Caoimhín De Barra Discusses The Myths Of Irish Language Funding

At the start of the year Caoimhín de Barra, the Assistant Professor for Irish History and Culture at Drew University, New Jersey, published a twenty-five minute film called An Bhfuil Tú Dáiríre? in response to a video documentary created by the journalist, Eoin Butler. The latter production, An Bhfuil Cead Agam?, offered a contentious examination of Irish language rights in modern Ireland, taking a largely regressive position which the American-based academic countered in some detail (my own criticism of Butler’s controversial video can be read here).

Caoimhín de Barra has followed up on his film with the guest article published below, responding directly to Eoin Butler’s defence of his claims about Irish education spending and so on.

(As always, an Sionnach Fionn offers the right of reply for all published pieces.)


Eoin,

Apologies for not replying to your blog post about my video sooner. You sent it to me through Facebook, but it didn’t go to my normal Inbox so I didn’t see it until a couple of days ago.

Also, apologies for using clips of your video without your permission. I have to plead ignorance here – it was the first time I ever made a video, and I simply didn’t know I needed permission to use parts of your video. I was just trying to be as accurate as possible in putting forward your arguments. I didn’t want to misrepresent what you said or take it out of context. You know, the way some videos on YouTube do that?

I heard you were boasting on Twitter that you could beat my arguments “to death with a teaspoon.” But when I read your response my first thought was “uh….that is it????”. I think you have done a disservice to teaspoons, Eoin.

The funniest thing about your reaction to my video was to hear you complain about how long it is. Is a grown man really whining about having to watch a 25 minute video? Granted, given the debatable research which went into your own production, having to listen to 25 minutes of facts must have seemed like a grueling mental and physical task. You must have felt like Sisyphus. Or maybe you see yourself as a second coming of Gandhi, selflessly enduring the torture of watching 1554 seconds of a video to bring the truth to the people of Ireland?

Of course, do you know who is to blame for the video being so long? Why, you of course! As your video shows, it only takes a couple of seconds to say something that isn’t accurate. Fact-checking these things and presenting evidence to show how misleading your points were takes up time.

However, I don’t want to overtax your faculties with my response, so I have broken it down into sections. Why don’t you just read one at a time, take a few days to rest to overcome the strain, and then come back again and read the next section?

(PS When you put out your “longer” documentary, I hope it doesn’t end up being 25 minutes long!).

Journalistic Integrity

Eoin, you seem very offended that I could question your journalistic integrity.

You know, I teach at a university, and one of the less fun parts of the job is that every term, I usually catch one or two students being careless with their studies or research.

And guess what their reaction is? Usually, the exact same as yours – feigned outrage that someone could ever question their “integrity,” sometimes followed by vague threats of legal action.

So, if you think I am going to be impressed by your strong words, you are badly mistaken. I deal with that all the time from people who have made mistakes.

Let me be clear – I am very definitely questioning your publicly stated claims not your personal integrity or honesty.

The main reason is your changing story about that road sign. You said you never saw the two other road signs. Do I think people could miss those road signs when driving around? Sure. Do I think people would miss them if they got out 50 feet away to video a scene where they make a big point about road signs in the area? No.

And do I think people could look around for those signs and not see them? No, definitely not. I don’t think anyone could believe that. But that is exactly what you claimed in the tweet shown below.

The other interesting thing is that when you got round to acknowledging that there was another sign there, your position shifted. No mention in this blog post that you “checked” for other signs – now it was the case that you simply missed them.

And of course, you also changed your mind about not having a problem with the Irish language sign if there had been a child crossing symbol somewhere else. In the Tweet, you said you wouldn’t have objected – but in your blog, you now insisted that you would still have kept it in the documentary, because the sign was still “criminally stupid” and that you were right all along.

Talk about confusion.

Translations

The two reasons you objected to Irish documents being translated in the EU were, (1) it involved inventing words and (2) nobody read the translations. My point was simple – this applies to most of the other languages that are used for translations. So, you need a better argument that that.

Road Signs

I made my video in English because it was a response to your video. Which was in English. If I am trying to stop misinformation about Irish spreading among monoglot English speakers, doesn’t it make sense to use English?

