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Irish language activism in West Belfast : a resistance to British cultural hegemony Kachuk, Patricia M. C. 1993

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We accept this thesis as conformingto the required standardIRISH LANGUAGE ACTIVISM IN WEST BELFAST:A RESISTANCE TO BRITISH CULTURAL HEGEMONYbyPATRICIA MARY CATHERINE KACHUKB.A., York University, 1981M.A., University of British Columbia, 1987A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OFTHE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OFDOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHYinTHE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIESDEPARTMENT OF ANTHROPOLOGYTHE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIAMarch 1993© Patricia Mary Catherine Kachuk, 1993In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanceddegree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make itfreely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensivecopying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of mydepartment or by his or her representatives. It is understood that copying orpublication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my writtenpermission.(Signature)Department of Anthropology and SociologyThe University of British ColumbiaVancouver, CanadaDate^April 13, 1993DE-6 (2/88)AbstractThis contribution to the understanding of the dynamicsof domination and resistance will focus on the nature anddevelopment of Irish language activism in Belfast, NorthernIreland, and the subsequent response of the British Statewhen faced with this challenge to its cultural hegemony.The research is theoretically framed using Raymond Williams'model of cultural hegemony and James Scott's model ofdisguise and surveillance, and is based on fifteen months ofin-depth fieldwork in Northern Ireland, which I undertookfrom February 13, 1990 to May 10, 1991.It has been argued that not all Irish language activismis revolutionary, but instead, to use Williams' terminology,has both alternative and oppositional ideologies as majorcomponents. While both alternative and oppositional Irishlanguage activists have recovered the Irish language as "aneffective element of the present," and are using it tochallenge the legitimacy of British cultural hegemony inNorthern Ireland, the difference lies in their ultimategoals. Alternative Irish language activists are seeking apermanent space for the Irish language in Northern Ireland,regardless of the political outcome of the present conflict.iiiiiOn the other hand, oppositional Irish language activists,have made the Irish language an integral part of theirstruggle for self-determination.Alternative Irish language activists have focused theirefforts on demanding that the public status of the Irishlanguage be raised, and on building an Irish-mediumeducation system that would be the foundation of a permanentIrish language infrastructure in Northern Ireland.Central to oppositional Irish language activism is thestruggle for the cultural and linguistic rights ofrepublican prisoners. However, the State justifies theshunning of these demands by citing the security risk theymay engender. Oppositional Irish language activists, inparticular Sinn Fein (the political wing of the RepublicanMovement), have adopted a strategy of "encouraging" and" supporting" alternative Irish language groups, thuscreating the a priori appearance of a common goal. SinceSinn Fein does not assume a direct leadership role withinthe Irish language movement, any refusal of the culturaldemands of alternative Irish language activists by theState, can be labelled as discriminatory toward thelegitimate cultural rights of an ethnic minority. Hence,efforts by the State to dismiss the challenge by alternativeIrish language activists by branding it as revolutionary,have been ineffectual.ivBritish cultural hegemony in Northern Ireland, it isargued, is both powerful and vulnerable. The reaction ofthe British State to the challenge of Irish languageactivists has varied, at times with its interpretation ofthe challenge, and at other times seemingly at will. Priorto 1980, attempts were made to exclude the Irish languageand culture from Northern Ireland, branding it as "foreign"and "subversive." Since 1989, the approach of the BritishState has been a re-interpretation of the Irish language andculture into the Northern Ireland context, recognizing it asone of the "two traditions" of the State. This move toneutralize Irish language resistance, while welcomed by manyalternative Irish language activists, has seriously rupturedthe unity of the majority in Northern Ireland. As a result,the British government finds itself at an impasse. Becauseof strong oppositional and alternative Irish languageresistance, the State is prevented from "excluding" Irishlanguage and culture in Northern Ireland, but similarly,differences within influential and dominant groups will notallow the conciliation of Irish language resistance by a"process of incorporation." The stage is thus set for anexamination of the background, growth, and durability of theIrish language movement, juxtaposed with the hegemonicdetermination of a State bent on cultural subjugation, inthe boisterous environment of Northern Ireland.Table of ContentsABSTRACT  ^ii^LIST OF FIGURES   xiiACKNOWLEDGEMENT ^  xiiiCHAPTER 1^ 1I. Research Aim and Questions^ 1II. The Theoretical Framework  ^4A. Gramsci's Concept of "Ideological Hegemony" andthe Thorny Question of "Consent"^ 41. James Scott's Model of Hegemony and Resistance^52. Lears and Roseberry: Hegemony as a "CommonDiscursive Framework"^ 9B. Raymond Williams' Model of Cultural Hegemonyand Counter-Hegemony  ^11C. Understanding Resistance in West Belfast'sIrish Language Activist Community:A Definitional Model  ^161. British Linguistic Hegemony and Irish LanguageResistance: A Definition of Terms ^2. Language: A Symbolic Expression of Resistance . ^a) Language as Ethnic Identityb) Language as Power ^(1) Language and Ethnonationalism: A Tool forEthnic Mobilization ^(2) Language and the State: To Win the Heartsand Minds of the People ^III. The Plan^ 45161923333342viCHAPTER 2^Fieldwork in a Politically TurbulentEnvironment  ^49I. A Terminological Muddle: The Search for PoliticalNeutrality^ 52A. The Actors 52B. The Territory^ 59II. Fieldwork in a Dangerous Environment: Challengeand Survival^ 62A. The Research Setting^ 62B. Negotiating Roles in the Field^ 67C. Ethical Considerations^ 74D. The Problem of Objectivity 78III. Methodology: Data Collectionand Research Techniques^ 82A. Participant/Observation  ^82B. Interviewing^ 85C. Other Research Methods^ 91CHAPTER 3^The Roots of Alternative andOppositional Irish Language Activism 93969696I. The Pre-Eighteenth Century Battle for LinguisticHegemony in IrelandA. The Articulation of the Traditional Gaelic andEnglish Feudal Modes of Production ^1. Inheritance and Property Rights:A Clash of Legal Systems2. The Heart of Gaelic Culture Attacked:The Destruction of the Irish Monasteriesand Bardic Schools^ 1013. The Irish Language Becomes a Class Issue:The Dominant English-speaking CultureTakes Root^107viiII. The Restoration of the Irish Language:The Protestant Ascendancy and the GaelicCulture of the Eighteenth and NineteenthCenturies^ 112A. The Protestant Ascendancy and the Restorationof the Irish Language^ 113B. Murmurs of Alternative Irish Language Activism:Ulster's Protestants and Irish LanguageRevivalism, Pre-1850^ 115C. Nascent Oppositional Irish Language Activism:The United Irishmen Rising 1798^ 120III. Alternative and Oppositional Irish LanguageActivism: A Period of Political Upheaval inBelfast^ 124A. Belfast: The Turbulent Nineteenth Century ^ 125B. Another Victory for Linguistic Hegemony: TheNational School Act of 1831^ 130C. Alternative and Oppositional Irish LanguageActivism Come of Age: Conradh na Gaeilge(Gaelic League) and Sinn Fein^ 1341. Pre-Partition Alternative Irish LanguageActivism: The Gaelic League  ^1362. The Irish Language Becomes Part of the RepublicanEthos: The Birth of Sinn Fein ^IV. Chapter SummaryCHAPTER 4^Pre-1980 Irish Language Activism inNorthern Ireland: The Calm beforethe Storm ^I. Ireland Divided: The Irish Language is Attackedby the New Northern Ireland Parliament ^II. The Cumann Chluain Ard: The Bastion ofthe Irish Language ^143148152153159viiiIII. The Shaws Road Irish Community: Irish LanguageActivists Create Their Own Gaeltacht inEnglish-Speaking West Belfast^ 167IV. Chapter Summary ^  174CHAPTER 5^Irish Language Activism:The Context of Resistance^ 176I. Prelude to the 1981 Hunger Strike: TerrorWarfare as Lived Reality  ^178A. Pre-1969: A Period of Sporadic Official andSanctioned Unofficial Attacks on theNationalist Population^ 178B. The "Troubles": The Militarizationof Northern Ireland 181C. The Carrot and the Stick: A Mid-1970s Shiftin British State Policy inNorthern Ireland  ^192II. Irish at the Door: The Blanket Protest andHunger Strikes^ 196A. Irish Language in the Prisons^ 1961. Irish Language in the "Cages"  ^1962. Irish Language in the H-Blocks ^  201B. Impact of the Hunger Strike on the NationalistCommunity in Belfast^ 206III. Chapter Summary  208CHAPTER 6 The Aftermath: Sinn Fein Rises toPolitical and Cultural Prominencein Nationalist Belfast 212I. Irish Culture Behind Bars: The Prison Strugglefor Irish Language Rights^ 215II. Sinn Fein and the Nationalist Community ^ 230ixA. The Development of Community Action Groupsin Belfast ^  230B. Sinn Fein assumes an "Encouraging" and"Supportive" Role in the NationalistCommunity^ 235III. Sinn Fein and the Irish Language Movement^. 237A. The Irish Language as Part of theRepublican Ethos ^  237B. Sinn Fein and the Irish Language ActivistCommunity: A Self-Analysis ^  240C. Suspicions that Sinn Fein "Hijacked" the IrishLanguage after the Hunger Strike: TheAlternative Irish Language ActivistCommunity Responds  ^248D. The Role of Sinn Fein in the IrishLanguage MovementIV. Chapter SummaryCHAPTER 7^Post-1980 Alternative Irish LanguageActivism: Confronting BritishLinguistic Hegemony ^I. Direct Action: The Welsh Model of AlternativeLanguage ActivismII. The Radical Years: Alternative Irish LanguageActivism in the Early 1980sA. Irish Language Activists Defy the Ban onIrish Language Street SignsB. Media Campaigns for Irish Language Broadcastingin Northern IrelandIII. Belfast Irish Language Activists Unite inConstructing a Permanent Irish LanguageInfrastructure ^A. La: The Celtic World's First Daily Newspaper^. 283254258260263271271274283B. A "Carrot" for Moderate Irish LanguageActivists: Government Money for IrishLanguage Education ^  287C. GlOr na nGael, West Belfast Committee:Irish-Medium Education becomes a Priority^• •^. 291D. West Belfast becomes "The Irish LanguageCapital of Ireland"^ 301IV. "Hands Off Our Language": A Victory for IrishLanguage Activists^ 304V. Cultural Diversity: Fitting the Irish Languageinto the Northern Ireland ContextA. Bridging the Gap: ULTACHB. Tolerance and Understanding in the Schools:A New Curriculum ^C. Irish Language in the Northern Ireland Context:^A Hegemonic Nightmare   3221. The British State as "Honest Broker": Bringing"Tolerance and Friendliness" to the"Two Communities" in Northern Ireland ^ 3232. Protestant Reaction: The Irish Language andNorthern Ireland Culture   324a) We are British: There is No Room for the IrishLanguage in Northern Ireland ^b) We Are Irish: It's Our Languagec) Ulster Irish is Part of Our Ulster Heritage:Ian Adamson's Re-interpretation of theHistory of Ulster^ 327VI. Chapter Summary  330CHAPTER 8^Flexing Hegemonic Muscles: TheBlacklisting of GlOr na nGael ^ 333I. GlOr na nGael: "A Cheeky Subordinate" 335II. GlOr na nGael's Symbolic Declaration of War,Challenge and Counter-Challenge   339310311316325325XiA. The Public Transcript of the State: Silence,Secrecy and Unsubstantiated AllegationsB. GlOr na nGael's Campaign to Clear Its NameC. GlOr na nGael Takes the Government to Court 339. 341. 350III. Reaction in the Irish Language ActivistCommunity: The Mask of the OppressedThickens 355^IV. Chapter Summary ^  361CHAPTER 9^General Conclusions   363I. Alternative versus Oppositional Activismwithin the Irish Language Movement in^West Belfast: Differences and Links   363II. British Cultural Hegemony: The Strugglefor Legitimacy ^  365NOTES 370BIBLIOGRAPHY ^  382List of FiguresFIGURE 1^Ireland: Irish Speaking PopulationDistribution 1851^ 132FIGURE 2^Ireland: Irish Speaking PopulationDistribution 1891^ 133xi iAcknowledgementWhile it would be impractical, as well as strategicallyill-advised, for me to acknowledge by name all the peoplewho made this work possible, I would like to express mygratitude to the following groups and individuals. Those atGlOr na nGael, the Shaws Road Irish Community, ULTACH, theCommittee for the Administration of Justice, the Linen HallLibrary, Sinn Fein, and the Roddy McCorley Society, whoseassistance was invaluable.I wish to thank my committee for their critical readingof my work, and the many suggestions offered that led to itssuccessful completion. Special thanks to my advisor,Dr. Elvi Whittaker, for filling my methodological tool kit;to Dr. David Schweitzer, for his theoretical guidance; toDr. Michael Blake for his guidance on practicalities such asfunding; and to all three collectively, for their unwaveringsupport, regardless of the obstacles.I would also like to thank my examining committee:Dr. Joan Vincent, Dr. Martin Silverman, and Dr. Diane Mauzyfor their interest in and constructive comments on my work.Finally I would like to acknowledge the Social Sciencesand Humanities Research Council of Canada, who providedfunding for my fieldwork in Belfast; the Tina and MorrisWagner Foundation Fellowship; and the I.W. KillamPredoctoral Fellowship whose collective funding hastenedthe completion of this dissertation.IRISH LANGUAGE ACTIVISM IN WEST BELFAST:A RESISTANCE TO BRITISH CULTURAL HEGEMONYChapter OneI. Research Aim and QuestionsIt is hard to recall an age when the Irishlanguage was not an issue. The right to speak it;the right to use it as a medium of education forchildren; the right to have the Irish form of aname on State documentation. It would seem thatthe language has always . . . been linked in thepublic perception to a measure of disrespect forestablishment politics^(Macauley 1990:11).1This Belfast journalist could well have added that theimposition of the English language on the people of Irelandhas always been met with resistance. The general concern ofthis dissertation will be an investigation of Irish languageactivism in the Northern Ireland capital city of Belfast,and the British state's response to this symbolic challengeto its linguistic hegemony. The analysis will focus on thenature of this resistance over time, examining how Belfastcultural groups, Sinn Fein, and the British government,perceive and construct Irish language activism. Theprincipal questions suggested by this research will be:Is Irish language activism in West Belfast solely connectedto the armed struggle? Does cultural Irish languageactivism differ from politically motivated Irish languageactivism, if so, how? What are the demands of variousgroups of Irish language activists? What is the nature ofBritish linguistic hegemony? How is this linguistichegemony maintained when challenged by Irish languageactivist groups?In Northern Ireland, ethnonationalist conflict hasescalated to the stage of armed struggle. As a corollary tothis development, attempts made by members of the ethnicminority to continue their own non-violent resistance todiscrimination and oppression are, if acknowledged at all,stigmatized by those in power as part of the overallrevolutionary struggle. Once labelled as revolutionary,legitimate demands for human and civil rights made by ethnicminority members are often dismissed. Thus, the distinctionbetween armed revolutionary resistance and symbolicresistance based on the struggle for justice by those caughtup in the everyday reality of terror warfare, is crucial.Concentrating on the nature and forms of Irish languageactivism and how they are perceived and responded to bythose in power, and drawing on the work of Raymond Williams(1977, 1980) and James Scott (1990), this ethnographic studywill suggest ways in which the multiple meanings of2resistance in areas where liberation struggles are beingfought, can be delineated and analyzed. Although I includecomparative material on the civil disobedience campaign ofWelsh language activists, the objective of this dissertationis not to be comparative but to understand the dynamicrelationship between a particular form of resistance anddomination as it is played out in the lives of everydaypeople. The analysis presented here however, could well beused as a theoretical framework for the study of otherethnonationalist conflicts involving linguistic differencesas key elements of their struggle. Areas of significantpresent-day linguistic unrest, for example, could includeSpain (Basque, Catalans), France (Bretons) or indeed Canada(Quebecois).This study, based on fifteen months of in-depthresearch conducted in the hostile atmosphere of WestBelfast, is also intended to elucidate some of the physicaland emotional concerns that may beset the anthropologistundertaking fieldwork in a potentially dangerousenvironment. Hence, the overall aim of this thesis is tooffer a theoretical and methodological contribution to theanthropological literature on cultures in conflict and onculture and power.3II. The Theoretical FrameworkA. Gramsci's Concept of "Ideological Hegemony" and theThorny Question of "Consent"Central to Gramsci's (1971), analysis of why the workingclass in advanced capitalist societies appears to beaccepting the established order rather than, as Marx hadpredicted, plotting its overthrow and replacement withsocialism is the concept of "ideological" hegemony. WhatGramsci means by his "notoriously vague" concept of,"hegemonic rule [which] is rule through 'consent,'" iswidely disputed, and generally misunderstood (Femia 1981:8,35; also see Lears 1985; Roseberry 1992; Roseberry andO'Brien 1991; Scott 1977, 1985, 1990). The reason for thisinterpretive confusion in Gramsci's writing, Femia (1981:9)explains, is largely due to the fact that his PrisonNotebooks were:• • . an unfinished work, replete with ellipticalpassages, disorders, apparent contradictions,cryptic utterances, sly asides, esotericallusions, aborted observations, unassimilated"rough" facts, and seemingly endlessdigressions--a monumental labyrinth of oftenopaque undeveloped ideas . . . [which] rarelyreach[ed] final draft forms . . . [but, insteadwere merely] notes and jottings intended for theauthor alone, not for publication.4This ambiguity of how subordinate groups "consent" totheir domination, as reflected in the differentinterpretations of Gramsci's work by Scott (1990), Lears(1985), Roseberry (1992), and Roseberry and O'Brien (1991)will be the focal point of the following section.1. James Scott's Model of Hegemony and ResistanceOne reading of Gramsci, discussed by Scott (1977, 1985,1990) implies that "consent" of the masses to theirsubordination is accomplished through the manipulation andcontrol by the ruling classes of the means of "symbolic"production. Thus, the ruling classes' "domination of the'ideological' sectors of society--culture, religion,education, and media--[enabling] them to disseminate thosevalues that reinforce their position" (Scott 1977:272). Thesubordinate classes, who presumably have no input into thishegemonic process, are saturated by the ideology of thedominant, and thus rendered incapable of "thinking andacting on the basis of their objective interests" (Scott,1977:271-272). Given this interpretation of "ideological"hegemony, the result is the "passive compliance to socialdomination" of these subordinate groups.5Hegemony constructed in this manner, Scott (1977:272;1990:72) points out, amounts to nothing more than anexplanation of the "institutionalization of falseconsciousness," whereby masses are convinced that the"social order in which they live is natural and inevitable,"thus evoking at the very least, acceptance through"resignation." Scott (1985:330-331; 1990:74, 77-78) goes onto criticize this version of Gramsci's notion of ideologicalhegemony, claiming that there is no evidence that acceptanceof a dominant value system by the subordinate classes willdiminish social conflict.