Mí: Eanáir 2012

The Real World Value Of Ireland’s Indigenous Language And Culture

Éire – Going Beyond The Ireland Straitjacket

Numerous experts in the area of language tourism have pointed to the failure of the Irish state to promote and exploit Ireland’s indigenous language and culture to encourage would-be Irish learners from Europe, North America and elsewhere to visit the country. Instead it has been left to a host of ad hoc, mostly voluntary groups to do the work of encouraging Irish language education around the world. However, in recent times, with the dramatic fall in overseas tourism, this niche, and potentially lucrative, market has gained renewed importance. Indeed, one example of this is the huge growth of interest in Irish that has taken root in Canada, a market that Ireland’s tourism promoters have long had a difficulty cracking.

From CareersPortal.ie comes this announcement:

“The Ireland Canada University Foundation offers an annual programme of scholarly exchange awards open to all academic disciplines, between the universities of Canada and Ireland.

With funding from the National Lottery and the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, the Foundation provides scholarly awards designed to support the teaching of the Irish language in certain Canadian universities.

For the nine month period, September 2012- May 2013, ICUF wishes to appoint Irish Language Instructors to universities including:

University of St. Michael’s College, University of Toronto, Ontario

University of Toronto, Ontario Concordia University

Montreal, Quebec, St. Francis Xavier University, Antigonish, Nova Scotia

St. Mary’s University, Halifax, Nova Scotia

St. Thomas University, Fredericton, New Brunswick Memorial University

St. John’s, Newfoundland University of Ottawa, Ontario

These awards enable teachers to participate in the Irish language instruction programme at a Canadian university, and will also provide individuals with the opportunity to refine their teaching skills and extend their knowledge of Canadian society and culture, enriching their teaching work on their return to Ireland.

Further information on the awards, the terms and conditions and application forms are available on www.icuf.ie 

For enquiries and further details please email: gaeilge@icuf.ie “

The last seven years has seen a steady rise in the level of funding for Irish language education and scholarships in Canada, partly supported by the Government of Ireland and various Canadian universities. There has also been a growing number of Canadian and US students studying Irish in colleges and universities around Ireland. With the government searching for new and imaginative ways to create sustainable industries in Ireland, as well as promoting our national language and culture, what better form of sustainability for our economy and language can there be than investing in people?

Not only does it bring valuable revenues to the economy, and future generations of potential visitors, but it spreads the Irish language around the world, enriching and enlarging the pool of Irish speakers. It has worked for Spain, France, Portugal and even Israel. Why would it not work for us?

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No 11% Has The Right To Fix The Boundary Of A Nation

According to the Irish Examiner the North’s deputy Joint First Minister, Martin McGuinness, has called for a northern referendum on the reunification of Ireland to take place sometime between 2016 and 2021, as Sinn Féin stages a series of conferences on the political and economic benefits of unification.

“In the party’s most explicit outlining of a vote timetable yet, the North’s deputy first minister says it is his ambition to see the referendum held during the next term of the Belfast Assembly.

“It just seems to me to be a sensible timing. It would be on the question of whether or not the people of the Six Counties wish to retain the link with what is described as the United Kingdom, or be part of a united Ireland. It could take place anytime between 2016 or 2020-21,” he said.

“I don’t see any reason whatsoever why that should not be considered.

“I think, in all probability, the people who have got the power to put that in place won’t even contemplate it this side of the next Assembly elections, which conceivably could be 2015 or 2016.”

The deputy first minister believes the Democratic Unionist Party can be persuaded to agree to such a dramatic move.

Under the Good Friday Agreement, the final say on when a referendum on the future of the North would be held rests with the British secretary of state.

The Nationalist government in Edinburgh has provoked a furious row with Downing St over its plans to hold a vote on Scotland leaving the UK in 2014.

Mr McGuinness does not think the financial and economic crash experienced by the Republic would put Northerners off voting to leave the UK.

“It’s a mistake to think people are going to decide their future on what has been a particularly disastrous period of the handling of the economy by the government in Dublin.

“People will make a decision on the potential that the reunification of Ireland can bring for them in terms of political stability and in terms of having economic levers in their own hands.”

Though population experts predict people from a Catholic background will form the majority in the North within a generation, Mr McGuinness said it was “too sectarian” to expect people to vote on strictly religious lines.”

Sinn Féin TD Pearse Doherty has echoed the words of Martin McGuinness, stating that he believes we would:

“… all benefit economically from a united Ireland.

“I don’t think that it is the case that the 26 counties would be broke if we had the six counties, actually the opposite,” he said.

“I see a lot of duplication, I see two economies that are struggling, but also see that there’s huge potential, particularly when you’ve got two out of the top four largest cities on the island of Ireland are actually in the North.””

