Curmudgeons of Unionism still unwilling to endorse Irish

Posted By: September 26, 2017

Irish Congressional Briefing
Distributed by Irish National Caucus

“Members of Congress should pay attention to the strong, consistent voice of Dublin man Tom Cooper, Chairman of the Dublin-based Irish National Congress, which declares “The Irish people have the democratic right to freedom, unity and peace.”
In this letter in the Irish News of Belfast, Mr. Cooper shines a light on the bigotry, sectarianism, and racism that motivates a significant section of the Unionist/Loyalist/Protestant opposition to the Irish language.
Of course, an historical perspective is necessary for all of this. England’s major tools in the oppression of Ireland (after the English Reformation, as distinct from Martin Luther’s Reformation) were: eliminate the Irish language; eliminate the Catholic faith; eliminate all sense of a separate Irish identity— and, oh, of course, steal all the land.
How sad that 16th Century sectarianism and racism is still alive today in Northern Ireland— twenty years after the Good Friday Agreement. How can the Beloved Community be built up with such hatred?”

— Fr. Sean Mc Manus

Tom Cooper. Irish News. Belfast. Tuesday, September 26, 2017

On May 18, 2011, in a historic visit to Dublin Castle, Queen Elizabeth II, in a magnanimous show of respect for the Irish language addressed the gathering with “A Uachtaráin, agus a chairde”. Five days later on May 23 in College Green, former US president Barack Obama in addressing tens of thousands of citizens, courteously paid due regard to Ireland’s native tongue when he said: “Is fáidir linn.”

It was regrettable, but not surprising, that in November 2014 the DUP MLA from East
Derry, Gregory Campbell, when addressing the Stormont assembly, aligned himself, not with the respectful sentiments of Queen Elizabeth II, President Obama, and civilized society, but with bile saying that he would treat a proposed Irish language act like toilet paper. Some other Unionist members of the Assembly cannot conceal their contempt and loathing of the Irish language, some referring to it as a leprechaun language. It is this ignorant dismissal of an important aspect of Irish culture by elected unionists that makes it imperative that demands for a free-standing piece of legislation that would enshrine statutory protections for the Irish language are vigorously pursued.

It appears the … curmudgeons of Unionism are still unwilling to endorse an Irish language act despite Sinn Fein, the SDLP, Alliance Party, the Green Party and People Before Profit joining forces to call for an Irish language act. Ireland’s fine Protestant cultural tradition honed over the centuries which gave us the likes of Berkeley, Burke, Swift, Hyde, and Yeats should not be allowed to be defined by the current political crop at Stormont.