^In order to convince subordinategroups that a "particular social order is in their bestinterest," it is necessary for the ruling classes to makepromises, which once made, must be kept. Failure to do sowould lead to the questioning of their legitimacy, thuspaving the way for future conflicts.Scott (1990:79-81) concludes his criticism, arguingthat there is no historical or contemporary evidence tosupport the assumption that the consciousness of thesubordinate groups can be so completely imbued with theideology of the dominant that they become incapable ofeither imagining a social order in which the "existingdistribution of status and rewards" are reversed or which isthe negation of the existing "onerous" social order.6He concludes that, "the obstacles to resistance, which aremany, are simply not attributable to the inability ofsubordinate groups to imagine a counter factual socialorder" (Scott 1990:81).There are however, Scott argues, reasons whysubordinate classes appear to consent to their ownexploitation. Scott (1990:xii) explains, "If the powerlessare not willing to engage in actual rebellion then it is intheir self-interest to reinforce hegemonic appearances."Therefore power relations in the public domain may give theappearance that indeed the subordinate group "consents" totheir oppression, however Scott warns, this "publictranscript" of the weak is deceptive.Scott (1990:10) elaborates on his "model ofresistance," saying that an understanding of the publicperformances of the dominant and the subordinate, requiresan examination of each group's "hidden transcript," which isderived from "those gestures and words that inflect,contradict, and confirm what appears in the publictranscript." The hidden transcript of the subordinategroup, Scott explains, is created "out of its ordeal," and"represents a critique of power spoken behind the back ofthe dominant . . . usually in a place 'offstage' beyonddirect observation by power holders" (Scott 1990:xii, 4, 9).Scott adds that, "the more menacing the power, the thicker78the mask [of the oppressed]" (Scott 1990:2).^It is only incases in which this "subservience evaporates and is replacedby open defiance," that we encounter what Scott describes as"one of those rare and dangerous moments in power relations"(Scott 1990:6). By this Scott means that:. . . the first open statement of a hiddentranscript, a declaration that breaches theetiquette of power relations, that breaks anapparently calm surface of silence and consent,carries the force of a symbolic declaration ofwar. . . . [Therefore, when] angry or cheekysubordinates . . . spoil the performance . . . bybreaching the frontier between hidden and publictranscripts, the dominant have several strategiesthey can follow. . . . They may elect to ignore asymbolic challenge; they may make a public exampleof someone; . . . [they may deny the] rebels thestatus in public discourse they seek; [or] theauthorities [may] choose to assimilate [the act ofrebellion] to a category that minimizes itspolitical challenge to the state (Scott 1990:8,18, 205-206).Rather than ideological hegemony, suggested by Scott asreferring to the imposition of an immobilizing value systemof the dominant on the subordinate, Scott (1990:4) proposesthat the "cultural patterns of domination and subordination"can be much better understood if an examination is focusedon "the dialectic of disguise and surveillance," that, heclaims, "pervades relations between the weak and thestrong."2. Lears and Roseberry: Hegemony as a "Common DiscursiveFramework"Lears (1985), Roseberry (1989, 1992), and Roseberry andO'Brien (1991) argue that Gramsci's concept of "ideological"hegemony implies neither "forced compliance" nor"unconscious adherence"Z of the subordinate to the will ofthe dominant, as one might conclude would be the case ifScott's interpretation of Gramsci were accepted. Rather,they claim since "the essence of the concept [of hegemony]is not manipulation but legitimation . . . the line betweendominant and subordinate cultures is a permeable membrane,not an impenetrable barrier" (Lears 1985:574).These authors base their interpretation of the conceptof "ideological hegemony" on a close reading of Gramsci's(1971:52-120) chapter entitled "Notes on Italian History."Here, Gramsci maps out the relationship between and withinthe hegemonic and subaltern (or subordinate) groups in acertain period of Italian history to analyze why the"Piedmont bourgeoisie" failed to form a nation state.Focusing on the inability of the ruling classes to form aunified bloc, Gramsci exposes the "fragility" of hegemony.These dominant groups, Gramsci found, were unable to rulethrough either force or consent. Revealed in Gramsci'sdetailed analysis of the reasons behind this abortiveattempt at nation-building, is the heterogeneous nature of9both the ruler and the ruled, with their very real,"important internal differences--differences in interests,lived experiences, projects, struggles, and so on"(Roseberry and O'Brien 1991:13). From this analysis, Learsand Roseberry both conclude that Gramsci does not mean thatdominant-subordinate interaction is un-problematic, thelatter passively accepting the ideological rule of theformer, but rather is one "characterized by contention,struggle, and argument . . . " (Roseberry 1992:15).Therefore in this interpretation of Gramsci, "Whathegemony constructs . . . is not a shared ideology but acommon material and meaningful framework for living through,talking about, and acting upon social orders characterizedby domination" (Roseberry 1992:16).As Lears and Roseberry's interpretation ofhegemony--which will be expanded upon and clarified in thenext section in a discussion of William's model of culturalhegemony--corresponds closely with my own reading ofGramsci, it will be the one used in the remainder of thisdissertation. While differing with Scott's interpretationof Gramsci, I will illustrate in Chapter Eight that hisconclusion on the nature of the dialectic of "disguise andsurveillance" that "pervades relations between the weak andthe strong" has validity, and his method for demonstratingthis dialectic has heuristic value in the ordering of1 011ethnographic material.^In this chapter, I will use theanalysis Scott suggests in examining the hidden and publictranscripts of the British state, and the Irish Languageactivist community in West Belfast: (a) to derive the"hegemonic purposes" behind the linking of an independentIrish language group to a paramilitary organization, and (b)to attempt to understand the subsequent response of theIrish language activist community to this apparent attemptto brand the Irish language as subversive.B. Raymond Williams' Model of Cultural Hegemony andCounter-HegemonyElaborating on Gramsci's concept of hegemony, RaymondWilliams (1977, 1980) has developed a theoretical model inwhich he analyzes how, as interpreted by Nordstrom andMartin (1992:6), "power shapes cultural processes."Williams asserts that "in any society, in any particularperiod, there is a central system of practices, meanings andvalues, which we can properly call dominant and effective"(Williams 1980:38). Arguing against the economicdeterminism of traditional Marxism, which dismissescultural, political, social and ideological activity (orsuperstructure), as mere reflection, imitation, orreproduction of the forces of production (or base), Williamsinstead depicts cultural hegemony as being:. . . the existence of something which is trulytotal, which is not merely secondary orsuperstructural . . . but which is lived at sucha depth, which saturates the society to such anextent . . . that it corresponds to the reality ofsocial experience very much more clearly than anynotions derived from the formula of base andsuperstructure (Williams 1980:37).^[Hegemony,then] is a whole body of practices andexpectations, over the whole of living: our sensesand assignments of energy, our shaping perceptionsof ourselves and our world.^It is a lived systemof meanings and values--constitutive andconstituting--which as they are experienced aspractices appear as reciprocally confirming. Itthus constitutes a sense of reality for mostpeople in the society, a sense of . . .experienced reality beyond which it is verydifficult for most members of the society to move,in most areas of their lives^(Williams 1977:110).This social process, while being "tied to relations ofdominance and subordination," is at the same time,"meaningful" because it represents "a selection from andinterpretation of a people's history . . . [which] touchesaspects of the lived reality, or experience of the dominantand dominated alike" (Roseberry 1989:26-27). Culturalhegemony then, is both powerful and vulnerable in that notonly does it allow the "effective self-identification" ofthe dominated with what is always passed off as "thetradition," "the significant past" (Williams 1980:39), butit leaves room for resistance or counter-hegemony todevelop. Williams explains:12From a whole possible area of past and present, ina particular culture, [only] certain meanings andpractices are selected for emphasis and certainother meanings and practices . . . [are, at best]reinterpreted, diluted, or put into forms whichsupport or at least do not contradict otherelements within the effective dominant culture.[This] . . . continual making and remaking of aneffective dominant culture, [is achieved through aprocess of incorporation involving such forces ofincorporation as] . . . the processes ofeducation; the processes of much wider socialtraining within institutions like the family; thepractical definitions and organization of work;[and] the selective tradition at an intellectualand theoretical level (Williams 1977:115;1980:39).[But at the same time those] . . . othermeanings and practices [that the "effectivedominant culture" has] . . . neglected or excluded[or dismissed] as "out of date" or "nostalgic,"[or attacked as] "unprecedented" or "alien" . .[are] effectively recoverable, andmany of the alternative or opposing practicalcontinuities are still available (Williams1977:115-116) [thus making its cultural hegemonyvulnerable to both "alternative and oppositional"forms of resistance].The sources of this resistance then, are found in whatWilliams calls "residual" and "emergent" cultures. Williamselaborates saying:Residual [culture, as opposed to] the "archaic". . . [has by definition] been effectively formedin the past, but it is still active in thecultural process, not only and often not at all asan element of the past, but as an effectiveelement of the present (Williams 1977:122). [Onthe other hand, "emergent" cultures are the] newmeanings and values, new practices, newsignificances and experiences, [that] arecontinually being created (Williams 1980:41).13When these residual and emergent cultures areunsuccessfully incorporated or devalued by the "effectivedominant culture," its hegemony may be challenged. Clarkeet al. (1976), Hebdige (1979), Schweitzer (1988, 1991),Scott (1985), and others, argue that this challenge takesthe form of "counter-hegemonic" resistance, in which thepowerless group seeks to secure a permanent place for those"meanings and practices" that the "effective dominantculture" has rejected, demeaned and/or ignored. While"symbolic counter-hegemonic forms of expressive resistance,rejection, and revolt . . . involve overt acts of publicdefiance and direct confrontation with the authorities,"Schweitzer (1988:93; 1991:39) argues that, "they remainalmost exclusively within the realm of ideology andculture." Schweitzer (1991:39) adds that these practices"seldom represent a substantial political challenge to thefundamental relations of domination in society or to theconcrete material conditions which lie at the root of theiralienation and subordination."The reaction of the "effective dominant culture" tothese counter hegemonic challenges differs depending on theform and perceived intent. Applying Williams' theory ofcultural hegemony, counterhegemonic resistance can befurther distinguished as being either alternative oroppositional in nature. Williams (1980:42) describes the1415alternative resistor using the analogy of "someone whosimply finds a different way to live and wishes to be leftalone with it." He goes on to depict the oppositionalresistor as, "someone who finds a different way to live andwants to change the society in its light." Williams(1980:42) adds that, "this is usually the difference betweenindividual and small-group solutions to social crisis andthose solutions which properly belong to political andultimately revolutionary practice."16C. Understanding Resistance in West Belfast's Irish LanguageActivist Community: A Definitional Model1. British Linguistic Hegemony and Irish LanguageResistance: A Definition of TermsTheory, Giddens (1984:ix) writes, not only aims to"illuminate, interpret and explain substantive features ofhuman conduct" while "establishing and validatinggeneralizations" but, more importantly for this study, itsensitizes those "conceptual schemes that order and informprocesses of inquiry into social life." With this in mind,a theoretical framework will now be proposed, basedprimarily on Williams' model of "cultural hegemony." Thisframework will be used in the ensuing analysis in an attemptto decipher the contradictory constructions of languageactivism made by the British State, versus those of thecitizens of West Belfast involved in promoting and revivingthe Irish language.The "effective dominant culture" in Northern Ireland isessentially English-speaking and British. The Britishstate, in keeping with the Gramscian definition of state, isthat apparatus which, through force plus consent, implementsan "effective dominant culture" in Northern Ireland. Theterm British government, its local arm being the NorthernIreland Office, refers to the actual people and offices that17carry out the task of the State. The subordinate culture(in this study, culture as it is embodied in the Irishlanguage) is not just oppressed but it possesses neitherautonomy nor its own hegemonic position within NorthernIreland. The Irish language, in this study, will be takento be part of a "residual" not archaic culture, in thatdespite its two-thousand year heritage, its place in theIrish language activist community in West Belfast is not asa fossil revived from the past but as "an effective elementof the present" (Williams 1977:122).Resistance in the Irish language activist community, itwill be argued, is--using Williams concepts--bothoppositional and alternative. The resistance of politicalIrish language activists--which include Sinn Fein,republican prisoners, and others who adhere to thephilosophy from the 1916 Rebellion as embodied in thestatement by one of its leaders, Pedraig Pearse, "Ireland,not free only but Gaelic as well; not Gaelic only but freeas well!"--is oppositional in that it directly challengesBritish cultural hegemony. On the other hand, theresistance of cultural Irish language activists (in thesense that Williams defines it), is mainly alternative.As one Irish language activist I interviewed stated:There are many people within the movement for therestoration and the revival of the Irish languagewho would not necessarily have any political goalsother than the revival of the Irish language. Andpeople who would be happy, for example, to revivethe Irish language within a British Commonwealthcontext or within an independent Northern Irelandcontext or whatever.The reaction of the British state to this resistance toBritish linguistic hegemony has been varied. In the case ofoppositional resistance, the State has continued in itscultural suppression of the language and its refusal of thedemands of political activists, except in those instances inwhich the international legal apparatus has forced them tomake concessions. The State's response to alternativeresistance during the 1980s, reflects what Lears (1985:574)refers to when he describes the permeability of the membranethat separates dominant and subordinate cultures. TheState's position on recognizing the Irish language as a partof at least one of the "two traditions" in Northern Ireland,and its decision to fund the Irish language, appears to be asignificant change from its historical position of openhostility and "planned neglect" in the pre-1980 period.However, I will argue that rather than actually recognizingthe Irish language as reflecting Irish culture, the Britishstate is attempting to re-interpret the Irish language inthe Northern Ireland context, thereby incorporating it informs, "which support or at least do not contradict otherelements within the effective dominant culture" (Williams1980:39).1819At times, the British state's response to the demandsof cultural Irish language activists can resemble itsresponse to oppositional resistance. When culturalactivists have in the State's perception, stepped over theboundary, and in so doing, made what Scott describes as "asymbolic declaration of war," as was the case of GlOr nanGael, West Belfast Committee, an independent Irish languagegroup, the State reaction has been punitive.2. Language: A Symbolic Expression of ResistanceThroughout this study, the Irish language will be usedto represent the dimension of ethnicity that activists, whosee themselves as culturally Irish and in some cases alsopolitically Irish, have chosen to accentuate as a symbolicexpression of differentness from the "effective dominantculture." An in-depth analysis of language use, asundertaken for example by Milroy (1981), whose work onregional accents of English in Belfast relates speechvariation to a social and cultural context, would havevalue in studies of a narrower focus. Such an analysiswould be well suited to, for instance, a study focusing onthe extent "jailtacht" Irish has been incorporated into theIrish language in Belfast. Such an analysis, however, isbeyond the scope and nature of this study.20Similarly, the theoretical body of literature onlanguage policy and language planning, which concentrates on"first, 'second' and 'other' languages for some citizens ina community which is organically bi- or multilingual . . .