Meanwhile the Derry Journal reports a large attendance at the Uniting Ireland Conference in the city:

“Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness were among the speakers along with Ulster Unionist Basil McCrea, former senior civil servant and economist George Quigley and trade unionist Inez McCormick.

Those in attendance also included Rev. David Latimer, Minister of First Derry Presbyterian Church…

Basil McCrea said unionists should not be afraid of entering the debate on a united Ireland and while acknowledging that some unionists might regard his decision to participate as “strange”, he felt it necessary to engage in debate. He added that traditional political ideas must be challenged in the face of economic uncertainty.”

It would seem that the so-called United Kingdom is under renewed political pressure from all those who live under its authority, forcibly or otherwise. Let us hope that the British state responds to these new developments with a respect for democracy and the ballot box that it has singularly failed to display in the past. We must never again have the situation where an 11% British minority, through violence and the threat of violence, are allowed to overthrow the wishes of the 89% Irish majority.

Less The Bomb And Bullet, More The Pound And Pence

Vote Independence, get the dole? That seems to be the message from the Scottish entrepreneur Michelle Mone who’s threatened to close her businesses in Scotland and move southward to England if a majority in the country vote to reassert their nation’s sovereignty. According to an article in the Scotsman newspaper:

“SCOTTISH entrepreneur Michelle Mone has said she will leave Scotland if it votes for independence.

Mone, the creator of the Ultimo lingerie brand, said she would move to London with her business if the referendum in 20141 sees Scotland back leaving the union.

The Glaswegian, who is co-owner of MJM International, told the Sunday Times: “I will move my business and I will move personally,” she told the Sunday Times.”

So, it’s not the bomb and the bullet those of a British Nationalist persuasion are currently using to threaten Scottish voters but the pounds and the pence in people’s pockets. And if that doesn’t work? What next? An appeal to the militant tendency of British nationalism: the British separatist minority on the island of Ireland?

Demands for Scotland to be partitioned have already been issued from British Unionist circles in the north-east of Ireland. The purpose of the would-be “partition” seems to be the retention of the ancestral homelands of the British Unionist minority in the Scottish Lowlands and Borders within the “British state”, along with the strategically vital communication routes between the North of Ireland and the south-west of Scotland and northern England. Now, according to the BBC, the former senior UUP politician Reg Empey has made several ominous predictions in the British parliament:

“Lord Empey has warned that independence for Scotland risks reigniting conflict in Northern Ireland.

The former Northern Ireland Executive minister was speaking during a debate in the House of Lords about the Scotland Bill.

He called on supporters of the Union to emphasise the strengths and shared history of the UK.

The former Ulster Unionist Party leader said Northern Ireland had “spent decades overcoming nationalist terrorism and we gradually after years and years and years managed to settle down our community”.

“I don’t wish to exaggerate, but if the Scottish nationalists were to succeed it could possibly reignite the difficulties we have just managed to overcome,” he said.

“I do not say that lightly.”

He told peers said that if Scotland broke away from the UK, people in Northern Ireland would have “a foreign country on one side of us and a foreign country on the other side of us”.

“We would end up like West Pakistan,” he said.

“We are all hewn from the same rock.

“Just imagine the situation we would be placed in.””

Indeed. And we all know how the British separatist minority in Ireland reacts to situations they don’t agree with, don’t we?

Latest Poll: 51% Favour Scottish Independence

According to a Sunday Express poll 51% of the voters in Scotland now support independence, the first time this percentage has been reached in a survey conducted on behalf of a national newspaper in the UK.

“A CLEAR majority of people in Scotland now back independence, according to an exclusive poll for the Sunday Express.

In the first such result since the SNP came to power – and using Alex Salmond’s preferred referendum question – the Vision Critical survey found 51 per cent would vote ‘Yes’, with 39 per cent against.

If such a dramatic result were repeated in the autumn of 2014, the First Minister would have an absolute mandate to negotiate an end to the Union with England.

Carried out on Thursday and Friday, the poll is the first to use the exact wording of the question proposed by the Scottish Government…”

However there is a caveat:

“The survey canvassed 2,019 adults, including 180 people in Scotland…”

180 voters seems a very small sample, in statistical terms, yet:

“Despite the relatively small numbers north of the Border, the pollsters said the result was valid as they had sampled a representative cross section of society.”

Even allowing for caution, the survey is clearly indicative of the rising numbers in Scotland for the independence option. The recent New Statesman poll showed 44% of voters favouring independence while previous surveys have chartered a steady growth in the nationalist vote from around the 29% mark to averages of 34 or 35%.

