Yes, yes, yes – time for sex education and free contraceptives

It’s time for free contraception and more sex education

The referendum held in Ireland last Friday to repeal the eight amendement of Bunreacht na hÉireann resulted in a resounding victory for the pro-repeal side. The unassailable size of the victory means that there is no argument left to quibble that people in Ireland were opposed to abortion. The people have not spoken, they have bellowed!

A thorough victory for the Yes side

It was a stunning victory. No one saw it coming. Due to how highly emotive an issue abortion is, many people, including myself, imagined that the result would be much closer. It seemed that both campaigns were highly organised and vocal. It was also pretty obvious that the national media were supporters of repealing the amendment and had been for a long time.

So now the deed is done and there is no turning back. Abortion will be permitted in Ireland (or at least the independent part of Ireland).

OK kids, do you know how babies are made…?

There would no need for abortions if people didn’t get pregnant in the first place (duh! that’s obvious you say). It means that people need to start to learn about sex, contraception, and pregnancy from the age of 13 when puberty begins. It could be general sex education at the start and then it would become more explicit each year. By the age of 16 there should be no holding back on sex education. It needs to be clear, realistic and practical. Along with education, free contraceptives should be provided by the state up until the age of 25. Perhaps even until an older age. Young people in school and third-level colleges should be constantly told to take responsibility for their sexual health and use contraception. If they don’t want to become parents at a young age then they should be taking precautions. Women should take the pill and men should wear condoms. Other methods of contraception can be used. They should only be having sex when they want and with whom they want. If problems happen women can use the morning after pill.

If strong sex and contraception education along with free contraceptives were provided then there would be less abortions happening. There would be less crisis pregnancies which is the main reason for women to have abortions.

The North is next

On a different note related to the abortion, there can be no doubt that the resounding victory in the Republic of Ireland means that it will spur on the campaign for abortion to be made legal in the north of Ireland. If women from the north go to Dún Dealgan or Baile Átha Cliath for abortions, instead of Britain, it will encourage the move towards abortions being made legal in the north. Women would find it easier and cheaper to travel south by car or by train rather than flying or getting a ferry to Britain. Already political parties and pro-abortion campaigns are gearing up to push the issue. They feel rightly that they have a strong wind in their sails. No doubt it will be fought tooth and nail by conservatives who are opposed to abortion.

An interesting development will be to see if conservative Catholics will ally with conservative Protestants in opposing the move for abortion in the north. There are Catholics in the six counties who would ally themselves with the DUP to oppose abortion. If the DUP could get over their dislike of Catholicism and become more accepting of Irishness, then they could attract conservative Catholics who agree with the DUP’s anti-abortion stance. This is a huge expectation and unlikely to happen considering the DUP’s long history of being opposed to Irish culture and the Catholic Church. Time will tell.

OMG! Irish is still suitable for Ireland, please God

Lastly, on a completely different matter but still related to the abortion referendum, the latter might have caused an unexpected and unintentional consequence.

One man I spoke to recently about this topic said that if the yes side won and abortion is permitted in Ireland then the Irish language will no longer be suitable for the new Ireland. Huhhh??? Say what?

His claim is that as there are so many phrases with religious themes in them in the Irish language then the new Ireland with abortion on demand will not be a place for such a language. Go bhfóire Dia orainn!

OMG! I had never thought of that. God knows why. Heavens above, surely the same would happen to English. There isn’t a soul in Ireland who doesn’t use some religious-themed phrases. Please God, they will continue to use them otherwise Ireland might become a Godforsaken land. I don’t think that my despondent commentator is in seventh heaven about Ireland’s fall from grace as they believe that it is gospel truth that the Irish language cannot survive without the benediction of religion flowing through it.

Raiméis! The Irish language will always be suitable for Ireland. As there is no other country in the world where Irish is spoken and used, if Ireland isn’t suitable for its own language, then nowhere is.

The English language has many phrases derived from Christianity and people continue to use them despite abortions being preformed in almost every Anglophone country such as the USA, Britain, Canada, Australia etc.

That claim about religion and the Irish language is more concerned about Christianity and religion than about the Irish language. The Irish language is older than Christianity by a few centuries. I am sure my ancestors 2,200 years ago survived fine without Christian phrases. They probably had words and phrases for their own beliefs which are sadly mostly unknown.

It is all over for now

I am sure most people are glad that the campaign to repeal the eight amendment is over. Time will tell how its repeal will affect Ireland and if the number of abortions will increase. It will be a sad victory for the No side if it emerges in a few years’ time that the number of Irish women who have abortions has gone up. They did warn that it will happen and the pro-repeal side denied it. No one knows but if my suggestions for sex education and free contraceptives are implemented, then there would be less need for terminations of pregnancies.

abortion, contraceptions, Gaeilge, Ireland, Irish language, no, OMG, pregnancies, referendum, repeal the 8th, sex education, terminations, victory, voting, yes

Continue Reading

Unionists and an Irish language act

This week the negotiations to re-establish an Executive between Sinn Féin and the Democratic Unionist Party failed. The reason why it failed was the unwillingness of the latter to accept an Irish-language act.

During the week I listened to the Stephen Nolan show on BBC Radio Ulster. Listening to the commentators, particularly unionist representatives such as David McNarry and Jim Allister, saddened me. They were very opposed to an Irish-language act. McNarry claimed that he would remove any roadsign in Irish if it was put up at the bottom of his road. What would annoy him so much about a road sign with the name of the area in its original form?

Sinn Féin agus an Ghaeilge?

Unionists believe that Sinn Féin is trying to impose the Irish language on them. They should be so lucky. Sinn Féin cannot be trusted with the Irish language. Neither the new president nor the vice-president of the party, Mary Lou McDonald and Michelle O’Neill respectively, speak Irish. Jim Allister was correct to point out that when a question was asked in Irish of them, neither of them could answer it. The late Martin McGuinness could not speak Irish. If the Irish language was so important to these figures they would have learned Irish a long time ago and they would speak and use the Irish language as often as possible. The Irish language is not a priority for Sinn Féin.

When the Irish Republican Army announced that its war was over in 2005, a video was released to announce it. The person in the video who read the statement declaring that the war was finished was Séanna Breathnach, a former prisoner and respected member of the IRA. But what language did he announce the declaration in? English! This is very surprising as Séanna Breathnach later became the director of An Roinn Chultúir of Sinn Féin. His task was to promote the Irish language in the party. He failed when issuing a very important statement.

An Irish-language act was promised in the St. Andrew’s Agreement back in 2006. Sinn Féin entered government with the DUP in 2007. The fact that it was in government for ten years until early 2017 and never pressed the British government nor the northern executive about making a reality of the promise for an Irish-language act shows that it was not a priority for Sinn Féin. It might have been expected that they would try to seek its introduction after one or two years of power-sharing. They never bothered.

