Thursday, 2 October 2014

Santa Isn't Real and Other Hard Truths

"On his time as Minister for Culture, Arts and Leisure he (Poots) told me that his greatest achievement was ‘burying the Irish language act’ as he believes there was ‘precious little demand for outside of republican circles’... " - David McCann's interview with Edwin Poots on Slugger O'Toole

Despite all the time I waste on forums and blogs listening to the same old thing some people are convinced that I haven't heard every argument regarding the controversial topic of the public use of the Irish language by republicans and the damage this does for the language's prospects in Northern Ireland.

So, with that in mind I'll address all of the non-convincing arguments that I've heard over the years and stick them here, as a reference of sorts.


As things stand now most unionists/Protestants see a strong association between the Irish language and republicanism, especially Sinn Fein and the IRA.

Look closely and you'll see a subtle association...
That is that.

The bottom line.

 End of.

Case closed.

There's no point in denying this cos that's the way it is at the moment.



This is true to an extent, mainly as a response to Catholic Irish nationalism BUT it is also a straw man argument ( ).

In this case, while it is true that unionism went cold on Gaelic a long time ago this point simply ignores the original claim which  is that nowadays most Protestants/unionists feel it is linked with republicanism.
This is where we are now.

These are two different points.

The fact that unionism let go of its Irish heritage following partition is a separate topic altogether from the argument of association, in this case the association between SF (republicans) and Irish.

And if you think there are no grounds for claiming association then please glance through the following few choice photos:

Republican SF: Not. Helping.



Gerry Adams. Gaeilge. Gerry Adams. Gaeilge. Gerry Adams. Gaeilge....


Took a wee while didn't it?

So, it's not unfair to say that there a perception of a link between the Irish language and SF/republicanism.

The only people who could claim otherwise would be Robert Shapiro (OJ Simpson's lawyer) or people suffering from delusion.


That is correct.

Thankfully there is not.

In Scotland the majority of Gaelic speakers are Protestants, mainly Presbyterians in fact.

In addition, no terrorist group or significant political party in Scotland has used Gaelic in the way or to the extent that some groups in Ireland have.

So the comparison is a duff one, it simply doesn't compare.


Well hats off to them then.

Keeping a language alive is a commendable feat.

Equally commendable is the ability to admit that the survival stage is over and that the 'expansion' stage should begin.

In the business world it is common enough to find company founders who will step aside once the company has hit a certain level e.g. Richard Branson.

Why? Because they understand that certain stages of a company's growth requires certain skills and outlooks.

Why is it beyond question that SF's stewardship is absolutely what is necessary for the next stage of the language's development?

We are at a stage where there is a small awakening amongst some Protestants and unionists regarding their Gaelic history and where an Irish Language Act is the aspiration of many people in the land.

Given that many unionist politicians have an axe to grind with SF then surely the development of the language is hampered by its association with SF i.e. unionists use it as a stick to beat SF with?

So, the language is held back on this account.

Perhaps it's time to take the stabilisers off and let the language progress to the next stage?

If beating the language down because it is seen as a republican thing is something unionists like to do then it will be very difficult to advance the interests of the language, ergo does it not make sense to break this association for the good of the language?

Branson: Knows when to hand the reins to someone else



Anyone who can cause a mass conversion of a group of people with a simple act should consider a career in either marketing or televangelism.

A more realistic way of looking at it will be that slowly but surely the language will lose some of its tainted features and gradually become more acceptable to people within the Protestant community who may have been a bit 'iffy' about the language beforehand.

And with such a change comes the advancement of the language within our society.

To bemoan the idea that SF drop the language on a Monday and that Carrickfergus is not then speaking Irish on a Wednesday is a very weak foundation for an argument.

Unlikely to happen overnight, but...



Sinn Fein's involvement hasn't put THEM off (and fair play to them, keep up the good work) that really doesn't account for the others who ARE put off by Sinn Fein's involvement.

That argument is like singling out a hot girl in McDonald's or KFC and saying "look! She's eating fast food and she's not fat so obviously fast food doesn't make you fat!!!!". (You know it...).

(Incidentally, I did a Google search for 'beautiful people McDonalds' but couldn't find any, the picture below is the best I could manage)

Sinn Fein's new Irish language spokesperson? 