As for the road signs – if your argument was that there was some safety crisis because of that sign, then you should have looked at what the standard signage situation is around the country. I have found that it varies a bit, but the most common one is to have two “children-crossing ahead” signs, without any text in any language. If you had bothered to do any research on that, you would have realized that the school in the Gaeltacht simply got an extra sign in Irish. Pointless tokenism?

People might feel that way. A safety hazard? Come off the stage.

I understand the point you are trying to make about safety signs being in the majority language – but symbols are simply better than text. I live in New Jersey and in the schools around here, the set-up is the exact same – yellow signs with children crossing symbols – and no words. So if you want to make a campaign about how these signs should all have text, go right ahead – but that doesn’t change the fact that that school in the Gaeltacht is not at any greater risk for an accident than any other school in the country.

Corp agus Anam

Obviously the point went over your head. I didn’t disagree that the show was based on an invented location – in fact I said you were right. The point was that this just showed how partisan some of your arguments were, despite the fact that you tried to present yourself as an honest broker trying to have a rational conversation.

Mick Wallace

I suppose your waffle about OJ Simpson is an effort to muddy the waters around the fact that you got caught out on this point as well.

On the exchange between Enda Kenny and Mick Wallace, either you didn’t do the research adequately and didn’t know what actually happened, or you misunderstood what happened. Whichever one it was, it doesn’t exactly suggest stellar work, does it?

Hebrew

Another point and another position switch from Eoin. Of course, now you tell us that the story of Hebrew was not exactly the one you told us in your video.

By the time the Israeli state came into existence, there were thousands of second and third generations speakers of Hebrew – beginning from a starting point of zero native speakers in 1870. That is what we call a “revival.” Hebrew speakers created Israel, not the other way around.

You can do some reading on it if you like. Jack Fellman wrote a book called The Revival of a Classical Tongue, or Muiris Ó Laoire has written Athbheochan don hEabhraise: Ceacht don Ghaeilge?. Now I have to warn you – it will take longer than 25 minutes to read both – but if you do get through them, you will see how these books about the Hebrew revival don’t mention the state of Israel – because reviving Hebrew had nothing to do with Israel. Did the state encourage its new citizens to learn Hebrew – sure – like every state encourages immigrants to learn the language – but that is not reviving it.

I also notice that you seem to have dropped your claim that Hebrew was revived out of necessity. That is good to see, because you were completely wrong on that point as well.

Translation costs

The point still stands – you can’t give us an accurate figure for how much is spent on Irish.

It’s funny you included the EU figure in your response. I decided not to include it in my video (heaven forbid we might have hit 26 minutes) but I actually used it in a talk I gave in Bundoran about your video in January. So if you think the EU translation costs save your argument, you are wrong.

You are correct about the EU hiring translators. But as you note, that process only began last year. So is it evidence of future spending? Maybe. Brexit will probably mean that we have to switch our official EU language from Irish to English. But past spending? No. So that doesn’t help the claim you were making at all.

Furthermore, if they eventually do get to 180 translators being paid €52,000, that comes to a total of about €9.5 million.  So riddle me this – if a massive organization like the EU will be able to translate all their documents into Irish and will do so for under €10 million a year, why would our government, with a much smaller number of documents to translate, need to spend at least twice (tens of millions you said, remember) as much in translation costs? The figures don’t add up, no matter what way you slice them.

Total Cost of Irish Spending

Again, you shift your position. Now Ed Walsh’s figure is “imperfect” or “not especially sophisticated.” These are pretty generous assessments of that figure (try “completely wrong“) but since your entire argument that the state spends “mind-boggling” amounts of money rests on it, I suppose you have no choice but to defend it to the end.

Firstly, you say that I made a “defence of mandatory Irish.” Where did I do that? My question was whether the figure of €1.2 billion was correct? Just because I think that figure is nonsense has nothing to do with my opinion on obligatory Irish. I am sure there are many people who disagree with required Irish teaching but who agree that the €1.2 billion claim is pure fantasy. You are conflating two different arguments there. I have zero problem with anyone who wants to raise questions about our national education system and what it focuses on, including what role Irish should have in it. I am not denying that the time spent on teaching Irish in our schools is the biggest investment the state makes in the Irish language.

But time spent in our education system is not the same thing as money spent. I know that isn’t very convenient for the argument you are trying to make, but it is a fact. You admit that Ed Walsh’s figure is “imperfect” but can’t give us a more accurate number – because there isn’t one.