Enda “My Oirish Brings All The Paddies To The Yard” Kenny Strikes Yet Again!

An Taoiseach na nOirish, Enda “Paddy Wants To Know” Kenny, strikes again. A man who personifies everything that is “Oirland”, a pathetic Anglo-American wannabe nation. So stick your Ireland, I’ll take Éire.

Let Us Never Forget – World Holocaust Memorial Day

Today is World Holocaust Memorial Day, and it would be wrong to let it pass without comment. Though human history has witnessed many atrocious events in its time few equal the industrialised mass murder of millions of men, women and children that took place in the centre and eastern fringes of Europe in the mid-20th century. Here is a link to an article from the Moment webzine on the work of the Roman Catholic priest Patrick Desbois who has spent the last decade criss-crossing Eastern Europe searching out the mass graves of nearly two million people, mainly Jews, murdered during the so-called Holocaust of Bullets.

“Father Patrick Desbois seldom smiles. Sitting across from me in the deserted dining room of a Foggy Bottom hotel in Washington, DC, the austere French Catholic priest unflinchingly chronicles the mass execution of Jews during World War II. “The shootings took place in public, it was like a show,” says Desbois. Our waiter looks uncomfortable as he places a Sprite on the table—most likely he is unaccustomed to hearing his customers discuss genocide over drinks.

The diminutive 56-year-old has spent the last eight years on what some have called a “holy mission,” traveling across Eastern Europe—mostly in Ukraine—to identify the unmarked and sometimes previously unknown graves of the more than 1.5 million Jews murdered there during World War II. In village after village, Desbois, using his clerical collar as his means of entrée, convinces local witnesses—children or teenagers during the war—to tell him stories that have been left untold for more than 60 years. “It is like opening a box,” Desbois says in his thick French accent. “They have been waiting to speak.”

His work is bringing to light an often-neglected chapter of Holocaust history—that of entire Jewish communities massacred where they lived. “This project has focused attention on the need for greater understanding of the Holocaust in the East,” says Paul Shapiro, Director of the Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM). It balances our perception of the Holocaust, he adds, which has been of “trains taking people to death camps” with events that “in large part took place before the trains even started.” Over a third of the murdered six million were killed by bullets in Eastern Europe: Desbois’ work—recording testimony, documenting mass graves and even collecting the actual bullets—not only provides irrefutable evidence of this but is changing the way we understand the Holocaust itself.”

Plaid Cymru On The Up

Plaid Cymru

Plaid Cymru has reported a 23% increase in membership over the last four months as the party’s leadership contest has stirred up new interest in the future direction of the Welsh nationalist movement. The possibility that it may move away from its traditional regionalist policy towards a more progressive form of nationalism, influenced by the electoral successes of the SNP in Scotland, seems to be a more attractive proposition for a younger generation of people in Wales. From the Guardian:

“The Welsh nationalist party, Plaid Cymru, has enjoyed an increase of 23% in membership over the last four months, it has emerged.

After a hugely disappointing showing at the assembly elections last year, Plaid set about relaunching itself and attracting new members. The surge has probably been helped by the search for a new leader to replace Ieuan Wyn Jones, who decided to step down following Plaid’s poor election results, and possibly by the UK-wide debate over the future of Scotland.

Plaid’s chief executive, Rhuanedd Richards, said: “In October we launched the most innovative membership drive we’ve ever undertaken as a party. Since then we have seen our membership figures surge as people join the party to play their part in moving Wales forward.

“Our membership has increased by 23%. We’re delighted not only to be welcoming so many former members back, but also welcoming many new members who have joined the party for the very first time.”

Last week, the party unveiled a report on how to reinvigorate the party, now the third biggest in the Welsh assembly behind Labour and the Tories. One of its conclusions was the party had to address the perception it was for Welsh speakers only.”

The news of Plaid’s increase in membership comes fast on the heels of similar growth for the SNP and a jump in new activists following the recent authoritarian intervention by the London government into the Scottish independence debate.

Cornwall Awakening

To my shame I’ve written relatively little about the nationalist movement in Cornwall, in some ways the almost forgotten nation of the modern Celtic world, but an article in the Guardian thankfully highlights some of the more recent political developments there:

“When Loveday Jenkin was growing up, the Cornish flag was rarely seen. Now the white cross on a black background is ubiquitous, fluttering outside county hall in Truro and printed on everything from souvenir boxes of fudge to pasty packaging and car bumper stickers.

“I think it shows what a long way we’ve come in just a few years,” says Jenkin, the latest member of Mebyon Kernow (MK) – the Party for Cornwall – to be elected to Cornwall council. “Everyone is so much more aware that we are separate, different, not a part of England and should have the right to govern ourselves.”

