No Irish Please, We’re Fine Gael And Labour

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.

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34 comments

  1. The SWP front has this
    Irish Language
    The current government has shown little interest or enthusiasm in promoting the Irish Langauge.
    People Before Profit took part in a recent Dearg le Fearg protest to support the anger that many feel
    about its treatment. PBP will
    1. Support measures to revive the economic base of Gaeltacht areas.
    2. Insist that all public officials dealing with the Gaeltacht have full proficiency in the language.
    3. Increase the use of the Irish language on the national broadcaster. Expand and develop TG4.
    4. Provide free Irish language classes in areas where there is a local demand.”

    An improvement on last time out.From http://www.peoplebeforeprofit.ie/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/Manifesto-up-date-PBP.pdf

  2. After reading your posts some naive plastic paddy from America might even think that everyone around here wants to learn and speak the language, but the evil government doesn’t let them. That’s not the case at all.
    The government isn’t any more hostile to the language as an average Irishman in Dublin.

    Can’t really blame them – most people think that other things are far more important. And it’s really hard to sell something as useless as the Irish language. You could say to people that “if you don’t speak Irish then you’re not a true Irishman” (like we do in Latvia), but the problem is that even die hard nationalists who are ready to kill for Ireland don’t want to learn the language. So an average Irishman would probably not buy that message.

  3. Janice- don’t use the term “plastic paddy”. We Irish are Irish by blood,you and yours never will be Irish and as an economic migrant you should mind your own business in any case. If the Brits started killing us again you’d flee back to Riga on the first 9.99 Ryanair flight.

    1. Oh FFS! Half of the United States is probably ‘Irish by blood’ whatever that’s supposed to mean. Before transatlantic travel Ireland was at the ‘end of the world’, so it naturally accumulated wave after wave of immigrants, as history and even your own legends testify. No pure races in Ireland or anywhere else for that matter.

      1. Agree with Sean that Irish blood runs thicker than water and Irish people are not Amerindians, Brits or Europeans . We are Irish and unapologetic about it.

        Chun Eireann do na Gaeil.

        1. Oh come on! Do a quick trawl of your friends’ Irish surnames. How many are Norman French (clue : anything beginning with ‘de-‘), how many are Scandinavian (Lochlann, Suain, McQueen, Sweeney, Amhlaidh …), and they’ll be a few Britons ancient and modern in there too. And without even thinking about whoever was on the Green Isle before the coming of the Gael.

          1. Yeah – all that “by blood” stuff sounds a lot like Nazi ideas about race purity.

            That’s why in order to be a Latvian you have to identify as one and speak the language – and that’s it.

            The Irish have thrown away their own language and that’s why have to resort to questionable “by blood” ideas.

            1. The other big difference that struck me, was that despite all the bad things that happened under the Nazis, the USSR etc., once they got their country back the Latvians seem to have taken a very positive attitude, sing happy hopeful songs etc., whereas the Irish, even 90+ years after independence still seem think they’re fighting the Brits and their civil war, seem stuck in the self-imposed rôle of victims which they can’t seem to shake. The Scots seem far far more positive and they’re not even independent yet!

              1. If the Scots had to fight a war of independence against the UK, watch their country partitioned from east to west with the Borders and Glasgow remaining in the UK, pass through a subsequent civil war, and saw independence wrapped in caveats, and enforced annual dues to the UK for two decades, followed by thirty years of troubles in the UK province of Southern Scotland, they might find their optimism somewhat dented :-/

              2. True. But then all that happened in Ireland because the Irish were too impatient to accept independence by stages in order to allow the UK to save face. Indeed it might have gone almost unnoticed amid all the redrawing of European borders after the end of WWI. But the Irish couldn’t control themselves and went off at half-cock in 1916 in the middle of the Great War, with an armed and bloody rebellion. No wonder the Brits were vindictive, having been as it would seem to them, stabbed in the back.

                I can see that the Border is annoying, a bloody nuisance, in fact the whole North is exactly that from a UK perspective, a relic of Empire, like say Gibraltar but more embarrassing. OTOH since anyone from the North can freely settle in the RoI and have instant citizenship, it has always puzzled my why over two or three generations the Republicans haven’t simply migrated south and left the Unionists behind with no one to oppress but themselves. Some strange Irish masochism perhaps?

          2. ‘Gael’ has become fite fuaite with “real” Irish, i.e. not the servile types who kowtow to oppressive foreign tyranny or land-grabbing colonists, over the last 400 years. It’s not a bad way to continue a cultural identifier, certainly better than ‘Catholic’.

            So you don’t like how we gained our freedom? You don’t understand why we hated being subjugated? You don’t understand how we will not slink off until it suits our betters? You don’t understand why we don’t sing happy songs?!
            Unfortunately there are some things that can’t be explained. You either have it or you don’t.