The Garda budget is €1.4 billion (by the way, the notion that we spend almost the exact same sum of money on policing our state as we do teaching Irish should have been the first warning that the Irish number was nonsense). Let’s say 20% of Garda resources are dedicated to dealing with crime connected to cannabis. People could say that we could save €280 million a year if we legalized cannabis – but we would all know that figure is not true. Garda time would just be spent on something else.

The proof of how misleading Walsh’s number was lies in the fact that you yourself fell for it. In your video, you said that according to Dr. Ed Walsh, “The government currently spends about €1.2 billion per annum supporting the language through education, the media, various government quangos and government bureaucracy.”

Of course, this isn’t what Ed Walsh said – he was specifically talking about time spent teaching Irish. The point is that when you read Ed Walsh’s claim that we spend €1.2 billion a year, you assumed that this referred to money that was actually set aside and spent on Irish. That is why you assumed it included money that we actually do spend on Irish, like the media (TG4 & RnaG), government quangos (like the Department of the Gaeltacht) and government bureaucracy (translations). Just as you were misled Eoin, so are many Irish people. There is no technicality – most Irish people hear that figure and think the money should be spent on something else – but it is money that doesn’t exist. Teach something else instead of Irish? By all means make the argument. We spend over a billion euro a year on Irish? No we don’t, not even close.

And of course, you ignore the fact that even if there was merit to what Walsh tried to calculate, he factored in billions that had nothing to do with teaching Irish to inflate the figure. But you can’t even bring yourself to acknowledge that.

(I also enjoyed your little “thought experiment” section. I have no problem with you doing this to make your argument, but since you accused me of “whataboutery” when I did the same thing, it was somewhat hypocritical to do so.)

Here is the funny part though. You said I was an imbecile for my argument on why the €1.2 billion figure is bogus. Fine – you are entitled to your opinion.

But you had a different opinion when you discussed the exact same argument in one of your blog posts after you published your video.

You said you expected lots of people to make the point that the €1.2 billion figure was bogus. However, according to you “ only one single person out of hundreds picked me up on it. And of course, he was right. If mandatory Irish were scrapped tomorrow, most of that money would simply be spent teaching kids other subjects.”

Funny how that guy was right when he made the point, but I am an imbecile for saying it.

By the way, you say Leaving Cert students spend 4-5 hours a week in class studying Irish. Where do you get 5 hours from? When I did the Leaving Cert, we had five 40 minute classes of Irish a week. That comes out to 3 hours, 20 minutes – and I imagine that is fairly standard. Why is it so hard for those lobbying against Irish to come up with accurate numbers?

…Caoimhín de Barra, April 2017

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36 comments

  1. Caoimhin,

    Get a editor. I hate to be the person to break this to you, but a sparkling prose writer you are not.

    I’m not sure if you’re dim-witted, or just deliberately failing to understand basic points of information. Either way, I’m not litigating all of this again.

    My best to all in clown college. I’d say your lectures are riveting.

    Le meas

    Eoin

  2. Fantastic response Eoin. Glad to see you are really engaging with the issues. Are you familiar with the term ad hominem?
    Fair play to you though for knowing when you are beaten. I graciously accept your surrender.

    1. I’m not engaging with the issues? Caoimhin, with respect, I don’t know you from Adam. If some jowly gobshite I’ve never heard of chooses to write a tedious 500,000 word diatribe about me on a lovely spring evening when Barcelona are playing Juventus on the telly, I’m not necessarily going to drop everything to refute him point by point.
      I didn’t read all of your piece. It’s too long. You do not have a silver tongue, my friend. You need an editor. I read part of the closing section because it was the portion closest to where I was leaving the above comment, and it only underlined your chronic inability to be concise, or to master even the most basic details of the argument at hand.
      Your point about the Gardai is stupid. By your logic, if the Minister for Justice ordered the Gardai to devote themselves entirely to warding off potential leprechaun attacks for the next calendar year, the resources expended on that effort would not be wasted, since they would only have been expended on something else if the leprechaun attack order had not been given.
      Stop. Read that last paragraph again. Think about what I’m saying. I’m not going to explain this to you a third time.
      Yes, I quoted Ed Walsh’s €1.2b figure. Yes, I conceded it was imperfect (although I’m quite sure if the true figure would be calculated it would be north of €1bn.) Yes, I commended the one guy on Twitter who, like me, identified the flaw in Dr Walsh’s approach.
      The reason I called your approach imbecilic wasn’t because you pointed out that same flaw. The reason I called your approach imbecilic was because your video took the attitude of, well, if we can’t calculate the true figure for spending on Irish in education with absolute accuracy, then the only alternative is to assume that the true figure is zero.
      I could go on but why bother?
      Congratulations again on your stunning victory, and on your magnanimity, which I greatly appreciate.
      E.,

