Salmond Hammers Darling In Second TV Debate

Alba Gu Brath - Scotland Forever. Thousands attend Scottish independence rally, Edinbugh, Scotland, 2012 (Photo: Wings Over Scotland)

Well the verdict is in and it seems that Alex Salmond, the SNP first minister of Scotland, has emerged as the winner from last night’s second TV debate on Scottish independence. While the first contest was generally presented as a victory for Alistair Darling, the leader of the Unionist “No” campaign (partly on the basis … Continue reading

About these ads

No Speak The Irish!

Gunmen of the UDA-UFF, a legal British terrorist faction in Ireland, pose for the cameras

As if the precarious position of Irish-speaking citizens and communities in Ireland was not difficult enough living under the authority of a state hostile or indifferent to their needs, in the north-east of the country they must also face the threat of violence too. From the Belfast Telegraph: “A community centre has suffered a wave … Continue reading

United Parties In Catalonia, EU Citizenship In Scotland

An Chatalóin (Catalonia)

Despite the financial scandal erupting around its former leader and his family the ruling Democratic Convergence of Catalonia (CDC) party has joined with other nationalist groupings in providing a united front to Spain’s opposition to Catalonia’s referendum on independence tentatively planned for November of this year. While the one-time doyen of conservative Catalan nationalism, the CDC’s … Continue reading

A Department Of Irish And Irish-Speaking Communities

Labhair Gaeilge

A great article over on Diaga Language which relates to my own piece yesterday on the lack of state-subsidised and accredited Irish language courses for adult learners in Ireland. As always you really should read the full post but here are the main points: “…I’ve been looking to find an advanced course over the last few days … Continue reading

Irish Ways And Irish Laws

Dearg Le Fearg, Irish Rights Are Civil Rights!

It seems that even the most reactionary dung-hill can produce the odd progressive rose. Here is Clare Cullen in the Irish Independent with some entirely sensible points in relation to Irish language education and the (constitutional) obligations of the state towards its citizens following the news that several TDanna were availing themselves of free Irish … Continue reading

Better Together Star: Catholics Look Better Hanging From A Tree

British Unionism or British Nationalism the English Defence League

The British Unionist parties heading the “Better Together” or No (surrender?) campaign in Scotland’s upcoming referendum on independence seem to have all but abandoned their scruples when it comes to defeating the SNP-led Yes side. Their language and rhetoric has become increasingly vitriolic with oblique references to verbal and physical violence littering their speeches as … Continue reading

Analysis Of ÓnaÉ Video

Volunteer of the Real Irish Republican Army armed with an AKM assault rifle

There was a bit of a kerfuffle in the news media over the weekend caused by the military funeral of Tony Catney, a former senior veteran of the (Provisional) Irish Republican Army. His funeral cortège in Belfast was escorted by uniformed activists, possibly Volunteers of the so-called New Irish Republican Army or NIRA through the west of … Continue reading

Scotland Votes No, Scotland Gets Tory/UKIP (DUP/UUP/TUV) Rule?

Scotland's First Minister and SNP leader Alex Salmond adresses independence rally, Edinburgh, Scotland, 2012 (Photo: Wings Over Scotland)

Some interesting polling in Britain which shows that the centre-left Labour Party is still in the lead over the governing centre-right Conservatives and right-left Lib-Dems. However despite all the adverse publicity of recent weeks and concerted media criticism the right-wing England-centred UKIP movement under Nigel Farage is not just holding its own with potential voters … Continue reading

Nimble Scotland Versus Lumbering Britain

Alba Gu Brath - Scotland Forever. Thousands attend Scottish independence rally, Edinbugh, Scotland, 2012 (Photo: Wings Over Scotland)

There are very few politicians that I actually admire. In general my opinion of those who enter party politics is pretty poor though growing up in Ireland, with its values-adverse, morally flexible and easily purchasable political classes, it is easy to see why. It’s not that Irish politicians are particularly corrupt in the sense of … Continue reading

No Time For Irish – Government Policy In Ireland

Featured Image -- 11510

A few weeks ago the appointment of two ministers by the government of Ireland with responsibilities directly effecting the interests of Irish-speaking communities and citizens was mired in controversy when it became clear that neither appointee could actually speak the Irish language (despite the presence of several other fluent candidates in the government parties). Both … Continue reading

The Peshmerga Factor

ISIS, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria

Talking of the conflict in Iraq there is a good piece in Vice magazine by Hetav Rojan on the military troubles of the autonomous Kurdish region in north-eastern Iraq. The much-vaunted image of the Kurdish militias, the so-called Peshmerga, has taken a battering in recent weeks as the forces of the Islamic State have pushed … Continue reading

The Wee Blue Book

Albain (Scotland)

