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Dehumanizing Irish-Speakers – Anti-Irish Propaganda In Modern Ireland

English versus An Ghaeilge
English versus An Ghaeilge

So I took a few days break away from An Sionnach Fionn. Not to celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day, you understand, which to be honest is a festival that I have little regard for. My own form of Irishness has more in common with the Feis na Samhna than the Féile Phádraig. Rather I simply sought some rest and recuperation after fending off a torrent of abuse stemming from my highlighting of the (almost certainly illegal) arrest and detention of a young citizen of Ireland by the Gardaí (police) in Dublin for answering in the Irish language to a question put to him in the English language. As his description of the incident to the Language Commissioner makes clear, he was made to feel (English translation):

“…shamed and insulted and I was told several times that I did not have a right to conduct business through Irish, that I should desist and that I would not have been arrested if I hadn’t spoken in Irish. It was approximately one hour from the time of my arrest to my release but I felt under threat and nervous all the time. I am convinced that I was arrested for speaking Irish and for that reason alone. Their excuse was that I was refusing to give them my licence but that was not true at all. I am very disappointed, angry and upset about what happened and about the lack of respect and the infringement of my rights…”

The Gardaí who arrested the man and kept him in handcuffs during the incident were of the opinion that:

“…those who wished to conduct their business through Irish should be treated
in the same way as “foreign nationals”…”

I’m not sure what that say’s about how members of An Garda Síochána view non-Irish nationals but it certainly says a lot about how they view Irish-speaking Irish nationals. But then they have plenty of supporters in that view. Just take prominent newspaper columnist Declan Lynch in the Irish Independent:

“…Irish is not part of what we are… And it never will be part of what we are…

They have tried everything, including torture.

The only thing they haven’t tried is laying off the bullshit for a while, and abandoning their insane policies of compulsion… And if it doesn’t work, that’s all right too.

They can start the beatings again.”

So Irish-speakers, by the virtue of speaking their indigenous language, are torturers and abusers?

That brings to mind many of the Comments left under my previous post by some of the more militant anglophone zealots out there which shocked so many new and regular readers (while of course leaving many others with a feeling of resigned familiarity):

“Gaelic is a backward primitive language a barbarian language from barbarian times. That is reflected in the culture and mindset of those who speak it. The militant Gael who runs this site is an obvious throwback to the violent low intelligent ancestors of most Gaelic speakers.”

“I have never spoken Irish and never will. I hate it and I hate you bog savages who speak it… When you are not speaking your Irish you are busy raping your daughters. That is what being an Irish speaker is about. Look at the Abos in Australia. Drunken violent cretins…”

One wonders how far this has to go before someone somewhere will be effected by this subliminally violent propaganda in a way far worse than simple institutional or social discrimination? Does the powerful anglophone elite that dominates the media in Ireland wish to create a climate in this country where Irish-speakers are in the same position as the Jews were in 1930s’ Germany? That Irish-speaking citizens and communities in Ireland are so demonized, so stripped of humanity, that they become the scapegoats for all of Ireland’s cultural, social and economic ills?

11 comments on “Dehumanizing Irish-Speakers – Anti-Irish Propaganda In Modern Ireland

  1. Hatred in these anti-Gaelic individuals usually comes from their own inadequacies.


  2. Reminds me of this text on bullying which seems to apply (lots of similar research out there btw).
    The worst bulliers are using violence as a strategy in social climbing. The solution is about attacking the whole of the social ladder structure itself by focusing at least on its top (typically full of mild mannered people quite content with the way things are…)
    But avoiding getting hurt by interacting with the confused and potentially dangerous social climbers near the top.


  3. Seán McCluskey

    this makes me sick. the Declan Lynch column is particularly disturbing.


    • As I have endeavoured to show on this blog, by recording or examining numerous examples, there is a culture of casual (and at times unthinking) discrimination towards Irish-speakers in Ireland that is endemic in the public services and the national media in particular. In the latter the discrimination is far more self-conscious and ideologically-motivated. It is also frequently laced with subliminally violent words or intent. Much of it, in any other context, would be designated as racism.


  4. England trained her citizens, and any Gaels they could beat into it, well. So well you now have a generation of folks like the commenters highlighted here. The Gaels weren’t barbaric, they weren’t backwards, far from it. Gaels laid the groundwork for ideals of equality and modern law, they were very knowledgeable high-thinking people. This, of course, is not very good for people who want them to be subservient colonial producers.


    • Very true, Jason. The views reflected by some (but not all) of the anti-Irish anglophones that we have seen in recent times derive from Ireland’s colonial past. The descriptions used by a contemporary neo-colonial or Anglophone elite to describe Irish-speakers are much the same as the old colonial class during the heyday of British rule. It is simply astonishing to hear one Irish person use racist and discriminatory language against another Irish person that derives from Britain’s colonial rule in Ireland. And the phenomenon is growing at an exponential rate in the news media and online. And in the streets.


  5. Holy frijoles Seamas, those comments on your other piece look way too organised IMHO, that was some racist combat 18 stitch up.

    I’m glad you kept them up though, it’ll act as a testimony to the bottom rung feeders and what goes on between there ears.

    I’m a lot like yourself Seamas re speaking Irish, though I do plan on taking it up again when I return from my travels. It’s an important part of who I am and should be cherished by all. Ironically, I think it has a greater future in the North than the South.


    • I suspect a group of militant anglophone friends or compatriots but an Ireland-based one. Much of the language (abusive and otherwise) is common to and online commenting on the Irish Indo, the Journal etc. when Irish is being discussed. I suspect because this is a blog they just felt less inhibited in expressing their views. There is little to differ the terms and opinions expressed by them from what Kevin Myers says, albeit he does so in a more refined version.

      I love the language, despite my frustrations with it, and the world it opens to me. Two thoughts have always occurred to me in relation to Irish, about both the past and the future. Firstly is the need to undo a great wrong – the linguicide and indeed genocide of the Irish-speaking population of the island of Ireland and the destruction of three thousand years of indigenous civilization on this island nation. That is a crime against humanity that needs to be righted and the onus is on our generation to do so. Yet few think in those terms.

      The second is personal. If I ever have children I never want them to go through what I went through in relation to their native language and identity – frustration, anger, resentment, hatred, embarrassment and shame.

      Irish is both our past and our future and the obligation to correct both is upon us all.


      • I couldn’t agree more a chara, may I wish you all the best in your studies and to sticking to those racist and abusive harpees who commented previously.


        • GRMA. And if you want to see some truly eye-opening stuff try reading the Comments left by some of the English-speaking contributors from Ireland on Reddit when it comes to Irish language rights. A lot of it is actually quite scary stuff.


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