Scotland has its own parliament, while the assemblies in Wales and Northern Ireland are maturing nicely. And in the far south-west MK is leading the campaign for a referendum on a Cornish assembly.

It is demanding a meeting with David Cameron and Nick Clegg to ask why a petition of 50,000 names, the equivalent of a tenth of the Cornish adult population, appears to have been ignored. The Welsh nationalist party, Plaid Cymru, has laid down an early-day motion in the Commons supporting the call for devolution.

MK, which has just celebrated its 60th birthday, is beginning to do well in local elections, holding five seats on Cornwall council – four more than Labour. The party hopes that the unpopularity of the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition will lead to it taking a leap forward at the next general election, and believes it is starting to attract younger voters disillusioned with the bigger parties.

“Being Cornish is about belonging to the place of Cornwall but also having a particular way of thinking about things,” says Jenkin, a biochemist.

“We do things differently. Our culture is different, we have our own language. People ask why I identify myself as Cornish. It’s simply because I am Cornish. We have more in common with Brittany and Wales than the south-east of England but we’re subsumed into English decision-making.”

Like Plaid, MK often talks about social justice. Dick Cole, the party’s leader who gave up his job as an archaeologist to become a full-time councillor, says that over the past 40 years Cornwall’s economy has been fractured.

“Jobs have been lost, centralised out of here,” he said. “Cornwall is now one of the worst places for wages and the living costs are getting ever higher. We are one of the most deprived areas and the over-centralised nature of the British state has done us no good.”

Cole and Jenkin are veteran MK activists but believe a new generation is beginning to take an interest; people such as John Rowe, a 25-year-old MK parish councillor.

Like many young Cornish people, Rowe admits he did not understand his identity until he left his family farm to go to university in Bath. “It may sound trite but I did not realise what Cornwall was all about until I left it,” he said.

Rowe noticed not only the cultural differences – the language, the art – but also the economic differences between a relatively wealthy city such as Bath and the former mining town where he grew up, Camborne.”

With the electoral successes of the SNP in Scotland and the upcoming referendum on independence a new consciousness has awakened in the Celtic nations of Britain, one that can see beyond current or past limitations. In Wales the leadership contest in Plaid Cymru has brought to the fore the two competing ideologies of the party, regionalist and nationalist, with Leanne Wood leading the campaign on behalf of progressive nationalism. It can only be hoped that Mebyon Kernow will be able to seize the moment on behalf of the people of Cornwall and gain the recognition of the country’s right to national self-expression that many desire, politically as well as culturally.

From Königsberg To Kaliningrad – The Mutable Nature Of European Borders

 

A fascinating article from Der Spiegel on the visit of the veteran 81 year old German and Hollywood actor Armin Mueller-Stahl to the city of his birth in what was once the German territory of East Prussia but is now the Russian region of Kaliningrad. His former hometown of Tilsit has been called Sovetsk for the last six decades but the echoes of its German past are still visible beneath the grim Stalinesque reminders of its more recent history.

“The situation probably wouldn’t have been very different in the Middle Ages if you had wanted to enter a town in the evening through one of the city gates. A grumpy man, in this case wearing the uniform of a Russian border guard, casts one last glance at the passport, grabs a large bunch of keys, shuffles off the bridge that spans the Neman River between Lithuania and Russia, and walks down to an iron gate, where he inserts a key into the lock and pushes both sides wide open.

Suddenly the newcomer finds himself in the center of what must be the ugliest square in all of Russia, even though it was once the finest square in the East Prussian town of Tilsit, now known as Sovetsk.

The splendid Church of the Teutonic Order once stood at this very spot, its spire resting on eight orbs, so beautiful that Napoleon wanted to take it back to Paris. Right behind there is Deutsche Strasse (literally: German Street) — now called Gagarin Street — where Czar Alexander stayed in 1807 when he visited Tilsit, as it was known then, to sign a peace treaty with the French. The small house inhabited by the Prussian queen consort, Louise of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, no longer exists.

Not a single stone of Tilsit’s once grand Fletcherplatz remains. Today, the square is occupied by the border post that separates the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad from Lithuania. Gray, unplastered Soviet-era buildings surround the square. The washing-lines on the balconies are used to dry fish while, down below, trucks line up on their way in the other direction, across the Neman River to Lithuania.

German actor Armin Mueller-Stahl has embarked on an experiment, though he’s not sure what he’ll gain from it. “I don’t want to go to Tilsit, where I was born,” he wrote in his 1997 book “Unterwegs nach Hause” (the title translates roughly as “On the Way Back Home”). “Nor do I want to know how the houses, streets and towns have shrunk. I don’t want to see unfamiliar people opening familiar houses and familiar doors.”

