Oíche Dhearg: New York Stands Against The Last Penal Law

Posted By: June 15, 2017

Red Hook, Brooklyn, New York – June 14th, 2017

Supporters of language rights will gather in Red Hook, Brooklyn to support the Irish language community in the North of Ireland.  On Saturday, June 24th, Cumann Cháitlín agus Thomáis Uí Chléirigh, the Brooklyn branch of Conradh na Gaeilge (Gaelic League) will host Oíche Dearg (“Red Night”), an evening of learning, solidarity, and support for an Irish Language Act in the North of Ireland.  It will also be an opportunity to celebrate our unity and love for the Irish language in spite of being “dearg le fearg”, “red with anger.”

 The historical and continued suppression of the Irish language in Ireland is epitomized by the British Administration of Justice (Language) Act of 1737, which was upheld by Lord Justice Girvan in 2010.

 This onerous legislation, which bans the use of the Irish language in courts, has been described as Irish historian Dr. Éamon Phoenix as “the cultural equivalent of the penal laws.”

 This residual Penal Law remains in force in the North of a partitioned Ireland in spite of the stipulations of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement for “parity of esteem” and the specific call for an Irish Language Act in the Saint Andrews Agreement of 2006.

A Scottish Gaelic Language Act already exists for Scotland, as does a Welsh Language Act for Wales.

Prior to these Agreements, the Democratic Unionist Party (“DUP”) had exhibited its anti-Gaelic bias most dramatically in the Belfast City Council by physically ejecting then-Counsellor Máirtín Ó Muilleoir from the Council Chambers for daring to address his colleagues in the language which gave Béal Feirste its name.  It was at this time that the DUP’s Sammy Wilson called Irish a “leprechaun language” and Rhonda Paisley, daughter of DUP founder Rev’d Ian Paisley, asserted that the Irish language “drips with their blood-thirsty saliva.”

Up until this present day, no Irish Language Act has been introduced and the DUP has shown little to no improvement in their toxic attitude and bigotry toward the Irish language.

In 2014, DUP MLA Gregory Campbell stunned his colleagues on the very floor of the Stormont Assembly with the puerile  “Curry my yogurt, can coca coalyer”, a lame parody of  “Go raibh maith agat,  a Cheann Comhairle” (“Thank you, Speaker.”) 

 Last December, on the heels of his own party’s  £500 million Renewable Heat Incentive scandal, DUP Communities Minister Paul Givan axed a £50,000 Líofa bursary that enabled disadvantaged youth to study Irish in the Gaeltacht for the summer.   This was restored only after significant public outcry.

 Rather that show real outreach and leadership, DUP leader dehumanized Irish speakers in her comment about “feeding crocodiles” last February.

 Last April, four Irish language youth groups were denied funds and forced to close.

 Not content with reptilian references and denying public funds, the West Belfast DUP published rather unnerving threats against young Irish speakers on Facebook.   The DUP still has not addressed it nor has Facebook deleted the page.

 On May 20th, 15000 people, many of them Irish-speaking youth, took part in a Lá Dearg (“Red Day”) march through the streets of Belfast in support of an Irish Language Act.

 In spite of Arlene Foster’s seemingly cosmetic visits with Irish language groups, no concrete commitment in favor of the Irish language has come from the political party which takes it upon themselves to decide which individuals and groups “truly love the Irish language” and now is poised to enter into the government of world superpower, a permanent member of the UN Security Council and close ally of the United States.

 Given our own Country’s diplomatic, political and even financial investment in the Irish Peace Process, the vital issue of Irish language rights is a concern to us all.

 On June 24th, Irish language supporters will enjoy a night of music, entertainment, barbecue, information and comradery starting at 8 pm at the newly relocated Rock Sullivan’s, 46 Beard Street, Brooklyn, New York 11231, (718-246-8050).

 Further information is available by writing to BrooklynGaelic@gmail.com .

 Conradh na Gaeilge’s bilingual Discussion Document is available here: https://cnag.ie/images/Acht_Ga eilge_%C3%B3_Thuaidh/15M%C3%81 2017_Pl%C3%A9ch%C3%A1ip%C3%A9i s_ar_Acht_Gaeilge_%C3%B3_Thuai dh.pdf

 FB Event Page: https://www.facebook.com/event s/2109516659274985/