      1. I thought you were finished discussing the matter Eoin? Another position change I see. We can add that to the list.
        Define irony – a part-time journalist lecturing someone else about their prose.
        By the way – you wrote “I’m not litigating all of this again.” Litigating is defined as “to carry on a legal contest by judicial process.”

        You do understand that this isn’t a legal contest right? Maybe in future you should get an editor to help you write these comments? Editors are very useful for pointing out when you are not using a word correctly.

        1. Litigating also means to dispute a point or discussion. Also, where are you getting “part time journalist” from? I’ve been a full time journalist for 15 years. I was Feature Writer of the Year in 2013. http://www.irishtimes.com/business/media-and-marketing/journalist-of-the-year-one-of-six-awards-for-the-irish-times-1.1587692
          My work appears in the 2015 Penguin anthology Great Irish Reportage. https://www.penguin.co.uk/books/196171/great-irish-reportage/

          1. Oh wow you are a very important person! Feature writer of the year 2013!! I’m honoured that such a master of prose would take time out of his award-winning schedule to talk to humble old me. This will be a cherished memory forever.

            1. What the fuck is wrong with you man? You’re wrong on every single point. You’re not able to defend a single idiotic you’ve said. But you’re still acting like a petulant baby.

              1. “You’re not able to defend a single idiotic you’ve said”

                I think you mean “You’re not able to defend a single idiotic THING you’ve said.”

                Who was the one who needed an editor again?

  3. Iontach ar fad, ‘Chaoimhín. Nár laga Dia do lámh!
    Eoin, tá sé in am duitse éirí as an gcacamas seo. Mo náire thú.

  4. My particular fave:
    “Caoimhin,
    Get a editor.”
    I presume it’s just some randommer using the hack’s name though? That or his attempt at being a Kevin Myers/Brendan O’Connor are sadly doomed to failure – to be fair I suppose I’ve heard of him now so lowest common denominator does seem to work to a point.

  5. Eoin, attacking the man and not the points he has made is poor form and silly.

    Even sillier is this:
    “Get a editor. I hate to be the person to break this to you, but a sparkling prose writer you are not. I’m not sure if you’re dim-witted, or just deliberately failing to understand basic points of information.”

    Only for you to declare:
    “I didn’t read all of your piece.”

    If you didn’t read the piece, how can you possibly comment? Hmmm.

    1. I said I didn’t read ALL of it. Clearly, I read some of it. As for attacking the man, he has twice accused me and the director Paul Duane of colluding in a lie. This is an insult to our professionalism, it isn’t true and he hasn’t withdrawn it.

      1. Well let’s talk about professionalism then.

        For your shot with the road sign, you said you checked for other signs but didn’t find any. I don’t believe that, and I make no apologies for it.

        If you did search around for signs, it suggests your investigative skills aren’t what they should be. If you saw the signs but decided to ignore them to suit some agenda you had, then that definitely raises questions about your integrity as a journalist. Whichever one is true, it doesn’t scream professionalism. To paraphrase what you said in your video: that isn’t on me – that’s on you.

        1. I’ll make one attempt at being civil here. If you would meet me halfway, and drop the automatic assumption that I am a liar, even temporarily, that would be appreciated. Read this carefully. Listen without prejudice. The video Paul and I made was shot at multiple locations around the country entirely in one day (minus a couple of reshoots), with a budget of zero. It was therefore an extremely hectic 13 or 14 hours.

          The scene with the sign was not in the script. Paul and I were driving to Carraroe. We spotted the sign. We parked in the petrol station and improvised that piece to camera hurriedly on the side of probably the busiest road in Connemara in less than five minutes. All the video says is that there was no English translation. That is factually correct.