[rather than on] 'foreign' languages" (Pritchard 1990:26),is not pertinent to the present study. In Northern Irelandthe Irish language has always been, and still is, considereda "foreign" language in a unilingual state. For this reasonthe Northern Ireland Office and the Department of Educationin Northern Ireland have not developed an Irish languagepolicy. Some attempts were made in the 1980s to channelfunds into "safe" Irish language projects, and since 1990,to re-interpret the language into the Northern Irelandcontext. However at the time the research for this studywas carried out, 1990-1991, a definite Irish language policyhad not been formulated, thus in the school system thestatus of the Irish language continued to be one of aforeign language. The goal of alternative Irish languageactivists has been in the past and continues to be, to urgethe government to establish an Irish language policy, hencethis study of language activism deals with the attempt tocreate a policy concerning the Irish language in NorthernIreland. The 1991 Census of Northern Ireland, included forthe first time a question on the Irish language, and21revealed that 9.4 percent of the population (142,003 people)in Northern Ireland had some knowledge of the language and79,012 claimed complete fluency (An Phoblacht/RepublicanNews 1992c:12).^In light of this revelation, the area oflanguage policy and planning may offer theoretical directionfor future studies.In his socioeconomic profile of an Irish learner, basedon a study of 234 people who were enrolled in adult Irishclasses in the 1980s, 6 hAdhmaill (1985:30) discovered thatunemployment did not seem to be a major motivating factoramong people deciding to learn Irish, and that those who didchoose to learn the language were spread evenly acrosssocio-economic classes. 6 hAdhmaill (1985:30) also pointsout that there were a "high number of professionals learningIrish at a Sinn Fein class [suggesting that] the idea thatSinn Fein holds attraction mainly for the less well educatedlower socio-economic groups either didn't affect thesepeople or just doesn't hold true." While suggestive offuture areas of research, the body of literature fromsociolinguistics on the political economy of language (seeGal 1987; Woolard 1985) which relates "patterns of choiceamong linguistic variants . . . [to] class relations withinthe state" (Gal 1987:637), would appear, based on 6hAdhmaill's conclusions, to have no direct application tothis study of language activism in Belfast.Gal's (1987) work on the analysis of code switchingpatterns would, however, be useful in a future analysis ofthe circumstances in which the Irish language is used inBelfast and what such usage reveals about the speakers'"consciousness."^For example, I was told by an Irishspeaker of an incident that took place in West Belfast inthe 1980s. The Irish speaker was standing on the sidewalkin Ballymurphy, a strongly nationalist area of West Belfast,having a conversation with another man who did not speakIrish. As a patrol of British soldiers approached, thenon-Irish speaker said to his friend, "quick say somethingto me in Irish." Knowing that the man didn't understandIrish, the Irish speaker said a few simple Irish sentencesto his friend and the non-Irish speaker responded ingibberish. After the patrol had passed the non-Irishspeaker said to his Irish speaking friend, in English:"That will show them that they are foreigners here." Thisis but one example of how the study of code-switching couldoffer an understanding of another dimension of Irishlanguage activism, which while beyond the scope of thiswork, could be an important focus of future research.It is the dynamic relationship between domination andresistance at the grass roots level that this ethnographicstudy of British cultural hegemony and Irish languageactivism will seek to illuminate. With that objective inmind, the following section will focus on a theoretical22analysis of linguistic/ethnic identity, the use of languagein ethnic mobilization, and the responses of the State whenthe "linguistic hegemony" of the "effective dominantculture" is threatened.a) Language as Ethnic IdentityIn the Irish language activist community of WestBelfast, language and ethnic identity are synonymous. Khleif(1979:327), concurring with the findings of my own research,sums up the prevailing attitude toward the Irish language inhis definition of the relationship between language andethnicity:A language, in a very real sense, is the pedigreeof a people. . . . Language is both the socialhistory of a people and its Anschauung; itstructures both the social perception of apeople's past and the interpretation of itsfuture. Language creates consciousness; asNaipaul . . . has said, a native language ties apeople more closely to its landscape and breedsdefinable loyalties to it. On the other hand, anadopted language, as Sartre maintains . . . is forthe native writer a kind of prison, for it is thecreation of a different civilization.^In short, anative language is a language of regeneration.[Khleif concludes by stressing that] an attack onone's language is but an attack on one's personalintegrity and on one's group integrity, for theperson is essentially a reflection of his groupaffiliations.2324The question then, becomes who does and does not belongto this linguistic/ethnic group. This question has sparkedlively debate in the anthropological literature. Thefollowing is a brief outline of the main arguments of thisdebate, and should serve to elucidate ideas relevant to theunderstanding of how Irish language activists constructtheir identity as a distinct ethnic group.The terms "ethnicity" and "ethnic" made their debutinto the language of anthropology roughly twenty-five yearsago. Their birth is generally linked to the appearance of acollection of articles in a book edited and introduced byBarth (1969) titled Ethnic Groups and Boundaries (Cohen1978; Nagata 1973), even though prior to this time someattempts had been made to discover objective criteria thatwould delimit what Naroll (1964) called a "cultunit" andMoerman (1965) "Lue-ness." Since Barth's work there hasbeen a steadily accelerating acceptance of these terms, sothat today, "almost any cultural-social unit, indeed anyterm describing particular structures of continuing socialrelations or sets of regularized events now can be referredto as an 'ethnic' this or that" (Cohen 1978:379).The first attempts to distinguish the criteria whichcould be used to differentiate one group from anotherconcentrated on finding objective cultural markers. Forexample Naroll (1964:284) proposed six criteria which could25be used for defining whole societies, or used in comparativestudies of different societies: territorial contiguity;political organization; language; ecological adjustment;local community structure; and the distribution of theparticular traits being studied. Cohen (1978:382)criticizes Naroll's definition of a "cultunit," saying, "butno set of criteria fits all cases.^Instead they vary withsocietal complexity, regional and continental contexts, theethnographer and probably with time as well." Moerman(1965) hints that objective delimiters alone would notadequately describe the Lue, a tribe located in modernThailand. But while Moerman points toward a definition ofethnic identity that would include both objective andsubjective criteria, it was Barth 1969 who first postulatedthe definition.Barth (1969) summarizes the anthropological definitionof ethnicity in four elements:(a) A biologically self-perpetuatingpopulation.(b) A sharing of cultural values and forms.(c) A field of communication and interaction.(d) A grouping that identifies itself and isidentified by other categories of thesame type (Cohen 1978:385).This definition has gained wide acceptance inanthropology. For example, Segal (1979:10) describes thethree essential components of ethnicity as:(a) Cultural and biological factors clustered overtime and passed down from one generation toanother.(b) Interaction of a "purported ethnic group" withanother in the same society.(c) "A common subjective identification" based onthe cultural and biological factors mentionedabove as well as a "distinctive pattern ofloyalties and solidarity" which are "passed onthrough differential socialization" thusmaking any attempt at arriving at a completelyuniversal definition of ethnic identityimpossible.Sugar (1980:421-422) also discusses the objective andcultural attributes, which when combined with subjectivefeelings and behaviour patterns--often manifested by the useof numerous symbols--result in a sense of ethnic identity bya group of people. Linz (1985:205) on the other hand,argues that initially the definition of ethnicity is basedon objective and cultural attributes but when the group ismobilized this definition of "belonging" becomes much moresubjective. He advanced the hypothesis that whileprimordial elements--those relations based on a commondescent, race, language, etc.--may be initially emphasizedas the source of ethnic group membership, this emphasis willlater shift as ethnicity and nationalism become linked.This shift in emphasis is toward a definition based onterritoriality--members who "live and work" in an area, whoare willing to identify with that community, or both. Thus,common descent is de-emphasized as a necessary condition formembership in a nation group.2627Other anthropologists have departed significantly fromthe definitional model of ethnic identity posited by Barth,doing away with the biological attributes of ethnicidentification all together. Heiberg (1979) for example,maintains that the definition of what a "true" Basque is,does not require that a person be Basque by descent. Shesupports her argument by pointing out that "one of theBasques' most revered martyrs, Juan Paredes Manot was animmigrant who spoke no Euskera; 'Long live free Euskadi!' hecried as he was executed by Franco's police" (Heiberg1979:195). From this, Heiberg (1979:195) concludes that"a person is 'Basque' when he is seen as adhering to thesymbols of Basqueness."Whittaker (1986), presents the interactionist andexistentialist view of ethnic identity in which ethnicity isseen as a "social construction" (1986:148) and where the"variability and legitimacy" of the identity of interactinggroups are "essentially negotiated in each encounter."Whittaker (1986:165) continues:. . . ethnicity is not a physical fact but ratheris the product of a consciousness shaped to seeit.^It exists as a tradition of cultural ideasmapped onto a population. These ideas assertcertain kinds of agreed upon social facts whichserve as a warrant for other things. Their usebecomes routinized, repetitive and invariant.Whittaker (1986:191-192) concludes by suggesting thatethnicity should be appraised as "an organizing code, as asense-making device, as a lingua franca . . . as a way ofviewing the world . . . [and hence] analyzed as a metaphor."In much of the anthropological research undertaken inNorthern Ireland, ethnicity has been defined primarily interms of religion--Catholic or Protestant (see Burton 1978;Donnan and McFarlane 1986a, 1986b; Harris 1972; Jackson1972; Larsen 1982a, 1982b; Leyton 1974a, 1974b, 1975; Sluka1989). Some authors, (notably Burton and Sluka) however, seeBritish imperialism rather than religion, as being largelyresponsible for the "troubles" in Northern Ireland. McCann(1985:6-13) has argued convincingly that the "two tribes"(Jackson 1972) or "two communities" (Leyton 1974a, 1974b,1975) implied by this religious dichotomizing of NorthernIreland society are a "misrepresentation and [are]counter-productive." She argues that these two notions: (a)fail to take into account the internal heterogeneity withineach of these so called "communities/tribes"; (b) implyparity, obscuring the "permanent majority/permanentminority" situation in Northern Ireland;^(c) suggest"irrationality" (especially the "two tribes" notion); (d)fail to "take adequate account of the [historic andcontemporary role of] the State" in the Northern Irelandsituation; and (e) are "ahistorical."2829In this dissertation, I will argue that the religiousdefinition of ethnic identity does not reflect the way theIrish language activist community in Belfast defines ethnicidentity.^I will propose that the Irish language activistdiscourse reveals three different definitions of ethnicityand that the membership of each of these three ethnic groupsconsists of both Catholics and Protestants. First, thereare those who see themselves as both culturally andpolitically Irish; secondly, there are those who seethemselves as culturally Irish but politically British; andthen there are those who see themselves as both culturallyand politically British.As will be discussed below, aspects of the differentanthropological constructions of "ethnicity," even ones thatappear to be mutually exclusive (e.g., those of Barth andWhittaker), are at varying times and circumstances part ofthe discourse of Irish language activists in defining theattributes of who is and who is not a member of each ofthese three ethnic groups.Given that Irish language activism depends on amechanism which will ensure the stable and continuedpersistence of a linguistic identity, this section willconclude with a discussion of ethnic boundaries. In Barth'ssocial interaction model of ethnic identity, ethnic groupsare defined in terms of inclusion and exclusion.30Thus the construction of ethnic boundaries becomes a crucialpart of defining who "we" are. A brief summary of Barth's(1969) concept of ethnic group boundaries would include thefollowing basic premises:(a) "Ethnic boundaries define the group, not the culturalstuff it encloses" (Barth 1969:15).(b) Because ethnicity is defined by boundaries, both thecultural and biological content and form of the group canalter but as long as the boundary mechanism is maintained,the distinctiveness of the group is retained.(c) "Boundaries persist despite a flow of personnel acrossthem. . . . In other words, ethnic distinctions do notdepend on an absence of mobility, contact and information,but do entail social processes of exclusion andincorporation whereby discrete categories are maintaineddespite changing participation and membership in the coursesof the individual life histories" (Barth 1969:9-10).(d) Boundaries are created and maintained because of theself-perceived notion of group members that "belongedness"has an adaptive advantage. Perceived ecological, economic,demographic and political advantage, according to Barth, doaffect choice of group membership.31It is this final point that has engendered the mostcriticism of Barth's model of ethnic boundaries and ethnicgroups; criticism especially from those theorists who favoura more psychological approach to ethnicity.If as Barth suggests, boundaries are consciouslycreated because of their adaptive advantage to the group,then why, several authors ask (Alverson 1979:15-16; DeVos1975:8; Smith 1981:46-47) does a group that does not haveany visible barriers to prevent its assimilation into themajority culture--a move that in most cases is assumed to beboth politically and economically advantageous--choose tomaintain a separate identity. Alverson (1979), Devereux(1975), and DeVos (1975) conclude that boundaries are ameans of preserving self-identity and that membership in agroup is not the result of perceived benefits that theindividual believes will flow his way due to the resourcesthat the group provides. Instead, these authors argue that"membership in itself is [deemed to be] the reason forbelonging [and that this membership is less fluid than Barthposits because] an individual can deny or abandon [his orher] . . . ethnic identity only at a great psychic cost, forit lies at the core of self-identity" (Alverson 1979:16).Ethnic boundaries in Ireland, as Barth has suggestedand as will be illustrated in Chapter Three below, havesometimes been defined in terms of their adaptive advantage.32This first occurred at the time the Anglo-Norman settlers inIreland adopted the Gaelic language and culture, "becomingmore Irish than the Irish," and later, in the wake of HenryVIII's conversion to Protestantism, joined with the nativeIrish to form a single Catholic group (see Kachuk 1987).Adaptive advantage, I will argue, also played a role in thedecision of the Catholic middle and upper classes to abandonthe Irish language and culture--and in some cases theirreligion as well--in favour of the imposed English cultureand language. However, why some of the Catholic ascendancy(i.e., Anglo-Normans) opted to become part of the peasantryrather than become anglicized, why Protestant settlers choseto become culturally and in some cases politicallyidentified as part of a Gaelic-speaking culture, and whyboth groups joined the native Gaels in resistance againstEnglish linguistic hegemony, probably is better explained bythe above psychological arguments of Alverson, Devereux, andDeVos which are at variance with those of Barth. Theoppression and discrimination that the decision to retainthe Irish language and culture brought about could hardly betermed an adaptive advantage (see Chapter Three, below).b) Language as PowerAs Sagarin and Moneymaker (1979:35) argue, "Language ispower . . . and is utilized by both sides in the fight overthe redistribution of power." This section will examine howboth ethnonationalist movements, and the State, utilizelanguage to achieve their political goals.(1) Language and Ethnonationalism: A Tool for EthnicMobilizationLanguage can become a potent weapon when it is used tomobilize and unify an ethnic minority. In the arsenal of amovement seeking separation from a linguistically differentgroup, language can be used to win over such an ethnicminority and develop it into a strong ally of the struggle.To illustrate the intrinsic power of language in anationalist struggle, Fishman (1977:19) writes that:Mobilized ethnicity often makes language intoa dynamic corpus mysticum. It is not only theconveyor of other ethnic symbols. It is not evenmerely an ethnic symbol in and of itself.