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Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid

Ireland's Independent News & Media group. Not so much reporting the news as shaping it

Ireland’s Independent News & Media group. Not so much reporting the news as shaping it

The latest electoral poll shows Sinn Féin on 21%, just a handful of points behind Fianna Fáil’s 25% and Fine Gael’s 27%. So are we detecting signs of a slow panic taking seed amongst the Britanophile Randinistas at the all-powerful Independent stable of newspapers? Judging by the headline above and more importantly the picture chosen to accompany it I do believe we are. Short of persuading Gerry Adams to don a balaclava mask and lily-badged beret is there much more they could do? Perhaps Photoshop in an AK47 or RPG7? The whole thing is so obviously crafted to create a predefined impression on the reader that it becomes risible. Perhaps since the buachaillí and cailíní at the Sunday Independent are so open in their admiration of Fox News they should reach out for some tips on how it’s really done?

Then again, of course, Gerry Adams wouldn’t be the first Tánaiste we’ve had in recent years with a, um, colourful political history. And I don’t see the Sindo hacks raging against that…

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Revisionism Or War By Other Means

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

The mutilated remains of Harry Loughnane, age 22, Volunteer of the Irish Republican Army, tortured to death alongside his older brother Patrick, age 29, by the Royal Irish Constabulary or RIC, Britain’s colonial police force in Ireland, 1920

There is huge controversy in France at the moment after it was revealed in a local newspaper that a monument to be erected at the site of a famous WWII clash between the French Resistance and the Waffen SS (part of the German Occupation Forces) was to commemorate the sacrifices of both the Resistance fighters and the German troops. Shockingly a number of leading journalists in France’s “revisionist” media have supported the idea, following their traditional role as apologists for the German presence in their country and defenders of those French men and women who collaborated with the Occupation, including members of the Vichy regime and the French police and judiciary.

Actually no, the above paragraph is not true. In fact the controversy is about Ireland and the plans to place a memorial at the site of the Battle of Kilmichael, one of the defining military engagements of Ireland’s War of Independence, that will treat the Volunteers of the Irish Republican Army and the British paramilitary police of the Auxiliary Division of the Royal Irish Constabulary (the ADRIC or Auxies) as equal combatants. The revelation of this seemingly covert move by a local historical group to give quasi-legitimacy to British colonial policing in Ireland has come from the Southern Star newspaper and its famous columnist Archon:

“ALTHOUGH not quite like the eerie silence that descended on Kilmichael minutes after General Tom Barry gave the order to cease firing, the muteness of the two organisations involved in ‘enhancing’ the ambush site where the IRA exterminated a company of RIC Auxiliaries is unnerving.

After outrage was expressed nationally at plans to give the terrorist Auxiliaries equality of status with the IRA Volunteers, and that a replica of a Crossley Tender was to be placed on the ambush site, critics demanded that the Kilmichael Historical Society and the Kilmichael-Crossbarry Commemorative Committee provide clarification of what was going on.

But the only information to drip into the public domain came from a very short interview in a Cork newspaper with Seán Kelleher, the secretary of the Kilmichael- Crossbarry Commemorative Committee.

Mr Kelleher categorically denied that the Auxiliaries would be commemorated – ‘this is not going to happen.’  He added that a replica of a Crossley Tender would not be included. ‘We can understand people’s upset when we saw a photograph of the Crossley Tender submitted with the plans,’ he said.

This column has no hesitation in accepting that Mr Kelleher stated nothing but the facts, as far he was aware of them. However, according to the approved planning application (File 13307; Introduction to Proposals Drawing No. L201) specific reference is made to ‘Suitable Commemoration for both IRA Volunteers and Auxiliaries.’  In another section, Landscape Development Package, a site map refers to the ‘Skeleton of a 1920 Crossley Tender (metal 2.2m High; Drawing A).’

Clearly some confusion is at play. Hence the need for a full explanation from the Kilmichael Historical Society and the Kilmichael-Crossbarry Commemorative Committee if for no other reason than that the approved planning application indicates something other than what Mr Kelleher says.

All of which raises this question:  to what extent was the Kilmichael-Crossbarry Commemorative Committee involved in drawing up the development plan for the ambush site, if at all?

The Kilmichael battle site has great national significance – it is the place where the British government realised it was facing a deadly foe and was locked into a war that its army could not win.

It is imbedded in our historical consciousness and helped create the Republic. Indeed, many of our institutions, including Dáil Éireann, the Defence Forces and An Garda Sióchana ultimately owe their origins to the type of military success that General Tom Barry and his comrades had at Kilmichael.

For that reason, historian Pádraig Ó Ruairc presents an interesting argument against any memorial to British soldiers at Kilmichael. He says it would be wrong to spend public funds commemorating those who fought to prevent Irish independence.  Indeed it would be a ridiculous situation ‘whereby the Irish state undermined its own legitimacy by paying homage to those who fought to prevent the establishment of the state.’

Another eminent historian and author, Peter Beresford Ellis, in a letter to this newspaper, reminded readers of the ferocity of the Auxiliaries in West Cork. He himself remembered elderly people telling him of the nightmares they suffered about the sound and the sight of Crossley Tenders bringing death and destruction into towns and villages.

General Tom Barry described in his book, Guerilla Days in Ireland, how the lorries had a special technique. They came speeding into a village. The Auxiliaries jumped out, firing shots and ordering all the inhabitants out of doors. They lined up men, women, old and young, searching and interrogating them, stripping the men naked and beating them mercilessly with belts and rifles.

The Auxiliary reign of terror sapped the morale of the people and, indeed, that of the IRA.  The terrorists seemed invincible.  As Barry says, ‘There could be no further delay in challenging them … they (the British) had gone down in the mire to destroy us and down after them we had to go.

That they did and with such success that it now seems bizarre that some people in West Cork should be considering commemorating members of a military force that assaulted, terrorised and murdered their forefathers. But then, maybe the idea is not bizarre at all when under the heading of ‘Practical Measures,’ there is this memorable recommendation in the planning application:  the ambush site should be a place that would help ‘educate the youth to continue the folklore’!

Folklore! So, in the final analysis, that’s what they think Kilmichael is about!  As well as being  ‘under-used’ and ‘under-interpreted,’ the ambush site is perceived as an entertainment area where ‘the youth’ will be able to pick up a bagful of popular myths, tall tales, ballads and seanchaí stuff that in adulthood they can spin while sitting around the fire!  And, dear reader, that says it all!”

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 colonial police force in Ireland, 1920

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 colonial police force in Ireland, 1920

Ian O’Doherty – The Answer To A Question Nobody Asked

This is not Ian O'Doherty. This a monkey.

This is not Ian O’Doherty. This a monkey.

