SDLP have the same psychological hold over unionists that SF have?

    There’s obviously no accounting for the more extreme elements but in general what would you recommend? given the current vacuum of tolerance and respect that could be counted on in other parts of the world/UK.

    I’m going on my experience of being brought up in a strong unionist environment and being privy to how things are interpreted by elements of unionism.

    “The win-win here is getting on with life by accepting that some people choose to say a few words in Irish (or Ulster-Scots) and others don’t – the words are not offensive, they do not stifle debate, they take up very little time, no one gets hurt and best of all, the world keeps on turning

    I see this as the goal at the end, not the means to the eventual end.
    We have some leg work to do to get there, some of which will be very difficult.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Great minds……