Current Affairs The Irish Language - An Ghaeilge

The Mad Mullah Of Angloland

This is not Ian O'Doherty. This is a scary clown
This is not Ian O’Doherty. This is a scary clown

Well it seems that someone, or rather a chorus of someones, have rattled the gilded cage of Ian O’Doherty, newspaper columnist and Anglophone propagandist par excellence. Today’s issue of the Irish Independent carries a mealy-mouthed defence of his latest assault on Ireland’s Irish-speaking citizens and their reasonable expectation that they might be accorded the same civil rights as their English-speaking peers.

“Irish is not, and never will be, anything more than a hobby in a country where English is the spoken language. Not being accommodated in your quest to speak Irish is an inconvenience, not a blatant act of discrimination. Not that you would think it from the furious emails which came in demanding I be hoisted above the roof of the Indo and made to publicly recite chapters 1-5 of Peig. The common thread to all those complaints was a sense of hysterical grievance and hilariously disproportionate anger that is now the modus operandi of any rights lobby whose feelings are hurt.

So let’s get a sense of perspective and stop debasing the meaning of the word ‘discrimination’. Irish speakers are not persecuted in this country, no matter how loudly they may claim otherwise and, as I said, the worst thing they face is mild inconvenience which, let’s face it, is hardly some act of ethnic or cultural cleansing.

The levels of paranoid absurdity reached new levels of hyperbole when someone complained bitterly about “an English language journalist” belittling their mother tongue, while another bleated that: “We have the right to be here. You can’t take that away from us.”

Jesus, who was saying that Irish speakers don’t have the right to be here? Obviously, nobody was, but these florid, self-righteous claims of persecution are par for the course when people are complaining — be they gay advocates, Travellers’ rights groups or Muslims…”

So the 41% of the population of Ireland who identify with the indigenous language of this island nation are to be lumped in with other groups viewed as a nuisance to the right-wing Anglophone Ascendancy? They are, to use language O’Doherty himself would no doubt understand and appreciate, beyond the Pale?

And while we’re at it, just out of curiosity, how exactly does one “advocate” for being Gay? Are homosexual men and women actively seeking to “turn” heterosexual men and women? Is there a legion of Gay advocates seeking to corrupt young minds to their “deviant” ways? O‘Doherty’s use of language reveals more than just his antipathy to Irish-speakers.

“…nobody is suggesting that Irish speakers should be made wear a sign identifying themselves (a shamrock, instead of a Star of David, perhaps) and nobody is denying anyone the right to learn the language.”

Just the right to actually speak it!

Not for Hibernophones the right to use their own language when accessing publicly-funded services, when reading publicly-funded documents, when watching or listening to publicly-funded television or radio services, when using the publicly-funded health or social welfare services, when dealing with the publicly-funded police, when using the publicly-funded courts, when… Well, you name it.

But it is absurd to expect the Government to foot the bill.

In fact, if Irish dies out, then so be it. Call it survival of the fittest, but it is not the job of the State to ensure the survival of anything — that is the job of the people who are interested in it.”

Actually in this I do believe Ian O’Doherty is being entirely honest and typical of his class. No doubt he applies much the same reasoning to the young, the ill, the disabled, the elderly, the poor, the unemployed…

Spoken like a true Anglophone.

28 comments on “The Mad Mullah Of Angloland

  1. Personally I found the most revealing part of this, what you might call, article was the last few sentences:

    “I mistakenly said that Seán Ó Cuirreáin was head of an Irish language organisation, Teanga.

    In fact, he held the post of commissioner for the language.

    If only somebody had been around to translate into English for me.”

    It says something about his standard of journalism that he is prepared to “chance” his arm in this way and not verify a fact, especially, when he is proposing a point opposing that of the point made by the person in question.

    He still is technically incorrect in describing him as the commissioner for the language. He is in fact “The Language Commissioner,” (An Coimisinéir Teanga) In fact I think (subject to correction and I may be wrong) that if somebody believes that Irish is being rammed down their throats when the wish to conduct their business in English then they could use this office also. That fact that nobody has made such a complaint to him or as far as I know to any other body . Maybe Mr O’Doherty knows otherwise – but I suggest that he checks his facts before he consigns his prose to the printing press.


  2. Ba cóir go cuirfear iachall air éirí as a phost, níl a chuid tuairimí inghlachta ar cor ar bith.


  3. Makes the argument, in the end, that being against the Irish language is on par with homophobia, islamophobia and the like.