The latest noxious brain-fart from the Daily Mail wannabe in today’s Irish Independent newspaper:

“Despite RTÉ’s incessant efforts to make the rest of us care about the North, most people have far more interesting things on their minds. Grass growing. Paint drying. Studying theology. That sort of thing.

Frankly, most of us look at this Balkanised kip, with its demagogues and halfwits and think a pox on all their houses.

…and, likewise, last weekend’s march through Tyrone to commemorate the IRA dead.

I don’t mean the thousands killed by the IRA, but members of the IRA who were killed on ‘duty’.

Frankly, the only shame is that the Brits didn’t kill more of them.”

Irish journalist decries that not enough Irish citizens were killed by a foreign military force in Ireland during the course of a thirty year conflict.

You couldn’t make it up, could you?

The Empire Strike Back!

The results from the 2011 Census of Ireland published last week revealed continued growth in the Irish-speaking communities of the nation and the raised social standing and acceptance of our indigenous language and culture. 1,777,437 million people or 41.4% of the population stated in the census that they were able to speak Irish, an increase of 7.1% since the 2006 results. Of that number 801,063 recorded themselves as regular Irish speakers, another big jump from the last census. We know, of course, what the reaction was to these results by the anglophone supremacists who dominate much of the news media in Ireland. Arrogance, lies, falsehoods, distortions and simple anti-Irish propaganda of every conceivable form and make. So no surprises there.

And no surprise in the news that the Fine Gael-Labour coalition government, who’s ideological hostility and indifference to it’s Irish-speaking citizens and communities is greater than that of any government in the 90 year history of the state, is now signalling its intent to implement another policy to undermine the growth in Irish observed over the last several years. Eroding the equal rights of Irish-speaking citizens with their English-speaking peers is not enough. Now the anglophone elite want to erode their educational rights and standing too. From the Irish Times:

“THE AMOUNT of class time devoted to Irish and religion in primary schools has been questioned by Minister for Education, Ruairí Quinn.

He said teachers had told him how up to 30 per cent of all contact time in some primary classes was taken up by these two subjects. “If we are worried about literacy and numeracy and this figure is close to being correct . . . then we have to ask ourselves questions.”

In an Irish Times interview, he recalled how some educationalists had labelled Irish-language policy as the “biggest single policy failure in Irish education”.

Last year, Fine Gael proposed the abolition of compulsory Irish after Junior Cert; it later abandoned the proposal under pressure from the Irish-language lobby.

Asked if he would revive such a measure, Mr Quinn said: “I am implementing the programme for government.” (This proposes no change in Irish-language policy.) He said he had “enough fronts” open at present, including the drive for major reform of the Junior and Leaving Cert exams. Mr Quinn said he would be happy to get some of these reforms “over the line”.

Mr Quinn said his priority in office was to overhaul second-level education, which, he said, “did not encourage independent thinking”. He hoped the new Junior Cert would be implemented from 2017, with a revised Leaving Cert being rolled out shortly after.”

The latest battle in Ireland’s 800 year old culture war has been well and truly flagged. Not content with abolishing the Office of the Language Commissioner, gearing up to gut the Official Languages Act of 2003 of any meaning or purpose and undermining from the outset the state’s 20 Year Strategy for the Irish Language, Fine Gael and Labour are now intent on lowering the status of the Irish language (and Irish speaking children) in the education system.

Are these people our new Anglo-Irish elite?

Colum Kenny, The Irish Independent And Some Media Spin

Colum Kenny is a regular columnist for the Oirish Independent newspaper, popular amongst right-wing types and other motley conservatives. Here’s his bio from Dublin City University (DCU):

“Professor Colum Kenny, B.C.L., Barrister-at-Law, Ph.D, School of Communications. Areas of special interest include broadcasting, journalism, media, culture and society. He is the author of, among other titles, The Power of Silence: Silent Communication in Daily Life (Karnac, 2011) and Moments that Changed Us (Gill & Macmillan, 2005). Currently a member of the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland. A former employee of RTE, he was also a member of the IRTC / Broadcasting Commission of Ireland from 1998 to 2003. A founding board member of the E.U. Media Desk in Ireland and a council member of the Irish Legal History Society. Member of the Media Mergers Advisory Group that reported to the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment in 2009. The author of many academic articles on cultural and media matters (listed separately at ‘Publications’ here), he is also a frequent contributor to the Sunday Independent, Ireland’s most widely read broadsheet Sunday newspaper. Awarded the DCU President’s Award for Research in the Humanities and Social Sciences, 2004/5.”

Impressive, no? So he’s someone who should, from an academic point of view, have a good understanding of journalism and media values in general. Y’know. Honesty, fairness, reporting without prejudice or bias. What do those crazy conservatives in the US’s Fox News call it? “Fair & Balanced”?

So here is Professor Kenny’s latest contribution to journalistic ethics, a look at the 2011 Census results in the Irish Independent:

“For one in three children, compulsory Irish classes are a complete waste of time.

The Census shows that the total number of people who say that they can speak Irish increased by seven per cent. But that is statistically insignificant when the general increase in Ireland’s population is taken into account.

What is truly shocking is that almost one in three people aged 10 to 19 say that they cannot speak the Irish language. Given the time and money spent on it at school, if this is not a measure of the continuing failure of the compulsory Irish curriculum, then what would be?

And the figure for the population as a whole who “cannot or never speak Irish” is even greater. Among those who do purport to speak it, only 77,185 said they speak Irish daily outside the education system. Given that there are 120,000 people speaking Polish at home in Ireland daily, perhaps these should be given their own TV station here.”

Hmm. So for 1 in 3 children Irish classes are a complete waste of time? But what about the 2 in 3? Those classes seem pretty successful for them. And that 7.1% rise in Irish speakers that is “insignificant”. A rise from 1.66 to 1.77 million people speaking Irish is insignificant? That’s 41.4% of the population. How does the general rise in population make that number insignificant? Actually, I believe you’ll find, that 110,000 extra speakers coupled with a general rise in population partly driven by overseas immigration is statistically very significant. Oh well, it’s not Kenny’s fault. He’s not a maths professor after all. Just a “meedja” one.

Addressing his next issue, well if 41.4% of the population say they speak Irish then the number who say they don’t speak Irish would be higher wouldn’t it? In fact it’s a whole 17.2% higher. Wow. Though, let’s not forget that the 58.6% who don’t speak Irish includes 544,357 non-nationals of whom 89,561 don’t even speak English. From 2.8 million supposedly monolingual English speakers take out foreign-born, non-Irish speaking residents, and you have 2.2 million Irish-born non-Irish speaking citizens. As opposed to say, oh I don’t know: how about 1.77 million Irish-born Irish speaking citizens?

How’s that for fun with numbers, Professor Kenny?