^It is"flesh of the flesh and blood of the blood" and,therefore, all the more powerful as a conveyor, asa symbol, and as a summum bonum, well worth livingand dying for.3334Even if, as Sagarin and Moneymaker (1979:33) point out,a language is "diminish[ed] in its daily utilization [untilit is] . . . little more than a cultural fossil [it canstill] continue to be a symbolic rallying point for theethnic group." The popularity of language as a mechanismfor winning the support of an ethnic minority toward thegoals and objectives of a nationalist movement, is rooted inits malleability as a symbol, in that: (a) it offers themovement a mark of legitimacy and authenticity (Fishman1977, 1980, 1989); (b) it embodies the indignities inflictedupon a group's ethnolinguistic identity by acolonial/oppressive power (Fishman 1989); and (c) it can bere-cast as a symbol of the group's socio-economic andpolitical oppression (Hechter 1975; Khleif 1979, 1985;Sagarin and Moneymaker 1979). Each of these symboliclinkages is relevant to the understanding of therelationship between the Irish language and the IrishRepublican Movement, and each will be discussed separately.State and nation are acknowledged as having differentmeanings in the literature on politics but in actual usagethe two terms tend to be regarded as interchangeable (Connor1972:333). Richmond (1987:4) writes:The essence of a state is that it is a systemof government exercising supreme authority, havinga monopoly over the legitimate use of military andother coercive agencies within a clearly definedterritory, and whose sovereignty is recognized byother states.Richmond adds that a state may consist of one or morenations.A nation on the other hand, is "a social group whichshares a common ideology, common institutions and customs,and a sense of homogeneity" (Connor 1972:333). While"territory" is a necessary component of a nation, itsboundaries may or may not be coterminous with those of thestate (Connor 1972; Richmond 1987).A central issue thus becomes: When does an ethnic groupform a nation-group whose feelings of nationalism can bemanipulated and intensified to correspond to the beliefs andgoals of a nationalist movement? In a series of articles onthis issue, Connor (1972, 1973, 1978), suggests twoconditions which must be met before an ethnic group becomesa nation. First, the members of the ethnic group mustbecome self-aware of the group's uniqueness, "while anethnic group may, therefore, be other-defined, the nationmust be self-defined" (Connor 1978:338). Secondly, thegroup's members must be aware that the customs, beliefs andattitudes they share are different from those shared byother groups. In other words, the group's members must beconscious that they form a "collective we," while members ofother groups belong to a "collective them."3536It is imperative then, that both a nationalist group'smembers, and their nationalist aspirations be identified asbeing legitimate parts of the "collective we" that they areattempting to mobilize. One of the ways a nationalist groupcan achieve this "collective we" legitimation is throughemphasizing the common linguistic heritage that they sharewith the rest of an ethnic minority. Nationalists can seekthis authenticity directly, not just by promotingidentification with a language but by furthering the"identification of authenticity with a particular languagewhich is experientially unique" (Fishman 1989:274).Nationalists may also pursue authenticity indirectly. Theglorification of an ethnic group's oral and written imageryof the vernacular can be used to awaken and arouse feelingsof difference and a sense of unity within the group.In the case of direct authentication, language andnationality are promoted as being inseparable. Toillustrate this point, Fishman (1989:279) quotes fromSpenser's A View of Ireland, indicating the "naturalnessof the link" between language and nationality:. . . by a single phrase: "So that the speechbeing Irish, the heart must needs be Irish" . . .[and] a Welsh writer of the same period, "Ourtongue cannot be learned by a stranger; its fireburns only in a native breast" (Fishman 1989:279).37Thus, through the promotion of "our language" which isdifferent from "their" language, the group is made consciousof itself as a unique linguistic entity.In the case of indirect authentication, the ethnicgroup's awareness "that the customs, beliefs and attitudesthey share are different from those shared by other groups,"is brought forcefully into consciousness by the newintensified emphasis that nationalism gives to thevernacular. Therefore:. . . through nationalism masses of people attainand maintain a new and a constantly renewed senseof identity and purpose. Their new (or old-new)songs, poems, slogans and proverbs, the movingphrases of their leaders and teachers, theirnational epics and their national literatures, areall part and parcel of a sense of (re)birth,awakening, and mastery . . . (Fishman 1989:287).Finally, language is also used as the vehicle throughwhich an ethnonationalist movement is able to reach into the"glorious past" to authenticate the present. Fishman(1989:276) explains, "vernaculars [are viewed] as directbonds with historical glory (and, therefore, with either thereality or the potentiality for current glory)." Forexample, it is little wonder why Pddraig Pearse's cry fromthe battlefield of 1916, "Ireland, not free only but Gaelicas well; not Gaelic only but free as well!", has been38revived as a slogan of the Republican Movement of today, andwith it the conviction that this time victory will bring aunited thirty-two county Republic of Ireland. As onepolitical Irish language activist in Belfast explained tome:Since the Irish language revival began, we cantrace [its beginnings] back to the time when thefirst people came under attack from the colonialpower. There have always been those people withinthe Irish language movement--revivalistmovement--who have been separatists and whobelieve that reviving the Irish language itselfwould be no use unless you have an independentcountry and a government of your own to rule thatcountry. And I think that over the last 20 years,since 1969, that accent has been among thosepeople who believe along with Pearse that theywant Ireland to not only be Gaelic but free aswell, not only free but Gaelic as well and I thinkthat has come to the fore.An ethnic minority that has been stimulated intoheightened awareness of its own uniqueness and of its own"specific way of ordering belief and experience [and] ofgiving meaning" (Pi-Sunyer 1985:274), in the process becomesconscious that "the collective dominant them" has degradedand suppressed "our" culture, "our" beliefs, and "our"language, in their quest to impose "their" culture, "their"beliefs, and "their" language on "our group." It is these"feelings of linguistic inferiority or cultural suppression"(Khleif 1985:187), that can be effectively utilized by a39nationalist movement to make their cause the cause of thepeople. Quoting from the literature of Ireland, Fishmanshows how linguistic dignity and freedom of the ethnicminority, and the nationalist aspirations of de-colonizationand self-determination come to be one and the same:To impose another language on . . . a peopleis to send their history adrift . . . to teartheir identity from all places. . . . To lose yournative tongue, and learn that of an alien, is theworst badge of conquest--it is the chain on thesoul. To have lost entirely the national languageis death; the fetter has worn through. . . .Nothing can make us believe that it is natural. . . for the Irish to speak the speech of thealien, the invader, the Sassenach tyrant, and toabandon the language of our kings and Heroes.. . . No!, oh no! the "brighter day shall surelycome" and the green flag shall wave on our towersand the sweet old language be heard once more incollege, mart and senate (Thomas Davis 1845,quoted in Fishman 1989:280).Sagarin and Moneymaker (1979:35) claim that languagecan also be, "useful, if not indispensible [for] rallyingpeople in power struggles [even though the] . . . aims,goals and motives of this struggle may be unrelated tolanguage itself." Khleif (1979:350, 348; 1985:178)explains, saying that:. . . an emphasis on language is usually anemphasis on something else--on dignity, identity,and economic power. . . . When a language has beensuppressed, banned, or humiliated, then anemphasis on its resurgence becomes a powerfulsymbol of regeneration. . . . We, therefore,define ethnicity as political mobilization, areaction to a perceived sociocultural threat.The supreme symbol of unity often becomes atraditionally suppressed native language, whichcuts across internal divisions, vested interests,and feelings of inferiority.The denial of language rights via linguisticdiscrimination then, can not be separated from thesocio-economic and political discrimination experienced bythe ethnic minority as a whole. Thus, the power of languageas a symbol of ethnic mobilization is enhanced when it canbe linked to the socio-economic and political issues whichare at the core of a nationalist struggle (Khleif 1979:349;Sagarin and Moneymaker 1979:35). Hechter's (1975) internalcolonialism model proposes one way that language could belinked to socio-economic and political issues and becomeinstrumental in generating an "ethno-regional" movement.Hechter (1975:10) argues that the results of the"uneven spread of modernization" over the state at thebeginning of the industrialization period produced"advanced" and "less advanced" groups. By institutionalizingthis new stratification system, the super-ordinate grouphoped to maintain the advantage gained by having an unevendistribution of resources and power within the state. Theallocation of all social roles was regulated by thesuper-ordinate group. Subordinate groups, denied access to4041positions of power, became dependent on the "advanced"group. As a result of this new system of stratification,termed the "cultural division of labour" by Hechter, groupswith "distinctive ethnic identification" emerged.While theoretically, peripheral groups shouldassimilate into the core, Hechter (1975:43) points out that:When objective cultural differences [in particularlanguage and accent; distinctive religiouspractices; and lifestyle] are superimposed uponeconomic inequalities, forming a cultural divisionof labor, and when adequate communication [throughlanguage societies, cultural festivals and similarinstitutions,] exists as a facilitating factor,the chances for successful political integrationof the peripheral collectivity into the nationalsociety are minimized.Hechter argues that the uneven development of economicresources between culturally dissimilar groups stimulatesreactive collective action by the disadvantaged (peripheral)group. This reactive collective action, Hechter continues,often takes the form of an ethno-regional movement whichseeks to change the allocation of societal resources.The Irish language is closely connected with the ethosof the Republican Movement, both today and in the past, andas such is used as a "symbolic weapon" of resistance by themovement in its struggle for self-determination. After thehunger strike in 1981, Sinn Fein became actively involved inthe Irish language movement, which it saw as an effectivevehicle for raising Irish ethnic awareness. Through thisinvolvement, Sinn Fein was able to mobilize support for andlegitimization of itself and its goals in the nationalistcommunity. Chapter Six, will examine the relationshipbetween Sinn Fein and the Irish language movement, andespecially the often made accusation, "Sinn Fein hashijacked the Irish language."(2) Language and the State: To Win the Hearts and Minds ofthe PeopleSocieties can be divided into ethnic and non-ethnic3groups, the latter being defined as "the dominant orethnically 'neutral' area which represents the ultimate goalof all members of society or at the very least [represents]the standards by which they are measured" (Nagata 1973:331).In those cases where "ethnics" refuse to be assimilated,thus challenging the cultural hegemony of the "non-ethnics",the latter must react.From the above discussion of Williams' model ofcultural hegemony, the "effective dominant culture," whenconfronted with "meanings and practices" that conflict withits own--in the case of Northern Ireland, a completelydifferent language (and all the ethnically distinct identity42that it embodies) as discussed above--will seek to maintainits cultural hegemony through two courses of State action.The State can: (a) "incorporate," these challengingsubordinate "meanings and practices" through"re-interpretation," or "dilution," or by the embodiment ofthese conflicting factors in "forms which support or atleast do not contradict other elements within the effectivedominant culture"; or (b) it can neglect or exclude them insuch a way as to render them undesirable even to thosesegments of the population that identify with these "othermeanings and practices" (Williams 1977:115-116).Tajfel, in his theory of intergroup relations(described in Giles, Bourthis and Taylor 1977:342-343),offers a number of strategies the dominant cultural groupmay employ to devalue and marginalize a minority group'slanguage.^Tajfel describes one method as the "use ofverbal affronts" or "ethnophaulisms" which are employed to"demean members of the subordinate groups." For example, inNorthern Ireland the Irish Catholics are commonly referredto as "Paddies" or "Taigs." Humour is often used by thedominant group "to ridicule members of the subordinate groupwho are attempting to assert their identity." The "Irishbulls" (Irish jokes) have been used historically, and arestill used to ridicule the Irish language and culture (seeCurtis 1968; Curtis 1984; and Chapter 3, below).43Another tactic employed by the dominant group is the use of"rational statements" when "refusing ethnolinguisticminorities their right to develop their own culturaldistinctiveness" (Giles, Bourthis and Taylor 1977:342-343).The often used "rational" argument by the British state fornot supporting the Irish language is that "the language isdead" and has no place in a modern Britain or a unifiedEurope.Tajfel also argues, based on evidence from the UnitedStates, that even when the state appears to be grantinglinguistic rights to ethnic minorities "by means ofbilingual programmes," that these programmes are "actuallydesigned to promote assimilation rather than culturalpluralism." Tajfel concludes that the dominant group, as alast resort, can assert its "linguistic values onto minoritygroups through government legislation" (Giles, Bourthis andTaylor 1977:342-343).All of the above strategies--those of incorporationplus those outlined by Tajfel to undermine and exclude asubordinate language and culture--have been used in bothhistorical and contemporary Northern Ireland to counteractthe threat posed by the Irish language to British linguistichegemony, as will be demonstrated in the following chapters.44III. The PlanIn any construction of knowledge, the conditions ofthe construction must be analyzed. The ideological andemotional agenda of the construction must be examined. Thiswill be done reflexively in Chapter Two. Special attentionwill be given to the methodological and ethical problems ofdoing fieldwork in a dangerous environment. Through myfieldwork experience, the context in which contemporaryIrish language resistance in Belfast is constructed will beelucidated. Using the "beyond the community" approach,Chapter Three will analyze the history of the oppressiveconditions which brought into being the contemporarycounter-hegemonic Irish language activist community in WestBelfast.In the pre-1980 Northern Ireland State, hostility tothe Irish language and what Andrews (1991) describes as a"planned policy of neglect" continued to dominate thegovernment's public transcript. Within the Northern Irishlanguage activist community prior to 1980, open resistanceto government policy was at a low ebb. But despite the lackof serious public challenge to the government's hegemonyover the Irish language community, there were somesignificant actions by these activists prior to 1980.4546Those who organized Irish classes in the 1930s, 40s and50s--the group that in 1969 set up an Irish language housingscheme on Shaws Road in West Belfast, and who in 1971 set upNorthern Ireland's first Irish-medium primary school--andthe activists who in 1936 opened the Cluain Ard (an Irishlanguage club), are today acknowledged as having providedthe basis for the Irish language revival that exploded inthe 1980s. Chapter Four will examine what Scott (1990)would describe as the "apparently calm surface of silenceand consent" that dominated relations between the governmentand the Irish language community prior to 1980.The Irish language has long been the symbolic "badge ofresistance" of republican prisoners.^In 1980, the blanketand dirty protests against the British government's attemptto criminalize the republican struggle were entering theirfifth year. The hunger strike of 1981 marked the next stageof these protests, which before it ended left Ireland withten more martyrs. The image of naked men--wrapped only in ablanket, in filthy cells, some wasting away--teachingthemselves to become fluent Irish speakers, had a tremendousimpact on the nationalist community outside. There was ahuge growth in interest in the Irish language, not justbecause of what was occurring in the jails but also on localstreets. As Sinn Fein, the political wing of the RepublicanMovement gained prominence in the political arena, the47perceived connection between it and the Irish languagemovement became stronger--especially in State propaganda.The next two chapters will explore the relationship betweenIrish republicanism and Irish language activism. ChapterFive will focus on the context of Irish language activism,beginning with the formation of the Northern Ireland Stateand concluding with the 1981 hunger strike and its impact onthe nationalist community. Chapter Six will be devoted toan investigation into the connection between Sinn Fein andthe Irish language revival, following the period of prisonprotests.In contrast to the pre-1980 Irish language activism,during the post-hunger strike period alternative Irishlanguage activists began to demand rights for Irish languagespeakers. The Sinn Fein style of Irish language activismwas not the only model of activism that alternative Irishlanguage activists had available to them to structure theircampaigns. The Welsh model of "direct action" was becomingincreasingly well known in Belfast. After a discussion ofthis model, Chapter Seven will contain a detailedexamination of several individual campaigns by alternativeIrish language activist groups and the State's response.The Chapter will conclude with an analysis of the State'srecent attempts to incorporate the Irish language into theNorthern Ireland context, through re-interpretation anddilution, and the difficulties it faced.48After the hunger strike, the State adopted a dualstrategy of directly targeting republicans on the one handand appealing to the less militant segments of theNationalist population on the other. The mushrooming Irishlanguage revival that followed in the wake of the hungerstrikes prompted the government to make another policydecision: the allocation of funds toward Irish languageinitiatives. However, because it had had nothing to do withthe Irish language for most of the life of the NorthernIreland State, the government had no contacts at the grassroots level. This, in addition to the high profile thatSinn Fein had in the Irish language movement, posed a realproblem when it came to actually funding the language.Therefore, when it started to assume responsibility for theIrish language, the government acknowledged that not all thelanguage activists were revolutionaries but it needed toweed out the most radical elements and those that it feltmight be close to Sinn Fein. GlOr na nGael West BelfastCommittee, an independent Irish language group, was one suchgroup the government felt it