  4. an lorcánach

    i swallow hard buying wednesday’s rag because of the language supplement – my da wants a copy! -:) — — irony is that were irish readers choosing *not* to buy that day’s issue (boycott?) a reasoning would be given by the likes of O’Doherty that “nobody’s willing to buy irish language journalism” – can’t win (though indo pocket’s the sales and actively gives space to shock-jock-journos) – double tragedy is that ‘opinion’ writers are what sells tabloid print newspapers @


  5. ‘roast an Irishman on a spit, and you can be sure to get another one to turn him’.


    • Good link. I enjoyed one comment underneath the article by someone who claims not to hate Irish-speakers while refering to them as a “gang” twenty times in the space of three comments. Of course you’re not a bigot!


    • Sinéad Rohan

      In fairness, John, ‘wolfe tone’ and his intimation of his An Lorcánach’s complicity in the Indo’s war against the Anglophone’s arch non-conformists (Irish speakers), this is entirely bogus (if Shaw quote was intended as a sleight); pechaps it’s indicative of online ‘trolling’ culture and the ubiquity of pseudonyms (this blog isn’t after all a print-campaign from centuries past with articles signed “Mr. L–” or “Mr. M–“). A statement plainly stated and defended using real names are what’s needed as required if same submitted to the Irish Times; otherwise “name witheld by editor” becomes meaningless online or print and a free-for-all with no traceablity or accountability (should a person feel slandered). Either way people have to develop a thick skin fairly quickly when writing in blogs!


  6. So the 41% of the population of Ireland who identify with the indigenous language of this island nation
    They are not identifying with it. Otherwise they would actually use it.
    You can’t be a supporter of a particular language if you do not speak and use it yourself.

    Laws regarding Irish look very similar to laws regarding Prohibition in the USA.
    General population just don’t want them enforced.
    Government is not from some alien planet – government workers are ordinary Irish people.
    Private sector does not want to use Irish even in situations that could endanger people’s lives –
    At my workplace and house where I’m living – all instructions on fire and electrical safety, evacuation plans, etc. are in English only.
    Don’t understand?
    Then burn in fire!
    General population thinks this way – “Everyone should know English anyway” and acts accordingly.
    It comes as no surprise that the government employees think and act the same.


    • You know Jānis there’s an old joke that if you really wanted to restore the Irish language, the thing to do would be to make it illegal. So maybe if the Russians were to occupy Ireland for shall we say 45 years … 😉


      • I don’t think that many would notice that ban.
        It would certainly not make any difference to my daily life.


        • No it’s a Irish thing (actually a British thing too to some extent), you tell someone they shouldn’t do something and they can’t resist doing it the first chance they get. You see we’re not like you, you will all happily sing from the same hymn sheet, but trying to organise Celts is like trying to herd cats.

          You’re right about the absence of local languages from the private sector though. It’s the same in Scotland and largely in Wales too. You can check places out with Google Street. A few months ago I used this to see how bilingualism worked in some other countries. In Belgium everything is French in the French half and everything, even the ‘for sale’ signs and commercial signs and shop signs is in Flemmish in the other half. I would have expected some French, that being an international language, but no, not a sign. (I have a friend who’s been there and he agrees btw). On the currently open French/Swiss border where it passes through a town near the Rhine, everything is French on the French side, walk through the unmanned checkpoint and everything is in German. Every damn thing! How do people manage — LOL! And in Latvia I had to look long and hard before I found a Russian sign, even in Daugavpils which is supposed to be full of Russians. Again, from a UK/Irish perspective the total absence of the ‘other language’ in all these places is very surprising. Imagine somewhere in Wales/Scotland/Ireland where absolutely everything was in the local language! But they’ll say, however would visitors manage? How in fact would you have managed if you’d come to Ireland and found everything in Irish? And why does English have such a long-lasting effect on the languages/cultures it has dominated, well beyond the end of colonisation in Ireland’s case, whereas Russian apparently retreats from public view in the Baltics etc.


          • Where did you see Russian signs?
            It is against the law to put up even bilingual signs in Latvia.
            All public information must be in state language only.
            How in fact would you have managed if you’d come to Ireland and found everything in Irish?
            I would not have come to Ireland in the first place if it was only Irish speaking.
            I would have learned Irish first.


