Back in October of last year I examined a short documentary by the freelance journalist Eoin Butler attacking the position of the Irish language in modern Ireland, from legislation establishing limited equality of public services in Irish and English to the presence of our indigenous tongue in the general education system. The film, An Bhfuil Cead Agam?, claimed that it was starting “…a conversation about the Irish language that is rational, unswayed by emotion, dogma or any political agenda“. Unfortunately the documentary itself illustrated none of those things. Instead we were presented with the usual, petty or exaggerated rhetoric of hibernophobic sentiment, albeit repackaged in a snappy, twelve minute video geared towards sharing on Facebook and Twitter. Indeed the production bore more than a passing resemblance to the viral marketing of the successful anti-EU “Brexit” movement in the United Kingdom or the Trump campaign and its Breitbart-style supporters in the United States. Rather than recognising that anti-Irish feeling is a legacy of British colonial rule on this island nation, Butler and company simply added to the centuries-long tradition of animosity and contempt for our native language and culture. Far from being free of dogma or agenda the documentary and the views it espoused were intensely political, born of an anachronistic “Pale-mentality”.
A new, longer documentary has just been released challenging the disingenuous arguments put forward by Eoin Butler in October. Presented by Caoimhín De Barra, the Assistant Professor for Irish History and Culture at Drew University, New Jersey, the film is titled, An Bhfuil Tú Dáiríre?, and it succeeds in establishing the willfully partisan nature of the earlier production. You can watch it here or on YouTube.