Stoking The Fires Of Hate

Gaeilgeoir - Irish Rights Are Civil Rights!
Gaeilgeoir – Irish Rights Are Civil Rights!

Conservative journalist and current Irish Independent columnist Sarah Carey has spent much of her career railing against the “national language” of Ireland and those citizens and communities who speak it. Since the early 2000s she has penned numerous articles for newspapers based both at home and abroad attacking the position of the Irish language in the Irish nation, criticising the constitutional and legal rights of Irish-speakers, and fuelling the general antipathy towards those people living on our island nation who identify with our native tongue.

A particular bête noir for Carey has been the relatively recent emergence of Gaelscoileanna or Irish medium schools as an educational force after decades of languishing on the fringes of society. When such schools were confined to the territories of the rural and urban poor they were viewed by the affluent Anglophone elites as a harmless cultural phenomenon that could be ignored or indulged as one wished. In the view of the Neo-Ascendancy the “Gaeilscoils” kept the Irish “enthusiasts” and “hobbyists” safely occupied, whether tweed-wearing “boggers” or tracksuit-wearing “knackers”. However when the demand for Irish education began to expand from impoverished working-class estates and into the salubrious, hitherto English-speaking bastions of the Dublin suburbia the Hibernophobes looked up from their copies of the Sunday Independent and Irish Times and grunted in displeasure at the disruption of the familiar cultural seascape of the old Pale.

Hence the increasingly shrill and irrational protests by many in the national news media (and their brain-washed parrots in the online commentariat) at the Irish revival. As the numbers of Irish-speaking citizens have grown so too has the braying of hostile English-speakers. They have reached for every twisted and perverted form of argument to prop up the British-gifted system of linguistic-apartheid in Ireland. No matter how illogical, how counter-factual, how nonsensical the allegation at one stage or another you will have seen it the pages of an Irish newspaper or repeated on the radio of television. For if people repeat a lie often enough, and loud enough, in time it will become the accepted truth. And woe betide those who would then challenge it.

So to the latest chapter from the stale Carey missal, featured in last weekend’s Irish Independent. Here, in analysing a report on claimed “segregation” in the education system between pupils from majority and minority communities, the opinion-writer offers up a vigorous defence of religion, an implied criticism of multiculturalism, and identifies the real culprit: Irish-speaking parents, children and teachers.

“The resulting blind spot was exposed spectacularly last week in a major profile regarding the segregation of Irish primary school children. A survey showed that four-fifths of immigrant children are being educated in just over a fifth of our schools. This means there are many schools with no or very few immigrant children, while others have huge numbers.

So what’s going on there? The analysis quickly zeroed in on religion. Schools use religion as a method by which immigrants could be discouraged from attending. When they run out of places, only Catholics need apply. What’s the solution? Catholic schools need to “divest” themselves of their patronage of so many schools. Thus, free from the stifling control of priests, schools could open their gates to the Nirvana of multi-culturalism. We were reminded that this divestment process has crawled along without much progress for years.

The astonishing thing was that nowhere, no matter how many times I read Pamela Duncan’s article, could I find the word “Gaelscoil”. How could any credible analysis of segregation in primary schools be conducted without even mentioning the most substantial barrier to entry for immigrants – the Irish language? Parents have many legitimate reasons for sending their children to Gaelscoileannna, but motive is irrelevant if it’s the net effect that concerns us. The reality is that in many towns and urban centres, the immigrant kids are at the local national school under the benign patronage of the much maligned Catholic church, while up at the Gaelscoil, free from the critical eye of the Irish Times or anyone else, you’ll struggle to find a black child.

So in one Dublin national school they have a huge cross-section of children from Europe, Africa and Asia. Just 35pc of the pupils are Irish. A short distance away at a Gaelscoil 99pc of the pupils are Irish. But the commentariat can’t takes its eyes off those infernal priests and their discriminating schools, while under the radar, the self-selecting families in the Gaelscoileanna sail along blissfully free of moral challenge.

I’m not saying those families are doing anything wrong – they’re entitled to their choice – but why don’t they merit a mention?

I think a single-school policy is the correct one; morally, socially and economically. But it’s parents not priests who are the major obstacle. If you’re going to fight a war over segregation in schools, identifying the real problem is a good start.”