As for his final points (if I may dignify them with that term). The number of daily/weekly Irish speakers is 187,827. The equivalent number of Polish speakers is 119,526. And that excludes the number of people who state that they speak Irish less than once a week. And 613,236 is a lot of people to exclude.

But then, it seems, Colum Kenny would be happy to exclude 1,777,437 million Irish citizens full stop. The Irish-speaking ones that is.

A Native Place

The new Irish language social networking site Abair Leat!, which is primarily aimed at language learners, has been officially launched by the Irish-American comedian and Gaeilgeoir Des Bishop. From the Irish Times:

“… Abair Leat! is the first user generated content application of its kind and allows users to create a personal profile, add friends and exchange messages in Irish.

The core concept of abairleat.com is that at least 70 per cent of all posts and comments must be in Irish. It automatically calculates the percentage of Irish in each post and then invites the user to amend the submission if required.

A spellchecker is provided and an integrated version of Google translate allows users to translate any words they do not know.

Updates are automatically posted to Facebook and Twitter and site developers are planning to introduce an integrated thesaurus and speech synthesiser in the coming months. A smartphone app is planned for later in the year.

Originally intended as an educational resource for students attending Coláiste Lurgan – one of the country’s oldest Irish language summer colleges, the Abair Leat! concept was developed by company owner Mícheál Ó Foighil.

The website was built in association with US digital advertising agency Fantasy Interactive (FI) using ‘Contain’, FI’s social media platform.

Founded by Dubliner David Martin in 1999, FI has developed into a global firm with offices in New York, San Francisco and Stockholm. FI counts companies such as Porsche, Ducati, Google and CBS News among its customers.”

FI’s impressive portfolio of clients has led to a lot of free publicity for Abair Leat! and the website is generating a great deal of positive feedback for its slick look and tech-savvy nature. However, in the Irish Independent, Des Bishop also points to the torrent of abuse and discrimination Irish speakers regularly face when online necessitating a site like Abair Leat!

“”I’m a big user of Facebook and Twitter but when you post in Irish, people who speak Irish respond, but then everyone else makes passive/ aggressive comments saying things like, ‘Why are you speaking this dead language?’ and ‘I don’t understand’ or ‘speak English, please’. Irish is funny for some people, they get very upset,” he said.

“If two people were posting in Polish, no one would ask, ‘Why are you speaking in Polish?’”

Indeed, but the discrimination towards Irish speakers is not confined to online, anglophone trolls and bigots but is widely reflected throughout Irish society and the media establishment in particular.

Discrimination Dressed As Reasonableness… Isn’t It Always?

An article in the Irish Times decries the alleged “preferential” treatment given to Irish-speaking children in the education system because some students receive higher grades for successfully completing their study and examinations solely through the medium of the Irish language. No matter that Irish-speaking children are otherwise discriminated against in Ireland through the lack of Irish-medium schools, education services or the provision of social amenities. No matter that Irish-speaking children are forced to use the English language in wider society and sometimes face abuse and bigotry for not doing so. According to this writer it is the children of the dominant English-speaking majority who are discriminated against!

“Leaving Cert students who do their exams through Irish get grade boosts that add up to extra CAO points. This has been the case for so long it has been overlooked as a very serious inequality in our system.

The Leaving Cert is supposed to be a “level playing field”. That’s the phrase that supporters of this exam love to use.

Take two students, equally able, going for the same course in university. The student from the Irish language school has a better chance of getting that course, even if Irish is not required to study it. It doesn’t make academic sense at all.

I accept that completing an exam such as history through the Irish language is challenging, but not for a child that has had the benefit of 14 years of Irish language education.”

Challenging? Is that how one would describe life for an Irish speaking child living in a frequently intolerant English speaking society part of which actively discriminates against those raised in our native tongue, not least in the services provided by the state itself? Bizarrely the writer recognises this point by highlighting the state’s failure to meet the huge demand from parents and children across Ireland for Irish medium education, in the process contradicting his own argument.

“In my own locality there is one gaelscoil (Irish language primary school) and it is oversubscribed. The nearest gaelcholáiste (Irish language post-primary school) is miles away.

I absolutely support the right of parents to choose an all-Irish education for their children. I also realise that the bonus system is designed to encourage more parents to choose Irish language schooling. As we have seen, however, demand exceeds supply so the interest is being stoked by the bonus points system without a corresponding increase in provision.

Meanwhile, awarding bonus points for Irish continues to discriminate against those outside this limited Irish language school system. When a large pool of students are going for a small number of high point courses in university, is it really fair that those whose parents had access to a gaelscoil and gaelcholáiste should find themselves at such an advantage?”

But if all that is true then surely the most obvious and logical solution is to provide more Irish medium schools? That is, even greater numbers of children studying through the Irish language, not less. It could be done, for instance, by encouraging greater bilingualism in the English language education system, which compromises some 90% of schools in Ireland. Instead we have a situation where the Department of Education has become notorious for its anti-Irish policies, including a freeze on the construction of new Irish medium schools no matter how great (and growing) the demand is.

Furthermore, the present Fine Gael-Labour coalition government has set itself on a path of destruction through the nation’s Irish speaking communities by forcing the amalgamation or closure of Irish medium schools with its new regulations changing the teacher-to-pupil ratio in small rural or urban schools. Given the government’s now proven hostility to the Irish language, and its determination to roll back the limited civil rights provisions for Irish speaking citizens enshrined in the Official Languages Act of 2003, how anyone could argue that English speaking pupils face discrimination in contemporary Ireland is beyond comprehension.

The points made in this article are just another form of soft prejudice. If the writer truly believed in equality and equal access to education for all schoolchildren then the only rational course would be greater numbers of Irish medium schools up and down the country and at all levels. The demand is there, as is recognised: but instead of meeting that demand and “levelling the playing field” with a 50/50 Irish and English medium education system the writer simply wants the existing imbalance tipped even further in the favour of the English speaking majority.

Yes, there is very serious inequality in our education system. And it is an inequality that Irish-speaking children and their parents face every single school day.

Have You Seen The Size Of My Gun?!

Lets Get Them There Brits!

The “Oirish” Daily Mirror carries an eye-grabbing headline:

“We could have killed the Queen on Ireland visit, claim Real IRA”

Well of course they would claim that but is there any more to this report than a mere headline?

“THE Real IRA last night claimed they planned to kill the Queen when she visited Ireland.

But they called off an assassination attempt on the Queen because they did not believe her life was worth one of their volunteers being jailed.

In an astonishing interview with the Irish Daily Mirror the Dublin leadership of the dissident group claim they met to plot the killing and were confident they could pull it off.

A spokesman said: “We considered killing the Queen. We could have managed to carry out a successful attack but it wouldn’t have been feasible to get away.