            1. In England they have something that approximates democracy, which is to say the English get the government that most of them seem to want. If they don’t like it they’ve only got themselves to blame, they could have voted for someone else. In Scotland we also get the government that the English vote for, even though there are only three Unionist MP from Scotland at Westminster, and only one from the party currently ruling the UK. The Scots might therefore complain about foreign domination with some justification.

              But how can that be true for the Irish Republic, that’s what I’d like you to explain. Why are you still living in the past and fighting old battles amongst yourselves. You’ve been independent for three or four generations. You get the governments you vote for, and on a much fairer system that Westminster’s antiquated FPTP system. How then can you complain about foreign domination nearly a century on? There are plenty of British ex-colonies around the world, few if any seem to have looked back, so what’s wrong with the Irish?

              1. How many ex-colonies still have British rule in part of their territory, rule which adversely effects the social, economic and security well-being of the nation as a whole? Unfinished business remains glaringly unfinished.

              2. I take your point, but then I realised that there are land borders (usually open these days) all over Europe, and many of them were created, or moved, more recently than the Irish border. Anyone in the North is free to move to the South and will be accepted as a full citizen (or am I wrong there?) So why not simply ignore the North and leave them to stew in their own distasteful juice, extending help perhaps to anyone who wishes to ’emigrate’ south?

                Just off the top of my head, the border between Denmark and Germany has been moved once or twice, but whichever side lost out doesn’t seem to be bellyaching about it. Part of southern Sweden once belonged to Denmark, does this bother anyone, not AFAIK. The Finns lost Karelia to Russia, which was no doubt a very sore point, but it didn’t stop them building a modern successful country in the territory they retained. They just sealed their border, got on with life and grew rather rich and comfortable. Surely the best way the Irish could have ‘defeated’ the North would have been to create such a wonderful state in the South that you’d have to close the border to keep the Brits out 😉

              3. How do you create a “wonderful state” out of an island nation which suffered colonial exploitation for eight centuries? Which fought a bloody and destructive revolution and counter-revolution? Which lost its industrial heartland? A fifth of its national territory, population, economic base, internal market and natural resources? Which had to pay imperial reparations, fight a trade war? An Ireland divided is an Ireland broken.

                Would an independent Scotland in the 1920s have faired well if the UK had demanded to retain all of the lands from Glasgow to just south-east of Edinburgh? With annual payments to the imperial coffers? And post-conflict rebuilding – bridges, houses, factories, railway lines, etc. – left solely to the Scots and their own resources?

              4. OK, but you got through all of that, and kept out of WWII, and joined the EU etc. etc.

                There are many examples of small countries being successful, often more so than larger ones. What about Iceland, not exactly overflowing with natural resources, apart from fish, up there in the frozen north. They seem to have a higher standard of living than Ireland, and recovered very quickly from the banking crisis. And even somewhere like the Isle of Mann isn’t doing too badly either, economically or culturally, they’ve brought back their language literally from Death’s door …

                The Scots btw learned from their history that it makes no sense to take on a more powerful state militarily, certainly not when more peaceful routes are still possible. I still can’t see any logic behind the 1916 rising, and the whole cult of ‘sacrifice’ and victimhood that it spawned. There’s a line from an old poem (about North Britain, not Ireland) which is traditionally rendered in English, “Their high courage cost them their lives”, but which I recall one lecturer rendering more prosaically as, “They had more guts than sense”. That probably applies, sadly, to many Irish Republicans.

              5. A majority of the electorate on the island of Ireland voted for autonomy in 1918. And 1920. And 1921. Three plebescite elections, three majorities, three British rejections outright of any such autonomy. Peaceful route or methods were never possible. As for taking on militarily superior powers. Well, like the French Resistance and the German Occupation Forces? To do otherwise is to follow the lead of the Vichy regime.

          3. The Scots aren’t occupied by anyone.
            They themselves decided 1.5 years ago that they want to stay in the UK. Had they decided otherwise they would be independent RIGHT NOW without any rebellion, civil war or other bullshit like that.

    2. I don’t even want to identify as Irish. I’ve done my best to integrate into the Irish society and that’s enough. In the very very unlikely event of Ireland’s annexation by the UK I would flee not because I’m afraid of the Brits – in fact I would not mind if they came here – I would not even have to learn a new language, but because the resulting economic sanctions would result in a drop of living standards and I would not want to get killed in a random terror attack.
      I definitely would not pick up a gun and join the insurgents, because I don’t see a point.

    3. your wrong on one point sean,if the brits started killing us again janice would get himself a job as a camp guard,the latvians have form in this regard.

        1. Jānis, he’s referring to Latvian collaboration with the Nazis during WWII, not that the IRA wouldn’t have done the same if they’d had the chance …

          1. Comments like that are nothing new to me – I usually encounter them in the comments’ sections of Russian language news sites. And Russia occasionally calls us nazis, because we refused to throw away our language and culture – we are already used to that. Didn’t really expect anything like that here, but I guess some people prefer getting their news from Russia Today and similar sources because they’re against the “evil imperialist Brits and Americans”.