All of which spouting is simply a repetition of the old, thread-worn allegation by Irish-born Anglo-supremacists that mothers and fathers who send their children to Irish language schools do so because they are bigots who don’t wish their children to be associated with the offspring of immigrant families. Which is the most fucked-up form of inverted-racism you’ll find outside of a post-colonial psychosis of epic proportions. Though arguably with people like Sarah Carey around modern Ireland embodies all that – and then some. Though of course she is not alone. From the Irish Times, an anonymous writer attacking the position of the Irish language in the Irish curriculum:

“My children, for example, are half Italian, and my wife and I have spent a great deal of time and expense to ensure they are bilingual. We have succeeded, but compulsory Irish at school made this a much tougher proposition than if they only learned English in school here. I wonder how many other parents of children from “mixed” backgrounds wish their kids could just concentrate on perfecting daddy’s and mammy’s language before being forced to learn another?”

A statement so seriously fucked up in its thinking that I don’t even know where to begin with it. So I won’t even bother…

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18 comments

  1. Anonymous writer ” My children are half italian” etc

    maybe (horrors!!) the anonymous writer’s children weren’t academically inclined?

  2. there is a xenophobic prejudice against the irish language, and gaelscoileanna seem to take a fair few kicks from casual bigots in my own personal experience. With Carey, her argument is unreasonable. Only 5 percent of schools are gaelscoileanna, yet this small minority of schools is supposedly responsible for segregation. ” Just 35pc of the pupils are Irish. A short distance away at a Gaelscoil 99pc of the pupils are Irish” (the bastards, presumably,). For a start, when did irishness become exclusive. Why can’t the child of an immigrant be irish, or indeed why can’t an immigrant become irish. also as there is no policy not to admit ‘immigrants to gaelscoileanna, then isn’t it possible that it the ‘immigrant’ parents choosing to send their children to the english school that are equally responsible. to hell with fairness though when a rant can be written instead.

  3. Read this Séamas (or at least the English summary, all I’ve read so far). Basically it says that even in the heart of the Gaeltacht native speakers haven’t been fully acquiring Irish for decades, and in any case there are only c1,000 native speaking kids (however loosely defined) in primary schools today. They claim that being exposed to a mix of Irish and English from an early age seriously screws up their ability to express themselves in Irish, although it probably doesn’t damage their English too much.

    http://www.cogg.ie/wp-content/uploads/iniuchadh-ar-an-gcumas-datheangach.pdf

    Basically they’re saying the whole educational philosophy needs to change …

    Some of the recommendations could be inspiring, unfortunately they’re couched in wordy rambling sociology-speak. Maybe the Irish text is better? (At least the one doesn’t seem to be a mechanical translation of the other!)

    Good for quote-mining, but that might apply to both sides of the argument?

    Examples, *—* = My emphases
    ———————
    10.4 p.243
    Without a functioning minority language community, minority language education will be to a large extent unsuccessful, potentially based, at least in part, on *pretence*. In other words, without a community using the language, the functional competence in the language will be replaced by a symbolic competence in performing the language.

    10.5.1 p.245
    This discounting of the evidence (indicating language shift and the associated demise of the Gaelic people), or recommended interventions, implies that the State may no longer see itself as having an interventional rôle in the future of the Gaeltacht or in the future of Irish embedded in a living community.

    10.7 p.246
    A minority language needs societal functionality or it will only exist in the shadow of the majority language. Children, the group with the least power in a society, cannot be expected to take responsibility for the transmission or revival of a minority language. For a community to be able to deal with the crisis of the language, a certain *geographic protection* would need to be afforded to that community. Not only do children need the support of their community in coping with this linguistic emergency, their community also requires structured geographical protection in support of minority-language social vitality to counteract the competitive functional advantages of English.
    —————–

    Meanwhile over in the EU Irish receives the respect it deserves as a member state’s national language … doesn’t it?

      1. That’s Ireland’s fault, because they can’t supply translators and interpreters.

        Other small countries don’t have such problems.

        1. I came across a video on YouTube once, after Latvia joined the EU, about their interpreters. They seemed very proud of what they were doing. You see, Ireland is the only independent Celtic nation, and it would be nice if they showed some leadership, but even after 90 invasion-free years they still seems to be locked in an identity crisis. Even the tiny Isle of Mann seems to be more confident about its language and culture these days. How can that be?