“Any volunteer would have been caught and locked up for life.

“A volunteer’s life is not worth the life of the Queen.”

A revolutionary army with a conscience? Aww. And I like the fact that they are so familiar with “the Queen”. That would be the British head of state, or the British Queen, as most Irish Republicans would phrase it. But hey, if you prefer “the Queen” you go with it. Sounds like entirely plausible language from an Irish Republican to me. No doubts there.

But wait! There’s more.

“The organisation, which refers to itself as the IRA, yesterday insisted it now has the firepower capable of launching a major assault.

Among the deadly arsenal weapons are rocket-propelled grenades and encrypted bombs.”

“Encrypted bombs”?! Wow. Are they better than unencrypted bombs?

“A spokesman said: “The gardai can count themselves lucky that she wasn’t attacked.

“It could have been very embarrassing.””

It’s not the only embarrassing thing here, but I digress.

“The spokesman said: “The so-called pillars of society were fawning over her but the streets of Dublin were empty.

“The Cork Brigade did carry out a grenade attack and members in Dublin organised in assisting youths in rebelling on the streets. The IRA mobilised the youths. The public protest showed that there were numbers on the streets willing to oppose the visit.””

Rebelling on the streets? Five men and a dog…?

“Despite this the RIRA claim they are more popular than ever and have plenty of support.

The spokesman said: “This year has been our best so far and we have had significant numbers of people joining our organisation.

“We have a young base but we also have a good number of former Provos.

“We wouldn’t put a number on our membership because we can’t know, but we are the strongest republican group in Ireland and definitely in the south.”

Have you stopped laughing yet? Yes, the RíRá have lots of new members – unfortunately they can’t say how many members they have because they, um, well, they don’t know.

“The group claimed that teachers, mechanics and students all signed up in the last year. It is widely believed that the RIRA are bankrolling their bloody actions through extortion rackets.

The spokesman added: “We have a lot of money spinners. We fundraise from fuel smuggling, cheap DVDs and cigarettes.

“We also use a lot of the same fundraising that has been used in the past. We do not tax drug dealers. If you tax them then you are as bad as them.”

Asked if the group sees any hypocrisy in criticising drug dealers while they sell illegal cigarettes, a member said: “There is a qualitative difference between cigarettes and drugs.

“The working class can’t afford cigarettes so we are meeting the needs of the community.

“Nobody is being pressured into buying the cigarettes.””

The Real IRA: they’re just like the St. Vincent de Paul or the Samaritans! And such an eloquent use of language in building their propaganda image: “fuel smuggling, cheap DVDs and cigarettes”. The Real IRA: coming to a market stall near you!

“The Real IRA recently admitted bombing two banks in the North as well as the UK City of Culture office in Derry.

The spokesman said: “Such attacks are an integral part of our strategy of targeting the financial infrastructure that supports the British government’s capitalist colonial system in Ireland.

“The impetus to carry out this type of attack is directly linked to pressure from working-class communities in Ireland as a whole.””

I’m always hearing people crying out for someone, anyone, to bomb the banks. Sure don’t you see it painted on walls all over Ireland? Bankers Out!

Oh look, here comes some rationality. Hello, Mister Believability, have you something sane and not at all embarrassing to say to us?

“A TOP [!] security expert has poured cold water on the Real IRA’s claims they could have killed Queen Elizabeth II.

However, former Army captain Tom Clonan said the dangerous group had the capacity to launch a disruptive strike.

Dr Clonan is a former army officer with experience in the Middle East and the former Yugoslavia.

Since his retirement he has spent several years researching dissident groups like the RIRA.

“From my research I have found that these guys are committed, they are not a criminal outfit who are looking after their own interests.

“They have beliefs that they stand for and this makes them a serious and credible threat…””

Indeed. A lot more credible than some other things I could mention. Talking of which, back in the magical world of revolutionary politics, the RIRA are revealing their massive arsenal of hi-tech weaponry with which they intend to drive the British invaders back into the sea (or something).

“”We have good engineering units that are able to develop weapons.

“We have rocket propelled grenades, electronic detonated bombs, mercury volt switch bombs, remote bombs that are encrypted, light machine guns, heavy machine guns and assault rifles.””

That’s right. Let the Brits know what weapons and equipment you have. That will frighten the bejesus out of them funny-talking imperialists.

“The RIRA claimed that they have an effective network transporting weapons across the border.

They say that this is controlled by so-called “unknown volunteers”.

The gang said: “We are not having our weapons seized unlike other groups.

“Our supply network from the south to the north is very strong and has not been broken.

“These volunteers have no previous history they have no Facebook pages and there would be only one person from the organisation who would deal with the unknown volunteers.””

Wow! Real IRA not on Facebook! Now, there’s your headline, folks!

As Mark McGregor points out, its a funny old war.

Horrible Histories With The Sunday Independent

The Irish Independent’s pet “historian”, John Paul McCarthy, has written a lengthy article on some of the behind-the-scenes events relating to the 1981 Hunger Strikes documented in the Irish and British government papers released at the start of the year. As always he has his own very personal interpretation of Irish history.

“The State Papers for 1981 deal with the gravest political crisis in this Republic since the Civil War.

They show that the Irish Government’s response to Bobby Sands’ hunger strike was simultaneously weak and deceptive.

Marian Finucane’s guests last week on her radio show, especially John Bowman and Peter Taylor, worked these contradictions fairly hard rather than deal with the moral elephant in the room.

Firstly, they presented the hard-nosed Thatcherite stance on prison conditions as a calamitous own-goal, the fateful British stumble that supposedly catapulted Provisional Sinn Fein into the electoral stratosphere. They also failed to consider the possibility that the H-Block confrontation simply gave firm form to a potent, and pre-existing sentiment within a section of the nationalist community in Northern Ireland, a sentiment that would probably have emerged into the electoral field through another channel if the hunger-strikes had never happened.”

Seriously? What single shred of evidence is there that Provisional Sinn Féin existed as an electoral force in the North of Ireland (or indeed Ireland as a whole) before the early 1980s? Up to that time the party was little more than the civilian wing of the Republican Movement, the provider of “incident centres” in times of truce, a support service for POWs and their families, an interlocutor and liaison between the Irish Republican Army and the Irish communities in the north-east, and a friendly face for the national and international media. But beyond that? The party barely functioned as a political party, in any conventional sense, at all. To argue that the Hunger Strikes played no part, or indeed the deciding part, in the politicisation of the Republican Movement and the “greening” of the Irish civilian population in the North of Ireland is too ridiculous for words.