          We did look around to verify that there was no English translation. There wasn’t. There was, however, a children crossing symbol quite some distance away. We didn’t spot that. There are quite a few things to take into account here. That children crossing symbol is further away than it appears in that photo you posted. It’s also quite a bit higher up in the air. I didn’t get back into the car and drive up again. We just did a quick scout on foot.

          Four months later, on Twitter, in conversation with a Connemara native, I said there hadn’t been a children crossing symbol. (That assertion isn’t in the video itself.) Now there are two possibilities. First that I was deliberately lying about something that said Connemara native could easily fact check and publicly correct me on in about ten seconds. You think I didn’t know this video would be controversial? You think I wanted to hand the language lobby a stick to beat me with?

          This also assumes that Paul Duane, a filmmaker of some distinction* by the way, is, for some unknown reason, backing me up in this Twitter lie, even though it doesn’t appear in his film, he has no reason to lie about it, and the sign issue is barely a drop in the ocean of what the video he made was actually about.

          Or do you think there’s another possibility? The other possibility might be that, in the middle of an extremely hectic shoot, he and I simply failed to notice the sign you’re talking about. That you are, in fact, falsely accusing us of dishonesty. Yes, we made a video you happen to disagree with. You can disagree with our opinions all you want. But to accuse us of dishonesty is something very different.

          Long ago, something like this would have settled with pistols at dawn. I’m not fucking kidding. Either you or I would have had to die. Honestly, I fucking wish that was still an option today. With your portly frame and slow reflex times, you’d be six feet under before I’d even had breakfast.

          (P.S. Re: typos in anything I write. I said you need an editor. That’s someone who works with you on the overall shape and content of the piece you write. Not a subeditor. That’s the person who catches typos etc. The fact you’ve all latched onto that typo, rather than a SINGLE one of the substantive points I’ve raised here, really speaks volumes.)

          * http://variety.com/2013/film/features/10-directors-to-watch-docu-maker-paul-duane-attracts-dangerous-types-1200970642/

          1. P.S. When you said your using clips from our video without permission was an honest mistake, I took you at your word. Why not extend the same basic courtesy to me?

          2. Ah craythur, you say people aren’t engaging with your points and yet your counter-arguments seem to be 1) my polemic was poorly researched and you’re a meanie for pointing that out (despite that, me and my mate who made this film are really creative and outstanding) 2) why i oughta shoot you, if I wasn’t on this internet you’d be dead. 3) I can use a dictionary.

            I think we all realize that old-fashioned journalistic work is drying up with the advent of social media etc. Surely though, this transition year project stuff on something you don’t really know much about isn’t something to hang your integrity on, is it?
            Now, say sorry to the man and don’t do it again.

            1. The issue about the road sign had nothing to do with research. What I said in the polemic was factually correct. Re: what I’ve stated in the comment section here. Let’s go through it point by point, if that’s what you want:

              His point about the Gardai doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t. If you think I’m wrong about that, explain why I’m wrong.

              The reason he thinks I called his video imbecilic – that I’m scolding him for making a statement I agreed with someone else over – is also false. Read back what I’m talking about. If you think I’m wrong about that, explain why. I’ll save you the bother if you like. I’m not wrong.

              He made quite an issue of me using the word “litigate” incorrectly. In fact, I had used the word correctly. He was in the wrong. But you turn that on me like I’m boasting about being able to use the dictionary? How the fuck is that a point against me?

              He called me a “part time journalist”. In fact, I’ve been a full time journalist for fifteen years. When I pointed out as much, in response to his specific accusation, he accused me of boasting and still carried on as though he were winning the argument. Again, please, explain how that vindicates him and not me?

              He accused Paul Duane and I of being liars. He’s wrong about that. I can’t prove a negative, clearly, but the burden of proof here is on him, I know he can’t prove it because what he’s alleging simply isn’t true. Here’s what really happened. Some mean person on the internet knocked your hobby and you’re all mad about it. That doesn’t make me wrong. That doesn’t make me a liar.

          3. Ah – so your attempt to be civil includes saying you want to shoot me and put me six feet under? Wow – I would hate to hear what you have to say when you get mean Eoin. As we all know – the people who talk tough online are always the toughest guys in real life.

            You also say I don’t address your points. Well you yourself have admitted several times that you didn’t read all of my points anyway, so why would I debate someone that doesn’t even know what I have written? In your first comment, you just insulted me and said you didn’t want to “litigate” any more. I am comfortable making personal insults or debating points – you are the one who keeps flip-flopping on what you want.