Yes they have, but again that ignores the modern assertion that it is now viewed as a republican thing (thanks in part to unionism's abandonment of the language).

Also, it ignores the previous point that there is evidently some appetite for unionist acquaintance with the language (and you know there is).

Common Ground?: 1892 Unionist Convention "Erin Go Bragh"


Well yes in theory it should be but let me tell you from personal experience that it is very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, difficult to get this point across when the PERCEPTION is that the language is very much a thing for republicans.

Throw us a frickin' bone will ya?!!!!


"Mr Straw-man! We meet again, en garde!"

Yes they do and every time they do they reinforce the perception that it is a republican thing. Simples.

Wood. Trees. Visual obstruction thereof?

No one is saying that they CAN'T, what is being highlighted is that IF their public (NOTE: NOT private) use of Gaelic is detrimental to their goals regarding the language then surely this public use should be examined?

I recently applied the same logic to the Orange Order's parade in Edinburgh in support of the 'No' campaign,        ( ) as in yes they had the RIGHT to march but if it was potentially detrimental to their objective (in this case galvanising support for the No campaign) then what is the point?

Why shoot yourself in the feet with which you march?

Similarly why would republicans shoot themselves in the mouths with which they use to speak Irish?

It makes no sense, it is pride and stubbornness above objectivity and pragmatism.

Now, speaking of the Orange Order, irrationality and the Irish language please recall this jaw dropping episode from one of their senior (Christ!) representatives:

Penfold's 'Publican 'Genda

In fairness to him though, in between all the nonsense please pay attention to 1:33.

He's highlighting how one of his predecessors Dr Ruteledge Kane was Arran Irish speaker who would recite the minutes in Irish (not sure which Arran though...).

Listening to George Chittick...

Now, as much as I was face palming for most of this interview that is still an interesting point; he accepts the place of Irish within the Order's history but now sees it as "political"

Now, can anyone tell me of any political groups that use the Irish language in a very overt and public manner?

A clue

And staying with the 'Orange' theme, that brings me to the next topic:


One of the things that the mobile phone provider Orange had to consider back in the time of the mobile phone network's infancy was the negative connotations of its name in Northern Ireland:

They had to give real consideration to the notion that there were/are negative connotations between the word 'orange' in Northern Ireland and 'shenanigans' (to say the least).

The fact that a multi million pound operation took this seriously should cause you to think about the importance of negative association.

This was not lost on NTL or Tennents, two sponsors of the Old Firm.

They took it upon themselves to sponsor BOTH Old Firm teams rather than just one was it was feared that they'd lose more customers than they would attract (and anecdoatally speaking I know at least one die-hard Celtic fan who would never touch McEwan's Lager (and not just because it tastes like rotting asses ass) and another who stopped drinking 'Oranjeboom' beer because of its association with the House of Orange).

Maybe Magners will do OK now that they've went alone with their Celtic sponsorship but it's difficult to imagine that it won't be poured down the sink of many Rangers orientated pubs around the islands.,d.cGU


(NOTE: This is copied over from a LAD blog   )

"People say it's daft that a language can be a thing of offence but it's not unique to Ireland.

Look east and in the eastern Croatian town of Vukovar there is a similar controversy.

Vukovar was smashed up by in the wars that followed the fall of Yugoslavia.

Destruction, massacres, the works.

Vukovar: 2 cultures
Now the Serbian residents wish to promote their identity and culture by means of erecting signs written in Serbian Cyrillic.

On one hand, fair enough.

 They live there, have lived there for centuries so why not promote their culture?

On the other hand, it evokes painful memories to the resident Croats who were traumatised by the fall of their city and its destruction.

 (I'm not taking sides either way!!!).

Many see it as a politically crafted 'get it up themuns'.

Every time republicans use Irish in their literature, marches and interviews the same view is pinned on the Irish language.

I think this is unfair but it is also how things are.

If we want Irish to belong to all Irish people then there is definitely room for a very frank discussion and examination of Irish as it is handled now."

So, I think it's safe to say that a language and even the script of a language can be politicised.


I would hope not.