These examples above say everything about what unionists need to know about Sinn Féin and their commitment to the Irish language.

That said Sinn Féin is the party that uses Irish the most along with Fianna Fáil and the Comhaontas Glas who also use the Irish language regularly. None of these parties have a monopoly on the Irish language. They use it as part of their vision for Ireland. It is nothing more than that.

The Irish language will supposedly erode the Britishness of Northern Ireland

One of the main complaints of unionists is that the Irish language would diminish the Britishness of Northern Ireland. There are a few things to be said about that.

Firstly the name of the state they are in is the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The name says it all. The kingdom is not just British, but partially Irish as well, so why shouldn’t there be some reflection of Irish identity and culture in a British and Irish kingdom?

Secondly, the Irish language is never going to challenge the English language. The number of Irish speakers is tiny compared to the number of speakers of English around the world. They can’t be compared. The number of English speakers in Ireland is 6.4 million. That is about 1.5% of the total number of English speakers worldwide. If everyone in Ireland spoke Irish, the loss of six and half million speakers of English would not harm the English language in the slightest. Unionists seem to seriously overestimate the power of the Irish language.

Thirdly, in the past, unionists had no problem using the Irish language. The unionists of Bangor happily used the Irish name of the town on the crest for the town. Who stuck a gun to their head to force them to do that? Did they feel that they were eroding the Britishness of the town by using Beannchor on the town crest? Obviously not or otherwise they would not have done it.

Another thing to mention with regard to Britishness is that some people conflate Englishness with Britishness. England and its language is only one part of Britain, albeit the largest part of Britain. The other nations and language of Britain – Kernow (Cornwall) and its language, Cymru (Wales) and its language, and Alba (Scotland) with its two languages, Gaelic and Scots, are all equally British, but not English. At one point there were other identities in Britain including a Norse language spoken on the Shetland Islands. They were more Scandinavian than British. So why is it then that when a native language to Ireland is promoted, it is deemed to be a threat to the Britishness of Northern Ireland which is not British in the first place.

The Anglocentric approach to British-Irish relations smothers the other identities of Britain and Ireland. England’s power and language smothered the identities and power of its neighbours. Any talk of Britishness that speaks only of Englishness is nonsense.

What if someone else promoted the Irish language act?

Unionists are opposed to the Irish-language act as it is Sinn Féin demanding it in the bilateral negociations between Sinn Féin and the DUP. I have no doubt that if it was demanded by some other party their reaction would be different. If the British Queen said “I would like everyone in Northern Ireland to speak and use the Irish language”, I am sure that the unionists would be more relaxed about the Irish language.

A claim by unionists is that Sinn Féin politicised the language. This is incorrect – it was politicised  long before that. The Irish language was banned by the English rulers of Ireland for the best part of the last millenium. The real fear was that if the Irish language was used or allowed to be used, it would make Irish the English settlers in Ireland. That is exactly what happened so the English had to ban it. Support for the Irish language was removed by the unionist government of the north from 1922 onwards. It is nonsense therefore to talk about one party politicising the Irish language. It would never have become a political issue had measures not been taken to suppress it. Do unionists complain about the British Conservative party politicising the Welsh language as they were the party that introduced the Welsh Language Act in 1993?

Ulster Scots is spoken by all

There is an idea abroad that if the Irish language is given official support well then the Ulster-Scots language should also be supported. The idea is that the Irish language is the domain of nationalists and Ulster-Scots is the language of unionists. Again this is a silly reading of the situation. Everyone in the north speaks Ulster Scots. It is wrong to associate it with unionists alone. I know from living and studying in Béal Feirste in 2005 that everyone spoke English in a particular kind of way. The pronunciation and vocabulary was different to mine. I heard words such as scundered, afeared, aye, weans etc. that I never heard before. It was clear that everyone, nationalists and unionists spoke in this way. Would unionists oppose an Ulster-Scots Act if it was also demanded by Sinn Féin? Gerry Adams is an Ulster-Scot as Adams is a Scottish name. He grew up speaking Ulster-Scots in his native city of Béal Feirste. Would unionists oppose Ulster-Scots if a native Ulster-Scot like Gerry Adams supported it? I think that they would rue the day that they started making arguments for the support of Ulster-Scots if Gerry Adams became a champion of his dialect.

Advocates of the Irish-language act may win the battle but lose the war

My fear is that those who advocate for an Irish-language act will win the battle, but lose the war. An act might be passed by the Northern Assembly but it would mean that many unionists will be furious about it. Would it not be better to reach out to unionists about the Irish language and let them approach it on their own terms? I have no doubt that unionists would take to the Irish language like a duck to water. If unionists were neutral or in favour of the Irish language, then an Irish-language act would be more successful.

We should allow unionists to approach the Irish language on their own terms rather than impose it upon them. They would have plenty of reasons to like the Irish language and feel connected to it. For example, many unionists feel an affinity to the British royal family. They say that they are loyal to the British crown. Perhaps they would be delighted to learn that Queen Elizabeth I of England created the Gaelic font for the books in the Irish language. I cannot think of anything more British than the British royal family.

If David McNarry says that he would take down signs in Irish on his road, would unionists in Bangor, one of the most unionist towns in Ireland, take down the Bangor town crest? The unionists of the area used the Irish name of town, Beannchor, on the town crest. It seems strange to me that such a unionist area would do so – unless they felt some affinity to the Irish language. Mr. McNarry might have second thoughts about Irish-language signs when he realises that unionists like him have gladly used the language for signs for their towns.

The Red Hand Commando, an unionist terror organisation, uses the Irish language in its motto – An Lamh Dearg Abu. Properly it should be spelled An Lámh Dhearg Abú but I won’t complain. Why did an unionist terror organisation chose to use an Irish symbol, the red hand, and a motto in the Irish language as their symbols and name? This would seem a bit odd. Perhaps not when we know from history that unionists like the Irish language when they can approach the language on their own terms.

It would be better for the Irish language to have more supporters rather than more enemies. It would be better if at worst unionists were neutral about the Irish language and at best that they would love the Irish language.

Linda Ervine and Gordon McCoy are doing sterling work in promoting the Irish language in east Béal Feirste. They are unionists but they are not so narrow-minded to despise the Irish language. They see the value of the language in helping them understand their area and the links between Ireland and Britain, Scotland in particular.