            As for the sign, let’s get all the facts on the table. There isn’t just one other sign on that stretch of road, there are two. Secondly, if you wanted to make some point about road safety, then the least you could have done was look at what signs are normally on roads near schools. That is the thing that undermines the point you were trying to make completely – in most of the school roads I have looked at, there are just two signs with the child crossing symbol. They just threw an extra one up in Irish because it was the Gaeltacht.

            You weren’t just making the statement that the sign was in Irish – your point was that the road was unsafe as a result. But I showed that you were wrong in claiming that, because that stretch of road has the same type of signage on it as most school roads, with an extra Irish one.

            As for your search for the signs, as I showed on my video, you were in a spot looking directly down the road at the back of the other sign. By your own estimation, it was 50 feet away. You said you checked for signs – I think anyone would say that you did a poor job of checking.

            In your tweet, you said you wouldn’t have raised an objection if there had been another sign there. So, when you finally acknowledged that there was another sign there (and let’s not forget, there were two), you could have just said it was an innocent mistake and acknowledged that the point you were trying to make about road safety no longer stood up. But did you do that? No, because Eoin Butler, the greatest prose writer of the twenty first century, is infallible. You now insisted that your original point was just as valid, contrary to what you had tweeted.

            Thank you for explaining to me what an editor is. There I am with my book contract signed and the final manuscript with the publishers, but sure I had no idea what an editor was at all. Your explanation was most helpful.

            And normally I would never bother pointing out someone’s typos – but when you start criticizing other people’s writing, you leave yourself open to having it thrown back in your face – so you were hung on your own petard there Eoin. Also, as P notes, it wasn’t just one typo, it was two. The fact that you couldn’t properly write the sentence to tell me to get an editor is hilarious.

            Frankly Eoin, I don’t care whether you believe me about the copyright or not. Have you ever heard the expression “the lady doth protest too much”?

            As for your rebuttal on the Garda thing, this is just another example of you twisting my words and claiming to have discovered a logical fallacy in an argument I never made. I have no problem with anyone who wants to claim that teaching Irish, or Garda crackdowns against leprechauns, is a waste of effort.

            My point has always been that to try and come up with a cash valuation for time spent teaching Irish (or chasing leprechauns) is misleading because when people hear that figure, they believe that money exists as a concrete figure in the budget that can be spent in any other number of ways, but it doesn’t. We can teach something else besides Irish, or we can chase something else besides leprechauns, but there is no massive savings to be made by dropping Irish or letting the leprechauns roam free.

            As I said, by the logic of what you wrote, we spend about €600 million a year on poetry. Most people would know that is nonsense, but lots of people definitely believe there is a billion euro windfall awaiting the state just as soon as we decide to stop spending money on Irish. Your video helps promote that myth, and that is exactly my issue with it.

            Speaking of which, you never seem to have acknowledged that I was right when I pointed out that based on what you said in your video, you didn’t understand what Ed Walsh actually was saying. It wouldn’t have taken much effort to email him and ask him to clarify. Aren’t journalists supposed to fact-check things? Ah but sure I am that, like the signs, you were too busy to do the job properly.

            As for “litigating” the only dictionary definition (http://www.dictionary.com/browse/litigate) I could find that justified your claim (research – you should try it some time) noted that your usage of the word was “archaic.” You know, old-fashioned, obsolete, that kind of thing? You complain about my prose but you are the one writing like it is the 1620s.

            As for the part time journalist comment – a friend of mine (who is a journalist) told me the joke was that a “free-lance” journalist was a part-timer with notions. Although I can see why other journalists might be a bit slow to share the joke with you given how sensitive you are. But then again you did have an article in a book, so maybe they would make an exception for you since you are super important?

              1. Like the word “checked”, it seems you and I have a different understanding of the word “reasonable”.

                I don’t think fantasizing about killing someone fits into the definition of “reasonable”. But then again, maybe that is just me.

                And then there was the very reasonable message you sent me this morning on Facebook.

                “What’s your book about, Caoimhin?
                You fat fuck.
                I’d say it’s amazing.
                ly shit”

                Since you asked, the book is about online bloggers who feel personally insecure and yet, paradoxically, have a strong sense of their own self-importance. I think you will like it!

