In former times the British-born journalist and occasional Confederate-apologist, Kevin Myers, regularly used his newspaper column to discuss his race theory of Irish politics, particularly when it came to recognising the chief differences between the centre-right parties of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael. For him it lay in genetics, by which he meant not some synonym for their political origins but rather the actual biological ancestry of their respective memberships. While acknowledging in 2010 that, “…the now extinct and largely unfeline Celtic Tiger raised the social status of many people of aboriginal Gaelic stock…”, he insisted that his own beloved Fine Gael:
“With all its Lucindas, its Simons, its Garrets, its Olwyns and its Richards, its silly name notwithstanding, it is not a family of Gaels. It is a perpetual minority, largely of non-Gaelic, Anglo-Norman Catholics in ethnic origin: strong farmers, smalltown merchants and lawyers.”
Sometimes, and on some recognisably “Gaelic” issues, you have to wonder if there are people in Fine Gael who are themselves a little bit too fond of Meyer’s theories? In the Irish Times, Seán Tadhg Ó Gairbhí casts a cold eye over some empty election promises from Enda Kenny and co.:
“Fine Gael are regarded by many Irish speakers as having a less-than-stellar record on the language over the past five years, and judging by their election manifesto it is not a reputation they seem unduly concerned about.
…the only real boast their manifesto makes in relation to Irish is that they managed to find an extra €1m for Údarás na Gaeltachta following last November’s budget.
To be fair to the party, I found it equally difficult to recall any other achievements they might have mentioned, and I may well have been paying closer attention to government policy on Irish than either of the government parties.
Straight off we learn that Fine Gael is “committed to systematically implementing the 20-Year Strategy for the Irish language” which, sadly, has become manifesto-speak shorthand for “we couldn’t really think of anything to say, so we’ll give them the old line about the 20-Year Strategy”.
There is not a single tangible promise of extra resources or funding. Not a red cent, or a pingin rua even. Would they, for example, manage to spirit another cool million for the Údarás from down the back of the fiscal couch in 2017? We are not told.
What we get instead is an insipid cocktail of vague promises and rehashed proposals…
Ten of Fine Gael’s 13 Irish-language proposals deal with education, but, remarkably, there is no mention of Gaelscoileanna.”
Of course the Labour Party has traditionally escaped the “West British” taint that hangs over Fine Gael, but that doesn’t mean they have any more regard for the Irish-speaking communities and citizens of Ireland than their more explicitly anglo-supremacist partners in the Fine Oibre government.
“The Labour Party manifesto’s first commitment in regard to Irish is the jaw-dropping guarantee that they will “Protect Irish language and culture, and our place in the world”.
And all Conradh na Gaeilge were asking for was a senior minister, an Oireachtas committee, and a bit of extra funding for Údarás na Gaeltachta and Foras na Gaeilge!
Like their coalition partners Labour blithely ignores those three pre-election demands and fails to commit any extra funding apart from a nebulous promise to “allocate more resources to implement the strategy”…
Labour would also “continue the growth of Irish-medium education” and “consider the development of second level education through Irish”.
Note that “consider”, the elastic friend of overstretched manifesto writers everywhere.
And that is about it from Labour, save one last gallant pitch for our award for General Election 2016’s most ludicrous Irish-language promise: “In terms of public services, we will work to ensure that all citizens can access all government services in Irish.”
Presumably they will also be working to ensure the establishment of global peace and an end to world hunger.
Or at least considering it.”
As I have stated here before, none of the parties standing for election to An Dáil are offering any detailed or innovative proposals on Irish rights. Its simply a case of doing the same old thing over and over again, with the same result: the slow extermination of this island nation’s indigenous language and culture. What the British couldn’t do in eight hundred years the Irish have done for themselves in eighty.
Now there’s an irony to please Kevin Myers; and Fine Gael.