If you are an Irish language enthusiast and concerned for the well being of the language and its development and are perhaps embarassed or angry or frustrated by the language's use by political figures then you're going to have to make your voice heard.

Email figures, tweet them or even write them a letter, there's nowt to be gained by holding your tongue.

Gagged: Don't be.

Knowing what we know about people up north, the way things are perceived and the ambitions of many people who would like to see some sort of progress regarding the Irish language is it not safe to say that republicans should (publicly) leave the language alone and give it some breathing space?

The survival stage is over, the expansion stage comes next.

That requires co-operation, sacrifice and accepting hard truths.

PS I'm not saying that they should refrain from defending the language altogether:

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Better Together - Homer Simpson Style

I just recoiled in horror at this:
Horrified: Me


That's right.

A pro-union organisation that has an obvious polarising effect and is clearly not welcome in this particular arena is barging in anyway, even though it's been clearly told to stay away.

Salmond to Cameron: "Yep, they're coming to 'help' ye Davey boy. Nae luck son....pppfffffff......."

Is the OO actually controlled by anti-union plants?

It's the only logical conclusion I can think of, for given their impressive capacity to put one foot in front of the other in an orderly fashion it's obvious that they aren't SO stupid as to think that they're lending a hand to the cause (seriously to be THAT thick marching would be out of the question...)?

"But surely the have the right to support their brethren in Scotland"


100%. I'm not claiming otherwise, I'm simply highlighting 'objective vs methodology' wrt 'getting the job done'.

Let us take some comparisons:


METHOD #1 (absolutely entitled to do so): Sensible diet plan, a regular exercise regime and training with a friend/rival

METHOD #2 (absolutely entitled to do so): No exercise, watching all HBO series back-to-back living only on nachos, fries and beer/soda

If your eyes are on the prize you'll aim for method #1 (with the occasional binge on method #2). Why? Because that's what you have to do to get what you want.

Common sense & discipline
Orange Order's approach?


METHOD #1: Complete all assignments on time. Keep ordered, concise notes. Recap constantly through the year. Work on weak points. During exam time employ a sensible timetable with enough time for work, eating and exercise

METHOD #2: (Most common approach): Wing most assignments, keep making plans about 'tightening up' only to head straight to the pub now (mid-week) that you're full of resolve for one last unsanctioned bender.
Blindly panic when exam time comes and live solely on coffee.

METHOD #3: It'll be fine, do nothing and go out on the tear the night before every exam

Again, you're entitled to do whatever you want, the question is though WHY would you sabotage your own objectives?

Now, arch-republican-secret-agent (he must be surely? This is clearly detrimental to the Union!) Rev Mervyn Gibson has answered (fobbed off) such logical criticisms:


"I have heard that argument," he said. "The Orange Order is a major part of Scottish life and is entitled to demonstrate its view. I hope that it galvanises people to vote No."

I shall address this part by part:

"I have heard that argument," - Good, why then do you not have a decent argument to show that the criticism is incorrect?
If you can't argue that it is incorrect then it MIGHT just be correct, in which case you're surely obliged to have a wee rethink?

""The Orange Order is a major part of Scottish life and is entitled to demonstrate its view." - It may well be, but it is also a controversial part of Scottish life.
It IS entitled to demonstrate its view, that doesn't mean that it HAS to

NOTE: Irish nationalist quarters are very quiet on the matter though they obviously have feelings on the topic. This could be because it's not their fight OR (AND?) it could be they're smart enough to know that their involvement could push some swing voters into the No camp, remember that a lot of Scottish sons went home from NI in body bags, having Gerry Kelly and the like endorsing the Yes campaign could reopen some old wounds.

Nationalism: Schtum

"I hope that it galvanises people to vote No." - How?!
 How does marching impress anyone who doesn't march?
 If it did then Northern Irish Catholics would be all unionists courtesy of our thousands of annual band parades.

Basing a movement on 'hope' is not very inspiring....

Alex: Before the OO announcement

Alex: After the OO anouncement

This is what other people think of the matter:

"... the Order isn't part of our campaign and never will be". - Senior figure in the 'Better Together' campaign - TRANSLATED AS "PLEASE GOD NO!"