It is going to happen

There will be some kind of Irish-language act. Perhaps it might not be a single act but in a range of legislation to produce the same result. As commentators such as Éamonn Mallie has said, nationalists in the north will not accept anything less. The reason is not because there is a sudden surge in the number of Irish speakers but because nationalists want to respected and have their Irish identity recognized. There is nothing more Irish than the Irish language, so if the unionists can’t accept the Irish language being used by the state, they are sending a message to nationalists that they are neither equal nor welcome in the British and Irish kingdom.

Another thing to indicate why an Irish-language act is that the Irish language is alive in every part of Ireland. There are currently two jurisdictions in Ireland. There is legislation for the Irish language in place in the republic. There are currently efforts underway to bring in legislation for the Irish language in the north. If each of the 32 counties were different jurisdictions in Ireland, there would have to be Irish-language acts in each of these county jurisdictions. In some counties the legislation would be very strong such as in counties Galway and Donegal, whereas in other it would be weaker, county Laois for example. It is ironic that the most unionist county in Ireland, county Antrim, is also the county in Ulster, after Donegal, with the second-largest amount of Irish speakers. So unionists in Antrim would have to legislate for the Irish language in the bastion of unionism. That shows how much the Irish language is part of Irish life.

Acht Gaeilge, Gaeilge, Ireland, Irish, language rights, Northern Ireland, unionists

Continue Reading

Ba chóir do na páirtithe móra in Éirinn iarrthóirí a chur sa bhfothoghchán i dTír Eoghain Thiar

Ós rud é go bhfuil Barry McElduff tar éis éirí as bheith mar fheisire do Thír Eoghain Thiar, eagrófar fothoghchán chun a chomharba a thoghadh. Tá féidearthachtaí ann do pháirtithe eile dá dtapóidís an deis.

Bheadh sé go maith dá rachadh na trí pháirtí móra eile in Éirinn .i. Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil agus Páirtí an Lucht Oibre in iomaíocht sa bhfothoghchán sin chun dúshlán Shinn Féin a thabhairt. Déanann siad gearán nach fiú d’fheisirí de chuid Shinn Féin bheith tofa mar ní fhreastalaíonn na feisirí de chuid Shinn Féin ar fheis na Breataine (agus an ceart ar fad acu).

Tugann Fine Gael the United Ireland Party orthu féin. Tugann Fianna Fáil an Páirtí Poblachtánach orthu féin. Toisc an drochriocht atá ar Pháirtí an Lucht Oibre ar na saolta seo, bheadh sé go maith dó aontú lena chomhpháirtí, an SDLP. Seo deis iontach dóibh uile rud nua a dhéanamh agus a dtiomantas d’Éire aontaithe a léiriú go soiléir.

Ní móide go dtarlóidh sé

Cé gur smaoineamh den scoth é, ní móide go dtarlóidh sé ós rud é go bhfuil na trí pháirtí sin sásta leis an riocht atá ar pholaitíocht na hÉireann. Dá má rud é go raibh orthu dul san iomaíocht sna sé chontae, bheadh athrú poirt ann agus bheadh orthu a meon faoin tuaisceart a athrú. Ní bheadh siad in ann gearán a dhéanamh faoi Shinn Féin chomh héasca sin ós rud é go mbeadh siad ag seasamh ar an dóigh chéanna sna toghcháin ó thuaidh is mar a sheasann Sinn Féin agus an SDLP.

an Lucht Oibre, Barry McElduff, Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, Sinn Féin, Tír Eoghain Thiar

Continue Reading

Trying to convince unionists to be in a wannabe British state will never succeed

Unionists will never want to be part of a wannabe British state

The debate over an Irish language act and the deadlock that it has caused to the political institutions in Northern Ireland made me reflect on the use of the Irish language in the Irish state and in a future All-Ireland republic.

Eliminate Irish language = impressing unionists

A prevailing school of thought in Ireland is that unionists despise the Irish language so that in reaching out to them, little or no effort should be made to use the Irish language as it will annoy them. The same viewpoint advocates removing the Irish language’s official status in a future all-Ireland state in order to convince unionists to accept that state and feel at home in it. The thinking is that the unionists will dislike the Irish language in the new state so therefore the Irish state should not use the Irish language. What is the point of there being an Irish state if there is nothing Irish about it?

While there is no doubt as to the deep hostility many unionists have towards the Irish language, not all do. Likewise their dislike of the Irish language is often based on who is associated with it (Sinn Féin and other republican parties) rather than a specific dislike of the language itself. That said, many unionists are unfamiliar with the Irish language so it is never clear how well-thought out the hostility to the Irish language is.

Linda Ervine’s Turas project in Skainos and Gordon McCoy in the Ultach Trust are doing capital work in promoting the Irish language amongst the unionist community. The runaway success of their projects is proof that unionists, when exposed to the Irish language, do not feel hostility to the language but feel a connection to it. The Irish language allows them to learn more of their history, their names, the placenames all around them and the connections between Ireland and Britain.

So then why do some people advance the idea that unionists can only be won over by Ireland eliminating the Irish language in a future all-Ireland state?

Let us thrash this out a bit:

People who identify themselves as British and actually live in the British state are never going to be convinced to vote to live in a wannabe British state.

Some people think that unionists will be won over and impressed by an Irish state that aims to be a wannabe British state. They claim that because English is the main language of Ireland, the Irish parliament is based on Westminister, that Ireland and the UK have the same legal system, common law, and still have some laws in common dating from British rule in Ireland, and the common travel area make it more appealing to unionists to want to be citizens of the Irish state.

The people who advocate this approach seem to be missing the point. They will never win unionists over as psychologically this does not work! People who identify themselves as British and who already live in the British state are not going to vote for a crappier version of the British state. Ireland will never match the UK in terms of its Britishness and its history, both good and bad. Unionists are not going to budge by offering them a poor version of their own state.

What needs to be offered is an Irish state that has its own distinct and confident identity. This can be done both by using the Irish language and by having a distinct political identity as a republic with a prospect of every citizen being able to participate in decision making. Unionists won’t want to live in a wannabe British state but they might find an Irish state with a strong identity and not trying to be a poor imitator of another state a more attractive prospect.

The reason why the Scottish independence referendum failed

I have a hunch that this is the reason why the Scottish independence referendum of 2014 failed. No doubt the independence campaign organisations (Yes Scotland etc.) had done much research to learn how best to sell the message of an independent Scotland to voters but I get the feeling that voters were not convinced that the change to become independent was worth the effort if the changes were going to be small. A minor independence is never as convincing as a full blast independence. The approach taken in 2014 was that Scotland would have the same queen as the UK and it would keep using sterling as its currency and the BBC would be still be available.

