Picks of the Week – First Communions, Protestant Gaels, Squaddies and Stuckness

There’s a lot of highfalutin political goings on at the moment. But what are the ordinary humans talking about? Here are some media magpie treasures from the last week… RTÉ Documentary on One rebroadcast the gorgeous 2014 doc, Mairead’s First Communion. It follows two culturally Catholic, but non-religious, parents’ experience of their daughter’s First Communion. They didn’t like the idea of her doing it, but 8 year old Mairead really wanted to, so they let her. There’s so much to … Read more

Shibboleth and sibhialtacht

The Irish-language issue is back in the headlines again. Despite the best efforts of campaigners such as Linda Ervine, it is still the case that most ethnic-unionists define themselves at least in part by their rejection of the Irish language. Never mind that some of their ancestors must have spoken it, as evidenced in many cases by their own surnames. Unionists have abandoned the mother tongue of their ancestors in much the same way that German-descended Americans have abandoned theirs. … Read more

Now we see who’s ‘red (white and blue) lines’ are holding up the show!

It’s becoming increasingly clear that unionist political parties and politicians have set their opposition to an Irish Language Act and, by extension, any form of an Irish identity within ‘British’ NI as a priority ‘red line’ ahead of returning to powersharing or, even, at the most fundamental level aspiring to an equal Union between NI and the rest of the UK. The rhetoric today from Arlene Foster in which she set out what she would not countenance in response to … Read more

1989: Should an Irish Medium education report be published bilingually? #20YearRule

A civil service file released under the 20 Year Rule shows how the potential bilingual publication of a report about Irish Medium eduction provoked one civil servant to comment that “given the small and gossipy world of serious Irish language enthusiasts in Northern Ireland, I think we could assume that a refusal to publish this report in Irish would leak sooner or later”

Onwards and inwards

One theme that comes up disappointingly often in politics, and Northern Irish politics in particular, is the strategic retreat into metapolitics. If you fear that you’re losing the argument, change the subject so that the argument is now about how well or badly the argument has been conducted. This is particularly powerful if the original argument had itself been about who had been badly treated in an even earlier argument. If done carefully, one can effectively prevent any conclusion from … Read more

Ulster Scots now being ‘weaponised’

I’ve been following with interest the coverage of the Ulster Scots Agency’s funding plan since the story was first brought to light earlier this week in the Belfast Newsletter – and subsequently refried by other outlets. It was clear from the outset where the story was going as the Ulster Scots Agency CEO used a duplicitious figure ascribed to funding the Irish language, which had been used in a DUP press release – as the basis for the funding he … Read more

Irish Language Act: “Dr Paisley had been intensely displeased by the Blair administration’s trickery.”

To those still buying into the Major/Powell idea that the British government is always a neutral player in negotiations, try this account from Peter Robinson on how Blair set Sinn Fein up with a promise for an Irish Language Act he had no intention of asking the DUP to deliver: “It was Ian’s assessment – and in my view an accurate one – that if the government was prepared to con Sinn Féin in the way it did, they would … Read more

Arlene Foster begins discussions with Irish Language Groups

Arlene Foster began the DUP’s outreach to sections of the Irish Language speaking community  today by visiting Our Lady’s, Newry to meet with pupils and staff about the language. From a BBC report; But speaking during her visit to the school, Mrs Foster said she was on a “journey” when it came to the Irish language and people have “nothing to fear from engaging with another culture”. Her visit had been an opportunity to “sit back and listen”, she said, … Read more

What the DUP have done….

I attended a meeting in Belfast on Monday night, no ordinary gathering either.  It was a meeting called by Finance Minister and Sinn Féin candidate Mairtín Ó Muilleoir to facilitate a conversation between the Irish language community about the current political situation and the threat it poses and/or the opportunity it presents. Irish language activists from throughout the six counties showed up at the Cultúrlann on the Falls Road for the event.   It had been a long time since … Read more

The DUP and the ‘cost’ of the Irish Language Act: Fake News and alternative facts

A headline atop the latest column from former cultural minister and DUP figure Nelson McCausland made his point clear: £2 billion over 20 years – the real cost of the Irish Language Act Gerry Adams doesn’t want to talk about Nelson McCausland doesn’t want an Irish Language Act because, he claims, the cost could end up dwarfing the RHI debacle. Frankly, I have a suspicion that the DUP are seeking anything which might dwarf the RHI debacle! In his article … Read more