"The Orange Order have nothing to do with us," - Better Together spokesman - TRANSLATED AS - "THESE F*CKTARDS WILL RUIN EVERYTHING"


And this nugget regarding a former UDA commander:

 "Sam "Skelly" McCrory, commander of the Ulster Defence Association's prisoners in the Maze prison during the last years of the Troubles, said Northern Irish loyalists would alienate Catholic voters and other centre-left Scots who plan to vote against independence if they showed up in Scotland."

What does it take to get hard-line unionists to listen to their fellow British citizens?

Willy Wonka: Not surrendering...

*NOTE: Though I'd be a little bit sad to see Scotland go, I wish her and all those who sail in her the very best should she decide to go the way of independence.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

The Riddle

As expected, the annual big day of marching secured its fair share of newspaper space, blogging time and news coverage.

Every year it’s the same arguments and positions though sometimes the buzzwords are replaced e.g. in the 90’s it was ‘civil and religious liberty’ and ‘unionist intransigence’ and now it’s ‘shared space’, ‘equality’ and ‘tolerance’.

One thing that doesn’t change is the predictable nature of pan-unionist response whenever Sinn Fein is believed to be behind something.

I understand the antipathy many unionists have to the Shinners, I’m no fan of them myself (ask any nationalist blogger on Slugger O’Toole).

What I don’t get is why unionism nearly always feeds SF PR & political points.

I mean really, if I had a nemesis I’d do my best to make sure that he/she does not benefit from my actions. Surely that’s the point of having a nemesis??

With that in mind, let us assume for argument’s sake that all of unionism hates SF as much as Willie Frazer.

Let us now apply this scenario to some of the more questionable positions of unionism and see if it is GOOD or BAD for SF. (Sorry, it might seem like SF overkill but this is angled at the SF paranoia that is prevalent throughout unionism)


In some, not all unionist controlled councils, they go against the UK norm and fly the Union flag all year round.

This could be because of immense pride or defiance or habit or simply to get it up themuns.

BAD FOR SF: Unless there are some SF councillors having their noses put out of joint by this flying then this is of no apparent detriment to that party

GOOD FOR SF: Well, as has been articulated repeatedly during City Hall’s Fleggergeddon the obsessive flying of the Union Flag is seen by some people as a 2 fingered salute. A constant reminder of who’s in charge of the turf.

With this is mind, if you were to place a 50 quid bet on the following horsies, which would be your favourite to win:

Horsie 1: Middle of the road types from a nationalist background who may not bear any particular ill-will to the Union Flag are nonetheless pushed away from the unionist family on account of the ‘in your face’ nature of flying the flag unceasingly

Horsie 2: Middle of the road types from a nationalist background would feel an INCREASED sense of ‘loyalty’ to the UK on account of seeing the British tri-cross flying every day, in addition to the hundreds of other flags flapping from lamp posts.

If you think it is horsie No.1, then you believe that this overtly pro-union stance is ironically damaging to the union in that it drives away potential pro-union voters.

If you vote for horsie No.2 then might I recommend that you never set foot in a casino or race track in your life.

So in my humble opinion, I would label the insistence of flying the flag 365 as free points to SF. From their point of view, the less people who see the Union in a favourable light the better.
Horsie No.1
Horsie No.2



At least one unionist controlled council flies the Union Flag on designated days.

GOOD FOR SF: They can still press the ‘equality’ button with regards to arguing that the tricolour should fly alongside it (FYI, this matter is soon forgotten about if one counter-proposes the 3 flag compromise  )

BAD FOR SF: If all unionist councils fly the flag on designated days they would then have some moral ground to demand similarly of nationalist controlled councils. SF does not like that idea. Not a jot.


Not so long ago a DUP task force was sent to the IFA bunker to make sure that they didn’t have any daft notions about bringing in changes that would make supporting NI a more attractive option for many people


A few measures could make a big difference to fence sitters who would be tempted to go to a game or wish NI all the best:

1/ Drop GSTQ. It’s the NATIONAL anthem, not the regional anthem. End of.

2/ A flag. The Ulster flag is not the official flag of NI, it is the favoured flag of loyalist bands and is burned into the minds of many Catholics and nationalists in the same way the tricolour is burned into the mind of Protestants and unionists

3/ A new stadium. Windsor is hardly the most welcoming area for people who aren’t of the unionist persuasion, is it?