“This sentiment was the one that sustained the Provisional IRA’s campaign of sectarian violence throughout the Seventies, that tawdry decade of no-warning bombings in working-class British pubs, scores of murders of part-time police officers in front of their children, the incineration of helpless civilians in hotels like LaMon and, on one especially barbaric occasion, the torture-murder of SAS captain, Robert Nairac, that culminated in the feeding of his body into a mincing machine.”

Is this a “sentiment” or a “mandate”? Or is McCarthy too afraid of the answer to go down that particular line of reasoning?

As for the British Army SAS “hero” Robert Nairac, his execution by the IRA occurred in terrible circumstances. There was no honour in it. On a purely human level one can only feel revulsion at the manner of his death. However that revulsion equals the manner of his living and of his “active service” in Ireland. John Paul McCarthy condemns the IRA for their violence yet is silent on the violence of Robert Nairac and his role as the leader of a British military and paramilitary death squad in Ireland. Or does the murder of Irish citizens not overly bother the good professor too much? British civilians, soldiers and policemen, yes. But Irish men, women and children?

“The Provisional IRA was a treasonous entity, and it could only win if the Constitution was voided. Sands’ starvation was not a passive sacrifice, but rather an aggressive policy on a direct collision course with our State.”

Treasonous? Against whom? The British-ruled apartheid-state they were born into and which treated them as a second class citizens with second class rights? If McCarthy means the Irish state, would that be the same state who’s Supreme Court ruled that certain military actions in pursuance of the reunification of Ireland under Articles 2 and 3 were “political in nature”? Is that colliding with the state or acting on its behalf?

“Must the democratic state simply yield to a treasonous conspiracy like Sands’ simply because it temporarily adopts the tactics of Gandhi and Emmeline Pankhurst?”

The hunger strike:  known as a tactic of Irish Republicanism since the mid-1800s and the establishment of the Irish Republican Brotherhood and the Fenian Brotherhood, and later adopted by many other democratic, revolutionary and nationalist movements and persons around the globe. This is what we call history, boys and girls.

“As Prof John A Murphy and former justice minister Patrick Cooney insisted at the time, the Republic remained in danger regardless of what the British did because Sands was exploiting our historic ambivalence about sectarian violence, unionism and the British connection.”

Ambivalence? As in rejecting the so-called “British connection”? Is this what you mean by ambivalence, John? The Irish people wishing to have a free and democratic nation of their own? Or perhaps you refer to your own “ambivalence” on the loss of the “British connection”?

However, perhaps, on principal, you are opposed to rewarding or giving in to all those who use violence for political ends?

“Nally was Secretary to the Irish Government from 1980-1993, and the principal architect of the Republic’s policy on Northern Ireland since Jack Lynch rescued him from obscurity in 1973.

Nally, writing in 1975, speculated on what would happen if Sands’ IRA actually achieved its goal of forcing a British scuttle from Northern Ireland — their stated aim in 1975 and again in 1981.

Nally predicted that an independent Ulster state would emerge after the British exit, but only after a communal catastrophe, mandarin-speak for a plain old Balkan-style sectarian slaughter.

So, as far back as 1975, Nally was warning Cosgrave that “the likely prelude to the establishment of a state comprising either the entire six counties or the part of it east of the Bann is so horrific for the entire island that I think we should, on no account, give any support or engage in any open analysis or discussion on the subject.” And in 1981 we now know that Nally seemed even more convinced that leniency in the H-Block confrontation could hasten that very nightmare.”

So, let me get this straight. We could not “give in” to the violence of the IRA – because we feared the violence of the British separatist minority on the island of Ireland even more? Well now, who say’s violence doesn’t pay? It’s paid the British national minority in Ireland very handsomely indeed, for the last 100 years and more.

“Nally’s hard words were written days after bricks, stones and bottles flew during a major riot outside the British Embassy in Dublin. Here, without anything like the body armour available today, a small force of gardai heroically contained a seething IRA mob intent on wrecking the embassy.”

Hmm, a “seething IRA mob”? All 2000 men and women who took part in the demonstration near the British Embassy that day were Volunteers of the Irish Republican Army? Remarkable.

John Paul McCarthy. Historian.

Sunday Independent. Newspaper.

An Anti-Irish Free State?

I’ve written several pieces here about the shock and dismay felt by many Irish-speaking citizens across Ireland at the decision by the current Fine Gael-Labour coalition government to abolish the office of An Coimisinéir Teanga or the Language Commissioner; a decision justified as a necessary requirement of the hack and burn austerity measures dictated by the IMF-ECB. However to most observers the move to do away with this independent public agency, which has fought to ensure the same access to state institutions for Irish-speaking citizens over the last 10 years that have been enjoyed by English-speaking citizens for the last 90 years, is driven more by the success of the office (and the legislation behind it) than any financial considerations.  Notable cases taken in recent years, based upon the exceptionally large number of complaints lodged with An Coimisinéir Teanga by Irish citizens who have found themselves discriminated against because they use the indigenous language of their own country, marked the Language Commissioner as an early target for the new wave of anti-Irish rhetoric emanating from a culturally Anglo-American, Anglophone political establishment.

Now support has come from a panel of Irish and international academics for those opposing the return to the institutionalised “racism” of previous decades, as reported in the Irish Times:

“FIVE INTERNATIONAL language experts have questioned the Government’s decision to merge the office of An Coimisinéir Teanga (Irish Language Commissioner) with that of the Ombudsman.

The merger was announced last month as part of the Government’s public sector reform programme, and has already been criticised by Irish language bodies and by Fianna Fáil.

In a letter to Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Jimmy Deenihan, five specialists in Ireland, Wales, Scotland and Canada question the justification for the decision.

NUI Galway lecturer Dr John Walsh, Prof Colin Williams of Cardiff University, Prof Linda Cardinal of the University of Ottawa, Dr Wilson McLeod of the University of Edinburgh and Prof Rob Dunbar of Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, the University of the Highlands and Islands, say they believe there are “no obvious economic savings” as a result.

Staff in the language commissioner’s office in Spiddal, Co Galway, are already employed by the Department of the Gaeltacht, and share that department’s human resources and financial and services functions.

The language commissioner’s office costs about €600,000 annually and is charged with ensuring language rights are adhered to under the Official Languages Act. Its annual report has been critical of a number of departments and public bodies for failing to meet these requirements.

“The great strength of the Irish system is the independence of the [Irish Language] Commissioner’s office to investigate complaints in strict accordance with its statutory obligations,” the five academics state.

“Without such an independent office and focus for investigation of complaints, we fear that the rights of Irish speakers will atrophy,” they say, calling on Mr Deenihan to reconsider the decision.”

