Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Profaning our heritage!

I consider myself a reasonable person but recently I was moved to real anger mixed with sorrow. This was after looking in to a programme "The Tonight Show" which was broadcast on the Tuesday 19th June.

Cartoon in Nós after the TV3 Broadcast
I was shocked at the poisonous and hostile bias displayed by one of the presenters, Ivan Yates, to the popular broadcaster Blaithnaid Ní Chofaigh before she had even opened her mouth. He fired a gratuitous insult, perhaps racial, which even if she was a language activist, and I would question that, would be deemed unacceptable. She is in fact a professional and successful broadcaster who not only uses her own language - which she has from the cradle - but also in a second language, English. I doubt that Mr Yates or his co-presenter could do that. Indeed, after viewing Tuesday's performance, I would be loath to dignify him, or indeed his co-presenter, who displayed a lamentable ignorance of the subject but without the vitriol, with the description "professional." I seem to recall that two others lost their positions within the last twelve months for remarks not dissimilar to those of Mr Yates though not directed at people who speak Irish. The really sad thing is that their employers, TV3, seem unable to recognise this.

An other though that occured to me is that the same Mr Yates in a previous life was a senior Government Minister. Is this perhaps symptomatic of the experience of Gaeltacht peoples and those who wish to conduct business using our National Language when a Government minister holds such ignorant and hostile opinions towards his fellow citizens. Does he not understand as did the great Michael Collins, that "until we have it (Irish) again on our tongues and in our minds we are not free?"

Blaithnaid who behaved with laudible equanimity during the programme shared a heartfelt twitter on the following morning: "An deacair glactha leis na maslaithe ó aréir #cearta #ligliom"*. Later that day she commented, "‘Cultural terrorist’ I will add this to a long list of prejudicial, racist and sexist comments thrown at me over the years. #tv3tonight."

I have been reading a book on experiences in Nigeria fifty years ago and came across the following words from a young poet, John Ekwere - who may or may not have died in the terrible civil war there.

Is not this an uncomfortable echo of the words our first president, "We have thrown away with a light heart the best claim which we have upon the world's recognition of us as a separate nationality."  Or indeed of words of Ireland herself as envisioned by the poet Pearse, "Great my shame: My own children that sold their mother....Great my sorrow: That crowd, in whom I placed my trust, decayed."

It might perhaps be instructive for Mr Yates and his ilk to ponder on the words of our current President only two short days ago (25th June 2018), “we should not have to make apologies or excuses for any services that are created for the Irish language or through the medium of Irish”.

* Very difficult to receive the insults last night #rights #letme

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