If these logical and reasonable changes were enacted then we could see an increase in NI supporters from people of a Catholic background

GOOD FOR SF: Making Northern Ireland in any shape of form appealing to people of a nationalist background is the stuff of SF nightmares. It has to be presented as an illegitimate statelet born of oppression at all costs. Keeping the Ulster flag, GSTQ and Windsor Park makes this task much easier as they hold no appeal for many people of a Catholic background

BAD FOR SF: It’s not. Making it difficult to support NI is a gift to SF. (Hint: hence their opposition to a new flag for NI during the Haass talks)


See above.
Appeal: Really, why would anyone from a nationalist background wish to support this?



1/As long as unionist politicians tolerate aspects of terrorism then the easier it is for people overlook SF’s terror connections and history, if there is no one on the moral high ground then there’s no one to look up to.

2/ Such tolerance to said list can be exposed on camera for all the world to see e.g. terrorist banners at band parades or paramilitary murals. A great help in the PR war.

3/ All condemnations of IRA violence and connections fall on deaf ears

4/ It makes unionism even more of a cold house for Catholics orpeople who dislike terrorism and sectarianism. The less unionist converts the better as far as a united Ireland is concerned.

BAD FOR SF: It’s not. As long as unionists tolerate this sort of thing it’s money for jam as far as SF and PR are concerned (though obviously not for people who are subjected to such intimidation).


BAD FOR SF: It’s not. If unionists didn’t blindly support all controversial marches then SF would have to work hard to make something else controversial (NOTE: I’m just for sake of argument taking it as a given that this is the case, otherwise someone will pull out the old Athboy conspiracy card and derail the whole thing).

GOOD FOR SF: Does anyone remember the amount of PR and votes SF gained in the mid late 90’s from Drumcree? What does that tell you? Controversial parades and mayhem are manna from above as far as SF are concerned.

Do you remember the red face SF received from the SpAd Bill controversy? Neither do I as shortly after marching season appeared on the scene and all was forgotten.

And on the topic of flags, SF have played a blinder on this front: (Hat's off, credit where credit is due).

Choice: What's good for the union may not be good for the Orange Order


BAD FOR SF: It ‘may’ cause them to lose a few potential Protestant voters, but…

GOOD FOR SF: The Catholic population is on the increase and the Protestant population on the decrease. Do the math people


Now, if one’s raison d’etre or main priority is to ‘smash SF’ then it’s harder to imagine a more flawed strategy short of Willie Frazer or Mike Nesbitt actively canvasing for SF door-to-door.

Votail Sinn Fein?
The short comings of all of the above stances are evident to all.

But remember, if you point this out to any one from the tribe then you’re a Lundy, a pseudo-liberal (whatever that is) or a communist.

Well maybe not a communist, but you might as well be, pinko.

I’m well aware of the myriad of responses and rebuttals that fly from some unionist quarters when these points are highlighted. But many of these rebuttals revolve around feelings and the heart as opposed to pragmatism and the head.

Yes, I understand the unwillingness to change as it might be perceived as a ‘surrender’.

But by not changing they’re losing. But they use this sense of losing as a reason not to change, which compounds the feeling of loss, which in turn causes them to oppose change, which in turn….

I understand why some people feel it is better to be defiant than be pragmatic, but I also understand why some people think the Earth is flat.

Worse still, if the memory of the IRA’s campaign is sufficient to make unionism hand points and votes to SF, well, surely that would be an argument for the justification for the IRA’s campaign? That they are rewarded by their actions of decades ago because unionism is so scarred from the campaign that it constantly makes all the wrong moves?

Not a nice thought.

Parades commission treatment of Protestants in Downpatrick is akin to how Hitler treated the Jews.
James Molyneaux once said “a prolonged IRA ceasefire could be the most destabilising thing to happen to unionism since partition”

Is it possible that a streamlined unionism that tackles the shambolic loyalist underbelly and which is free from Orange intervention could be equally destabilising for nationalism?

To be honest, there’s only one way to find out.

 And if it doesn't work, well, we can always go back to the current way of doings things.