must weed out. Chapter Eightwill investigate the strategies used by the government whenthe demands of alternative Irish language activism take theform of a "symbolic declaration of war." The blacklistingof GlOr na nGael, and the impact that this action had on theIrish language activist community will be analyzed.Chapter TwoFieldwork in a Politically Turbulent EnvironmentA "subculture," as defined by Clarke et al. (1976),is said to consist of a subordinate "sub-set" which, throughresistance, is keeping its hegemonic "parent" culture atbay. The authors maintain therefore, that a subculture,"though differing in important ways--in its 'focalconcerns,' its peculiar shapes and activities--from theculture from which it derives, will also share some thingsin common with that 'parent' culture" (Clarke et al.1976:13, emphasis added). While recognizing that throughyears of making and remaking of both the "effective dominantculture," and the subordinate Irish culture in NorthernIreland, the two may have some "meaning and practices" incommon, the "parent" culture of the subordinate Irishculture is not British. Therefore, Irish language activistsdo not represent a sub-culture of the system of culturalhegemony they are resisting. On the other hand, accordingto Cohen (1985), a community is not a physically boundedunit, but instead one constructed by those who claimmembership in it.49Cohen presents the view that:whether or not its structural boundaries remainintact, the reality of community lies in itsmembers' perception of the vitality of itsculture. People construct community symbolically,making it a resource and repository of meaning,and a referent of their identity (Cohen 1985:118).Irish language activists use language as a symbolicmechanism to distinguish themselves from the linguisticallyand culturally different "effective dominant culture" inNorthern Ireland, and as such can be said to constitute acommunity.With the discussion of ethnicity and ethnic boundariesin Chapter One in mind, and in concurrence with Cohen's(1985) definition of a "community," the analysis presentedhere will be based on a community study. I will provide adetailed account of the "community" of Irish languageactivists in West Belfast and their resistance to Britishcultural hegemony in Northern Ireland. This community ismade up of two main groups of Irish language activists, withsimilar linguistic interests but differing aims.Alternative Irish language activists are attempting tosecure a permanent space for the Irish language and culturein Northern Ireland, regardless of the political future ofthe area, while oppositional Irish language activists, havemade the Irish language an integral part of theirrevolutionary ideology and strategy.50.51In this chapter the methods used to study the nature ofcultural hegemony and resistance in Northern Ireland will bediscussed. There are no politically neutral terms to usefor either territorial designations, or groups of people inNorthern Ireland--including the term "Northern Ireland"itself. The first section of the chapter will introduce themain actors in the cultural struggle, and elucidate mysomewhat querulous solution to the dilemma of politicallyneutral terms. My interaction with the participants in thesometimes hostile, sometimes beguiling, and always enigmaticenvironment of war-torn Belfast will be taken up in the nextsection.During an interview I was told, "people in WestBelfast are in pain, they're drinking too much, you sort ofget very depressed, you're asked for direct answers toquestions when there are no direct answers. There's noblack and white anything." With this in mind, theconcluding section of this chapter will detail themethodology used to investigate Irish language resistance toBritish cultural hegemony.I. A Terminological Muddle: The Search for PoliticalNeutralityA. The ActorsBoth the dominant and the subordinate groups inNorthern Ireland are neither politically nor religiouslyhomogeneous. The Northern Ireland population ofapproximately 1.5 million (sixty percent Protestant andforty percent Catholic) is broadly labeled as eitherunionist/loyalist or nationalist/republican.Unionists identify themselves culturally andpolitically as British. They are mostly monarchists andwish Northern Ireland to remain as part of the UnitedKingdom. Religiously, unionists are predominantly, but notexclusively, Protestant. From my research, a findingstatistically confirmed by Sluka (1989), approximately fiveto ten percent of the Catholic population in NorthernIreland do see themselves as British, and support union withBritain. Politically, unionists range from those whosupport total union with Britain--a situation in whichWestminster would continue to rule Northern Ireland directly(as it has done since 1972)--to those who want devolution--areturn to the pre-1972 period when the local Stormontparliament had complete decision making power in NorthernIreland affairs. These two opposing political views arerepresented by the two major unionist political parties:5253the Official Unionist Party, and the Democratic UnionistParty.The Official Unionist Party (OUP), is the largestpolitical party, and the one that provided government in theNorth from the formation of the Northern Ireland State in1922, until direct rule in 1972. While many OUP memberssupport continued total union with Britain, others areseeking what the leader of the OUP terms "administrativedevolution" (Molyneaux 1990). Under administrativedevolution some decision making powers, especially thoseconcerned with law-making, would remain the under thebailiwick of Westminster. Other areas, such as housing,health, and education, would be handled by one or moreregional councils (Ulster Unionist Party, n.d.).The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), was founded in1971 by Rev. Ian Paisley, the founder of the FreePresbyterian Church, and by the then MP and former OUPmember, Desmond Boal. The party takes a strong stance onpreventing anything Irish from tainting the British identityin Northern Ireland. To quote from its 1985 electionmanifesto:The DUP being totally committed to the Union withGreat Britain and implacably opposed to an AllIreland Republic, utterly rejects any involvementby Dublin in the affairs of Northern Ireland(Democratic Unionist Party 1985:2).Unlike the OUP, the DUP wants the re-establishment ofthe full decision-making powers of the Stormont Parliament.Having democratic Stormont rule as a top prioritythe DUP refuses to countenance support foranything which would delay or impede the return ofpowers to the Stormont Assembly (DUP 1985:3).Loyalists represent an extreme unionist view, andbelieve that there should be no Irish influence, cultural orpolitical, in Northern Ireland. A portion of the Loyalistpopulation is actively involved in one of two major Loyalistparamilitary groups--the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF), andthe Ulster Defense Association (UDA). These groups maintainthat they are not sectarian and their targets arerepublicans, enemies of the British state. Loyalistparamilitary groups see their duty as performing tasksshirked by British security forces (see Ulster VolunteerForce 1974). The claim by the loyalist paramilitaries thatthey target only republicans, and the generally acceptednotion that their activity is "reactive" to IRA violencerather than "proactive," has been challenged in a recentlyreleased special report.^It was disclosed that during thecurrent "troubles," only twenty of the more than eighthundred victims of loyalist paramilitaries were republicans(Thornton 1992:1).Nationalists and republicans identify themselves asculturally and politically Irish, and envision an eventual54_5_5reunification of Ireland as a necessary element in thesolution to the present conflict. While the perception of"the problem" in Northern Ireland varies somewhat betweenthe two groups, the basic difference between them is overthe means by which unification should be achieved. Despitea predominantly Catholic membership of both groups, a numberof Protestants I interviewed during my fieldwork, identifiedthemselves as either nationalists or republicans andmaintained that Ireland should indeed be reunited. Asociological study conducted in 1968 claimed thatapproximately twenty percent of Protestants in NorthernIreland described themselves as Irish (Fitzgerald 1988:198).Moderate nationalists politically support the SocialDemocratic and Labour Party (SDLP). The SDLP was formed in1970 with a socialist platform that sought to end politicaland economic discrimination of the Catholic population inNorthern Ireland. It strongly opposes the use of violenceas a means of bringing about a united Ireland. Instead, theSDLP believes that through dialogue, compromise, andagreement among the four groups concerned (the unionists,the nationalists, and the British and Irish governments), asolution to the present conflict can be worked out(6 hAdhmaill 1990a:700). The SDLP were:prepared to accept an interim internal NorthernIreland settlement, prior to Irish reunification[or to] accept a compromise settlement which wouldinvolve both the British and Irish States.However, it was clear that the overwhelming viewwithin the SDLP was that there must eventually besome sort of special constitutional linkagebetween North and South. In its view, this couldbe achieved only through dialogue and persuasion(6 hAdhmaill 1990a:700-701).The Republican Movement consists of a politicalbase--Sinn Fein—with a military component--the IrishRepublican Army (IRA). Unlike the SDLP, Sinn Fein maintainsthat peace is only possible following a complete Britishwithdrawal from Northern Ireland. After this withdrawal,Sinn Fein proposes an "all Ireland solution" in whichunionists, loyalists, nationalists, republicans, Catholicsand Protestants, both north and south of the border, woulddecide Ireland's future together. The Republican Movementand its supporters, therefore, see Britain as the mainobstacle to a political solution in Northern Ireland, andview "the problem" as British imperialism which can only beremoved through armed struggle (6 hAdhmaill 1990a:700). TheIRA, in carrying out this armed struggle, claims as itsprime targets those who symbolically represent the Britishstate via its military, legal, and administrative apparatusin Northern Ireland.^In keeping with republican ideology,the IRA is not governed by sectarian motives, thus iftargets of the IRA fit its definition of "legitimate,"religious beliefs will not mitigate the consequences (seeBell 1990). While the IRA is primarily involved in an armed5657struggle against the formal institutions of the Britishstate, the aims of the Republican movement go beyond theremoval of the political and economic influence of theBritish state in Ireland. The Republican vision of a "free"Ireland includes the replacement of the present British"effective dominant culture" with a distinctively Irish one,whose makeup is determined by all the people of Ireland.The British state, contrary to republican views, claims"the problem" in Northern Ireland to be a religious conflictbetween Catholics and Protestants, and portrays its role asa mediator, trying to bring the "two communities" peacefullytogether (Foreign and Commonwealth Office 1988).Twenty-three years of war in Northern Ireland has resultedin an enormous drain on the British economy. Recent actionsby the State hint that Britain is looking for a way towithdraw from Northern Ireland without loss of face. Thenegotiation of the Anglo-Irish Agreement in 1985, and theperiodic revival of the "talks" process in which members ofthe two Unionist parties, the SDLP, and the British andIrish governments attempt to reach some sort of agreement onNorthern Ireland's political future, attest to the State'sdesire to withdraw with honour.Were the British to simply and immediately withdrawfrom Northern Ireland, as suggested by the RepublicanMovement, this action could be interpreted by the British58public as an IRA victory, and by the international communityas giving in to terrorism. Loyalists have alreadyinterpreted these recent measures by the British governmentto reach a political solution to the conflict in NorthernIreland as a betrayal of the Protestant majority. As aresult, Unionists have waged a vigorous "Ulster Says No"campaign against the Anglo-Irish agreement. These feelingsof betrayal have also resulted in a deadlock in the "talks"process on the issue of involvement of the Irish governmentin Northern Ireland's future. Thus, a negotiated settlementthat excludes Sinn Fein, and which could be interpreted as aBritish victory does not seem likely.When republicans use the term Brits, they aredescribing those who are involved directly in implementingor in maintaining "British colonial rule" in NorthernIreland: the Security Forces, those supplying goods andservices to the Security Forces, politicians, judges, and soon. The term British is usually used in reference to theBritish government or more abstractly to the British state,rather than to the British people, whom republicans regardas uninformed in what their government is doing in NorthernIreland.The Northern Ireland Office is under the direct controlof Westminster and the office holders in it are appointed bythe ruling party in the British House of Commons.59The security forces consist of, the Royal UlsterConstabulary (RUC), the Royal Irish Regiment (RIR)--whichuntil July 1991, was called the Ulster Defence Regiment(UDR)--and the British Army. To most unionists, the RUC arethe equivalent of a community police force. To the majorityof nationalists and all republicans, the RUC is a sectarianparamilitary police force. The RIR is a locally raised,mainly part-time force within the British army structure.It is perceived as decidedly sectarian, by nationalists andrepublicans alike.B. The TerritoryAll terms used to describe the geographical division ofIreland are imbued with political implications. NorthernIreland is the legal name for that portion of the ancientIrish province of Ulster politically claimed by Britain in1922 when Ireland was divided. This term is most commonlyused in unionist or British discourse and occasionally alsoin nationalist and republican discourse.Unionist and loyalist discourse has its own set ofpertinent terminology. The term Ulster is used in place ofNorthern Ireland, and to emphasize the "constitutionalrelationship between Northern Ireland and Britain" (legally60England, Scotland and Wales), the term United Kingdom isoften used (Rowthorn and Wayne 1988:14). The term mainland,is used to reinforce the notion that Britain is the"mainland" to Northern Ireland. Province is used in thesame sense--to emphasize that Northern Ireland is a provinceof Britain. The Southern portion of Ireland is referred toas the Republic of Ireland its legal name, or Eire its Irishequivalent. Eire, according to Rowthorne and Wayne(1988:13), "is a name rarely heard in the Republic; morecommonly it is used by people in Northern Ireland who arestrongly opposed to a united Ireland as it makes theRepublic sound foreign."In the discourse of the nationalist population,Northern Ireland becomes the Six Counties, backed by theargument that the ancient province of Ulster had ninecounties and only six of them are "occupied" by Britain.Nationalists refer to the rest of Ireland, not included inthe Six Counties, as the Twenty-Six Counties. Northernrepublicans usually derogatorily refer to the rest ofIreland as the Free State, and its inhabitants as FreeStaters. These terms refer to a period just after thepartition of Ireland, when the South or "Free State" wasgiven the status of a self-governing dominion under theBritish Crown. Republicans, in using these terms, arereminding the people south of the border that until all ofIreland is free, the entire island remains under Britishcontrol. Often nationalists will just refer to thegeographical division of Ireland, that is, they will talkabout, the North of Ireland or the South.In this analysis, the term Northern Ireland will beused as its meaning is most widely understood. What islegally called the Republic of Ireland will be referred tohere as the South, as the term is more geographicallycorrect and less politically problematic. Britain is usedin its legal sense, that is the union of England, Scotlandand Wales. British, throughout this work is usually used asa modifier, for example, the British state. The phrasesBritish linguistic hegemony and British cultural hegemonyare used interchangeably to describe the linguistic andcultural legacy of the "effective dominant culture" thatprevails in Northern Ireland.61II. Fieldwork in a Dangerous Environment: Challenge andSurvivalA. The Research SettingBelow the approach to Belfast's Aldergrove airport arewhitened stones in a farmer's field spelling out the word"Peace." This was my first glimpse of the city that was tobe my home for the next fifteen months. During my stay inBelfast, I would remember this solitary missive asidealistic, and far removed from the reality in which Ifound myself. As I was subsequently informed by a friend,"You always live in a state of unease; never sure if youwill be alive at the end of the day or what will happennext." In response to my inquiry as to whether one evergets accustomed to this unease, another friend replied, "Younever really get used to it. You get angry, you get scared,but never used to it."Visitors to Belfast can spend their entire stay seeingonly the occasional military vehicle, and if they go to thecity centre having their passage delayed by the ubiquitousgates that only open to allow "authorized" traffic to pass.In the area I studied, the evidence of State reaction torepublican resistance was everywhere. Permanent barricadesof concrete and corrugated iron--the so called "peacewalls"--partially contained the communities studied. Largeboulders decorated the fronts of taverns, and other likely6263targets of car bombs. During "marching season," when theOrangemen celebrate King William III's victory over theCatholic King James II at the Battle of the Boyne (seeLarson 1982a, 1982b), twenty foot high screens attached toarmy trucks, temporarily sealed off nationalist areas in thepath of marchers. Then there were the personal barricadesin the homes of a number of people I interviewed andvisited: the bullet proof glass in the living room andkitchen windows; the front door reinforced with iron andsecured with three or more locks of various types; the clubby the door to use in case the locks didn't work; thewrought iron gate installed at the bottom of the stairs andpadlocked at night to prevent access to the bedrooms fromthe ground floor. Usually, I was told that when a person'sname is on a Loyalist paramilitary "hit list," the securityforces inform the "target," and then the next move is to goto the DHSS (Department of Housing and Social Services) whoprovide partial funding for the installation of securitygates and doors.Belfast is a society under surveillance. Cameras areeverywhere: on building walls; on observation towers;looking down from army barracks; perched on top of apartmentbuildings. Your movements are recorded, walking or drivingon the streets of nationalist Belfast. Helicopters hoverday and night, equipped with infrared cameras, maintaining awatch from the sky.IRA warning posters tell the citizens of West Belfastto:Stay Clear Isolate the EnemyThe primary consideration of Oglaigh naheireann active service units while exploring theviability of any operation is the safety of thecivilian population in the area. As a result manyactions are cancelled or delayed, greatlyendangering the security and lives of ourVolunteers, because of the proximity of civiliansto crown forces personnel, installations andvehicles.We therefore appeal for your co-operationand understanding and ask you to stay clear of allcrown forces personnel (Republican Movement 1990).As I walked to a lecture on Irish mythology a couple ofdays after the posters went up, I found myself surrounded bydozens of army troops and several RUC members who saturatedboth sidewalks and formed a line down the centre of theroad. My thoughts were verbalized by a woman who looked atme and said with indignation, "How do they expect us toisolate them? They're everywhere.""You are never allowed to remove yourself from the everpresent reality of a war zone," I wrote in my journal inAugust of 1990. That morning as I walked to my Irish classat the GlOr na nGael office on Falls Road, I had allowed mymind to wander--composing articles and books that could bewritten. My journal entry read:64While I was completely caught up in mythoughts, I still had an awareness of mysurroundings so as to keep from walking intopeople and other more stationary obstacles. As Iapproached Glor na nGael I looked down for somereason--maybe I heard a grunt or some sense ofdanger abruptly brought me back to reality, Idon't know--I do know my eyes focused on acrouching British soldier, his rifle but a footfrom my forehead. I gasped and jumped, my heartpounding. By the time I reached GlOr na nGael, aminute away, I was angry at showing him my fear,at reacting, and at allowing him to be aware ofthese feelings. I imagined a grin forming on hisface.At times like this your helplessness becomesa vivid reality. My taxi driver classmate said,after the first time it is less frightening. Butthis wasn't the first time.