Perhaps if the independence campaigns had declared that they wanted Scotland to be an independent republic, that it was going to leave the Commonwealth, have its own currency, its own broadcasting services and that they didn’t care if people could not see Coronation Street or East Enders anymore as Scotland will make its own bloody soap operas, then people would have been convinced that the effort to become independent was worth it.

Offering people a crappier version of the state they live in is not a way to win them over.

Begging people to like you does not work

Begging people to like you by telling them that you will do whatever they want is a sure sign of a lack of confidence and respect. It is repulsive to people.

If Irish nationalists approach unionists with an attitude of “just tell us what you want and we will do it”, then they will lose respect and not inspire anyone.

A little bit of romance…

Imagine a man who likes a woman. He tries to be with her but she is not interested. Therefore he takes to begging to win her affections. “Please tell me what you want me to be like. Tell me how you want me to be. I will do whatever you like.”

His chances with the woman are slim and none. The reason is that he is displaying a lack of confidence and respect for himself. No one likes that. People are impressed by confidence.

So imagine nationalists saying to unionists “Tell us what you want us to be and we will do it. Tell us what you want us to do.” While this might seem logical or reasonable, the reptilian part of unionists’ brains would tell them that the Irish state’s leaders were cowards and had no confidence and respect for themselves. Why would a unionist want to live in a state that was cowardly and would throw away one of the most important parts of its identity, the Irish language? If the Irish state would do that, what else would it throw away? Political sovereignty? Economic sovereignty (which already happened in 2011)? Natural resources? Neutrality? Territory?

People like people with a backbone. If nationalists act like they do not have a backbone and would do anything to win unionists over by jettisoning all traces of Irishness, then unionists are not going to be impressed or attracted to an Irish state that has cowardly abondoned its main raison d’etre.

If all Ireland aims to be is to be a poorer imitation of England, Ireland will never achieve much.

Unionists might vote to be part of an Irish state but if so, they would want it to be a strong and wealthy state. Ireland will never achieve much if all it aims to be is a poorer version and imitator of England. It would be like claiming as an athlete that you only ever wanted to win a bronze medal at the Olympics. England and the UK can win golds but Ireland is happy to just get a bronze medal.

Unfortunately, this attitude influences many people in important areas of Irish life including in business, the media, academia and in politics. There is a feeling that Irish things should be based on how things are done in Britain. This means then that the Irish language is not allowed a place in television shows, in shops and other businesses, in political life, in academic conferences etc. The public service in Ireland often bases itself on how things are done in Britain. Why not do things in an original Irish way using the Irish language?

This would mean that Ireland would steer its own course in the world and would have a distinct identity with big ambitions rather than just being a pale shadow of Britain. Unionists would prefer an Irish state with such an identity rather than an Irish state trying to be a wannabe British state.

These three things are connected. Bending over backwards to eliminate the Irish language and other aspects of Irish identity and emphasising British features of the Irish state will never convince unionists to leave the British state they already live in. Lacking pride and confidence in Ireland’s identity would leave unionists unimpressed with sycophantic moves to win them over. Lastly, a country without a distinct identity and pride in their identity is going to find it difficult to do well. No one wants to live in such a state.

The Irish language is the key to unity

While the Irish language might be causing political problems at present, it could be the thing that brings unionists towards the idea of voting for an all-Ireland republic. This is a subject that should be studied by political leaders, political analysts, activists and civil servants.

All-Ireland republic, Britishness, convincing, Irish language, nationalists, persuasion, republicans, UK, unionists

Continue Reading

The age of the Irish language

The continued log jam of the political system in the north of Ireland is as a result of the need or not for an Irish-language act. The main unionist party, the DUP, refuse to accept that an Irish-language act should be passed. Their opponents, Sinn Féin, insist that an Irish-language act should be implemented. It is the main obstacle that prevents an agreement being reached.

The political impasse has given rise to much debate in the letters’ page of various newspapers. Recently, a reader of the Newsletter newspaper, a conservative unionist journal, wrote to say that the Irish language had been launched in 1943.

Sinn Fein using the Irish language not as a cultural initiative but to divide society

Leave aside the fact that the dialects of Irish Gaelic are merely descendants of the language spoken by the Iberian Celt blow ins who only invaded us as lately as around 500 BC.

Leave aside the fact that since the island was inhabited for thousands of years before it can hardly claim to be our original tongue.

What cannot be left aside is that Sinn Fein’s call for an ‘Irish’ language act is based on a transparent and cynical political fiction. The very concept of an Irish language is an wholly political construct.

It was launched in a RTE radio speech in 1943 (Language and the Irish nation) when De Valera said that to be recognised as a nation Ireland must have its own national language.

Given the experience of the likes of the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand using English that seems questionable.

Anyway, he went ahead, gathered up the different dialects into standard ‘Irish’.

He made its teaching in schools mandatory as was speaking it for employment in teaching, police or civil service. The employment policy largely failed and was abandoned in the 1970s.

Interesting to note that a man in the Republic recently had a demand for his trial in court to be conducted in ‘Irish’ rejected.

Sinn Fein’s language act demand here is not a cultural initiative but an attempt to waste more money, gum up the works, further divide society and discriminate against non ‘Irish’ speakers.

It should be resisted not only for those reasons but because as soon as it’s implemented another red line, sticking point demand will be waiting to make sure Northern Ireland remains permanently ungovernable.

Davy Wight,


There is much about the letter that I find annoying but the claim that really stuck in my craw, or got on my wick to use an Ulster phrase, was the nonsense about the Irish language being launched in 1943.

My response

I sent the following letter to the Newsletter to eliminate any idea that the Irish language was only launched in 1943.

I read Davy Wight’s letter claiming that the Irish language was launched in 1943 (‘SF language bid to divide society,’ Oct 9).

Perhaps he meant it as a joke but unfortunately, I have the feeling that he was not trying to be funny.

The Irish language has been spoken in Ireland for give or take 2,500 years. No one is sure what language was spoken before that as no records from that time exists. Mr Wight makes this point when he called it “the language spoken by the Iberian Celt blow-ins who only invaded us as lately as around 500 BC.”

It is worth mentioning that at that time 2,500 years ago what was to become the English language was a German dialect spoken somewhere between the present Netherlands and Denmark. English did not become the English language until the 430s when the Jutes, Angles and Saxons began moving to Britain. It is interesting that the Germanic blow-ins to Celtic Britain only invaded that land 1,600 years ago – about nine hundred years after the Gaelic speaking people settled in Ireland.

Not only is the Irish language the best part of a millennium older than English, the latter language was not spoken in any large measure in Ireland until the 1400s and did not become the main language of Ireland until the 1860s, having gained its dominant position by over a million Irish speakers dying due to famine and more than a million emigrating.