Now he has gone there after all, 81 years after he was born and 73 years after he left Tilsit, the town the Russians renamed Sovetsk after they marched in, which has now made him an honorary citizen.”

The article is a timely reminder of the fluid nature of nations and states, of borders and boundaries, and how the seemingly solid can ebb and flow. The ending is wonderful, and makes one wonder how far the hegemony of Germany in the European Union will sway future political realignments. While the eyes of many have been focused on China’s so-called “land-grab” in Africa, in Central Europe German companies, co-operatives and private individuals have been purchasing huge swathes of land and property in what were formerly German-speaking areas of Poland, Lithuania and the Czech Republic. Will Germany be content with the borders it now has or will it use its financial and economic influence to slowly reabsorb the “lost” German lands of Eastern Europe?

“Then the next man stands and admits that, for decades after World War II, none of them believed Sovetsk would remain Russian.”That’s why we destroyed everything that was German, everything that didn’t have a roof anymore. In 1988, representatives of the cities that wanted their old name back held a meeting. That was already in Gorbachev’s time. They also decided Sovetsk should be given its old name back,” he explains. “When I told the town council here about the decision, they thought I was crazy.”

Then he turns to the mayor and says, “Apparently the town was once really beautiful. All native Tilsiters say it could never be rebuilt as it was. But you, mayor, have to do that.”

Suddenly 80-year-old Zinaida Rutman taps on her glass, pushes her chair back and stands up. Immediately, a broad grin spreads right across her previously expressionless face. She announces to the mayor and all the other guests: “I definitely want to live long enough to see this town called Tilsit again.” And she sits down again.

Everyone falls silent. And stares.”

Scottish Troubles?

The partition of Scotland the new Greater England

The partition of Scotland – and the new Greater England

Two weeks ago I reported on calls by some politicians from the British (Unionist) minority in Ireland, notably former senior UUP leader John Taylor, for any future independent Scotland to be “partitioned” in order to ensure that those regions with a significant pro-British voting population were retained in the “United Kingdom”. Taylor’s exact words were:

“Northern Ireland is not only geographically close to Scotland but shares more with Scotland than with any other country. When the majority in Ireland voted for independence from the UK… Northern Ireland remained within the UK as was the desire of most people in that part of Ireland. Should there ever be a majority in Scotland for independence it should not be binding on all the people of Scotland.

If, say, Strathclyde or the Lowlands prefer to remain in the UK then that decision should be honoured by a partition of Scotland.”

This caused quite a reaction, coming as it did with demands from the English Democrats urging the London government to redraw the boundary map of the North Sea to ensure that the maximum amount of the current UK oil fields remained under British (for which one should read, English) jurisdiction. John Taylor’s party leader, Tom Elliot, also made several hostile attacks on Alex Salmond and Scottish (and Irish) nationalists culminating in the claim that:

“…the constitutional approach of Alex Salmond appears to pose a greater threat to the union than the violence of the IRA.”

Shortly thereafter news came that the two main British separatist parties in Ireland, Elliot’s UUP and Peter Robinson’s DUP, were now considering launching a joint campaign in Scotland to fight the SNP and the independence referendum. Considering that the historical reaction of the British ethnic minority on the island of Ireland to democratic outcomes they didn’t agree with was (and is) a ready recourse to violence and the threat of violence, many people in Scotland were alarmed by the implications of these aggressive moves by the UUP and DUP (not to mention the insidious influence of British terrorist groups based in the north-east of Ireland upon “Unionist” communities in southern Scotland).

Now we are beginning to see the slow creep of the idea of a partition of Scotland from the wild fringes of the British national minority in Ireland to the mainstream of British nationalist politics in London, with news from the BBC of some high-level support for the basic concept:

“A former Conservative minister has said Orkney and Shetland should have the right to remain part of the UK if Scotland votes for independence.

The Earl of Caithness has tabled amendments to the Scotland Bill, which gives further powers to Holyrood.

He said a referendum vote favouring independence should not be binding on the Northern Isles, unless the majority of islanders voted “yes”.

The Scotland Bill is due to be discussed in the Lords later this week.

The Tory peer’s proposed changes to the bill are among a number of newly-published amendments.

Malcolm Sinclair, the 20th Earl of Caithness, said a “yes” vote in a Scottish referendum should be followed by a referendum held throughout the UK, a proposal he sets out in an insert to the bill that the peer has labelled subsection (2B).

In his amendment, he said: “A vote in a referendum held under subsection (2B) of this section which results in Scotland leaving the United Kingdom shall not be binding on the residents of the Orkney Islands or the Shetland Islands unless a majority of the residents of the Orkney Islands and the Shetland Islands who voted in such a referendum voted that Scotland should leave the United Kingdom.”