^It belies the myththat you get used to it--"it" (the situation), isnever far from your consciousness. The taxiclassmate said, "They make you feel this small,"demonstrating with his fingers less than an inchapart. He's right.Thursday and Friday usually brought bomb alerts.Obstructions made walking difficult, and bus travelimpossible. I was confronted with the reality that not allalerts were hoaxes when a bomb was thrown across the path ofthe taxi I was riding in, exploding near its intendedtarget, an army vehicle. I was told that there are"spotters" in all areas memorizing the faces of strangers.This aroused my suspicions of every strange car drivingthrough the neighbourhood, or every parked car with a personjust sitting, supposedly reading. Often attacks were madeby people on motorcycles, hence the surge of adrenalinwhenever I saw one approaching. Seeing people being bodily6_566searched on the streets was always accompanied with thethought--what would happen if I was stopped and the tape ofthe interview I had just completed was discovered. I wasalmost to find out when, after attending the annual march inmemory of the government's internment policy, an RUC memberjumped from his vehicle and began running toward me (theonly person on the street at the time). Realizing my safetylay among the local people, I quickly went into a nearbycrowded fast-food restaurant, at which point my pursuerapparently changed his mind. I was not comforted when a mansaid to his friend, "He was going to lift that girl," andthen to me, "He nearly arrested you."There was also the constant concern that the securityforces would search where I was staying, and confiscate myresearch material. After a three week stay with a friend inWest Belfast, I decided that while I would have beenphysically safer there, the threat of house searches in thearea was more common. In West Belfast, the friendliness ofthe locals could not mitigate the oppressive atmosphere ofconstant surveillance, and I decided to relocate. As my newlandlord in North Belfast put it, "You have to be born there[West Belfast] to live there," although getting used tooppression (even if possible), is bound to leavepsychological scars. The district in North Belfast where Ieventually settled was known as "murder mile." It gained67this appellation after being the location of one quarter ofall killings in Northern Ireland during the last twenty ormore years of conflict. Despite its reputation, there wasconsiderably less military presence in the area and fewerhouse searches. One reason for this may have been the RUC'sinitiative in North Belfast to improve its image toCatholics, and in so doing encourage them to report any IRAactivity in the area (see Irish News 1991:1).^It was notuntil fourteen days before I was to fly home to Vancouver,that five RUC members did try, at 7:30 a.m., to enter myresidence. Getting no response from constant hammering onthe door, they were finally dissuaded from their task by theattention they attracted from neighbours. Thus, sympatheticneighbours, and I suspect a lack of proper authority,defused what could have been an anthropological disaster,not to mention a personal one.B. Negotiating Roles in the FieldOlesen and Whittaker (1967) view the researcher's rolein participant observation, "as a mutual venture in whichreciprocal interpersonal exchanges between the researchinvestigator and the actor result in more or less mutuallymeaningful, well understood, viable social roles" (Olesenand Whittaker 1967:274). The authors maintain that the68reliability and validity of the data gathered can be greatlyinfluenced by the outcome of this process of rolenegotiation.My interest in Northern Ireland dates back to 1986when I was searching for a topic for my MA thesis. Myknowledge of Ireland was minimal at this time, however,stimulated by the interest in Ireland of my committee chair,I selected as my topic Celtic mythology with an emphasis onIrish folklore. I did not have a wide background infolklore or myth, but was interested in the methods by whichthe media, along with other more politically motivatedgroups, employed these topics in an attempt to manipulatethe opinions of the population at large. Therefore, togarner information on Celtic mythology, my husband and Iembarked on a search of university and national libraries inEngland, Scotland, and Wales. Ireland was not included inmy itinerary at this time.When I was not searching through shelves of dusty tomesin pursuit of exciting primary source material, I wasenjoying local tourist attractions. High on my list ofpriorities was a visit to the Central Criminal Court, or OldBailey. Having always had an avid interest injurisprudence, mainly spurred by reading books on crime(both fiction and non-fiction), the prospect of observingthe English legal system in action held a singular69fascination for me. As I stood in the long queue outsidethe court, my excitement rose as I heard that this day's"major attraction" was the trial of the IRA's "Brightonbomber," Patrick McGee. McGee was also on trial forplanning, along with four other conspirators (two men andtwo women), a series of hotel bombings, scheduled to beginduring the summer of 1986. While I passed through the metaldetector; was subjected to two separate body searches; hadmy passport examined; my name and address recorded; statedthat "no" I did not personally know any of the accused; andthen took a seat in the front row of the visitors' gallery,I wondered what these "terrorists" would look like. Mycomposite portrait of a criminal came from a combination ofthe strong negative images imparted whenever a person islabelled a terrorist, along with many hours in my youthabsorbed in reading Agatha Christie novels, and tales ofmass killers. When the accused were brought into thecourtroom, however, my image was shattered. They adheredmore closely to my image of ordinary law abiding citizens.A flood of questions about the societal conditions thatwould motivate these people to engage in such extreme actsof violence poured into my mind. On my return to universityin the Fall of that year, I changed my research topic fromCeltic mythology to Irish nationalism, which I went on topursue ethno-historically in my Master's Thesis.70In 1987, a meeting of Commonwealth leaders was held inVancouver. To bring attention to issues not covered by theCommonwealth Conference, a second meeting, the AlternativeCommonwealth Conference, was to run concurrently with it.It was the latter meeting which I attended, and where I meta member of Sinn Fein who would prove pivotal to myresearch.After learning of my M.A. thesis and indicating Iwished to pursue this topic at a Ph.D. level, he invited meto Belfast, promising that he would introduce me tonationalists so I could learn about Irish nationalismfirst-hand. In June of 1988, I partook of his offer, andduring my seventeen-day stay spoke with many people inBelfast, Derry, and Crossmaglen. I met both supporters andnon-supporters of Sinn Fein, and got an overpoweringintroduction to what it is like to be a nationalist and livein Northern Ireland. During this trip, I discussed withSinn Fein representatives, the feasibility of doing futureresearch in Belfast.^I received the assurance that, as faras they were concerned, such research would be acceptable.When I arrived in Belfast on February 13, 1990, Iinitially stayed with the family of a friend from Vancouver.Shortly after my arrival in Belfast I re-contacted thepeople at Sinn Fein and gave them a copy of my dissertationproposal, explaining that I wanted to be educated about what71it is like to be a nationalist or a republican living inBelfast. A Sinn Fein representative told me that I wouldhave to educate myself by talking to the people. However,it was added that if I had a specific request or needed aninterview arranged relating to a specific topic--for examplewith prisoners or their families--Sinn Fein would be able tohelp me. I took Sinn Fein at its word and if I neededspecific information--for example the location of a safeplace to get my film developed--or wanted to interview theirmembers on research related topics I did not hesitate toask. I attended and taped lectures and speeches at eventsand marches arranged by Sinn Fein with no difficulty. SinnFein did not inquire as to what my conclusions were or how Iplanned to present them. In a way I was surprised by thislack of inquisitiveness by Sinn Fein.^I felt that if I rana revolutionary movement, I would certainly want to knowwhat was to be disclosed about me and my supporters.However, such was not the case.The IRA itself did not concern me during my stay inNorthern Ireland, an attitude that I now consider may havebeen somewhat naive. I was however, always conscious of thepossibility that I might be in the proximity of an explodingbomb, or caught in the cross-fire of a tactical operation.While Sinn Fein did not complicate my research, I soondiscovered the necessity of knowing the politics of theperson I was speaking with, before identifying myself as a72researcher. While returning home to North Belfast from aceili (dance) at a social club in West Belfast on St.Patrick's Day 1990 my taxi driver, who worked for a firm inWest Belfast, asked me if I was visiting Belfast. Underwhat turned out to be a mistaken assumption that since hewas from a nationalist area and worked for a nationalisttaxi company, he was probably a nationalist, and as suchwould be interested in my work, I said "No, I am doingacademic research here on what it is like to be anationalist and to live in Belfast." He replied that he wasa nationalist but was only concerned with raising his kids.Then he turned to me and said could I prove I wasn't a CIAspy over to gather information for the British.^I repliedthat he could check with Sinn Fein because they knew me. Hebelligerently denied any interest in Sinn Fein, and askedagain if I could prove I was not a spy.^By this time,having stopped in front of my residence, we were having aquite heated discussion. He did not seem in any hurry toleave so I responded to him that I could see his point andthat in reality I could tell him I was not a spy, but I didnot have any way to prove I was not a spy. He then said tome, "What's stopping me from going over to a loyalist hitsquad after I leave here, and saying to them that there isthis Canadian anthropologist staying over on [my address]and that she's a supporter of the IRA." I agreed that therewas nothing stopping him from doing this.73I had not been prepared for the possibility that peoplemay assume I was a spy--an accusation that was difficult forme to refute.^I did not believe that the taxi driver wouldcarry out his threat, however from then on my response toany taxi driver who asked if I was over on holidays was"yes," and that I was visiting friends and would bereturning home to America in a month or so.The only other threat I received was from a friend, whotold me with great sincerity that if I proved to be anythingdifferent from what I presented myself to be, that she wouldput a bullet in my brain. These incidents were greatincentives to pursue my research objectives, and not delveinto areas that may have satisfied my curiosity, but couldhave put into question my motives for being there.In loyalist areas, where I did a lot of photographingof murals and slogans, I was more cautious. The peoplehowever were friendly, and since I was not judgmental oftheir stories--either verbally or non-verbally--were quitetalkative. In these areas I retained the aura of a foreignvisitor.^I was always conscious of the danger loyalistparamilitaries presented but was not unduly concerned.The majority of people in Belfast, Catholic andProtestant, accepted me as an academic, genuinely interestedin their lives, and went out of their way to help me in myresearch. I do believe my being a woman aided myacceptance, because although many women are actually74involved in the conflict, men are the primary targets of theIRA, loyalist paramilitaries, and the security forces.^Ialso represented the outside world, and the people ofNorthern Ireland, especially the nationalists andrepublicans, want the world to know the truth of what ishappening. Other possible reasons for my acceptance mayhave been: because I was alone; my willingness to learn theIrish language; my participation in some of the things thatwere of symbolic and real importance to the nationalistpeople, such as the annual marches and commemorations, orthe "Save the Belfast Hills" walk.^I was very visible as Iroamed the streets most days. I listened to people and didnot pass judgment on them, and in discussion with peopleshared my life experiences with them. One woman evenexpressed concern that I may have sacrificed my marriage tocome over to Northern Ireland to study. I assured her I hadnot done so.C. Ethical ConsiderationsThe "Principles of Professional Responsibility" adoptedby the American Anthropological Association (1973) proclaimthat "an anthropologist's paramount responsibility is tothose he studies . . . when there is a conflict of interest[i.e., between the anthropologist's responsibility to thosestudied and those of the public, the discipline, one'ssponsors, or one's own or host government], theseindividuals must come first."Many of the difficulties of adhering strictly to theAAA stated responsibility of the anthropologist in cases ofconflict of interest, are brought to light in a book byPunch (1986), which outlines such key ethical issues asconsent, deception, privacy, identification,confidentiality, sponsorship, freedom to publish, etc.Punch (1986:29, 30, 34-35) discusses many of the politicaland moral dilemmas that arose in my field work, the mostpertinent are enumerated here in the form of questions:(1) Are there areas that should not be researched?(2) Does the end (knowledge) justify thescientific means?(3) Does the researcher enjoy any immunity fromthe law when refusing to disclose information?(4) What is public and what is private?(5) When can research be said to be "harming"people?After deciding on Northern Ireland as the location ofmy fieldwork, I next chose to centre my interest on theexperiential reality of the daily warfare for the ordinarycitizen, not the armed struggle per se.^I neither soughtnor was I told any details of IRA war operations, as thiswas not part of my research.7576The understanding of the dimensions of domination andresistance at the local level is, in my opinion, a necessarystep toward the eventual resolution of ethnonationalistconflict, not just in Northern Ireland but in similar venuesthroughout the world. As my aim is to contribute to thisunderstanding of domination and resistance, it was crucialthat my analysis be based on extended fieldwork, seeking toinvestigate this relationship as it was acted out ineveryday life. Therefore, the potential knowledge gainedfrom such research superseded the inherent dangers for boththe researcher and the researched.Northern Ireland affords no immunity to its citizens(or its visiting academics), from arrest and imprisonment ofup to ten years if the material in their possession isdeemed "likely to be useful to terrorists" (Clause 30 and 31of the Northern Ireland Emergency Provisions Bill 1991).Equally relevant is that there are no "safe" places inNorthern Ireland to secure research data gathered, and shortof burning it--a measure I was prepared to take--suchmaterial is always in danger of being confiscated. Thepeople I interviewed knew the risk of providing a permanentrecord of their accounts, probably better than I did, butthey were willing to take that risk. For my part, I tookevery precaution possible, under the circumstances, to avoidattracting the attention of security forces.^I also tookthe precaution of coding my fieldnotes and journal entries77to exclude all names and more blatant identifying features.Keys to the codes used were mailed to my husband inVancouver. Audio tapes in the field posed the greatest riskas names, places and dates often were used by my respondentsin relating the history of an event. In the process oftranscription, this identifying material has been coded andthe original tapes erased. However, the fieldworkexperience offered little time for the processing of tapes,thus the transcription and erasure of tapes, had to bepostponed until my arrival home.The attempts to present data in a manner that wouldprotect the identity of the interviewee has posed manydifficulties during the actual writing of this dissertation.Some of the information given to me was backgroundinformation, and for "my eyes only," while other informationcould be quoted. However, it was often not clearlydesignated which information was which. This was especiallytrue when I got to know my respondent before the interviewand it was assumed I would understand what was and wasn'tfor disclosure. My decision about disclosure was furthercomplicated by the knowledge that a mistake in judgment onmy part could be fatal to the people I interviewed.My research was primarily focused on the symbolicexpression of Irishness as a form of resistance. Those whoproduce these symbols of resistance, such as poster andmural artists, or public advocates of the Irish language,78have been designated as targets for loyalist paramilitaries.Therefore, my presentation of data received, and especiallyinformation from ex-prisoners, had to be scrutinized withgreat diligence lest a clue to the identity of the author begiven. There is no definite way of knowing that whatappears to me (an outsider) to be an innocent statement mayin fact jeopardize an interviewee's physical safety. Tolimit the risk of accidental identification of the sourcesof personal communication, I have followed Feldman's(1991:12) example and broken apart interviews, distributingthem non-sequentially throughout this work, between sectionsof analysis.