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Begging For Permission To Be Irish In Ireland

Ireland in chains

The majority of the population of the island of Ireland can only be Irish when the minority of the population who do not regard themselves as Irish are ready to permit it. That seems to be the message of journalist Malachi O’Doherty in the unionist-leaning Belfast Telegraph newspaper, as he comments on the attempts by Newry, Mourne and Down Council to meet demands for dual language signage in their local government area. In the columnist’s opinion bilingual signs displaying a recognition of the indigenous language of this nation are “…just a bit of English and a bit of gobbledygook” that in other geographical circumstances, such as in the capital city of Dublin, would be both “quaint” and “charming“. However relocated to the UK-administrated north-east of the country such physical manifestations of Irishness simply become part of an alleged “culture war” being waged against Britain’s continued legacy-colony on the island.

Of course readers in the United States will be more familiar with the concept of a “culture war” as imagined by right-wing nationalists and media-folk in their republic, where it is claimed to be:

“…a conflict between those values considered traditionalist or conservative and those considered progressive or liberal. It originated in the 1920s when urban and rural American values came into clear conflict. This followed several decades of immigration to the States by people whom earlier European immigrants considered “alien”. “

In the context of Ireland the leaders of unionism, and their apologists, believe a war is being waged against their supremacist sense of “Britishness” in the north-east and it is one in which Irish-speaking citizens and communities are being forcefully labelled as “alien” in their own country. Those ideologues and political mavericks who rally to defend the rump British colony on the island see it as their duty to pillory, suppress and extinguish An Ghaelige wherever it appears because their paranoia renders it – and all that it apparently represents – into some sort of existential threat to their way of life. In that sense they are no different from their fellow-travellers in Fox News who provide the fuel which drives animosity towards Native American, Latino-American or Afro-American communities or the arch-manipulators of the al-Ḥayāt Media Centre who supply the psychological ammunition that arms the fanatics of the Islamic State.

A more honest summation of some unionist opinions of Irish-speakers in Ireland would run:

“When the Gaeltacht sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing guns. They’re bringing terror. They’re terrorists. And some, I assume, are good people.

We’re building a wall. And it’s going to be a great wall. And, by the way, the Free State will pay for it. It’s going to a great wall, because I know how to build. And it’s not going to cost nearly as much as what they’re saying for a crummy wall.

We’re going to do a wall; we’re going to have a big, fat beautiful door on the wall; we’re going to have people come in, but they’re going to come in speaking English!”

Unfortunately there is no lack of Seoníní willing to lend respectability to such prejudices.

13 comments on “Begging For Permission To Be Irish In Ireland

  1. Lack of the irish language act and opposition to dual road signage are rearguard actions of the “not an inch” mentality. It is fighting a losing battle


    • I wonder, Ben. Not an inch has prevented a language act for seventeen years (longer if you go back to the mid-1980s and the Anglo-Irish Agreement). In this game the unionist leaders seem to be the winners. I’m coming to the opinion that SF uses the Irish language as mere negotiations’ tactic, a ploy that can be taken from or put back on the table as and when needed.


  2. john cronin

    Yeah, them pesky Unionists. I mean, why oh why would they object to being taken over by the most backward, poverty stricken, priest ridden, corrupt, nepotistic and incompetently run country in Western Europe? Such perverse people.


    • ..”most backward…”
      Yeah 700 years of been ruled by the Brits will do that to you.
      When you are an island nation and the Brits force ships to dock in England en route to and from Ireland..[aka the Navigation Acts.]
      This does tend to kill off the “merchant class”.
      And shipping companies don’t like their ships idling in ports. It’s uneconomic.
      Especially in the days before ships were loaded/discharged by cranes.
      It was all done by hand.
      This added an extra week to voyages from Ireland.
      How competitive do you think En-Gay_Land would be if I added a week on to sea borne trade.
      Ships would by pass England for the continent.
      That’s what would happen.
      Look it up.
      Not to mention the Irish were banned from exporting wool.
      In fact Ireland under the Brts was famous for one thing really.
      That was Linen.
      Do you know why the Brits allowed Irish a Linen industry?
      Because there was no linen Industry in Britain..Ergo they “allowed” Irish to have one because it didn’t compete with a non existant British Linen industry.
      That about sums up the British attitude to Irish Industry

