Unionists Britsplaining The Position Of The Irish Language In Ireland

In relation to my post yesterday on the miserable record of British colonialism in Ireland, which continues to echo in the settler politics of some unionist representatives in the north-east of the country, I received several angry emails from people contesting my opinions. While some interesting points were made, which I hope to add here at a later date, there was also some unionist versions of “White Lives Matter (Too!)“. To explain; when young civil rights campaigners from the African-American communities began to draw attention to the casual killing of (primarily) black men and youths by the supposed forces of law and order in the United States under the “Black Lives Matter” banner, some conservative groups and commentators responded with a risible “White Lives Matter Too“, as if such lives were in any comparable danger. The likes of Fox News, the Drudge Report and the Breitbart News Network did much to popularise and legitimise this counter-movement of, essentially, “white nationalists“. The sight of wealthy middle-aged press columnists of European extraction “Whitesplaining” Black American history and society to Black Americans was one of the more bizarre aspects of this phenomenon.

However, some British readers who have stumbled across my recent article for An Sionnach Fionn have gone down that same route, “Britsplaining” Irish history and society to an Irish person through a prism of post-imperial prejudice. This has included much “Whataboutery” or convoluted versions of “Unionist Lives Matter Too“, as if anyone would suggest otherwise. To argue that “Northern Ireland” is a colonial parastate, a remnant of the British colony on this island nation whittled down to its smallest defensible position, is to point out a historical fact. It does not negate the identity or place of the unionist minority in this country, or the necessity for compromise and magnanimity on the issue of reunification. No one wishes to strip away the British-Irish, Scots-Irish, Anglo-Irish or whatever-Irish identity of unionists following the end of the UK’s administration of the north-east. On the contrary, many of us would wish to see it recognised and celebrated. A nation is strengthened by integrating diversity, not weakened by it.

Unfortunately, the prejudices of colonialism, the prejudices which form the ideological roots of unionism in Ireland, continue to be at its political centre and not at its political fringe. From the local Newry Times:

“Sinn Féin Assembly candidate for South Down, Michael Gray Sloan, has condemned the deliberate targeting and criminal damage against Irish language signs erected by Newry, Mourne and Down District Council.

“This criminal damage constitutes an attack on both communities. The Irish language belongs to everyone and every community.””

When the elected representatives of the main parties of unionism, the DUP, UUP, TUV and even the Alliance Party, criticise and condemn Irish-speakers, their schools and societies, this is the result. Try Britsplaining that!

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7 comments

  1. When the elected representatives of the main parties of unionism, the DUP, UUP, TUV and even the Alliance Party, criticise and condemn Irish-speakers, their schools and societies, this is the result. Try Britsplaining that!
    ————————–

    Most people in the south are no better. The reunification would not improve anything for the Irish speakers. They’re forced to speak English both in the “occupied” Belfast and in the “free” Dublin.

  2. The “White Settler” mentality is still going on in Wales and Scotland. Especially Scotland. There, land reform is back where Ireland was in about 1870. (I kid you not). Land reform in Scotland is behind that of Bolivia. The SNP Government is not as strong as people think, has various imposed controls on it’s powers, etc, and is up against vast and powerful interests. One million acres of land, owned by a single family, in one example, a family that has a seat in the UK house of lords, (still) and is Tory to its roots, and has great influence. The land bills introduced and passed so far, are very weak. In Wales, the situation is not so bad, but there has been a vast influx of people with second homes, and retired people, from England, who move into Welsh speaking areas, then start to object and campaign against Welsh Language schools and road signs.

    Pure White Settler racism.

    The problem with Irish is that it does not have a good area of dense settlement, and population, with a sound economic base. It needs the Gaelic areas to be more autonomous, run differently, and funded properly. The economic base is vital. Rural repopulation in the West of Ireland is sorely needed. Something like the old Scottish Crofting program is needed, etc etc.

  3. Unionism really stamping on the lying rake with this one.

    Education, language. Yeah, people roll over easy on those all the time 🙂

    1. They do in the south.

      Try speaking only Irish at my workplace and you’ll be asked to stop doing that and speak ENGLISH or go find another job.

      1. I’ve found in life that you can survive being a gobshite, you can survive being a dick, you can even survive being spiteful – but when you combine all three the only lifeline is trolling a blog.

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