^In addition, I have only identified thespeaker as an alternative Irish language activist, aspokesperson for Sinn Fein, or an ex-prisoner. When theterm Irish language activist is used alone, it is referringto alternative Irish language activists.D. The Problem of ObjectivityThe positivist contends that there are "discrete,""recognizable," "objective," and "true" facts that theresearcher can discover by using a set of "widely known andaccepted," standardized interviewing methods, and theninterpreting them by using "neutral" scientific theories(Hammersley and Atkinson 1983:4-5; Whittaker 1986:xvi).79In contrast to this view, Schutz (1964:5) argues that "thereare no such things as facts, pure and simple. All facts arefrom the outset . . . interpreted facts." Not only are allfacts interpreted, Descombes (1985) argues that "acceptedfacts" are a question of power--that is, general acceptancedepends on the power of the interpreter. He writes, "Ifthere is any controversy about a fact, the question arises:who is to settle the matter and how? It is obvious thatthis last question is a question of right" (Descomes1985:58).^In Northern Ireland "all facts" are"interpreted," and power plays a significant role indetermining which facts become generally accepted and whichare suppressed.^In this dissertation, the "facts" presentedare the interpretations of the social world of the actorsinvolved. My theoretical bias, albeit scientific, will ofnecessity determine how these facts are structured.Neither is this analysis free of my own biasesregarding victimization. Positivists have argued that"knowledge is gained ready-made, unspoiled by biases"(Whittaker 1986:xvi), and prejudices of the researcher canbe readily eliminated, "by an act of self-assertion"(Weinsheimer 1985), hence the "guiding presuppositions" thatgovern "analysis and methodological questioning" are neverqueried (Palmer 1969:233). Put another way, the notion ofscientific objectivity argues that since "scientific ideasare . . . morally and socially neutral things, . • •80objects, or commodities rather than states of mind"(Whittaker 1981:447), they do not have an "observer effect"on the research.Positivists, also argue that like their "scientificideas" and "guiding presuppositions," they themselves haveno "observer effect" on the research environment. Lopate(1979:322) writes that positivists, "like other'scientists'. . . have bought the ideology of objectivityand neutrality and [tried] to give the impression that theywere homunculi floating through the communities theystudied, unobservable to those they observed." I was notunobserved by those I studied and with whom I shared mypersonal experiences. As one such person told me, "whetheror not you go back and write about us it doesn't matter. Bycoming here and being my friend, my life is now different,and your life is now different. After you leave I will bedoing something and suddenly remember, Pat and I talkedabout this and she said such and such." The people Istudied and who showed me such uninhibited kindness didchange me, and even if they had not been so accepting, Icould not morally have overlooked the oppressivecircumstances under which they lived. As Roger Keesingnotes:It is being realized that not taking a politicalposition, not making a moral commitment, is notneutral: it is making a commitment--to the supportand continuation of the system of which one is apart and within which one is workinganthropologically. If one does not "notice"oppression or injustices or exploitation becauseone is only a scientist and science does notconcern itself with political issues, then one isbeing myopic and self-deluding about objectivity.Ultimately amorality is immorality (quoted inHuizer 1979:6).Dumont (1992:133) echoes these sentiments when writingof his research in the Philippines:Because violence remains hopelessly entangled withthe issue of legitimacy, it is fair and necessaryto state, once more, that I have no pretension toobjectivity. There are villains in my biasedstory, and I shall let them wear the black hats.Therefore, while I make no claim to completeimpartiality (scientific or otherwise) in my analysis, thisis not to imply that I have ignored the contradictions,inconsistencies, and nuances encountered in the field--theyare dealt with in a thorough manner. As well, I haveattempted to give my "villains" a chance to defend theirmalevolence toward the Irish language, by quoting theirrationalizations offered in the print and electronic media.The ultimate choice lies with the reader in determiningwhether these rationalizations have been correctlyinterpreted.81III. Methodology: Data Collection and Research TechniquesA. Participant/ObservationThe majority of my time during the fifteen months offieldwork in Belfast, was spent attending demonstrations,marches, local talks, exhibitions, and events.^I readlocally produced material, and walked the streets ofBelfast, observing, and at every opportunity, speaking tolocal people about their experiences in the besieged city.During my fieldwork there were several majorcommemorations, including the seventy-fifth anniversary ofthe 1916 Easter Rising; the tenth anniversary of the hungerstrike; the twentieth anniversary of the Falls curfew andthe three hundredth anniversary of the Battle of the Boyne.Many events and marches in observance of these occasionswere included in my itinerary. Local events attended wereas diverse as: (a) a lecture series on "Liberation Theology:An Irish Perspective," and the "Law and Society Series," ondiscrimination; (b) conferences such as, "1690 Educate NotCelebrate"; "Painting A Different Picture" (Radical ArtsConference); "State Power: Can It Be Controlled?" (aconference sponsored by Committee on The Administration ofJustice); "Ireland: The Way Forward" (a three dayinternational conference put on by Springhill Community8283Centre in West Belfast); (c) local solidarity events such as"Nicaragua Solidarity Night" (sponsored by the BelfastNicaragua Solidarity Group); and a show of support for thevisiting delegation from the American Indian Movement; (d)other events including ceilis (dances), and folk nights,etc. I attended fourteen marches in all, including theInternational Women's Day march, halted twice by securityforces preventing the women of West Belfast from joiningtheir Protestant, and academic "sisters" at Belfast CityHall. Security forces effectively disrupted the women'sattempt at a meaningful demonstration by forcing the FallsRoad marchers back in the direction of West Belfast.More specific to my Irish language research, I took twosix-week intensive Irish language courses from GlOr nanGael, and at the end of the first course passed theexamination to receive a silver Fainne, the badge of anIrish learner. I attended and taped a series of lecturessponsored by GlOr na nGael on the history of the Irishlanguage, Irish place names, and Irish myths and legends. Iwas present at an all day Irish language conference at whichIrish language issues such as Irish language television,schools, and prisoners', Welsh and Irish language rightswere discussed. I joined a woman's group called Fainne namban (Women of the Ffiinne), and joined in monthlyget-togethers. Typical of such occasions would be a readingof members' poetry, the singing of traditional Irish songs84in both Gaelic and English, and a buffet meal. At anothergroup sponsored event, Mary Condron, author of The Serpentand the Goddess: Women, Religion and Power in CelticIreland, was the invited speaker. Through role-playing weexamined the portrayal of women in Irish mythology.I also had the opportunity to participate in variousregional excursions. One such coach trip, arranged bymembers of Chit- na nGael, included visits to: The Valley ofthe Boyne; Monasterboice (home of the oldest Celtic crossesin Ireland); Newgrange (site of one of the oldest passagegraves in the world); Drogheda, to see Saint OliverPlunkett's head; and then to Ross Cairn in County Meath (anIrish-speaking area), for a home-cooked meal followed by avisit to a Gaelic pub, to be entertained by Irish music, setand cell': dancing, and Gaelic songs.These are but a few of the events I attended,participated in, and made careful records of, alwaysaccompanied by my ubiquitous camera, tape recorder, and notepad.B. InterviewingDouglas (1985) has said that interviewing is a creativeprocess, a mutual search for self-understanding by theenthnographer with her subjects. He writes that the conceptof "creative interviewing" is based on the assumptions that:(1) the discovery of human beings . . . isoverwhelmingly dependent on the use of vastlycomplex commonsensical methods of interactingand understanding [and](2) . . . that for most purposes, and certainlyideally, it is most fruitful for us humanexplorers to begin by immersing ourselves innatural situations and observing ourselves andothers a great deal before presuming that we knowenough to ask significant questions about theexperience (Douglas 1985:12).Thus, it could be said that creative interviewing is acombination of common sense and experience. Guided by thetechnique suggested here by Douglas, the first three monthsof my fieldwork were spent familiarizing myself with thesocial environment of Belfast. This I felt necessary inorder to gain a basic knowledge of the position of groups,organizations, and individuals within the society, and ofutility as a precursor to the conducting of interviews.As previously stated, my research goals included theinvestigation of symbolic expressions of Irishness asresistance to British domination. After my first two monthsin Belfast, I realized that the predominant symbol of Irish8586expression was the Irish language itself.^I saw embodied inthe language, the dynamics of the cultural struggle ofdomination and resistance taking place around me in NorthernIreland.During the fifteen months spent in the field, I taperecorded 101.5 hours of interviews with seventy-six people,and had brief, untaped, topic-related interviews withapproximately seventy other people. Those interviewed bothon and off tape included: mural and poster creators, poets,language activists, Sinn Fein activists, former prisoners,republicans, nationalists, and Protestants with nationalistviews. In addition, I taped eighty-two hours fromconferences, lectures, discussions, speeches at marches,and speeches at other events.Of the taped interviews, thirty-one pertained directlyto the Irish language. Twenty-one of these were withalternative Irish language activists, and the remainder werewith Sinn Fein representatives, ex-prisoners, and otheroppositional Irish language activists who were neithermembers of Sinn Fein nor ex-prisoners. Fluency in Irish wasnot required to be a language activist. One alternativeIrish language activist I interviewed did not speak thelanguage, but all her children were in the Irish-mediumschool system, and three others were adult Irish languagelearners. All oppositional Irish language activistsinterviewed were fluent Irish speakers. Regardless of87fluency, all thirty-one Irish language activists interviewedspent a substantial part of their time promoting the Irishlanguage and working toward gaining recognition of the Irishlanguage in Northern Ireland.It should be noted that Irish language speakers andactivists make up a growing part, but still a minority, ofboth the republican and nationalist population in Belfast.It is estimated, from the 1991 census, that there were30,000 people (10 percent), of Belfast's 300,000 populationwho knew some Irish--which is up from 7,900 (2.3 percent),in the 1911 census. The attitude of the majority of Englishspeaking nationalist and republican population appeared tobe sympathetic toward the endeavors of Irish languageactivists, as evidenced by the monetary contributions madeto support Irish language schools during street collections,and the donations made by people in high unemployment areasfor the erection of Irish language street signs.However, this sympathy for the Irish languagemovement was not universal among Belfast republicans andnationalists.^I spoke with one former prisoner, forexample, who had been interned during the prison protestperiod and the hunger strikes, and who had refused to learnIrish. To him, the struggle was one of political andeconomic freedom from Britain, and there was no need tolearn any language other than English. A nationalistexplained that he did not need to learn Irish to know that88he was an Irishman. These attitudes, much to the dismay ofboth alternative and oppositional Irish language activists,are far from isolated.Of the twenty-one alternative language activists Iinterviewed, one was in his twenties, nine were in theirthirties, seven were in their forties, one was in herfifties, one was sixty-four, and two were in theirseventies. There were ten men and eleven women interviewed,nineteen Catholics and two Protestants. Alternative Irishlanguage activists claimed that politics was not a part oftheir work, and hence not relevant. Some may have voted forSinn Fein—and this includes at least one Protestant--butwould not necessarily support the armed struggle. Whilethis is essentially a contradiction, the people I spoke withdid not see this stance as contentious. The majority ofalternative Irish language activists, if opting to vote atall, would have voted for the SDLP.Of the alternative Irish language activists interviewed,six were teachers who had taught in the Catholic schoolsystem, while three of these had taught also in the Irishmedium school system. One of these teachers had a Ph.D.Another activist--a Protestant--had a Ph.D. in Celticstudies, while yet another--a Catholic--had a Ph.D. and wasa lecturer at a Belfast university. One activist was ajournalist, another a secretary, and another a technician.89Four people I interviewed were parents actively involved inthe Irish medium primary schools, and the Irish medium playgroups. The alternative Irish language activists Iinterviewed could not be labelled as coming from any onesocio-economic class, a finding generally applied to thosein the Irish language movement by 6 hAdhmaill (1985) in hisstudy of 234 Belfast Irish language learners in the 1980s.Five of the people I interviewed worked full time forGl6r na nGael; two for La, a daily Irish language newspaper;and two for ULTACH Trust (see Chapters 7 and 8). Thesepeople were interviewed both before and after Gl6r na nGaelwas blacklisted by the British government. The majority ofthose interviewed--eighteen of the twenty-one--had, at sometime in their lives, close ties to an Irish language club,the Cluain Ard (see Chapter 4). Several of the above hadbeen active in Conradh na Gaeilge and Comhaltus Uladh (theGaelic League in Northern Ireland, see Chapter 4). Four ofthose interviewed were part of the original group whichestablished the Shaws Road Irish language community in 1969,and set up the first Irish medium primary school in NorthernIreland in 1971 (see Chapter 4).Of the ten oppositional Irish language activistsinterviewed--seven men and three women--all but three werealso Sinn Fein activists. Most were in their late twentiesor early thirties, however two were in their sixties and onein her seventies. All came from Catholic backgrounds.90Of the three who were not Sinn Fein activists, one was aformer prisoner who was currently taking university coursesin Celtic studies and was a teacher of adult Irish languageclasses, another was a retired teacher, another describedhimself as a self-taught historian. All except two of theSinn Fein activists were ex-prisoners and unemployed. Oneof the two non-prisoners had the equivalent of a bachelor'sdegree, and was active in politics in addition to Irishlanguage activism, and the other was a former teacher.All oppositional Irish language activists supported SinnFein and the armed struggle.Questions asked of all Irish language activists weregrouped into three main categories: (1) their reasons forbecoming involved in the Irish language revival; (2) whythey chose language as their avenue of expression; and (3)the consequences of this decision both for themselves andtheir families. When the respondent was involved with aspecific Irish language group, I also inquired as to thegroup's history, its goals, and the obstacles it encounteredwhile trying to achieve its goals. More general questionsabout the Irish language revival itself, its raison d'être,its extent, and its future were also asked.C. Other Research MethodsThe investigation of Irish language activism in Belfastalso involved many hours of archival and library research.The origins of primary source material scrutinized and inmost cases photocopied, included: the Linen Hall Library;the collections of the Committee for the Administration ofJustice, Queen's University; the museum of the RoddyMcCorley Society; and the books and papers collected byrepublicans and nationalists. In addition, I made taperecordings of 228 hours of programmes from various radio andtelevision sources on topics pertinent to my research.Loyalist and republican bookstores, and other used and newbookstores were frequented, and many locally produced booksand pamphlets purchased. Research related articles fromlocal daily newspapers: The Irish News, The BelfastTelegraph, and The Belfast Newsletter, both from during theperiod of my fieldwork, and prior to it, were cut out orphotocopied. Other sources of data included:The Irish Times; The Irish Independent; The Sunday World;The Sunday Press; The Daily Mail; The Evening Standard; TheGuardian; Republican News; An Phoblacht; AnPhoblacht/Republican News; Andersonstown News; Fortnight (anationalist magazine); Women's News (a locally producedIrish Feminist Magazine); Troops Out; Labour in Ireland; TheCaptive Voice (a magazine produced by republican prisoners);91The Irish Democrat; Unity; The Irish Reporter; and loyalistpapers such as, The Shankill People; and the loyalistparamilitary periodicals, Ulster, Combat, and The Red Hand.In summary, my approach to fieldwork has been toimmerse myself in Belfast society, and having done so, togather as much written and verbal data as possible on allissues that the local citizens felt were important to themin their lives--from the spectacular to the mundane. Thematerial gathered in the field presented manycontradictions. Once home, away from the "baptism of fire"that permeated every minute of my waking hours, and often mydreams at night, I began to search for a theoreticalframework that would make sense of the data. I chose toexamine the history of the struggle to elucidate how thecultural battle being acted out in contemporary NorthernIreland developed. The analysis presented here is theresult of an attempt to understand the "field reality" Iencountered while in Belfast.92Chapter ThreeThe Roots of Alternative and Oppositional IrishLanguage ActivismAs discussed in Chapter One, language as identity ismore than just a way of speaking. It encompasses a socialhistory and those values and ways of doing things that are"meaningful" to an ethnic group.