      As for poverty Stricken. See above ..And
      Suggest you visit a Food bank in Engay-Land.
      “..Priest Ridden..”
      Well..well…How many Unelected Bishops are there in your ENglish “house of Lords”?
      Go on tell us Self righteous Boy.

      Well well..Have you heard of Mark Thatcher.???
      BaE Systems..selling Jets to South Africa..Radar Systems to African countries..Which had no requirement or capability of operation them????
      Have you heard of Arms dealers and Poppy Day???? etc etc etc.
      I could fill a book with English corruption.

      How many Benns were in Parliament??? How many Milibands???
      How did the son of Kinnock get an EU job???

      “incompetently run country in Western Europe? “”.
      When the EU revised Countries GDP figures upwards.
      It meant that each member state had to pay more.
      The brits were crying because they got “caught” to pay 1.5 Billion they were NOT expecting.

      Several weeks before the EU announcement the Irish Govt held a budget.
      They budgeted 112 million IIRC for extra contributions.
      The final figure worked out at just over £120 Million.
      Ergo If the Irish could work it out.
      Why couldn’t the Brits?????
      Couldn’t be because they are incompetent..Could it??
      BTW..You know all that North Sea Oil money???
      Well it went to spend on Dole Money to pay for Britain’s De-Industrialization. FACT.
      Ask “Lord”. Lamont He’ll tell you. Because that’s who I heard say it.
      Competent much???

      BTW..I don’t expect an answer..Your type cannot face the truth.
      And stop reading your right wing facist anti Islamic rubbish that you post links to on here.
      It’s rotting your brain cells.


      • john cronin

        “BTW..I don’t expect an answer..Your type cannot face the truth.”

        Well, here is my answer. Firstly, changing the subject is not an argument. I bow to no one in my contempt for the UK Labour Party: it’s hypocrisy, nepotism corruption etc etc – the Benns, the Millibands the Kinnocks – This does not however answer any of the points I made about the Irish Republic. Charlie Haughey once famously described Norn Iron as “a failed political entity” – and he had a point.

        The southern Irish state, from it’s inception in the early twenties up until it was bailed out by Euro-subsidies in the early eighties, can only be described as a failed social and economic entity: the very fact that a criminal like Haughey could end up running the place, is I would suggest in itself a fairly serious indictment of any society. The only “freedom” anyone in my family got out of Irish “independence” was the freedom to fuck off to England to get a job.


