Sunday, October 14, 2012

Adams modestly hits the nail on the head!

A correction to Miriam Lord, a backhanded compliment for Enda Kenny and a short exposition of his philosophy on speaking Irish.

The following appeared in Miriam Lord's inestimable column in the Irish Times (Dáil Sketch 10/10/2012):
    "..Gerry doesn’t like people criticising him for trying to improve his Irish on the floor of the Dáil. He particularly doesn’t like sketch writers drawing attention to his efforts to speak the first language during Leaders’ Questions. In fact he went out of his way to point this out in no uncertain terms to this particular writer during a recent encounter in the corridors. We should be “encouraging” him, was Gerry’s view. It’s “lazy journalism”, he sulked..."
Image: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland
She was talking about Gerry Adams, President of Sinn Féin, who is possibly responsible for more Irish being spoken, albeit sometimes not perfect Irish, in the Dáil Chamber certainly in the past fifty years. Indeed he is possibly the person responsible for the most Irish being spoken in either chamber of the Oireachtas since the late Pól Ó Foigheal was a senator. Hopefully he will be eclipsed by some other deputies and senators, especially those whose mother tongue it is!

However back to the case in point. Mr Adams it appears read Ms Lord's column (don't we all?) and chose to take issue in a well reasoned response which I reproduce in full here:

    A chara, – 
    I am a fan of Miriam Lord. I enjoy her colour pieces and admire her writing skills. I do take issue with her, however, on the matter of Irish in the Dáil (Dáil Sketch, October 10th). 
    For the record I did not ask her to encourage me. I put it to her in a perfectly reasonable way that she should be encouraging the use of Irish in the Dáil. I think all of us should do that. And not only in the Dáil. And not only during Seachtain na Gaeilge. 
    It is a matter of puzzlement to me that Oireachtas members with much more Irish than me do not speak the language more often in the chamber. Of course the English language media generally does not use the Irish language contributions. So maybe that is the reason why many TDs, including Ministers, use only English. 
    The Taoiseach is the exception. He will respond to questions in Irish though his answers are no clearer or informative than his responses in English. Ach sin scéal eile. 
    For my part in my modest way I use Irish whenever I can. With my Sinn Féin colleagues and other Oireachtas members. In my everyday life. With my family and friends. That is what language is for. So, I will continue in my humble way to put questions in Irish to our Taoiseach. I encourage other TDs and Seanadóirí to do likewise. This is not a competition. Everyone who has Irish should use it. Everywhere. 
    – Yours, etc, 
     GERRY ADAMS TD, Sinn Féin President, Kildare Street, Dublin 2.

As someone myself, it has always been a "puzzlement" to me to how people, including those whose cardle language it is, choose not to use it in public fora. I feel this letter from one of our political leaders gives a philosophy of use which is sadly lacking in virtually all public figures in whatever walk of life, political, eclesiastical, business, or academic etc.

Adams has hit the nail on the head. "Everyone who has Irish should use it. Everywhere."

As the old saying has it "Beatha teanga í a labhairt!"

• Féach ar seo chomh maith (Look at these too!)
No Irish for the Irish Parliament - An Sionnach Fionn
In praise of Gerry Adams and the Fáinne - Slugger O'Toole

1 comment:

  1. "Mr Adams it appears read Ms Lord's column (don't we all?)."