The Earl of Caithness has also proposed that the North Atlantic islet of Rockall should remain part of the UK in the event of Scotland becoming independent.”

It is notable that British claims to Rockall would be reinforced through UK control of southern Scotland, and part of the western seaboard south of the city of Glasgow, and the extension of British territorial waters north-westward, including from north-eastern Ireland (not to mention the claims on large swathes of the North Sea by retaining control of south-east Scotland). Coupled with the “exclusion” of Shetland and the Orkneys from a Scottish nation such an arrangement would virtually “squeeze” an independent Scotland between various “British” jurisdictions, rendering much of its independence and sovereignty moot. In fact, just as the partition of the island of Ireland deliberately crippled the economic sustainability of a separate Irish state with the loss of its natural tax-raising base and home-market (not to mention the former industrial heartland of the north-east), a partition of Scotland would hobble a free Scottish state from the very start.

The potential loss of agricultural and industrial zones in the Borders and some of the Lowland regions (along with their populations), lack of control over cross-channel trade and movement with north-eastern Ireland (and the revenue derived from that), and the redrawing of Scottish territorial waters and seabed jurisdictions in the North Sea and Atlantic (leading to the loss of substantial oil and fisheries reserves) would be a heavy financial blow for any future self-sustaining Scotland. As with Ireland, it would probably be a form of permanent national disfigurement and a source of continuous instability.

However such a situation could well match future British strategic interests, whether political, economic or security. For no London-based state or government would wish to see a strong political and economic rival to the north, anymore than they wanted to see one to the west in Ireland.

If the Scots think 21st century Albion is immune to 19th century perfidy then they may be in for a shock.

Irish Rights Are Equals Rights – So Fight Back!

Tá An Réabhlóid Ag Teacht! The Revolution Is Coming!

Tá An Réabhlóid Ag Teacht! The Revolution Is Coming!

Over the last several months I have regularly highlighted the alarm felt by many in Ireland and beyond over the Fine Gael-Labour government’s attitudes to the Irish language and the Irish-speaking population of Ireland (and those who identify with both). It has become clear that the discriminatory policies adopted by Fine Gael in opposition have been carried over into government and with the connivance of the Labour Party the coalition is intent on rolling back a decade of civil rights legislation for the nation’s Irish speaking citizens. We have seen attacks on the Official Languages Act of 2003 and An Coimisinéir Teanga or the Language Commissioner, culminating in the move to abolish the latter office, thus removing any statutory force for Irish-speaking citizens to ensure their legal and constitutional rights in seeking equal services from state with their English-speaking peers.

So I’m highlighting again your chance to do something to protect language rights legislation in Ireland. The government has produced an online questionnaire for those supporting the Official Languages Act to voice their opinion, and though we may feel sceptical about their motives in doing so, it presents an opportunity for those who support Ireland’s indigenous language and culture to stand up and be counted.

Comhdháil Náisiúnta na Gaeilge has now produced a short video explaining what you need to do, so please watch it and then follow the links below to the survey itself, both in English and Irish. It should take no more than 10 minutes to complete the questionnaire and anyone who speaks or identifies with the native Irish language and a native Irish identity, regardless of your own daily spoken language or where you come from, should please take a few short moments to fill it out.

The survey in English is here.

The survey in Irish is here.

Please support civil rights in Ireland and share this post with as many of your friends and contacts as you can.

Cosain Do Chearta Teanga! Protect Your Language Rights!

Native America, Native Ireland And The Culture Of Anti-Colonial Conflict

Interesting article by Native American activist Lawrence Sampson on Ireland, the United States and the culture of anti-colonial conflict – and the influences it leaves behind.

“Most American Indians can tell you first hand of the litany of violent campaigns conducted on Indian land over the course of the last generation. While mainstream America and the world believe hostilities ended with the onset of reservation times, every Native American knows the Indian wars are not over. Mini campaigns of violence, complete with military-grade automatic weapons, commonly waged for the natural resource reserves found on or under Indian land, are an ongoing reality for America’s first nations. Out of sight and out of mind of most of America’s populace, the federal government and multi-national corporations wage low-intensity conflicts and use extreme measures to pressure tribal governments into capitulating their natural resource assets. Armed conflicts at Pine Ridge, Gustaffsen Lake, and Kanesatake Indian communities are just a few of the armed battlefields of the last generation.  I have seen firsthand the effects of this ongoing entropy, and know how difficult it is to experience any real tranquillity, be it political, personal, or otherwise. As a product of this reality I suffer the question, will my people ever know peace?”

Read the full article here.