If Mr Wight would like clear, unimpeachable proof that the language was called Irish, he need look no further than an Irish language primer that was presented to Queen Elizabeth I. It is divided in three parts: an introduction in English; an account in Latin of the antiquity of the Irish race and language; and a description of the Irish alphabet, with a small collection of Irish words and phrases with parallel translations in Latin and English.

The introduction makes clear that it was prepared for Elizabeth I at her request.

In the many Irish dictionaries published from the early 1700s onwards, the compilers called the native language of Ireland Irish. That would seem strange if the language was not launched until 1943.

Mr Wight claims it was Éamon de Valera who amalgamated many dialects to create a language. He may be confusing that for laying out an official standard for writing. Many languages, including German, Spanish, Italian, have official written standards that vary from the spoken word. None of these languages were created from thin air like Esperanto when the official written standards were compiled. The languages existed long before the written standards were laid down. It should also be noted that the official standard for Irish was first published in 1958.

Mr de Valera’s speech in 1943 was to commemorate the founding fifty years earlier of Conradh na Gaeilge, whose first president was Douglas Hyde, the son of a Church of Ireland minister. De Valera dealt with many aspects of the Irish language in what is a rather long speech.

Some of it chimes with Mr. Wight’s thoughts – “The Irish language spoken in Ireland today is the direct descendant without break of the language our ancestors spoke in those far off days. A vessel for three thousand years of our history, the language is for us precious beyond measure. As the bearer to us of a philosophy, of an outlook on life deeply Christian and rich in practical wisdom, the language today is worth far too much to dream of letting it go.”

I will finish by correcting another claim that Mr Wight made in his letter. Éamon de Valera did not make the teaching of Irish mandatory in schools. That decision was made by the Provisional Government in 1922. Historians claim that it was Ernest Blythe, a County Antrim Protestant, who was the minister who made the most effort to promote Irish.

It was he, as minister for finance, who launched many of the rules regarding compulsory Irish in the civil service and in education.

I hope that this letter has educated Mr Wight and others who might not know much about the history of the Irish language.

Is mise,

Seanán Ó Coistín,



Read more at:

I like to believe that response was clear, respectful, informative and factual leaving no one in any doubt as to the antiquity of the Irish language. Much more could have been written about the Irish language and its achievements.

Positive responses

The day that the letter was published in the Newsletter, I received messages on Facebook from people who I do not know but who took the time to search for me and compliment me on the letter. It was very kind of them to do so.

Seanan, a chara,

Nil aithne agam ort, ach comhghairdeas ar an litir eirimiúil sa Belfast Newsletter.

Eamon Hanna

(Dear Seanan,

I do not know you, but congratulations on the intelligent letter in the Belfast Newsletter.

Eamon Hanna)

I replied to thank him and said that I like to send letters to the newspapers.

Eamon replied:

Nos usaideach! Ta an meid aineolais faoin Ghaeilge anseo sa Tuaisceart naireach.

(A useful habit! The amount of ignorance about the Irish language here in the North is shameful.)

Another man contacted me the same day. He wrote simply:

Excellent letter in the News Letter, sir.

When I asked him how he found me, he wrote:

Yes, just typed your name in the search bar. Yes, I knew a fair bit about the history of the language but certainly not to the extent that your letter brings out. I was fortunate in that I spent many happy summers in the Gaeltachts of Gaoth dobhair when I was a lot younger.

I wouldn’t be surprised if you hear from others. It will be interesting to see and read what counter arguments, if any, the News Letter publishes in the coming days. I’d expect the “usual suspects” are frantically trying to come up with something to discredit, politicise and deflect from your excellent analysis.

One of my colleagues sent me a message on WhatsApp to say:

An-litir a Sheanáin, maith thú

(Fantastic letter Seanán, well done)

Negative responses

So far so good. But then all of a sudden someone I do not know started complaining on Twitter about a certain aspect of my letter.

I was a bit taken aback by the tone of these tweets. At first I thought that they were from a unionist who wanted to thrash my arguments. It turned out that it was a Dutchman, Gaston Dorren, who writes about languages that picked up on my letter and was REALLY annoyed by the idea that a language can be dated and some are older than others.

Curious to find out why he thought like this, I engaged in polite replies to Gaston. His point of view is that languages all develop from a parent language and that they are fluid so it is difficult to say how old a language is. I understand this point but I do not agree with it. I believe that a language can have an approximate age. For Irish it is about 2,500 years. No one is sure when the language first began to be spoken or where it emerged from. There are no records from that time. Perhaps the language evolved from the language already spoken by people in Ireland. There are definite indicators of the influence of a previous language on the Irish language. Perhaps Gaelic speaking people arrived from Britain or from Iberia and conquered Ireland about 2,500 years ago and became the dominant element of Irish society and imposed their language on everyone. It is impossible to tell. All we know from archaeology is that a Celtic people lived in Ireland at this time, therefore they must have been speaking Irish.

In this way we can say Irish is older than most European languages. English only emerged as the English language in the 400s. French only became a distinct language in the 800s. The Latin derived languages of Iberia were still developing about this time. It was not until later that Portuguese, Galician, Castillian, Catalan, Asturian, Leonese became distinct languages. Hungarian did not become Hungarian until the Magyars showed up in central Europe in the late 800s. The Slavs spoke the same language until roughly 1000 when their dialects had become different enough to be considered different languages such as Polish, Russian, Slovene, Bulgarian, Slovak etc.

This is why I am prepared to say that Irish is older than many languages. Irish was the first language to be written in the vernacular as Irish writers started writing in their own language as against Latin or Greek. Irish monks invented the space between words which is the most important Irish invention ever. Ireland is one of only 17 places in the world where an alphabet, ogham, was created. The Greeks and the Romans were the only other Europeans to invent their own alphabet. All of this means that the Irish language was well established and very bisiúil as we say in Irish. Bisiúil means productive.

A happy ending for all

The result of this exchange between Gaston and I was that he wrote a blog posting to explain what happened and his thoughts on the age of languages. Read it here.

To Seanán, on the other hand, whatever he thinks of the above, I’d like to say ‘thank you’ for responding with more civility than I invited.

The upshot for me (and him) was that I discovered more about him and that he wrote a book about languages, Lingo. I bought the book and am enjoying it (though not necessarily agreeing with his analysis of Scottish Gaelic).

age of languages, Celtic, English, Geaeilge, Irish language, languages, Lingo, Newsletter

Continue Reading

German perceptions of Ireland

The Irish Times published a letter of mine regarding German-Irish relations.