It is of course the “great strength” of the Language Commissioner which is its undoing. For a zealous minority of the anglicised, English-speaking community in Ireland, with their pathological hatred of those who embrace a native Irish identity (or indeed a native and anglicised Irish identity), the success of An Coimisinéir Teanga was infuriating. For these “Neo-Colonials” the dismissal of indigenous Irish culture, in any and all forms, is the paramount “culture war”. One that has been fought here since the Middle Ages and the first British colonies. Any signs of “strength” by the “natives” is a sign of their “weakness”. No “parity of esteem” or “peaceful, communal coexistence” here. Annihilation, dressed up in the rhetoric of the free market or financial necessity or claims to faux modernism, is the intention. That is the true purpose behind the abolishing of the Office of the Language Commissioner.

A state which rejects the indigenous identity of its citizens is a state those citizens are in turn justified in rejecting.

Second Class Citizens With Second Class Rights

Two weeks ago I predicted that the Fine Gael led coalition government would use a review of the Official Languages Act of 2003 to reverse a decade’s worth of progress on equal rights for Ireland’s Irish speaking communities. And, hey, guess what news was announced today? The Irish Times carries the story:

“The decision to close the office of the Irish Language Commissioner has led leading Irish language groups to question the Government’s commitment to the protection and long-term development of the language.

The Government revealed its plan to merge the commissioner’s office with the office of the Ombudsman as part of the public sector reform programme announced this afternoon.

The language commissioner’s role was to monitor compliance by public bodies with the provisions of the Official Languages Act and to take measures to ensure the right of citizens to use their language in official business with State agencies.

Julian de Spáinn, general secretary of Conradh na Gaeilge, said the language commissioner’s office had made “huge strides” in recent years. “The Irish language community believes and trusts in the independence of the Office, and this is now to be put in jeopardy by the Government.”

Éamonn Mac Niallais, spokesperson for Guth na Gaeltachta, said it was “amazing” that the decision has been taken “at the very beginning of the implementation of the Government’s 20 Year Strategy for the Irish Language.”

“What message does this give the Civil Service, a service Irish speakers have been trying to access their rights from for years now? What this is saying to them is that this independent office is not important and as such, that it is not important to implement the Languages Act”, he asked.

Seán Ó Cuirreáin, formerly deputy head of Radio na Gaeltachta, was formally appointed as the first Coimisinéir Teanga in February 2004 under the Official Languages Act and was reappointed for a second term in 2010.

In his latest report – dated 2010 – Mr Ó Cuirreáin said his office received 700 complaints about difficulties or problems experienced by citizens about difficulties accessing State services through Irish. This was more than in any previous year.”

Perhaps, indeed, that was the problem? That Irish-speaking citizens of this state were too willing to fight for their rights. And the Official Languages Act and the Commissioner gave them a means to do so. Ah, we can’t be having that now, can we? Don’t these folk realise that we live in Ireland not Éire?

Perhaps those who have been so critical of my trenchant views on the real nature of modern Ireland, on the existence of an intolerant, bigoted Anglophone establishment that will not permit any other rival, might like to speak up now?

Or are you too busy meekly shuffling to the back of the bus again?

Scary Éire?

In the debate over the relative values of the Irish and English languages in contemporary Ireland one of the arguments being put forward by a small but powerful minority of anti-Irish zealots in the Anglophone community is that we should be learning another non-English language instead of Irish for “economic” reasons. The one picked from a presumably global list of languages is usually German, followed by French and, rather bizarrely, Mandarin Chinese (I’ve also heard Russian, Japanese and even Hindu mentioned – which really takes the argument to new levels of desperation).

The claim is that these non-English languages would be more valuable to the Irish people, or rather the Irish business community, than their own Irish language since some of these are the national languages of states with powerhouse economies or global economic reach. Give up Irish, cry the Anglos, and replace it with German, the supposed lingua franca of the business world.

The only problem is they are lying. And what’s more they know it. The lingua franca of international business is the same language it has been for the last fifty years and will be for the next fifty years – English. And what language is one of Ireland’s two spoken languages? Hmm?

Other languages, German, French, Chinese, are red herrings. False flags of convenience flown by a minority of English speakers in Ireland who are desperate for something, anything, to justify their opposition to our native tongue. They no more care about creating future multilingual entrepreneurs than I do about the average viscosity of custard!

They do care about destroying the Irish language, about completing a process began centuries ago through a foreign invasion and colonisation of our country. A colonisation that gave these people their language – and in some cases their identity. To say that there are people in Ireland who, though regarding themselves as Irish, hate all manifestations of Ireland’s native language or culture with a degree of loathing bordering on a mania is to simply state the truth.

In light of all of the above Salon features an excerpt from a new book by Henry Hitchings, “The Language Wars: A History of Proper English”, examining the role of the British English language around the globe. It contains a few truths, good and bad, the Angloban extreme most certainly won’t want you to hear.

“No language has spread as widely as English, and it continues to spread. Internationally the desire to learn it is insatiable. In the twenty-first century the world is becoming more urban and more middle class, and the adoption of English is a symptom of this, for increasingly English serves as the lingua franca of business and popular culture. It is dominant or at least very prominent in other areas such as shipping, diplomacy, computing, medicine and education.

…the propagation of English is an industry, not a happy accident.

English has spread because of British colonialism, the technological advances of the Industrial Revolution, American economic and political ascendancy, and further (mostly American) technological developments in the second half of the twentieth century. Its rise has been assisted by the massive exportation of English as a second language, as well as by the growth of an English-language mass media. The preaching of Christianity, supported by the distribution of English-language Bibles, has at many times and in many places sustained the illusion, created by Wyclif and Tyndale and Cranmer, that English is the language of God.

Wherever English has been used, it has lasted. Cultural might outlives military rule. In the colonial period, the languages of settlers dominated the languages of the peoples whose land they seized. They marginalized them and in some cases eventually drove them to extinction. …English is treated with suspicion in many places where it was once the language of the imperial overlords. It is far from being a force for unity, and its endurance is stressful. In India, while English is much used in the media, administration, education and business, there are calls to curb its influence.

And as English continues to spread, it seems like a steamroller, squashing whatever gets in its way. True, it is often used alongside local languages and does not instantly replace them. Yet its presence shifts the cultural emphases in the lives of those who adopt it, altering their aspirations and expectations. English seems, increasingly, to be a second first language. It is possible to imagine it merely coexisting with other languages, but easy to see that coexistence turning into transcendence. As English impinges on the spaces occupied by other languages, so linguists are increasingly finding that they need to behave like environmentalists: instead of being scholars they have to become activists.