Who Remembers Sam Marshall? The Murder Of An Irish Citizen By A Foreign State

Mark McGregor examines some of the reaction to the release of veteran Irish Republican Colin Duffy following the so-called Masserene Barracks Trial in Belfast, not least amongst the online Commentariat of the British separatist minority in Ireland. From news blog Slugger O’Toole (with a post subsequently deleted) to a local Facebook Page of the PSNI paramilitary police force in the North (online posts now, carefully, redacted), the view has been one of outrage and condemnation as many saw their opportunity to gain a Republican pound of flesh snatched away (yet again).

Colin Duffy himself has accused the British authorities of attempting to hold a rigged trial based upon the use of “planted” forensic evidence, particularly that of a torn fingertip from a latex glove that “appeared” after the initial examination of a partially burnt-out car involved in the 2009 attack on the British Forces at the Masserene military base. A Republican activist since his teens, the 44 year old Irish citizen has been targeted by the British state throughout his adult life spending many years on Guantánamo-like detention in British prisons, most recently the three years he spent awaiting this latest trial. In 1990 he narrowly escaped an assassination attempt by British terrorists after attending an appointment at an RUC (now PSNI) police base that saw his 31 year old friend Sam Marshall gunned down and shot at point blank range as he lay on the ground. The attack is widely believed to have been coordinated by members of the RUC paramilitary police and British military intelligence, who had been following Duffy and his companions in a car and watched as the terrorists struck and then “ran point” for the gunmen’s getaway car as they fled the scene (the attack itself almost parallels the assault that took place at the British Army base in Masserene some twenty odd years later).

In 1999 the BBC’s Panorama programme investigated the efforts of the Irish lawyer Rosemary Nelson to uncover the truth about the killing of Sam Marshall. These efforts ultimately led to her own assassination at the hands of the British terror gangs in Ireland operating under the direction of the British state. Part of the transcript of that programme is below, presented by journalist John Ware:

“WARE: …In March 1990 Colin Duffy and two fellow republicans were walking home having just signed on for bail at Lurgan RUC station. Six hundred yards from the station they became suspicious of a car.

COLIN DUFFY: As we crossed the road and reached the corner of Kilmain Street two occupants got out out of the vehicle. Sam was hit within a few yards of running, and I continued to run then on down the street.

WARE:  The man who died was Sam Marshall, a close friend of Colin Duffy’s. Mrs Neslon has questions about several aspects of this shooting. In the first place the gunmen would need to have known Colin Duffy’s identity and his precise movements. And yet the times and dates of his bail signings were supposed to be known only to his lawyer and the RUC.  So how exactly did the government get to know these details?

The day after the shooting, Michael Tallon was walking his dogs along the railway line that runs close to Colin Duffy’s front door. The dogs spotted a rabbit.

MICHAEL TALLON: They flushed a rabbit out of the hedges. It went down into a pile of old discarded stuff out of people’s houses. When I went down, the dogs were all round the stuff, and I moved the settee to see was the rabbit anywhere about it, and I discovered wires; a black tube with wires coming out both ends of it. What they had was like some sort of a camera.

WARE:  It was in fact an army camera transmitting pictures and it was trained on Colin Duffy’s front door. The camera might explain the sudden appearance of a red Maestro car which Duffy says drove past him on Deeny Drive within minutes of leaving home to sign on for bail. Panorama has established the car belonged to a unit of military intelligence that often conducts surveillance for the RUC.

Why were you suspicious?

COLIN DUFFY: Well I was suspicious of it because it was an unknown vehicle in this area, the area where I live. It contained one person and I thought it strange, so I took a mental note of the particular car.

WARE:  After Duffy collected Marshall and the third man, the trio headed for Lurgan RUC station. On route they spotted the army car on two more occasions. While it was parked in North Street, they even jokingly acknowledged the driver.  After signing on for bail they walked back home again. They’d walked only 200 yards from the RUC station when the army car pulled out of Ulster Street.  It was the fourth time they’d seen it that evening.

As they walked on just past Ulster Street, they became suspicious of another car, a Rover. It was only about 30 seconds behind the army car and it contained three men. A short time later, the Rover past them for the second time.

DUFFY:  We took notice of it again. Obviously we knew then that there was something strange about it.

WARE:  As they rounded the bend they saw the Rover had parked. Now wary, Duffy and his friends took a short cut home to the Kilwilky Estate to avoid the car. As they crossed the road, the doors flew open.

Where was the army car when the shooting started?