A chara, – Derek Scally opines that Ireland is on Germany’s mind and that Germany should be on Ireland’s mind (“Time to rethink our relationship with Berlin and Boston”, Opinion & Analysis, September 25th). Since living in western Germany from the beginning of the year, I have not found that to be the case. In fact, many Germans are blissfully unaware of Ireland besides the clichés of Guinness, Irish whiskey, Kerrygold butter, Irish pop music and singing football fans.

What I have discovered is that many Germans have a very inaccurate image of Ireland. While my German girlfriend was studying in Dublin, some of her friends from home visited her. In preparation for a trip to Ireland, one of my girlfriend’s friends contacted her to say that she was going to the bank and wanted to know how much sterling she should bring with her! When told that the euro is also used in Ireland, the friend said that because Irish people speak English and drive on the left, she thought that we used sterling as well.

The cause of this erroneous perception of Ireland is the fact that English is the main language of Ireland and thus Ireland is viewed as another England. While IDA Ireland and Enterprise Ireland like to go around the world telling everyone that Ireland is an English-speaking country (and this is somehow an economic advantage), it might not be any harm to let people know that Ireland has as its first official language a completely different language to English and that we have been speaking it for give or take 2,500 years. That always takes people’s breath away and lives a bigger impression.

In terms of improving relations with Germany, it would be very wise for Irish people to talk about the outstanding work that German-speaking linguists did in studying the Irish language. Ireland owes a huge debt to Johann Kasper Zeuss (the father of Celtic studies), Ernst Windisch, Kuno Meyer, Heinrich Zimmer and Rudolf Thurneysen. – Is mise,




Then a few days letter came a very nice response to my letter.

Sir, – I read with interest the other day the letter from Seanán Ó Coistín entitled “Germany and Ireland” (October 2nd). In the letter, he seemed surprised that a German friend of his girlfriend should have thought that sterling is a currency used here in Ireland.

Sterling is indeed a currency used here in Ireland – certainly in part of our country! Sterling is the currency used up here in most of my native province of Ulster, the second most populous province in all of Ireland. So, to be fair to his German acquaintance, she was partially correct. – Yours, etc,


St Johnston, Co Donegal.

Of course Mr. Browne is correct, unfortunately sterling is used in the north of Ireland. Had my girlfriend’s friend been visiting Doire or Béal Feirste, then it would have been correct to bring sterling with her.

Celtic studies, Deutschland, English language, EU, euro, Germany, Ireland, Irish Times, perceptions

Continue Reading

Reasons to be cheerful about Brexit

Reasons to be cheerful for Brexit

The following letter was published in The Irish Examiner and in The Leinster Leader. I am of the opinion that in the long run Brexit will actually be beneficial to Ireland. We will be able to move away from Britain politically, economically and culturally. Brexit may cause the breakup of the so-called United Kingdom and hasten Irish reunification.

A chara,

There are many reasons for the people of Ireland to be happy for the UK to leave the EU.

The so-called United Kingdom is no longer united. It is likely that Scotland will become independent in a few years. Ireland should welcome this as it will mean the creation of a friendly neighbouring state with which Ireland has much in common, far more than the existing UK.

When Scotland becomes independent, it will cause many in the north to question their constitutional status and it will bring the unification of Ireland closer. Already there has been a rush for Irish passports, even from people in the unionist community. Who could have imagined Ian Paisley junior encouraging people to get Irish passports?

When the UK leaves the EU, the English language will have a significantly reduced status in the EU. English will be the main language of only six million people, less than Dutch, Hungarian, Romanian, Polish, Portuguese and other languages. Having worked in the European Commission in Luxembourg I have seen that a national language being used inside the corridors of power is far more important for an EU Member State than having its flag flying outside. Ireland is lucky to have Irish as an official language of the EU. Austria, Belgium, Cyprus and Luxembourg are overlooked due to sharing official languages with other Member States. The Irish government would be wise to use Article 8.3 of Bunreacht na hÉireann and declare Irish as the only language it will use when dealing with the EU.

Lastly, the exit of the UK will allow Ireland to improve its independence. For too long Irish businesses exported to the UK and did not expand into other markets on mainland Europe. With the UK out of the single market, Irish businesses can focus on countries in the single market and the euro zone. They will have less bureaucracy and currency differences to overcome by doing business with the EU states rather than with Britain.

Since joining the EEC, the Irish government often let the UK government do the heavy lifting regarding policies and then supported the UK’s positions at the Council of Ministers. With the UK gone, Ireland will have to take clearer positions and contribute more to policy formation. This will increase Ireland’s independence.

Things are looking bright for Ireland.

Is mise,

Seanán Ó Coistín

Continue Reading

Ceol nua Avicii

Albam nua Avicii

Mo thuairim faoi cheol nua Avicii

Déardaoin, 10 Lúnasa, chuir Avicii a albam nua ar fáil agus mé ar gor lena cheol a chloisteáil.

Bhí sé ag cleasaíocht leis an lucht leanúna atá aige ar Instagram le tamall.

Thug sé le fios roimhe go scaoilfear an t-albam nua uaidh ar an 10 Lúnasa.

Gach lá d’fhoilsigh sé mír nua le giota de cheol nua inti ar Instagram chun éachtaint a thabhairt don saol mór cad a bhí le teacht.

Mar sin bhí mé ag súil go mór leis an slam nua amhrán a chloisteáil. Ach ar dtús báire, b’fhéidir gur chóir roinnt eolas a thabhairt faoin gceoltóir áirithe seo.

Cé hé Avicii?

Is é Avicii duine de na DJanna is rathúla agus is cáiliúla ar domhan. Tá fuaim faoi leith ag a chuid foinn. Tá fuaimeanna aibhléiseacha saorga iontu ach tá siad lán de bhuillí spleodracha a chuireann daoine ag damhsa. Tim Bergling is ainm dó agus saolaíodh é in Stócólm na Sualainne é in 1989. Thosaigh sé ag cruthú ceoil nuair a bhí sé 18 mbliana d’aois in a sheomra codlata. Scríobh sé agus athmheasc sé foinn agus d’fhoilsigh sé ar an ngréasán domhanda iad. Chuaigh a cheol go mór i bhfeidhm ar dhaoine agus thug an DJ mór le rá Tiësto cuireadh teacht chuig an gclub Privilege in Ibiza chun seinm ann.

Roghnaigh sé an t-ainm Avicii dó féin. Is éard is is avice ann ná an ciseal is doimhne in infreann dar le Buddaigh agus is ansin a théann daoine a rinne ceann amháin nó níos mó de na 5 Pheacadh Is Measa (amhail dúnmharú).

