Tuesday 23 February 2010

Monoculture

This blog recently referred to Gregory Campbell's support for cultural apartheid (despite the fact that other members of his party were arguing against such cultural separation!). This gave rise to a certain number of comments on the issue of culture, and specifically respect for other peoples cultures.

At issue in Northern Ireland is the implacable opposition of many unionists to any public expression of the Irish language. Even the provision of Irish language teaching brings many unionists out in hives.

Why do unionists oppose the public display of Irish, though? Is it because they think it is somehow 'un-British'? If so, why do the signs below not arouse any opposition from those Britons who live near them and drive past them?

Wales


Scotland


Cornwall


Even London!


And outside the UK, but within the broader definition of 'British':

Isle of Man


Jersey


Guernsey


And further afield in Europe, it seems that people in France are able to stomach the sight of signs in Breton:


In Catalan


In Alsation German


In Occitan:


And in Corsican

In Brussels the French and Dutch speakers appear to be able to tolerate the sight of each others language:


Even in tolerant and Protestant northern Netherlands the Friesian language is to be seen:


Spain, of course, has its Basque:


And Catalan languages on display:


Far to the chilly north, the unionists' co-religionists in Finland are scrupulously fair:

So what is the problem for unionists? Their position against the display of Irish in Ireland is both un-British and un-European. The excuses trotted out – the cost, 'unionist sensibilities', the 'politicisation of the language', etc – are entirely spurious. The truth is that unionists are simply anti-Irish bigots.

At the AGM of the Ulster Unionist Council on 9 March 2002 David Trimble unnecessarily and unwisely lost almost all of the passive support he had south of the border when he branded the Republic 'a pathetic sectarian, mono-ethnic, mono-cultural state'. But it seems that in their determination to suppress the native language of their own country, the unionists are themselves trying to create a truly pathetic, monocultural state – one which increasingly stands out as an exception in a diverse and tolerant Europe.

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

If a significant minority can't speak the language of the majority fluently then fair enough - otherwise it's costly posturing and is indeed political in nature.

Daithí said...

Comarthaí iontacha!

hoboroad said...

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/northern_ireland/8530375.stm

peteram79 said...

Spot on, an unnecessary expense and a blatant attempt by northern nationalists to rub unionists' noses in their constant one-sided "equality" crusade.

Which is of course ironic given the nationalists' uber-sensitivity to any overt display of unionist culture that they immediately perceive as a unioinist desire to return to a Protestant ascendancy and to humiliate the poor downtrodden Cafflicks.

One rule for one, and one for t'other

Anonymous said...

Anti-Irish bigotry is the foundation stone of northern Unionism. Take it away and partition is futile.

Anonymous said...

Let the Dublin government pay for the road signs if "expense" is all Unionists are worried about.

Will that be ok for Unionists to see Dublin foot the bill? Yeah, right.

Paddy Canuck said...

Pete:

"Which is of course ironic given the nationalists' uber-sensitivity to any overt display of unionist culture that they immediately perceive as a unioinist desire to return to a Protestant ascendancy and to humiliate the poor downtrodden Cafflicks.

One rule for one, and one for t'other"

If having the same rules is all that's important then how about we get the old Provos together for a good back slap session and march them up and down Shankill every Good Friday waving "Brits out" banners? Yay, tradition, heritage, culture... equality at last.

Maybe just seeing funny words on road signs really isn't so bad after all.

AMERICAPHILE QUIS SEPARABIT said...

IF THE GURU MAGGOTS WANT TO SPEAK LEPRECHAUN, THEY KNOW WHERE THE BORDER IS!!!!!

menaiblog said...

Virtually all road signs in Wales are bilingual. It hasn't been a bone of contention for decades.

Anonymous said...

"AMERICAPHILE QUIS SEPARABIT said...

IF THE GURU MAGGOTS WANT TO SPEAK LEPRECHAUN, THEY KNOW WHERE THE BORDER IS!!!!!"


Is a language* really as offensive as burning flags and singing songs about killing Catholics? Of course! To the bigot everything is offensive, including the very existence of the other side. Hence, "you know where the border is."

*This only applies to Irish. An address given in Americaphile's facebook:

139 HALYWID GATE
BILFAWST, COONTIE DOUN BT4 3BE
BREETISH ULSTÈR, UNITIT KINRICK

Irish is a waste of money, everyone is Ulster speaks English! Can we have some money for Ulster Scots, though?

Say NO! to bilingual street signs. Apart from ones in Ulster Scots, obviously. I don't know what I want any more! All I know I don't want them fucking fenians to be happy. Is that too much to ask?

Mack said...

Has Horseman turned moderation off??

Anonymous said...

No Irish and no Ulster Scots then? Sounds good to me. Of course, what people do in their own time and at their own expense is up to them.

New times, New approach said...

For some time following the plantations of Ulster it was necessary that the new settlers learned and could speak Irish in order to function economically in a country where the majority of the population spoke Irish.
Indeed this did not then seem to be at all incompatible with an ongoing desire for union with Britain. An example of this is the Orange song of the time satirizing James and his catholic supporters, 'Lillibulero (bullen a la)' which in fact derives from the Irish, 'An lili ba leir e, ba linn an la', or 'The lily was victorious, the day was ours'.
Subsequent suppression via penal laws of the Irish language by Britain was extremely successful even to the extent that it was nearly completely eradicated in urban areas.
Anyone who feels that those who would wish to attempt to learn and promote the language are bent on rubbing other peoples' noses in anything is plain foolish. The descendants of those settlers who themselves learned and spoke Irish would be very welcome at any of the gaelscoileanna (Irish schools) now being established - it was once the native language of all of Ulster's people.
Remember also if you feel the penal laws and language suppression to have been a good idea, that they were also as offensive and unfair to the dissenters who made up a large proportion of those Ulster settlers.
Mutual respect is the only good way forward. Language would be a small, but welcome start.

Horseman said...

Mack,

Moderation is still on for the time being. It has had a remarkably quick and positive effect - I have not had to reject more than one or two comments, ands the 'usual suspects' seem to have just disappeared. The above comment from AMERICAPHILE QUIS SEPARABIT was left untouched because it was not libellous, and just shows him (I presume) to be a total buffoon.

Mack said...

It certainly does make him look like a buffoon (from a quick glance at his various websites I think it's possible he is suffering from some sort of mental disorder), but I think it also lowers the tone of the debate. Most of the rest of the contributors try to give reasoned arguments for or against a topic and appear to be older than 15.

Anonymous said...

"Anonymous said...

No Irish and no Ulster Scots then? Sounds good to me. Of course, what people do in their own time and at their own expense is up to them."

The Irish language pre-dates the British presence in Ireland, and unfortunately for you, will outlive it too. You should try to come to terms with the fact it's not going to go away. You'll be happier.

Anonymous said...

Since every word of Irish spoken is like another bullet fired in the struggle for Irish freedom it may be that the bilingual signs are presently stacked in General de Chastelan's bunker.