There are more people who use English as a second language than there are native speakers. Estimates of the numbers vary, but even the most guarded view is that English has 500 million second-language speakers. Far more of the world’s citizens are eagerly jumping on board than trying to resist its progress. In some cases the devotion appears religious and can involve what to outsiders looks a lot like self-mortification. According to Mark Abley, some rich Koreans pay for their children to have an operation that lengthens the tongue because it helps them speak English convincingly. The suggestion is that it enables them to produce r and l sounds, although the evidence of the many proficient English-speakers among Korean immigrants in America and Britain makes one wonder whether the procedure is either necessary or useful. Still, it is a powerful example of the lengths people will go to in order to learn English, seduced by the belief that linguistic capital equals economic capital.

In places where English is used as a second language, its users often perceive it as free from the limitations of their native languages. They associate it with power and social status, and see it as a supple and sensuous medium for self-expression. It symbolizes choice and liberty. But while many of those who do not have a grasp of the language aspire to learn it, there are many others who perceive it as an instrument of oppression, associated not only with imperialism but also with the predations of capitalism and Christianity.

There are challenges to the position of English as the dominant world language in the twenty-first century. The main ones seem likely to come from Spanish and Mandarin Chinese. Both have more first-language users than English. But at present neither is much used as a lingua franca. The majority of speakers of Mandarin Chinese live in one country, and, excepting Spain, most Spanish-speakers are in the Americas.

I have mentioned India already; English is important to its global ambitions. The language’s roots there are colonial, but English connects Indians less to the past than to the future. Already the language is used by more people in India than in any other country, the United States included. Meanwhile in China the number of students learning the language is increasing rapidly. …it is a symptom of China’s English Fever: the ardent conviction that learning English is the essential skill for surviving in the modern world.”

So much for the “urgent” need of Irish people to learn non-English languages to compete in the global market. The global market is learning English!

There exists in Ireland a small but influential community of English speakers who regard the Irish language as entirely alien, entirely foreign. It is part of scary Éire, the Ireland they don’t understand or want to understand. They wish Irish to disappear, to be no more. They may well, and sometimes do, qualify it with statements of seeming generosity and understanding along the lines of “I personally don’t mind Irish but…”. The “but” usually leading to things like no funding for Irish language organisations or events, no public service broadcasting in Irish, no Irish in the public education system, no state documents, websites or signs in Irish – or to put it all more honestly, no Irish full stop. They simply want Ireland to be an English Ireland and that is it.

Or do you really believe these people are opposed to the Irish language in order to have Mandarin Chinese spoken in Irish schools?

Really?

The British Separatist Minority In Ireland. Or How To Use Political Violence And Get Away With It

Jude Collins is one of my favourite Irish bloggers, an author and journalist with a seemingly indefatigable supply of opinions (where does he get the time?). With the Irish media establishment speaking with one voice on what was known in my youth as the “National Question”, he represents one of the few places where one can hear intelligent, well-argued counter-opinion (the latter also being known as the truth). His latest post touches upon a word also rarely hear these days: partition. It is well worth reading not least for the image accompanying it which puts all the Anglomedia talk about democracy and the threat or the use of violence for political ends into perspective.

When is a majority not a majority? When it is the militant British separatist majority in the North of Ireland.

Hear No Evil, See No Evil, Speak No Evil – The Irish News Media And The Sam Smyth Scandal

As many regular readers may know (you are there, aren’t you?) I frequently bang on about the inequities of the “media establishment” in Ireland. In general I pretty much loathe ‘em, the whole right-wing, faux liberal, elitist Anglo shower. Bah! But for those of you who ask, “A Shionnach, but why?”, here, in several easily digestible paragraphs, is the answer.

Earlier this month The Journal carried some surprising news for those of us who believe in media plurality and freedom, news that has remained strangely underreported by the Irish press (or perhaps not so strangely as you will see).

“TODAY FM PRESENTER Sam Smyth has taken to the airwaves today following reports that his days presenting his Sunday current affairs show are numbered.

The Sunday Times reports today that Smyth has been sacked from the show he presents on Today FM, with the last show to be broadcast on 6 November. According to the paper Smyth has said that his reporting on the Moriarty Tribunal and his criticism of Denis O’Brien is behind him being dropped from the show.

On the show earlier, Smyth read out today’s headlines relating to his position in Today FM, but declined to comment saying:

“…before someone comes downstairs and pulls a wire we better move onto something else.”

The Sunday Independent reports that Smyth is planning to fight against his sacking by Today FM, which is owned by O’Brien. The Sunday Independent reports that O’Brien is currently suing Sam Smyth over comments made and written about the Moriarty Tribunal.”

The reaction to the news drew a deafening silence from the Irish rat pack – sorry, media pack. So much so that even a member of that august sleeping chamber, Seanad Éireann, was stirred from his slumber, as The Journal also reported:

“A LABOUR PARTY SENATOR has criticised members of the media for not showing more public solidarity to Today FM’s Sam Smyth, who is to be dropped by the station.

Senator John Whelan this morning criticised press commentators for their failure to publicly support Smyth…

“Press freedom and fair comment are a cornerstone and fundamental values of our democracy,” he said. “Fair comment in the public interest is a pillar of a real republic.”

It was reported in Sunday newspapers that Smyth was to be dropped from the station, which is owned by media and telecoms magnate Denis O’Brien – with the Sunday Times reporting that Smyth had protested that the move was related to his coverage of the Moriarty Tribunal.

That tribunal, which investigated the awarding of Ireland’s second mobile phone licence to O’Brien’s Esat Digifone, was prompted after reporting by Smyth published in the Irish Independent – which is also now majority owned by O’Brien.

George Hook of Newstalk – which is also owned by O’Brien’s Communicorp broadcasting empire – told listeners through Twitter that he did not think the matter was worthy of bringing up in an interview with Communications minister Pat Rabbitte.

On Sunday morning, however, Newstalk’s Eamon Dunphy made a brief statement on his own show – which clashes with Smyth’s Today FM show - defending his Communicorp colleague.

“If there’s any link between that sacking and his work as a journalist for the Independent newspaper group… it is up to every citizen in this country to understand that press freedom is threatened,” he said.”

That the Fine Gael activist journalist celebrity presenter George Hook squirmed his way out of making a comment on the affair was no surprise. Nor for many of us was the muted response of the journalistic class as a whole. After all they know which side their bread is buttered on and most have, do, or will work for the ubiquitous O’Brien owned media in Ireland. Eamon Dunphy’s courage in speaking up for his friend and colleague did come as a bit of surprise to some, despite his “maverick” reputation. However there is always a price to pay, even for integrity.

The Journal again:

“EAMON DUNPHY HAS announced that he’s quitting his job at Newstalk, calling the atmosphere at the station ‘inhospitable’ for journalists to work in.

A member of Newstalk staff has told TheJournal.ie that the first many employees heard about Dunphy’s departure when they opened the Irish Daily Star this morning, which carries Kieran Cunningham’s exclusive story.