          1. There’s no identity crisis – the Irish have chosen to become an English speaking nation and only a few of them want something different.

            Irish doesn’t feel like the language of the people. It’s treated like a historic relic.
            And Irish language signs are like tombstones – “Here lies the Irish language that was spoken around here long long time ago. RIP”

            Sometimes I just walk down the street, seeing and hearing the English language all around me and think – “why did they even fight for the independence from the UK? What’s the point?”

            1. But if it was as simple as that then the Irish language would just be like Latin, or in England, (Norman) French. Still used for mottos and sayings etc., and occasionally even now in state ceremonies, but not a live political issue. Certain school teachers and academics may lament that Latin is no longer widely taught, but no one is marching in the streets for it, and rarely does it inspire newspaper columnists either for or against.

              The Irish seem to be stuck in a bad marriage with their language. Can’t live with it, can’t live without it.

              1. It’s a live political issue for a small minority.
                The rest just don’t care.
                For all practical purposes Ireland is a monolingual English speaking country.

                If it was the language of the people – we would see it being used by the private sector, but we don’t. Even people who don’t speak it would ensure that their companies can offer bilingual services.

            2. “why did they even fight for the independence from the UK? What’s the point?”
              ==================================
              Well for a start..Ireland is still an agricultural Country.
              Have you heard of BSE and Foot and Mouth?
              Both crisis were chronically mis managed by the Brits across the water.
              Now imagine the emigration the de population that would have occured if the Brits really did run Ireland.
              Secondly..Have you seen what the Brits did to their own Country? It’s a wreck.
              On your travels in Ireland..How many new Rover Cars did you see?? How many people were riding British Motorcycles or Pushbikes?
              Indeed How many Buses were built by Leyland???
              Do you get the picture??? Your Thatcherist Brit Love in that you have for the Brits is wasted.
              THEY have completely MESSED up their own Country.
              Now, Why would we WANT part of that?
              wise up.

              1. The UK has +/- the same standard of living as Ireland.
                And one bankrupt car manufacturer doesn’t mean that the whole country is a mess.

                Anyway Oz, my point was – if the Brits are so evil, why are you all speaking their language?

                Why are you teaching it to your children as their 1st and only language?
                Why do all private companies use it as their sole working language?

                Why did you throw away your native culture and substituted it with one that’s almost British?

                And you call me a Brit lover lol.

                I, unlike you all, haven’t thrown away my language and culture.

              2. IIRC most of the language shift took place along with urbanisation and industrialisation, when English became the main language of the growing towns. This was at a time of extreme rural poverty when the people in the towns were relatively better off. So the Irish language became associated with dead-end rural depression.

                However many who campaigned and fought for Irish independence were strongly pro-Irish language, so what puzzles me is why no serious steps were taken following independence to at least maintain (and extend?) the existing Gaeltacht areas. Instead they seem to have been allowed to slowly whither and fragment. I can’t imagine this happening in any other independent country.

              3. So the Irish language became associated with dead-end rural depression.
                ————
                That’s a really dumb reason to throw away a language and commit cultural suicide.
                People are capable of learning more than one language.
                My ancestors were poor peasants too.

                And even more stupid was that the Irish threw away their language but didn’t throw away their religion – Catholicism. They chose to make their religion not their language the central part of their identity – that’s madness.

              4. With regard to the cultural riches of materially poor peasants, a Welsh passage comes to mind, although I’m almost embarrassed to translate it, because from an English language POV it’s just romantic twaddle. It’s from a speech given in 1975 :

                Twlad pob dyn heb y sylwedd yma. Cyfoethog y neb a’i cafodd. Onid tlawd y bobl ifanc a welir yn cerdded strydoedd dinasoedd yn ddiamcan, yn ysglyfaeth i bob rhyw ddrwg? Rhain a gafodd bopeth materol — yn deganau drud, yn gartrefi moethus, yn addysg orau — ond heb faeth ysbrydol i’w heneidiau. Ac onid cyfoethog y Gwyddelod bach carpiog a throednoeth hynny a welodd Waldo yng Nghonemara a’r Wyddeleg ar eu gwefusau, “blant troednoeth cyfoethog”? Onid tlodion yw’r rhan fwyaf o blant cymdeithas dorfol y Gorllewin mwyach? Mae gwacter yn eu heneidiau am i’w cymdeithasau dorri a malurio a dadelfennu i’r fath raddau fel na fedrant bellach drosglwyddo’r eneidfaeth.