Like myself many readers of An Sionnach Fionn are interested in the upcoming independence referendum in Scotland so I thought I’d post some links to the “Wee Blue Book”, the much anticipated pro-sovereignty fact-guide by the excellent website Wings Over Scotland. By all accounts it has already been a great success and certainly judging by … Continue reading

A Stranger In A Strange Land

Stephen King and wife Tabitha make their cameo appearence in 1981's Knightriders

One of the worst aspects of occasionally working night-shifts is being forced to listen to the talk-radio stations that pollute the airwaves of BÁC during week-nights (the listening choice of others in my workplace, believe me). First off, why on earth would anyone want to listen to the opinions of strangers on a range of “controversial” … Continue reading

The Rise Of The Islamic State

6f73a-isiswithrbg-6

Reading Tom Holland’s stupendous (if controversial) history of the foundations of Islam, In the Shadow of the Sword, I was struck by how current events in the Middle East can find distant parallels in the political and religious convulsions of the sixth and seventh centuries. In particular the rise and spread of the Islamic State … Continue reading

The Politics Of Brutal Bruton

John Redmond The British Ventriloquist

Former Fine Gael leader and arch Euro-federalist John Bruton is generally regarded as the most economically right-wing Taoiseach Ireland has had in living memory. His term of office in the mid-1990s was pretty poor even by the mediocre standards of Irish politics, not helped by his obvious pro-British sympathies and antipathy to the emerging détente in … Continue reading

Hold Your Tongue

The National Library of Scotland, Early Gaelic Book Collection

Karen Matheson, the lead vocalist with the popular Scottish folk band Capercaillie, recounts something that was once very familiar to speakers of the two main Gaelic languages, Irish and Scottish. From the Herald Scotland: “WHEN Karen Matheson was growing up in the small Argyll village of Taynuilt, her mother refused to speak Gaelic to her. She herself … Continue reading

Vote An Sionnach Fionn

Reynard the Fox

Nice to hear that An Sionnach Fionn has been nominated for three separate categories in the Blog Awards Ireland 2014 (the same number as last year, so I must be doing something right!). The categories are “Best Political/Current Affairs/News”, “Best Mobile Compatible” and “Best Blog Post” (for the article “Chief Superintendent Harry Breen, What You … Continue reading

British Violence Good, Irish Violence Bad

The mutilated body of Patrick Loughnane, age 29, Volunteer of the Irish Republican Army, tortured to death alongside his younger brother Harry, age 22, by the Royal Irish Constabulary, Britain's feared colonial police force in Ireland, 1920

Perhaps I should change that headline to a more accurate one? “British Violence (By Irish People For Britain) Good, Irish Violence (By Irish People Against Britain) Bad” For that in essence is the argument put forward by former Taoiseach and aficionado of several right-wing think-tanks John Bruton in a number of recent speeches. Of course … Continue reading

Going, Going, Gone

Northern Ireland

Up to the 1980s the British Labour Party was generally supportive of ending Britain’s centuries-old colonial interference in Ireland by drawing down the shutters on the last remnant of the beleaguered colony in the north-east of the country. Many in Labour saw themselves as “persuaders for unity” on the island of Ireland, a mantra once as important … Continue reading

Festival Interceltique 2014

The Celtic Nations

Sometimes we need reminding that – whatever our origins – we are not just Irish but Celts too, one of the indigenous peoples of north-western Europe. From a report by the Irish Times newspaper: “At the Festival Interceltique, President Michael D Higgins was warmly received as the only head of state of a Celtic country. … Continue reading

Underground Warfare

Maev's second meeting with Fergus, illustration from The Táin by Mary Hutton, 1924

  One of the commoner settlement types to be found in Irish archaeology are the ráthanna or so-called ring-forts 40,000 of which are known to have existed during the first millennium CE (and probably many more than that). These were a class of fortified homestead normally consisting of a circular earthen bank inside an exterior ditch which together enclosed … Continue reading

Language Planning. What it means in an Irish Context (Part 2)

An Chatalóin (Catalonia)

Originally posted on diaga language:
In order to plan for anything you must have contextual information on what you’re planning for. So today I’ll look at how to gather information about the situation of a ‘minority’ language using examples from other countries. Firstly, the main source of information for Irish language planners is the information…

Festival Of Lúgh

wpid-wp-1406893947958.jpeg

It’s a rather overcast and muggy day in BÁC but I’ve still followed my own little traditions for Lúghnasa, the festival of Lúgh that marks the harvest time in the Irish and Celtic calendars. A climb to the summit of Binn Éadair to watch yesterday’s sunset over the capital that marks the commencement of the … Continue reading

Coláiste Lurgan, TG Lurgan

Éire vs. Ireland

The current affairs site breakingnews.ie carries a lengthy article on the well-publicised work of Coláiste Lurgan, an independent Irish language summer school in Galway, to popularise the use of our national language with young people across Ireland and well beyond. Below are a few extracts from the piece (the spelling mistakes in the original have been corrected): “You can’t have … Continue reading