            1. TBH I can’t imagine what it would have been like in Latvia during WWII, getting fucked over in turn by the Russians, the Germans and then the Russians again.

              In the UK the answer was simple enough, the Russians were resisting the Nazis, at great cost it must be said, and so had to be our allies, at least until the end of the war. When Churchill made a pact with Stalin he was criticised because S. was a wicked tyrant. He’s supposed to have replied, “If Hitler were to invade Hell, I’d try to find something nice to say about the Devil”. The point being you can’t always choose your allies freely, it’s often a case of the least worst of two evils.

          2. Many people were conscripted against their will by both invaders and were forced to fight between themselves.
            (Some of course joined the Nazi army voluntarily in order to fight against the Russians, because they saw Hitler as the lesser of two evils)
            The “evil” Brits didn’t do that. No one from Ireland was drafter and those Irish people who served in WW1 did it voluntarily.

        2. You consider the majority of Irish people terrorists and war criminals?

          F****ng disgusting excuse for a human being…

  4. In response to Marconatrix (unfortunately debate tends to get muddle in this format). I’m not sure if you’re just out for reaction with your last lot of posts or being sersious.

    “The Scots might therefore complain about foreign domination with some justification … But how can that be true for the Irish Republic, that’s what I’d like you to explain … How then can you complain about foreign domination nearly a century on? There are plenty of British ex-colonies around the world, few if any seem to have looked back, so what’s wrong with the Irish?”
    I don’t think anyone in the Republic complains about foreign domination in the Republic. We’re a post-colonial society though. Our identity is, to a large part, influenced by the past. One result of this is we have an appreciation of where we come from and our traditions, a “soul”, that the drones in some other countries can’t aspire to. Also, as you well know, our people have been divided by a foreign power. World Wars have been begun for similar reasons.

    “Why are you still living in the past and fighting old battles amongst yourselves. You’ve been independent for three or four generations. You get the governments you vote for, and on a much fairer system that Westminster’s antiquated FPTP system.”
    Every real country fights battles amongst themselves. Governments don’t even come into it all that much. A people without a god/cause or at least a few heroes can only mean a decaying society.

    “Just off the top of my head, the border between Denmark and Germany has been moved once or twice, but whichever side lost out doesn’t seem to be bellyaching about it. Part of southern Sweden once belonged to Denmark, does this bother anyone, not AFAIK. The Finns lost Karelia to Russia, which was no doubt a very sore point, but it didn’t stop them building a modern successful country in the territory they retained.”
    Schleswig and Holstein (sp?) would be those Danish / German territories and a very big war was fought over them.
    Alsace and Lorraine similarly caused a huge war and added to another.
    Karelia is the winner with three wars so far though.

    You mentioned Gibraltar earlier. Spain isn’t too happy with the current arrangement.
    We may as well throw the Falklands into that mix. And more recently Cyprus.

    So I don’t think Irish people are unusual in feeling pissed-off to be (even partly) under foreign tyranny. Maybe a big massive war might get it out of our system. What ho!

    1. Northern Ireland isn’t under a tyrannical dictatorship – I was there and didn’t see any oppression.
      ————-
      One result of this is we have an appreciation of where we come from and our traditions, a “soul”, that the drones in some other countries can’t aspire to.
      ————-
      I prefer having my own language instead of a “soul”.

        1. I deliberately wrote “soul”, as “anam” might not be understood by all, with that silly phrase ‘tír gan teanga, tír gan anam’ in the back of my mind. You’re right, there’s a large amount of people who suscribe to that. I don’t though. In fact I think it’s rubbish. Language is just a small expression of and prop to identity.

          1. Well, you can overstate these things, but nevertheless I think there’s a feedback loop at work. The experiences of any group of people over time becomes reflected in their language, and the nature of that language to some extent channels the way you think.

            A group of people, a ‘nation’ if you like, by sharing a language different from that of outsiders, gives them a kind of private mental space, a sheltered common dwelling where they can develop their own values, attitudes, beliefs etc. without them being instantly diluted and blown asunder by all the winds of the world.

            The nice thing about this is that language isn’t a solid wall. Anyone prepared to make the effort can gain entry to your private space, i.e. by learning your language. But that takes commitment and effort, so in practise your ‘privacy’ will never be seriously compromised. A causal passer-by can’t just walk in on you.

            ——

            Interestingly the Welsh equivalent of the “nation without a language …” slogan (< sluagh ghairm) ends with "cenedl heb galon", a nation without a heart.

          2. Nope – language is a the very centre of a national identity. I really like this quote: “It is no nation we inhabit, but a language. Make no mistake; our native tongue is our true fatherland.”

            All the English speakers are not truly separate nations to me. There is a bigger difference between Estonia and Latvia than between Ireland and a random US’ state or UK’s country.

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