        • John..You wrote a two sentence critique of the Free State. I showed how several of the charges you laid, also apply to your Country.
          Now, you seem to think that the problems I outlined are Labour problems.
          Whilst the examples of nepotism , I listedDo apply to Labour the other points are about Britain in general.
          So, I don’t see that as changing the subject.
          As for H&W the British allowed the “loyal subjects” of the North East to have industry and jobs.
          So what??? This just reinforces the view of what they did to the “native ” Irish over their colonists who they favoured.
          It’s all how you would expect them to behave.
          As for Prof Joe Lee.
          The Free State had, as it’s economic policy.
          Financial balancing of it’s books..whilst using the surplus from agriculture to fund investment.
          This policy did not achieve it’s aims.
          due to a variety of reasons but probably most important was the lack of return possible on agricultural exports as the price of food as a proportion of people’s income has fallen dramatically during this time in history.
          Ergo Prof Joe Lee seems to be arguing a losing propostion!!!!!! As in That was the Free State objective.
          Furthermore he conflates a Pre partioned Ireland with a Post Partioned Ireland. Which was forced to exist sans 90% of it’s Industry.
          Which was located in the 6 Counties in 1922.
          I have yet to see any British apologist explain this one, when they lash out at the Free State.
          David Mc Willams seems to fall into the same trap in the article you linked.
          Also in none of your piece.
          Do you refer to the 1929 Great Depression… The policy of various Countries in 1930 Europe of Autkary..Which placed tariffs on imports..
          The WW2 and of course the 1922 Free State applied to the British Whitehall for economic advice.
          And the British sent over a team to Dublin, who advised the Free state to balance it’s books.
          i.e Not to borrow money.
          In 1920’s Denmark and Italy both borrowed money to invest and both became industrial Nations.
          Irish Free state did not see this themselves and they were also wrongly/badly advised by British Civil servants.
          Ergo, there is no British competency to crow about.
          And to end with the point I was trying to make.
          British views on Ireland are coloured by Antagonism and condescesion. The British media has yet to truly depart from this.
          it’s about time that a change should occur.
          As for CJH
          I believe that Jack Lynch and Bertie Ahern..were far far far worse than CJH.
          The Jack Lynch Budget of 1977 was a criminal act..all in itself
          CJH can list some notable achievements the other two shysters have zero to their name.
          CJH created Social partnership. the IFSC and Ed Moloney credits him with the Peace Process stating basically that Albert Reynolds just followed the lead of CJH.
          So, it seems you have a personal dislike of CJH. The truth about him is far more different.


      • john cronin

        “Do you know why the Brits allowed Irish a Linen industry? Because there was no linen Industry in Britain..Ergo they “allowed” Irish to have one because it didn’t compete with a non existant British Linen industry. That about sums up the British attitude to Irish Industry”

        Yeah, them pesky Brits. They stopped Messrs Harland and Wolfe starting their company. And Workman & Clarke. And Dunlop. And Daniel O’Connell’s family making money out of wine importing. And Martin Murphy.

        As Prof Joe Lee of UCC pointed out, Ireland in 1918 had the fifth or sixth per capita income in Europe: the Land Laws, the decline of landlordism, the Congested Districts Act, the relatively advantaged situation brought about in irish agriculture by the First World War, when ireland was able, as an agricultural economy, to take advantage of the fact Continental imports to Britain were ruled out – when the nasty evil imperialist expliotative Brits pulled out in 1922 they left an economy which was basically pointing in the right direction.there was a rising Catholic business and professional middle class, a police force which was 80% Catholic, a judiciary which was 40% Catholic with a Catholic Chief Justice: Ireland in 1958 was, with the exception of Portugal, the poorest country in Europe.

        Haughey was a white Mugabe.


    • John, it’s 2015 not 1925. And that “backward, poverty stricken, priest ridden, corrupt, nepotistic and incompetently run country” was created with the connivance of unionists, both in the north and south. The Free State was as much a political child of Carson and Craig as Collins, Griffith or Cosgrave.


  3. john cronin

    Yeah, them pesky Unionists. I mean, why, oh why would anyone object to being taken over by the most corrupt, backward, poverty stricken, priest ridden nepotistic society in Western Europe? Such perverse people.


  4. One wonders how much the British get from Northern Ireland. They pulled out of most of their other possessions years ago because they were too expensive; they must still be making a tidy profit off the six counties.


    • By all accounts the north of Ireland is a continuous drain on UK resources, requiring the tax-payers in Britain to prop it up, as they have done so since the 1920s. Without UK subvention “Northern Ireland” would simply cease to exist.

      However logic does not enter into nationalism and territorialism. Ireland was Britain’s/England’s first colony, and it will be its last. Even if it is just a rump stretch of land in the north-east of the island the British seem incapable of taking the psychological step required to release it. It’s as if it would be a surrender to their oldest enemy, even when such enmities are (largely) a feature of the past. There are complex reasons behind Britain’s adherence to its Irish misadventures, not just political or military. Old empires never die easily.


      • And had not thought of the psychological implications of letting go of Ireland. And you’re right – it won’t happen without a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth. Unfortunately.


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