Dunphy said that journalists have been encouraged to “put a positive spin on the news agenda” and he’s criticised budget cuts at the station.”

Today Dunphy spelled out his thoughts on the matter:

“EAMON DUNPHY HAS used his last show on Newstalk to reveal some of the reasons behind his decision to leave the station.

Dunphy said that Denis O’Brien – whose Communicorp company owns both Newstalk and Today FM – “hates journalism”. Dunphy also made reference to the working environment in Newstalk and said “not nice things are happening in this place”.

The Sunday Independent quotes Newstalk CEO Frank Cronin, who said that Dunphy was not spoken to about recent comments he made on his show about Sam Smyth’s departure. Cronin told the Independent’s Niamh Horan that Dunphy is free to say whatever he wants, and that he had been asked to take a more positive view in his coverage of some issues.

Meanwhile Dunphy told Mark Tighe and Justine McCarthy in The Sunday Times that Denis O’Brien is at war with journalists.”

As well as owning several radio stations in Ireland O’Brien is also a (somewhat unwelcome) shareholder in the dominant Independent News & Media (IN&M) along with long-time rival Tony O’Reilly (or Sir Tony O’Reilly as he – and his newspapers- insist on styling him following some serious kowtowing to the British establishment). He was briefly Deputy Governor of the Bank of Ireland while living as an overseas tax exile (you couldn’t make this stuff up) and more recently threw a few quid into the campaign fund of Mary Davis in her disastrous candidacy for the office of Uachtarán na hÉireann. However, in the last few years most of the focus has been on his, er, business dealings.

It is often said that we get the politicians we deserve. Perhaps the same can be said of the news media too.

Anglophone Intolerance Speaks The Same Language – In Scotland Or Ireland

Just in case you thought it was safe to speak the Scottish language in Scotland along comes journalist Gina Davidson with an anti-Gaelic diatribe in the Scotsman that twists logic and reason to breaking point:

“CAST your mind back a couple of years to the council’s school closures programme.

After all the wailing and knashing of teeth when it was first suggested that 22 schools and nurseries were to close almost immediately, the axe finally fell on just a handful of primaries.”

Um, does she mean “gnashing of teeth”? I do believe she does. Davidson goes on to discuss Bonnington Primary, one of the schools that was closed, and how the building which housed it was left to wrack and ruin for two years. However, under new plans, it may now be reopened as a Gaelic medium school.

“There are many who claim that the Edinburgh tram is a vanity project of city councillors, and therefore must come to fruition no matter what. Well it seems to me that a Gaelic primary school in Leith is just that – only this time it’s a vanity project being foisted on the council and Edinburgh taxpayers by an SNP government.

Of course, Edinburgh has a Gaelic speaking population that is said to number around 5000. But that’s surely no surprise as this is a city that attracts people from all over the world. Yet no-one is suggesting opening a Mandarin school or an Urdu-only primary for the vast numbers of pupils from those backgrounds who already study in our state schools.”

Is Mandarin or Urdu the native language of Scotland? Who knew? I thought it was a Celtic tongue. ‘mazing. Are the 5000 Scottish language speakers of Edinburgh not tax payers too? As for that point about Edinburgh attracting people from all over the world and having Gaelic speakers there being no surprise. Are you syaing that the people who speak the Scottish language are foreigners?

“No, Gaelic it seems is somehow more important than other languages – even more important than English, despite the 2005 Gaelic Language Act only stating it should have equal value. So important that while other schools are being closed because their rolls are too small, Bonnington will reopen with fewer pupils – around 158 – than it had when it closed. But that’s OK, as they’ll be doing their learning in Gaelic.”

But if English and Scottish are of equal value shouldn’t there be English and Scottish medium schools where parents and communities request it? Oh, sorry, I get you. You actually mean they are not of equal value.

“I don’t particularly blame the parents who send their kids to the Gaelic unit at Tollcross, and who will use the new Gaelic school, for being excited about the prospect. After all if someone hands you the opportunity to have your children learn the language you were brought up using, instead of you having to teach them at home, why not grasp it? Why not also then demand more if the political climate is right?”

Well, that’s nice of you, Gina. You don’t “particularly” blame the parents then. Only partially blame? Imagine, children learning in their indigenous language, the language they speak at home. Whatever next? Gaels sitting at the front of the bus?

“ It’s not really just about keeping an ancient language of the Scottish highlands and islands alive – it’s about courting Nationalist votes.

I realise that as the Nationalist party of Scotland, the SNP feels it has to prove its Scottish credentials time and again – I like to think membership involves knowing all the words to Flower of Scotland, proving you own a porridge drawer, and naming every whisky distilled in the land.

But Gaelic is something else. It has never been a traditional language of Edinburgh. It’s always been spoken by a minority – fewer people speak it than Scots even.”

That’s Edinburgh. Also known as Dún Éideann. The city with 5000 Scottish speakers (and growing). That is, speakers of the indigenous language of Scotland.

“I have no issue with people who want their children to learn another language – and I believe there are many studies that prove that bilingual children are more successful at school – I just don’t understand why, at a time when services are being cut everywhere else, at a time when kids who want to learn to play musical instruments are having the opportunity removed, public money has to be found for Gaelic. If I want my children to learn another language I’d have to pay for it privately – so why should Gaelic be different?”

Well, patently, you do have a problem with people who want their children to learn another language. Yet you acknowledge that being bilingual is a recipe for educational success. However, you don’t want it in the schools in Scotland? Eh, you don’t want Scottish kids being as well educated as their peers elsewhere in Europe?

As for paying to have your children learn another language other than their own, perhaps that is true. But what if the Scottish language is your own? Are Scottish speaking tax payers not eligible to the same public services as their English speaking contemporaries?

“Gaelic may well be a lovely, lyrical, ancient language and be worth keeping alive, but surely that should be in the places where it is traditionally spoken, not in a modern, cosmopolitan city, where the only Gaelic word known to the most is “slainte”.”

You say Edinburgh is “cosmopolitan” then state that there is no room in it for the national language of Scotland? Do you actually know what cosmopolitan means in a modern European sense?

“This Gaelic school is the SNP’s pet project; its a Nationalist version of the Tory government’s free schools down south. And it is bordering on ethnic engineering.”

Firstly, Gina, I think you’ll find that you should write “it’s”, not “its” (so much for English speakers and their education). Secondly, ethnic engineering? Like the kind that turned Dún Éideann into Edinburgh?

Ho-hum. Same prejudices. Same “ethnic” bias. Same Anglophone claptrap. But here’s this for irony: Gina “Save The Castles” Davidson! Bricks and mortar is for saving. Communities and rights, languages and cultures, not so much. Sounds like a supporter of Scottish Labour alright. Thankfully not everyone thinks the same.

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