The Irish language hasn’t gone away you know

I’m back at work though suffering with a cold, flu or ‘man-flu’.   I don’t like feeling congested at the best of times.  Being back at work at the start of a cold and wet January doesn’t brighten my mood. This is all put in perspective by Martin McGuinness who has serious health issues, it seems.   I wish him a speedy recovery.   Nara fada go raibh tú ar do shean léim!     In the light of his … Read more

Light not heat should come as a result of RHI scandal

As the clamour increases for the rolling of heads, even from those who find themselves within the proverbial glasshouse, it’s important to see what can be salvaged from the mess which is rapidly escalating on the Hill of Stormont.    The disintegration is underlined by the bellicose line from Arlene Foster who is trying to distract attention from her own mishandling of the RHI scheme and, in particular, the latest fall out, with bogus claims of ‘misogyny’ and a rather … Read more

Cartoon – “Do you do big Mács”

Former Mayor of Belfast and Sinn Fein councillor Niall Ó Donnghaile said not being able to place an order in Irish at McDonalds is an example of where equality of rights of Irish speakers isn’t being met. Brian SpencerBrian is a writer, artist, political cartoonist and legal blogger. Actively tweeting from @brianjohnspencr. More information here: http://www.brianjohnspencer.com/ http://www.brianjohnspencer.com/

Hoist on his own petard……

Curious, wasn’t it? Nelson McCausland’s choice of language to highlight his ‘concern’ over a letter sent to primary school principals throughout Northern Ireland, inviting them to consider including an Irish language study programme in the school curriculum. According to Nelson, this was another effort by Sinn Féin to “weaponise” the Irish language and to use it as a tool, it seems, to entice unionists to be assimilated within an Irish identity. Apart from the fact that the letter was sent … Read more

Acht na Gaeilge: Time for a mature discussion

The Stormont House Agreement arrived at as Christmas dawned was supposed to have heralded a new dispensation for Northern Ireland and yet here we are in early January with the same old theatrics. A Sinn Féin Minister proposes a consultation process on the long promised Irish Language Act (2006, St Andrews) and up pops that stalwart defender of minority language (Ulster Scots) and culture (Loyal orders etc), Nelson McCausland. He doesn’t even know what’s in the proposed bill and yet … Read more

SDLP not to ratify Stormont House Agreement

.@SDLPlive says it has no plans to ratify Stormont Hse agreement but will work to implement positive aspects. See Saturday’s @irish_news — Irish News Politics (@politicsIN) January 10, 2015 Interesting story in the Irish News that the party will not fully ratify the Stormont House Agreement. The party has reservations about the silence of the agreement on issues such as the Bill of Rights and the Irish Language Act. In addition to this, while the party recognises progress on Welfare … Read more

Cold and stormy at ‘Cnoc an Anfa’

I was up in Stormont yesterday – Cnoc an Anfa is the Irish for Stormont – and it certainly lived up to its name.  It was bitterly cold, so cold I could feel my fingers begin to detach themselves from my body as I clutched my ‘Acht Gaeilge’ placard at the bottom of the steps of that grandiose building. There were around a hundred of us, participating in an anti-racism pro diversity demonstration, called to demand an Irish Language Act … Read more

Linda Ervine: “respect the Irish language”

Linda Ervine was at Stormont today to hand in a letter calling for “fair treatment and respect for the Irish language.” Writing on her Facebook page Linda said: This Tuesday 2nd December at 11 am on the steps of Parliament Buildings I will be presenting a letter to representatives of the main parties. The letter calls for fair treatment and respect for the Irish language. It outlines the disappointment and anger caused by divisive and insulting comments about the language … Read more

Gregory Campbell and the law of unintended consequences

Not that he cares but Gregory Campbell MP’s recent remarks about the Irish language and his contemptuous dismissal of the campaign for an Irish Language Act has had some unintended consequences from those he may have imagined. It’s very easy to see why Gregory Campbell, drifting as he was to the margins of his party having been left out of the Executive by his leader in successive reshuffles, would want to make some grand effort to get back in the … Read more

Ó Donnghaile takes on the biggest show in the country

Sinn Fein Councillor,Niall Ó Donnghaile appeared on the Nolan TV Show last week to talk about Gregory Campbell’s “Curry my yogurt” quote in the Assembly earlier that week. However,  Ó Donnghaile has taken offence about how Nolan dealt with the issue as he kept repeating the remarks in an attempt to get Niall to laugh.  Ó Donnghaile  has said in a statement released yesterday offensive remarks were repeated ad nauseam in order to get a cheap laugh…The disrespect shown to … Read more