  6. The reason i hold journalists in utter contempt

    “I quoted Ed Walsh’s €1.2b figure. Yes, I conceded it was imperfect (although I’m quite sure if the true figure would be calculated it would be north of €1bn.)”

    not to fact check the 1,2b figure is slovenly in itself, but then to just pluck ‘north of 1bn’ out of the air (based on no research apparently as he is only ‘quite sure’) goes to show what a worthless profession journalism is. Journalist is just another word for propagandist in my opinion. What a fabulous day it will be when the print media is finally dead.

    Politicians bend the truth too, but at least they are trying to implement policy against resistance. If journalism can’t provide fact checked accurate information, then what is the point of it. its just a useless parasite. a vestigial profession from an era before the internet.

    i haven’t bought a newspaper is so long (i have a low opinion of all of them) i don’t know which one Mr Butler writes for. Can anyone tell me?

  7. incidentally, that’s not a specific criticism of Eoin Butler, but of Journalism in general. there just seems to be a sloppiness when it comes to facts. As if the hard work of accuracy is unimportant once the political perspective of the newspaper’s owners are promoted. Obviously, the John Pilgers (and his like) are not the type of Journos i’m talking about here. why can’t there be more like John Pilger?

  8. That was not a pleasant read, at all. Eoin’s responses were haughty and occasionally deplorable in a journalist or just anyone who believes in reasoned debate. Though I don’t think there was much likelihood for a sober to ’n fro. In fact, on re-reading Caoimhín’s article I noticed that, unlike his even, critical but generous video, the above contains from the start several instances where his tone was self-satisfied and a tad bitchy. And it all went downhill after that.

    1. Acutia I wouldn’t deny that your critique of my article has some legitimacy. However, I would never start a conversation like that with someone. Eoin set the tone in his original response to my video (there is a link to it in my first sentence above) and with some tweets he sent out in January. My article was a response to his blog post, in which I feel he set the tone for this conversation. Indeed, before I ever even made my video, I emailed Eoin to raise some of the points with him, and my tone was professional, while at the same time challenging what I saw as the shortcomings in his video. Eoin never replied to that, which is fine. As you noted, I tried to be fair with the video, but his response to it was a bit juvenile, and so I turned some of the “unprofessional” aspects of Eoin’s response (like complaining about the length of the video) back on him. But every time I matched his “unprofessional” tone (and I am not denying that I did that) he escalated it further, and crossed a few lines that I did not cross, nor would not cross. Trust me, a conversation that evolved into what this became was never my intention.

      1. Sure, I was aware that Eoin’s response to your video was not conducted with the same open ‘scholarly’ tone. It seemed to me tat nothing fruitful would come from out of it. That was why I was surprised to see the discussion reappear here. All that said, if I did not know (as I know more clearly now) how the ‘conversation’ has gone over the various locations and media, I would still notice an unflattering contrast between your video and the response above.

        1. Fair enough – all I will say is that I would much rather have had a conversation along the lines of the tone of the video.

  9. https://polldaddy.com/js/rating/rating.jsAs I understand it Prof de Barra’s video was motivated in response to Butler’s mistruths. Prof de Barra was driven, I expect, by his passion for the Irish language, Irish culture, etc. It is not immediately apparent what was Butler’s reasoning in making his video piece. Whatever the reasoning, it appears misguided given the numerous/countless inaccuracies (and that is being polite).
    I wonder how compelling Bulter’s argument would be if he was precluded from relying on self-serving, non-sense and lies to support his point of view.
    There has been a few dictionary references in the above train: The google definition of “propaganda” is interesting in the context of Butler’s video.
    It is disappointing Butler chose not to address each of Prof de Barra’s retorts in any substantive way. That failure is telling, to say the least. Also telling that Butler had to denigrate to insults as his primary means of response.
    Doesn’t take an expert to know who would come out on top in a 1-2-1 debate.


  10. https://polldaddy.com/js/rating/rating.js“These days, things are a little more opaque. Whether in print, online or on the big screen, objective reality is (more often than not) an illusion crafted by Machiavellian marketing executives, artful ad-men and scheming publicists. In this commercial netherworld, things are rarely quite as they seem.” a quotation taken from Butler.
    It would appear that someone in advance summed up his own intentions. Perhaps he has an anti-Irish language agenda and wished to covertly (or overtly) advertise this.

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