            • So the two-thirds of Latvians who are ethnically or nationally Latvian decided upon regaining independence that the third who are ethnically Russian cannot publicly display their spoken language? That came from a base where Russian was on its way to becoming the dominant language in Latvia, perhaps the only language (as the Soviets attempted elsewhere in their program of Russification). In other words it was a process of counter-colonisation, rolling back the Russian language and culture and re-establishing the primacy of the Latvian language and culture.

              Which is what many of us wish to see happen here in Ireland in relation to Irish, albeit initially through a process of bilingualism and voluntary language restoration.


        • Late reply to Jānis. I saw a billboard advertising what I think was a Russian language film, in Russian. Also somewhere an old rusting building number plaque (they have the street name as well as the house number) with a bilingual street name. Also there’s a small town that has the border with Estonia going right through the middle. There were still bilingual signs (Russian/Latvian Russian/Estonian) at the checkpoints. Clearly some very serious linguistic cleansing must have gone on. The Irish simply removed all the place names with ‘King’ or ‘Queen’ in them, and left it at that.


          • It seems that pretty much everyone in Europe has done it better than the Irish, from the Catalans to the Estonians. Perhaps we won our independence too early? Or too late?


  7. “But it is absurd to expect the Government to foot the bill.

    In fact, if Irish dies out, then so be it. Call it survival of the fittest, but it is not the job of the State to ensure the survival of anything — that is the job of the people who are interested in it.”

    Does he therefore propose, I wonder, that it’s not the job of the Irish State to defend, er, the Irish State in the event of a foreign aggressor making a move? That it should be left to those who want to fight back i.e. those who are interested in surviving? Is that his interpretation of Ireland’s ‘neutrality’?


  8. I’ve always thought the word ‘monoglot’ sounds like an insult, try it out. Seriously, you just can’t argue with people like your man here. I’ve tried, often with otherwise liberal intelligent enlightened types. The thing is, I think, if you live in a monoglot anglophone world you simply have no concept of what it is to have your own special language and culture. They just don’t “get it”, might as well try explaining the beauty of a rainbow to a blind man.


    • Marconatrix, not unsurprisingly O’Doherty is very much on the Right of Irish politics and very restricted in his views on whose “cultures” and “indigenous rights” should be protected:

      “Why do you think the BNP and the EDL are so popular in Britain right now? Why do you think that the French National Front has become so popular amongst the white working class that Sarkozy has to plunder their political play book?

      Because when you have a dispossessed, disenfranchised working class which, rightly or wrongly, feels that more consideration is given to immigrants and religious fanatics than to the indigenous population, then sooner or later things are going to get ugly.

      And when you have a political class which states that anyone who has concerns about the Islamicisation of Europe is a racist, eventually people are going to say … OK, call me racist.”

      “Now, a quick perusal of the policies of the British National Party will show you that while some make perfect sense — an end to untrammelled immigration, the restoration of British culture at the heart of civic society and putting a stop to multiculturalism…

      …while he may be many things, Nick Griffin is no nutter, and he is particularly hated by the Left because he routinely trounces them in debates.

      People are simply pissed off being treated like third-class citizens in their own country.

      One of the most pernicious aspects of multiculturalism is the fact that the only culture it won’t respect is indigenous British culture, which it condemns as imperialist, colonial and racist.”

      He simply applies at home what he applies overseas. Muslims are the enemy abroad, Irish-speakers the enemy at home.


      • To be honest I get terrible confused. An English person who goes back to the place they grew up and finds everyone speaking asian languages or Polish or whatever and feels upset, is considered a racist, but a Welshman/Irishman/Highlander who returns home and find the language has shifted to English … what are they? It does yer heid in …


        • HAHA! Very true but I suppose it is all about context.

          That said I do have friends who would consider themselves English nationalists, albeit on the Left-Wing Billy Bragg end of things. Personally I don’t believe that immigration and cultural/linguistic continuity are incompatible where positive assimilation takes place. It is where the host and immigrant communities are divided from each other through gheottization that trouble festers.

          If one emigrates to a new country to settle permanently then it is only right that one should take on its language, culture and identity while contributing something of your own to its richness. If a hundred years from now there was an Irish-speaking majority in Ireland whose grandparents’ surnames originally contained lots of “z”s and “w”s and “y”s would anyone care? 😉


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