How will the anti-Irish knuckle-draggers cope now that Niall Ó Donnghaile has been installed as Belfast’s new Lord Mayor, I wonder? Given that a single word of Irish can be seen as a subversive signal (see the brilliant blog http://ansionnachfionn.wordpress.com/2011/05/28/irish-ireland-meets-english-ireland-in-the-eurospar/ for a southern version of the same problem), every time they use Ó Donnghaile’s name they’ll have committed the treacherous act of which they complain. Added is the confusing fact that QE2 AND President Obama both used Irish briefly during their visit here, and the knuckle-draggers must knitting their sloping brows.
It’s not just knuckle-draggers, of course – the otherwise-intelligent people who run our Protestant/Controlled schools have such a low opinion of Irish, not one of them offers Irish as a subject. I once did a small piece of research into why no Protestant/Controlled schools here play Gaelic games. All of the PE Heads said yes, they’d be happy to offer it, but the thing was, the parents would never agree. Presumably the same applies to the teaching of Irish. At present it’s an exclusively Catholic-and-Integrated-schools thing. The excuse given is that “republicans have hi-jacked the language”, so to use or teach it would be to align oneself with those who shouted orders for a volley of shots at IRA gravesides It wasn’t clear how they felt about Angela Merkel who speaks, of course, the same language as Hitler, or Carla Bruni, who is fluent in Mussolini’s tongue. As well, of course, as Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Francis of Assisi respectively.
A final thought, beyond Gaelic games and Irish-speaking: what saintly lives do Robin Newton and Ruth Patterson lead, that they can occupy the high moral ground from which to look down on the new Mayor? Some found deputy Mayor Patterson’s noli me tangere act (see film clip) sad. Personally, I thought it hilarious.