Chum sé rianta dá chuid féin amhail “Bromance” agus an t-amhrán gleoite “My Feelings for You” in 2010. Ach ba é an fonn “Levels” ó 2011 a chur i mbéal an phobail ar fud an domhain é. Chuaigh an fonn beoga sonrach sin go barr na gcairteacha i ndúrud tíortha agus rinne sé réalt mór ceoil damhsa den stócach seo. Bhí gach duine ag canadh an fhoinn “da na na na na naaa na, naa na na na na na naaa…”.

I dtreo deireadh 2012, d’oibrigh sé le Nicky Romero chun  “I Could Be the One” a chur amach. Amhrán gasta a bhí éasca le canadh ab ea é agus dár ndóigh d’éirigh thar barr leis sna cairteacha agus sna clubanna.

In 2013, chuir sé an t-amhrán “Wake Me Up” amach. Canann Aloe Blacc san amhrán mealltach beoga seo agus d’éirigh leis dul go chuig barr na gcairteacha i mbreis agus 20 tír. Is é an t-amhrán is rathúla a chum sé riamh. Tá an leagan Gaeilge de Wake Me Up ó Choláiste Lurgan ar cheann de na hamhráin Ghaeilge is fearr riamh.

Tá a lán foinn eile churtha amach aige ó shin lena n-áirítear “Waiting for Love”, “A Better Day”, “Hey Brother”, “Broken Arrows”, “You Make Me” agus a lán eile nach iad. Aon duine a bhí i gclub oíche le sé bliana anuas, tá na hamhráin sin cloiste acu.

Cé go raibh sé gnóthach ag cumadh ceoil agus ag seinm ag ceolchoirmeacha ar fud an domhain, bhuail aicíd éigin é agus, faraor, i Márta 2016, d’fhógair sé go mbeadh sé ag éirí as bheith ag seinm ag ceolchoirmeacha le go dtiocfaidh biseach air. Sheinn sé beo den uair dheireanach in Ibiza samhradh anuraidh.

Is mór an trua é nach bhfuil sé ag seinm beo a thuilleadh ach bhí an t-ádh orm é a fheiceáil ag seinm beo. D’fhreastail mé ar a cheolchoirmeacha faoi dhó – i Meitheamh 2012 san O2 i mBaile Átha Cliath agus Iúil 2015 i bPáirc Mharlaí. Bhí slua 15,000 daoine san O2 in 2012 ach bhí 40,000 daoine i bPáirc Mharlaí in 2015.

Bhí siad thar cinn le soilse agus taispeántas den scoth ar an ardán, móide tinte ealaíne ag an deireadh.

Seo fiseán a thaifead mé ag an gceolchoirm i bPáirc Mharlaí nuair a sheinn sé “Levels”.

AVĪCI – an t-albam nua

Bhí áthas orm nuair a cuireadh an ceol nua ar fáil ach baineadh preab asam nuair a chonaic mé nach raibh ach 6 rian air. Nuair a bhí mise níos óige, bheadh 15 nó 20 fonn ar albam. Cad a tharla?

D’éist mé leis na hamhráin ar fad (dáiríre, ní raibh sé ródheacair sin a dhéanamh a laghad a bhí air) agus seo a leanas mo bharúil fúthu.

Is é “Without You” an rian is fearr. Tá sé spleodrach agus tapa agus den déanamh céanna leis na hamhráin mhóra a chum Avicii amhail Levels agus Wake Me Up.

Seo iad na hamhráin ar an albam seo:

Friend of Mine (le Vargas & Lagola)

Tosaíonn sé go mall ach éiríonn sé níos tapúla. Tá fuaim ghiotáir le cloisteáil ag tús an amhráin sula dtosaítear na buillí aibhléiseacha a shleamhnú isteach ann. Cuireann sé go mór leis an amhrán. Tá sé ar nós amhráin eile ó Avicii ach ní hé an ceann is fearr. Críochnaíonn sé measartha tobann.

Lonely Together le Rita Ora

Is breá liom na fuaimeanna doimhne atá ag tús an amhráin sula thosaíonn Rita Ora ag canadh. Tá guth deas aici san amhráin seo. Tá an t-amhrán measartha mall. Níl sé cosúil le hamhráin eile a chum Avicii. Smaoiním air mar amhráin a sheinnfeá ag tús ceolchoirme chun an slua a mhúscailt go réidh.

You Be Love (le Billy Raffoul)

Tosaíonn an t-amhrán seo go han-éadrom. Tá guth suimiúil ag Billy Raffoul. Feabhsaíonn an t-amhrán de réir a chéile agus ansin pléascann an ceol sula moilleann sé arís. Ardaíonn guth Billy Raffoul go mall arís ach ní ardaíonn an ceol leis. Fágtar an t-éisteoir ag feitheamh ar an bpléascadh ceoil. Is mór an trua é mar d’fhéadfadh an t-amhrán a bheith níos spleodraí níos luaithe. Roinnt bhuille tar éis an 3ú nóiméad tagann beocht san amhrán ach ní mhaireann sé rófhada mar chríochnaíonn an t-amhrán ag 3.27 nóiméad. Bheadh an t-amhrán níos fearr dá mbeadh an ceol spleodrach níos luaithe sa bhfonn agus dá maireadh sé ar feadh tamaillín níos faide.

Without You (le Sandro Cavazza)

Seo, gan aon agó, an t-amhrán is fearr ar an albam seo. Tá an rithim, an fhuaim agus glór Sandro Cavazza thar cinn. Is amhrán Avicii den seandéanamh é. Tosaíonn sé go réidh ach go tapa brúchtann an ceol go hard agus go gasta. Canann Sandro Cavazza go bog ag an tús ach nuair a thosaíonn an cúrfa, scaoileann sé an bobailín amach mar dhea. Cuireann sé teann lena ghuth agus spreagann an ceol daoine chun canadh agus damhsa. Tá buillí móra agus rithim ghasta ann chun damhsa a spreagadh. D’fhéadfá slua mór ag féile cheoil a shamhlú ag preabadh agus an t-amhrán seo á gcanadh acu. Is fiú éisteacht leis an amhrán seo arís is arís.

What Would I Change It To (le AlunaGeorge) <a

Tá an t-amhrán seo ar nós popamhrán ó Lily Allen. Cé go bhfuil sé go deas, tá sé i bhfad ró-éadrom dar liom. Ní dhéanfadh sé cúis ag féile cheoil. Bheadh an slua fágtha gan a fhios acu conas damhsa leis an gceol nó gan aon rud le canadh acu.

