Talking of the hypocrisy that pervades the media establishment here’s Liam Fay, also in the Irish Independent, with a thinly veiled warning to the nation’s Irish-speaking minority:
“The strangest reader’s response I received during 2013 came from Rossa Ó Snodaigh, musician, composer and wannabe mouth-guard for the national tongue. Ó Snodaigh took exception to a column piece I’d written complaining about government plans to enlarge the prominence of Gaelic placenames on motorway signs.
In his email, Ó Snodaigh argued that it is the Anglicised version of the Gaelic placenames which should be “minoritised” in italic on the nation’s road signs. “Irish language placenames have for too long been choked by the past colonisers’ version,” he insisted.
Ultimately, however, it was his PS that really spoke volumes. “I suppose,” Ó Snodaigh wrote, again in Irish and English, “you also think that brown-skinned people should be segregated from the pink skinned and that women should not have the vote”.
Now we’re talking, eh? From uncluttered road signs, it is evidently only a short trot to the Bantustans of Apartheid-era South Africa or the misogynistic squalor of Taliban tyranny. Language fanaticism appears to lend itself to absolutist rhetoric and the fundamentalist belief that there is no such thing as a small difference of opinion. Even road signs, it seems, become linguistic combat zones.
Simultaneously aggressive and petulant, Ó Snodaigh’s communiqué was actually reminiscent of some of the unhappier sounds that have been emanating from the world of Irish language activism throughout 2013. In many respects, the language is in rude good health, with the Gaelscoil movement enjoying considerable support in many parts of the country. However, there is mounting anger and a growing mood of militancy among campaigners about a perceived downgrading of its status by Government — a fact highlighted by the resignation of Seán Ó Cuirreáin as Irish language commissioner.
Next year will bring us deeper into a highly sensitive period of political anniversaries that will culminate with the 2016 commemorations to mark the centenary of the Easter Rising. Cultural inclusion, rather than exclusion, should be the name of the game these days, so the tone in which differences of opinion about cultural matters are discussed becomes increasingly important.
It would be especially sad if self-avowed lovers of the Irish language were to use this moment in history to destroy their own cause by using the national tongue to blow raspberries at everybody else.”
Fay’s complete lack of self-awareness in his Janus-faced call for tolerance and inclusion is the most ironic part of all. For what is really meant by his glib words is this: rebellious Irish-speaking citizens and communities of Ireland – shut the fuck up!