                “Everyone who lacks [the cultural ‘capital’ that passes down the generations] is poor. Everyone who has it is wealthy. Are the young people we see aimlessly walking the urban streets, prey to every evil, not poor? Those who have everything material — expensive toys, comfortable homes, the best education — but without any spiritual basis to their souls. And are the ragged barefoot Irish kids whom Waldo [W. poet between the wars] saw in Connemara with Irish on their lips, “rich barefoot children”, not wealthy? Are the majority of children in Western mainstream society these days not deprived? There is an emptiness in their souls because their communities have broken down and fragmented and degenerated to such an extent that they can no longer transmit this [spiritual essence/cultural foundation].”

                But even Welsh advocates no longer write like this, they use sociological jargon in place of poetry these days.

                I was initially shocked when I saw [below] your people still playing at being “jolly peasants” twenty years after the end of the USSR. Why are they doing this? I thought, are there commissars with whips lurking in the wings? From a British/Irish POV the whole thing seemed so awfully cringeworthy that it took me a while to realise that they weren’t cringing in the least. They appeared to be actually enjoying themselves (and this is just one example of many). You actually seem to enjoy celebrating who you are, despite all the bad things that must have happened over the years, and far more recently than in Ireland. “Vieno visu Latvju tautu”.

  4. When I was a chap, long ago, nothing Irish was any good, they said. Irish goods – except, maybe, for whiskey and porter – were poorly made rubbish. Irish music consisted of uncouth oul’ come-all-yas or boring céilí music.The Irish language was useless, unless you got a public service job. Irish drama was stage-Irish screeching, roaring and fighting. Irish literary works were apparently penned by malconents, communists or pornographers and were – quite rightly – banned as soon as they appeared. Wages were way below those in England; farming was a subsistence occupation; there was little or no work; emigration was damn near a necessity; the population was 2.8m and falling. No-one, as John Healy wrote, was shouting “STOP!!”
    Nowadays everyone likes to blame governments of the time for this sorry state of affairs, particularly Dev. But I wonder.
    There’s something odd about all this. I have head a hell of a lot of Irish history including social and cultural history and sociology; but I never yet heard or read the answer to the “Why?” of it all. Why, when things are bad in France, the French take to the streets; when they’re bad in Ireland, we take to the boats, like rats from a sinking ship. Why we still practice the politics of the beggar at the gate. Why we still resent success. The lack of respect for our National flag, when idiots (the “best fans in the world”, right} think it’s OK to print ads for pubs and dumb jokes on it. Our attitude to our priceless linguistic heritage. We have many of the characteristics of a nation of quitters – or am I imagining it?
    This topic needs tackling. We have an awful lot of ghosts to exorcise yet, I fear.

    1. Tuskar, all I can point to is the similarity of other colonised peoples. They share much in common, above all, apathy. The militants, radicals and progressives are few and far between except at moments of unprecedented historical change, such as 1916-23 (or 1968-69). Even then the conservative status quo inevitably takes hold again. We were, to some extent, a Third World ex-colony in a First World location. It made for some difficult thinking.

      1. A Shionnaigh, a mhic, mo bhuíochais i ndiaidh do fhreagra.

        I agree strongly. The source of all this latent self-loathing, lack of confidence and negativity cannot but derive from the appalling colonial regime visited on us over centuries.

        But I know of no comprehensive study of it as a complete phenomenon in itself. No-one sees links between hatred of the Irish language, contempt for Hiberno-English and derision for local accent. Is our roundly-condemned clientilist political culture related to our eponymous begrudgery, for instance?

        Are we really, REALLY proud to be Irish? Why in god’s name are some of us at least now ashamed of the origins of the state, whilst at the same time proud that so many of our youth were sent to die uselessly, victims of a rapacious imperialism? I could go on.

        I believe we need proper diagnosis followed by wise prescription and targeted rehabilitation – for we’re not cured yet.

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