So Much Better (Avicii Remix)

Tá fuaim agus rithim ait ag an amhrán seo. Tá sé mall agus tá sé cosúil le ceol RnB. Níl mórán den fhuaim aibhléiseach a bheadh duine ag súil leis ó Avicii ann. Dáiríre, ní maith liom é. Mar a thugann teideal an amhráin le fios, d’fhéadadh Avicii amhrán i bhfad níos fearr a dhéanamh.

An tátal

Tá díomá orm faoin “albam” seo. Ar dtús báire, ba chóir go mbeadh i bhfad níos mó rianta air. Ní leor sé rian le go dtabharfaidh albam air.

An dara rud ná nach bhfuil ach dhá amhrán atá thar moladh beirte. Sin iad Without You agus You Be Love. Níl na hamhráin eile cosúil le saothar Avicii go nuige seo. Níl faic cearr le hathrú poirt ach má tá ceoltóir chun foinn nua a chumadh, bheadh sé go maith dá mbeadh siad fiúntach agus taitneamhach. Faraor, ní thig liom a rá go bhfuil na foinn go maith.

Mar sin féin, táim, agus beidh mé, ag éisteach go minic le Without You. Is fonn iontach é atá oiriúnach do chóisrí, d’fhéilte ceoil nó nuair atáthar ag iarraidh do cholainn a fheabhsú sa lúthlann.

Avicii, ceol, ceolchoirm, damhsa, DJ, house, Tim Bergling

Continue Reading

Ireland should not leave the European Union

Irexit – it sounds awful

Recently, the economist Ray Kinsella wrote an article in the Irish Times about why Ireland should seriously consider leaving the European Union. Was he serious??

The sound of the word Irexit sounds awful and the idea is awful. Hopefully it will never happen.

He made some cogent points but did not explain how international companies that want to be in the EU would remain in Ireland.

I took to my keyboard and replied by letter to the Irish Times.

A chara,

Ray Kinsella may try to propose reasons for Ireland to leave the European Union but he failed to explain how Ireland would be better off outside of the EU.

The reason why Ireland had to join the EEC in the first place was because Ireland’s main market, the UK, was also joining and therefore it was essential for Ireland to follow the UK. The UK joined the EEC because it had lost its empire after the second World War and its economy was underperforming. The British were not interested in the EEC for the political reasons that France, Germany and the Benelux countries were, and the UK only wanted to improve its own economy.

The advantage for Ireland was that Ireland joined a large common market and was no longer restricted to the underperforming UK market. This advantage still holds true today. It would be economic suicide for Ireland to leave the world’s largest market to be dependent on the underperforming UK market. Most of the international companies based in Ireland would leave. How does Mr Kinsella propose to replace them?

Mr Kinsella also failed to mention the good that the EU did for Ireland. The EU mandated the Irish government to pay women equally to men; it forces Ireland to improve its environmental behaviour; and it has made Irish one of 24 official languages of the EU.

There are many other positive results of EU membership that could be listed.

What Ireland should be planning with excitement and imagination, rather than dread, is for a new departure in its international relations. Ireland should aim to join the Schengen zone, improve the education curriculum so that Irish students learn at least four languages, and assist Irish companies to export to new markets in the EU and elsewhere.

Mr Kinsella portrays a bleak future for Ireland unless we are aligned with the UK. I think that it will be a much better future aligned with the EU.

Is mise,




Speaking to my father a few days later, he said that he read the letter and thought it was very good. He also said that a friend of his read the letter as well and telephone called my father to say he thought the letter was very good and that he agreed with me.

Brexit, economics, EU, European Union, Ireland

Continue Reading

Unionists know they have to reach out to find new friends

Unionists know their days are numbered

In an article in the Newsletter, there is a perceptible fear arising amongst unionists in Ireland. They know they are being outnumbered and their days as a majority are coming to an end.

ervyn Gibson, Grand Secretary of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland

A speech by the Grand Secretary of the Orange Order at the annual Boyne commemoration in Scotland last Saturday is of major significance for everyone in Ireland – unionists and nationalists. The Reverend Mervyn Gibson of the Orange Order sees the writing on the wall and is now ready to consider the once unthinkable – to reach out to their former enemies and try to form new alliances to save the United Kingdom.

“We need to articulate what it means to be British in a changing United Kingdom. That may mean making strategic alliances with those who we may differ with morally, fiscally or even theologically for the sake of the United Kingdom.”

If one reads between the lines of that statement, it is possible to see future movements to seek allies such as conservative Catholics (who they oppose theogically) who might have anti-abortion views that many Protestants have. I am not sure why they oppose people fiscally but perhaps it could refer to how to tax and spend revenues. Perhaps it means reaching out to left-wing groups who are very unlikely to join them. Morally refers to working with Ruth Davidson, the leader of the Scottish Conservative Party, who is openly lesbian. As traditional Protestants, the Orange Order would not approve of homosexuality but their commitment to the UK is bigger and more important than morals.

How will the Orange Order ditch their anti-Catholicism?

It would be very interesting to see what the Orange Order plan to do and how they will do it. If they need to reach out to Catholics will it mean having to tone down anti-Catholicism and talk more about the cultural aspects of the Orange Order? Will they manage to do it entirely as an organisation or will there be reluctance (to put it mildly) from the more extreme members of the lodges?

Loyalists engaging in rioting and violence

I have a feeling it is not going to be easy for them and probably will not likely succeed in attracting many Catholics to ally with them. Over two hundred and twenty years of nasty anti-Catholic bigotry does not disappear easily nor will it be easily forgotten and forgiven by Catholics. Even Gibson admits in the article that he would not try to introduce divisive changes in the Orange Order by lifting a ban on members attending Catholic ceremonies as he knows how difficult it would be to pass it.

The Orange Order feel the end of the United Kingdom is approaching

Rev. Gibson is worried and senses things are changing. He said:

“The issue of the United Kingdom is too important to be complacent about.”

This would not need to be said unless Gibson felt that the United Kingdom is under stress and maybe cannot hold for much longer. Again, reading between the lines, it is clear that the unionists are not feeling certain about the United Kingdom. They realise that they have to tread carefully and find new people to support the UK.

Catholics will soon form the majority in the north of Ireland

The uncertainty caused by Brexit and the continuous census results showing a growing Catholic majority in the younger age categories of the population are probably the causes of this uncertainty. Northern Ireland was based upon there being an in-built Protestant majority to maintain the status quo but that is no longer certain, and within a generation, Protestants will be a minority in the six-county area that they deliberately engineered to ensure that they would be a majority in.

The writing is on the wall – either some of the Catholics have to be befriended and convinced to become enthusiastic unionists or else there will be no Northern Ireland. Watch this space. It is going to get critical in the next decade.

compromises, Ireland, Mervyn Gibson, minority, new allies, Orange Order, protestant, unionism

Continue Reading