Language // “Criticising Gaelic Medium Education”

Sign of Albain or Scotland

Originally posted on on travel, culture, language & politics:
© Emory Maiden Last month, a piece of research by Aberdeen University was published which examined the Gaelic usage of pupils in a primary school class somewhere in the Highlands. The report highlighted the difficulties that many pupils face when speaking Gaelic, particularly when it comes…

Howth Gunrunning Ladies

Troops of the British Occupation Forces line the barricades in Dublin City during an Irish Republican rally, the War of Independence, Ireland, 1920

Originally posted on Choosing the Green – Roghnú Glas :
100 years ago exactly, a large shipment of arms landed in Ireland. It took the actions of extraordinary women to accomplish the Howth Gun Running scheme of 1914 in Ireland. One, Alice Stopford Green, gave a loan to have the capital for negotiations. Two more, Molly…

Charlie Flanagan and Ireland’s Green Light To Israel

An Phalaistín (Palestine)

Originally posted on Cunning Hired Knaves:
Charlie Flanagan On Wednesday, Ireland, along with the rest of the member countries from the European Union, abstained from voting on a UN Human Rights Council resolution to establish a Commission of Inquiry to investigate war crimes in Gaza. An initial statement from the European Union countries was issued,…

This Land Is Mine, Israel And Palestine

Israeli soldiers pray before a Torah, southern Israel, 2012 (AP Photo - Ariel Schalit)

From the talented Nina Paley.

Politics // Glasgow 2014: Human Rights and the Commonwealth

What Does The British Labour Party Really Offer Scotland?

Originally posted on on travel, culture, language & politics:
This article was originally written in Gaelic and published here by the Gaelic online magazine, Dàna, which I co-edit. Well, the Commonwealth Games have come to Glasgow.  The sun is shining and the city is buzzing. The Winter Olympics and Paralympics, which took place a few short…

Equal In Any Language

We Are 42% - Gaeilge Anois!

In yesterday’s Guardian newspaper the journalist and political activist Ellie Mae O’Hagan argues that the Welsh language should be part of the school curriculum not just in Wales but in other parts of the island of Britain too. Since “England and Wales” are essentially treated as one constitutional and legal entity under British law it … Continue reading

The Orange Order – Enough Is Enough

British soldiers of the RIR unit with a flag supporting the anti-Catholic and Protestant fundamentalist Orange Order in Drumcree, 2002

From 1975 to 1982 a British terrorist faction nicknamed the “Shankhill Butchers”, part of the militant UVF, carried out a series of attacks designed to instil terror in the Irish Nationalist community of Belfast, randomly targeting men, women and children living in isolated enclaves around the city. Like Al-Qaeda in Iraq during the intercommunal conflict the … Continue reading

France Had Pétain, We Nearly Had Redmond

John Redmond MP presents a regimental flag to a unit of the Irish National Volunteers, the paramilitary wing of the Irish Parliamentary Party, the Phoenix Park, Dublin, Ireland, April 1915

John Redmond is probably one of the more divisive figures in Irish history and rightly so. The patrician head of the Irish Parliamentary Party whose followers eulogised him with an almost messianic fervour while excoriating any and all critics he was the self-proclaimed “leader of Nationalist Ireland” who bullied and cajoled thousands of young Irish … Continue reading

Helpless In Gaza

An Phalaistín (Palestine)

Originally posted on Keeping An Eye On the Czar of Russia:
Israel-Palestine is a subject I have avoided for years. For a serious newspaper columnist or a humble Blogger, its a thankless task to try and analyse that particular conflict. History is about “nuance” and the partisans of Israel and Palestine just don’t do “nuance”.…

Scottish Referendum Poll Shows Yes Vote Gaining Ground

Alba Gu Brath - Scotland Forever. Thousands attend Scottish independence rally, Edinbugh, Scotland, 2012 (Photo: Wings Over Scotland)

The latest TNS BMRB poll in Scotland is showing a small if significant rise in support for the pro-sovereignty Yes side in the run-up to the September referendum on Scottish independence. When “undecideds” are stripped out the anti-sovereignty No vote has dropped to 56% while the Yes vote has increased to 44%, a 3% jump since … Continue reading

Name The Kincora Abusers

"Belfast Fianna Fáil wish all members of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland a happy 12th of July"

  For the first time an allegation long made in private has been stated in public: a senior member of the largest political party representing the British Unionist community in the north-east of Ireland and a current minister in the regional executive in Belfast was once an associate of Tara, a would-be British terrorist grouping founded in the … Continue reading

  • blog awards ireland Nominated: Best Politics Blog 2013, Best Personal Blog 2013, Best Blog Post 2013
  • blog awards ireland

    Nominated: Best News/Current Affairs/Political Blog 2014, Best Mobile Blog 2014, Best Blog Post 2014