The RUC Chief Inspector, whose investigation ruled out collusion, concluded that the vehicle was not in the vicinity of the shooting. There is no way the vehicle could have done anything in relation to the shooting.  But we’ve found two witnesses whose evidence suggests it was. Contrary to the RUC’s account. Our first witness says he saw a car parked at the junction of Victoria Street and Lake Street.  It’s just around the corner from the shooting. After the gun fire the car did a u-turn and drove off very fast.  Our witness says it was red and he believes a Maestro just like the army car.

Like our first witness, our second witness is afraid to be identified in public. He was on Lake Street and saw and heard the same thing. “I heard a squeal of tyres behind me. I saw a car do a U-turn and drive away very fast. If this was the army car, why did the police say it was nowhere near the shooting when it was just around the corner?  When the shooting started, Duffy ran towards Vicroria Street. Our second witness says that when the car, believed to be the army car, sped off, it headed towards Duffy’s escape route. Our second witness says that the gunman’s car followed hard on its heels down Victoria Street. Why then did the RUC say there was no way the army car could have done anything in relation to the shooting of Sam Marshall.

Although Sam Marshall has been dead nine years, no inquest has yet been held. Six months before she died, Mrs Nelson demanded one to question the RUC about their investigation. In any other part of the United Kingdom this would be quite normal. But here in Northern Ireland, such a demand is regarded as political mischief making. The small town provincial lawyer was propelling herself towards the centre of a highly charged political storm. Not only was Mrs Nelson taking on the RUC legally, she was confronting them on the streets as well.”

Author Jude Collins has more here.

A Second-Class Education For Second-Class Pupils

The recent announcements by the FG-Lab coalition government that is to “re-adjust” teacher-to-pupil numbers in classrooms acroos the country has drawn a groundswell of condemnation, not least in the Irish speaking communities where (surprise, surprise) the cuts are set to fall the hardest. The Irish Times carries the latest report on the reactions to the ministerial diktat:

“PARENTS OF children in small Gaeltacht schools have called on the Minister for Education to outline how he believes imposing new pupil-teacher ratios in small primary schools will save money in the long term.

“Ruairí Quinn, éist linn!” chanted more than 200 parents and their children at a demonstration in Galway at the weekend.

The parents from nine Gaeltacht schools in south Connemara expressed vehement opposition to a change which they describe as “discriminating against rural communities, non-Catholic school populations and Irish speakers”.

Irish National Teachers’ Organisation members attending a consultative conference in Galway also described the move as a “blunt instrument”. The organisation’s general secretary Sheila Nunan described the budgetary measures as “flawed and lacking in planning” and called for a “coherent, long-term and resourced strategy for sustainable schools that met children’s needs irrespective of location”.

Such a strategy should “respect linguistic diversity and plurality of patronage”…

The change to pupil-teacher ratios for those primary schools with four or fewer teachers was announced as a form of “phased increase” in pupil threshold in the December budget. Larger primary schools will not be affected.

At the Galway demonstration, which was held in “solidarity with INTO members”, Connemara Gaeltacht parents said Mr Quinn was “forcing closure by stealth” by eroding confidence in the viability of schools with four teachers and under.

…Leitir Calaidh parents Maria Nic Dhonncha, Mairín Ní Fhatharta and Margaret O’Sullivan said they were “very disappointed” at remarks by Minister of State for Education Ciarán Cannon in Ballinasloe on Friday night in which he proposed “clustering” junior and senior cycle primary classes from several schools under one board of management.

“Mr Cannon doesn’t seem to understand that if we lose our school, we lose our community, our identity is gone and it will affect the Irish language,” the parents said. “If Mr Cannon reflects the general attitude of Government, then as a society we are in serious trouble.””

I believe it is more a case of Ireland’s Irish-speaking society being in serious trouble as our present government pursues a series of discriminatory policies against the country’s Irish speaking population, policies that first came to light when Fine Gael in opposition announced plans to destroy the place of the Irish language in our education system. It seems the campaign to ghettoize Irish speakers has not gone far enough for the anglophone Fine Gael dog and its Labour tail (though in the latter case perhaps I should be using a metaphor referencing something slightly lower down on a dog’s anatomy?).

Troika Bagman Gets A Grilling!

Veteran Irish journalist Vincent Brown takes on the Troika bagman, Klaus Masuch, at the EU-ECB-IMF Press Conference in Dublin with some questions the Frankfurt Eurocrat would clearly prefer not to answer (like, why are the people of Ireland paying for the financial chicanery of German, French and British banks and lending houses?). Apparently Barbara Nolan, Director of the European Commission Representation in Ireland (god, they love their fancy titles don’t they?), would prefer if those questions weren’t asked either and judging from the reactions around Brown it would seem that much of the so-called Irish media would agree.

Irish journalists challenging the establishment consensus? Don’t be silly. They are the establishment!