DUP losing battle for Irish-free zone


By Brian Feeney (for Irish News)

To the surprise of no-one the Stormont talks foundered on the DUP’s adamantine refusal to concede an Acht na Gaelige.

As always in politics the real issue is masked by its outward and visible symbol, in this case a language act similar to the one in Wales and Scotland.

Why did the DUP choose to draw a red line excluding this matter when it’s not a problem in the rest of the UK even though that completely undermines their argument?

Simple. When the British government gave unionists the north in 1921 unionists set out to create an Irish-free zone expunging any manifestation of Irishness in place-names, art, public places, personal names.

The effects of this version of ethnic cleansing still remain across the north, nowhere more obvious than in Stormont itself where a visitor from another planet would find no evidence that a being called Irish existed.

To accept an Irish language act would be the admission that this policy, almost a century old, has ended in abject, total failure. It would be an acceptance that the north is part of Ireland and the DUP lives in part of Ireland.

That goes to the heart of the problem here which is identity and allegiance, two versions, one of which has been suppressed.

When Sinn Fein talk about equality it’s not just equality for LGBT people, it’s equality of status and parity of esteem for those with an Irish identity and allegiance. The DUP cannot accept that, which is why they’ve never accepted the thinking behind the Good Friday Agreement. We’re stuck because we’ve reached the nub of the matter.

Partly it’s Sinn Fein’s responsibility for they abased themselves for ten years forlornly hoping that the DUP would come round, recognise the rights of others and accept a modern diverse society. How could they when they spend all their time trashing republicans and Irishness, not to mention climate change, evolution and the modern world.

What will happen now we’re stuck? More talks, that’s what. Direct rule is the road to nowhere: no one wants it and the British government gave up the power to introduce it. They have to consult Dublin and pass legislation. So what if they did?

It won’t solve the problem that’s now isolated. Another election? Followed by guess what? More Talks. So, after a decent pause more talks because the DUP can’t concede anything in the short term because the marching season begins in earnest this weekend. The sensible date is the autumn. After all, the assembly is due to go into recess next week anyway for the Twalf.

More time is also needed to observe the outworkings of the nefarious DUP-Tory deal which looks increasingly as if it’s going to rebound on the DUP like a brick on a rubber band.

Isn’t a delicious irony that the first unlooked for result of the new prominence of the toxic DUP in Britain is yesterday’s decision to fund abortions in England for women travelling from the north?

Thank you DUP. What a lark! The Labour party and the liberal wing of the Conservatives are going to make the DUP pay dearly for the bribe they took by dragging them into the 21st century. Gives a new meaning to the phrase ‘unintended consequences’.

Another consequence should be that if they’d any sense, which unfortunately there’s no indication of, the DUP should be desperate to get into an executive to fend off any more forced modernisation.

Of course that would mean accepting that they have no alternative but to live on equal terms with the rest of people on this island and that’s unthinkable. Hard pounding ahead.

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