^I postulate that thebattle for linguistic hegemony in Ireland began with thecolonial encounter. Thus, in this chapter I will use the"beyond the community" approach4 to map out the "historicaland exploitative dimensions of those processes" (Rebel1989a:122), which subordinated the Gaelic culture to onebeneath its English invaders.Any "analysis of cultural hegemony," Rebel insists:. . . has to begin with a precise analysis ofsocial formation; and this . . . has to begin atthose historical moments when people enterprocesses of primary accumulation, when thedefinitions, negotiations, and structurallydetermined applications of terms of ownership,property rights, and appropriation change. Thisis where modes of production are born and die,where they begin and terminate theirarticulations, where cultural hegemonies strugglefor dominance and where they collapse and reform(Rebel 1989b:351).9394With this in mind, I will commence my analysis byexamining the articulation of the traditional Gaelic mode ofproduction with, and its eventual destruction by, theEnglish feudal mode of production, beginning at the time ofthe first Anglo-Norman invasion in the twelfth century andending with the Flight of the Earls in 1607.Until the Tudors came to the throne in the earlysixteenth century the Gaelic culture had not been seriouslythreatened. The preoccupation during this period had beenwith the subordination of the traditional Gaelic mode ofproduction to the feudal mode of production. However, thischanged with the rule of Henry VII and later Henry VIII, asan attack of everything Gaelic began in earnest. Althoughby the early seventeenth century, the last vestiges of theGaelic mode of production had all but disappeared," capitalism [had] not yet successfully incorporated noreffectively eliminated all precapitalist [i.e., Gaelic]ideological [or cultural] practices" (Muratori° 1980:40).However, what had begun to occur after the "Flight of theEarls" and what had to a large extent been completed by theearly part of the eighteenth century, was a class shiftwhereby the Catholic middle and upper classes wereabandoning many aspects of Gaelic culture, especiallylanguage, and leaving them to the rural peasantry andworking class poor.95In the second section of this chapter, I will examinethe Protestant ascendancy's role in restoring the Irishlanguage during the eighteenth and first half of thenineteenth centuries, with special emphasis on theiractivities in Belfast.^While the Catholic middle and upperclasses, as well as the Catholic clergy, were activelyassimilating into the dominant English-speaking culture, theProtestant ascendancy were deeply involved in collectingmanuscripts in the old Gaelic language and setting up Gaelicspeaking literary and cultural organizations. Why thisgroup of middle-class Protestants chose to devote its timeand money to restoring a language and culture that was beingstigmatized as inferior and associated with the"uncivilized" rural peasantry will be analyzed.The political atmosphere of the nineteenth century ledto the politicization of the Irish language and the waningof Protestant ascendancy support for its restoration. Theconcluding section of this chapter, will examine thispoliticization process and both the alternative andoppositional Irish language activisms that emerged.I. The Pre-Eighteenth Century Battle for LinguisticHegemony in IrelandA. The Articulation of the Traditional Gaelic and EnglishFeudal Modes of Productions1. Inheritance and Property Rights: A Clash of LegalSystemsBy the fifth century A.D., an indigenous, highlydeveloped and complex legal system called Brehon Law hadbeen drawn up to "uniformly delineate and enforce the Gaelicmethod of organizing society throughout Ireland" (Kelley1982:1). The Brehon Laws were a complete set ofauthoritative decisions upon nearly every civil, military,and criminal question that may have arisen in the lives ofthe early Gaelic people (Hayden and Moonan 1927:62).Medieval Gaelic society comprised about 150 Gaelicclan territories or petty states called tuatha. Theorganization and structure of the tuatha was of anaristocratic nature and the states were often violentlydefended by armies led by the clan kings. The various ranksin Gaelic society were regulated by Brehon Laws whichenumerated their rights and privileges and governedrelationships between and among their numbers. Clanmembership was extremely important to all members of Gaelicsociety, as it ensured the individual of both political and9697property rights. This was especially true for illegitimatechildren, who under the custom of "naming" could be"affiliated" with a clan solely on the sworn declaration ofa mother just before death (Nicholls 1972:11, 77). Theusual practice Nicholls claims, was for the mother to name aclan chief as the father of her child. As Brehon Law didnot distinguish between the legitimate and illegitimatechild, either had the right to inherit clan chiefdomship, orat least a share of the clan's property.Inheritance in Irish society was governed by thecustoms of Gavelkind and Tanistry. "'Gavelkind' was theGaelic practice whereby the lands of a family group werere-distributed on the death of one of its landholdingmembers [amongst members of his immediate fine or extendedfraternal family, rather than going to his children] and'Tanistry' was the practice whereby during the lifetime of aking or chief, his successor was chosen from among hiskindred within a certain degree of consanguinity" (Beckett1981:34-35n). "The Gaelic chief was chosen by his peers ofthe derbfine, the ruling family, from 'the eldest andworthiest' of the [male] candidates; his successor, thetanist (hence tanistry) was elected during the chief'slifetime" (Cronin 1981:5).In the traditional Gaelic mode of production,communally held land had been the economic basis of society.Wealth was calculated in terms of the number of cattle owned98by the clan. While the Gaels did grow some wheat and oats,most of the land was utilized for grazing. In thistraditional system of land tenure, rather than owning theland, "the chief had but a demesne of his own, called'mensal lands', and further to maintain him in his office hehad rights of tributes, food-rents and military service overhis whole 'country' (Curtis 1937:179).The Gaelic Brehon Laws, rules of inheritance andproperty rights governed by these laws, as well as thesociety's communal agricultural practices conflicted sharplywith the forms of landholding under the feudal system of theAnglo-Normans, which strictly followed the Canon law ofprimogeniture. Thus by the thirteenth century, when theAnglo-Normans had gained effective control over much of thebetter land areas, these regions were converted into manors,Canon law introduced, and the English (i.e., Norman) conceptof feudal obligation to political structure was brought tobear on the Irish countryside (Pringle 1985:78). TheAnglo-Normans introduced a three-field system of croprotation which converted most of the best land in Irelandinto cereal production for the British market (Pringle1985:77). Anglo-Norman agriculture also emphasized mixedfarming, especially the growing of fruits and vegetables.As a consequence, much of the grazing land in Ireland wasconverted into agricultural land. This action greatlyreduced the economic base of the Gaelic chiefs, and99threatened their continued economic viability. It was onlya combination of geography and strong resistance from theGaelic clans that prevented the Anglo-Normans fromeffectively destroying the native Irish economy.The Gaelic resurgence of the fourteenth and fifteenthcenturies had pushed back effective English control towithin the borders of the Pale, a small area which extendeda mere thirty miles inland from the ports of Dublin andDrogheda. Outside the Pale, the Irish enjoyed a period ofrelative freedom with only occasional clashes with theEnglish. This relative peace was broken in 1485, when thefirst Tudor King, Henry VII, began a process ofconsolidation of power, designed to build a strong,centralized monarchy at home and to complete the goal of theAnglo-Norman invasion by finally bringing Ireland undertotal English domination.The Anglo-Norman settlers in the Pale bore the brunt ofof Henry VII's action to tighten English control overIreland. Shortly after ascending to the English throne, heannulled the Act of 1468 which had asserted that in orderfor English statutes to be valid in Ireland, they first hadto be ratified by the Irish Parliament in Dublin. Further,he forbade the Irish Parliament from meeting unless theEnglish King had been informed beforehand of whatlegislation the assembly intended to sanction. Thus thepolitical power formerly enjoyed by the Anglo-Normans (or100Old English) in the Pale was severely curtailed.Gaelic culture was next on Henry's hegemonic agendawhen in 1494 the Poyning Laws were enacted, authorizing theKing's forces to impose the provisions of the Statutes ofKilkenny on both native and settler living in the Pale. TheStatutes of Kilkenny, originally passed in 1367, requiredeveryone living in areas under English control to speakEnglish at all times. The Statutes also prohibited settlersfrom: following Brehon Laws; adopting Gaelic names (Kelley1982:2); singing Irish songs and airs; playing the harp; andwearing the Irish kilt. Intermarriage between the nativeIrish and the English settlers was made a capital crime(Colleary 1985:5). While Henry VII was able to secure theloyalty of the Old English in the Pale, his forces madelittle headway in subduing the Gaelic and Anglo-Normanpopulation outside this English stronghold. Even as late as1532, some twenty-three years after Henry VIII became Kingof England, most of Ireland remained under the control ofthe Gaelic kings and a few Anglo-Norman lords who hadadopted the Gaelic culture and whose loyalty to England wasquestionable.When Henry VIII came to the throne, his primary focuswas the assertion of English domination over the entireGaelic population. He began by instituting a policy of"Surrender and Regrant" by which the Gaelic chiefs couldturn over their land to the English Crown and then receive101it back to be held in vassalage. While the Gaelic kingsstill retained their land, they were forced to abide byEnglish law, and "aristocratic home rule" was brought to anend (Bottigheimer 1982). Henry's next target was the Gaelicculture itself and in this attack he was much moredetermined and effective than his predecessor had been.2. The Heart of Gaelic Culture Attacked: The Destructionof the Irish Monasteries and Bardic SchoolsBy A.D. 590, bardic schools had become prominentthroughout the Irish countryside. In each province a largebardic school, similar to a modern university was built. Asmaller bardic school serviced the educational needs of eachparish. "The Bardic Schools were purely secularinstitutions. The medium of instruction was the nativetongue; and the Irish language and literature, Irishhistory, and the Brehon Law were intensively andscientifically studied. For centuries they produced a longsuccession of poets, historians and brehons" (Dowling1968:7-8).While the Bardic schools catered to the educationalneeds of those specializing in the arts and law, themonastic schools provided children with a practicaleducation that prepared them for their future roles inGaelic society. Religion and education had been closely102linked in Ireland even before the sixth century, when Irisheminence in both fields had earned the land the title, "theisland of saints and scholars" (Darby 1976:113). Manyscholars from the continent had sought refuge in the Gaelicmonasteries to avoid the invasions of the Barbarians. Theybrought with them their expertise and books, making Irishmonastic schools of the fourth and fifth centuriesattractive places of learning for many foreign students,especially ones from England (Scherman 1981:240-249). Forthe native Irish, who believed from pagan times that, "a mancould rise, through his thrift, his profession, or talentgiven him by the gods, above the station of his father"(Scherman 1981:247), the education provided by the bardicand monastic schools was the key to upward social mobilitywithin Gaelic society.But the Gaelic monasteries were more than just schools.These religious organizations which were erected on thelands of the powerful clan families, penetrated most of thesocial, economic and political institutions which organizedGaelic life. Scherman (1981:206) writes, "The layconnections of monasteries extended to all conditions oflife: they were trading centers, schools, penitentiaries,[and] repositories of food in times of famine." Thus theiractivities, went far beyond the realm of those of a purelyreligious and academic institution.103Each monastery was a "self-sufficient entity" with itsown "absolute ruler." It was the activities of the Irishmonastic clergy which evoked the wrath of the Roman Church.Ideally the abbot who ruled the monastery, was chosen fromwithin the family of the patron saint, however when this wasnot possible, the abbot was appointed from the descendantsof the Gaelic king on whose land the monastery was built.After the Anglo-Norman invasion, Canon Law had been declaredthe official policy of the Irish Church, yet Brehon Lawcontinued to influence the education policies and religiouspractices of the monasteries in those areas of Ireland thatwere not under effective British control (Scherman 1981).Under Brehon Law, marriage was a secular issue and divorcewas permitted. Thus, the Irish clergy neither practiced norwas obliged to practice celibacy, and thus fathered manylegitimate as well as illegitimate children. Along with therest of the population, the Irish clergy observedtanistry--a procedure in direct violation of Canon Law. Asa result, the religious profession in Ireland adopted a"strongly hereditary character."As the monastery was an integral part of the clan, theclergy actively participated in secular wars and battleswaged against their rival clans. This activity of the Irishclergy was also strongly denounced by the Roman Church.Thus these Monastic Churches, the custodians of Gaeliceducation, developed a "distinctive nationalistic character"104which deviated in many significant aspects from the natureof the Church of Rome.This "nationalistic character," being reproduced ineach new generation of Gaelic children, was seen as a majorobstacle to English cultural hegemony in Ireland. In anaction aimed at undermining the power of the monasteries,these differences in attitudes and practices between theIrish monastics and the Roman Church, were used aspropaganda to justify English domination in Ireland andstigmatize the Gaelic culture as inferior and uncivilized.Liz Curtis writes:The English colonists justified their actionsby arguing that the Irish were culturally inferiorto themselves, and that the English would civilizethem. They condemned Irish religious practices,criticising them more for failing to practiseCatholicism properly than for their rejection ofProtestantism. Spenser [poet and author of A Viewof Ireland (1596), The Faerie Queene, and who hadspent 18 years in Ireland amassing considerableproperty in County Cork] wrote that the Irish "allbe papists by their profession, but in the same soblindly and brutishly uninformed (for the mostpart) that not one amongst a hundred knoweth anyground of Religion, or any Article of his faith"(Curtis 1984:17).A more direct attack on the bardic and monastic systemswas implemented when Henry VIII came to the throne. In1534, Henry VIII broke with Rome and established a separateChurch of England. This independence from RomanCatholicism by the English monarch was soon forced on105Ireland--an almost entirely Catholic island. The Church ofIreland was established with the English monarch at itshead, no longer acknowledging the superiority of the Pope.To the old English living in the Pale, the newly establishedChurch did not appear to pose a serious threat to either thedoctrine or the liturgy of their faith. Thus when HenryVIII drafted three bills and presented them to the IrishParliament in 1537, all passed with little dissention. Thefirst was an act denying papal authority in Ireland; thesecond prescribed for office holders, an oath acknowledgingroyal supremacy; and the third proposed the dissolution ofthirteen of Ireland's monasteries (Bottigheimer 1982:79-80).The dissolution of the monasteries--the pride of Gaelicreligious life and centres of learning and creativity--struck at the very heart of Gaelic culture. Monastic housestotalled more than four hundred in 1534, in which betweenfour and five thousand monastics resided (Bottigheimer1982:80). The suppression of the monasteries which began inearnest in 1539 saw, "the monks expelled and theirpossessions taken away . . . [and] buildings which had beenthe pride of the pious founders [came] into the hands of thedespoiler, and were pulled down or suffered to fall intodecay" (Dowling 1968:15). As these institutions werecentral to the reproduction of Gaelic society, it is hardlysurprising that the resistance to this policy was strongestin the very traditional regions of Ireland.106Bottigheimer (1982:81) writes that, "By Henry VIII's deathin 1547 nearly one-half of the monasteries had beendissolved, leaving only those in the strongly Gaelic regionsof northwestern Ulster, northern Connacht and southwesternMunster mainly untouched."Along with the destruction of the monasteries, HenryVIII instituted a policy of active assimilation directlyaimed at the destruction of the Gaelic language andreligion, establishing in 1537 a system of Parish Schoolswhich were to:introduce a knowledge of the English languageamong the native Irish. This Act enjoined on oathevery clergyman to "keepe, or cause to be kept,within the place, territory, or paroch, where heshall have . . . benefice or promotion, a scholefor to learne English." The clergyman wasdirected to "bid the beades in the Englishetongue, and preach the work of God in English"(Dowling 1968:26). The Irish language andculture, as expressed in the bards, poets, andothers, were again forbidden or even penalized.Ireland was to be made if possible a secondEngland through the complaisant bishops andnobility, and no provision was made for therecognition of Irish and Gaelic tradition(Curtis 1937:170).Thus, the battle for linguistic hegemony hadintensified on two fronts: first, through the practice ofdemeaning Gaelic culture and using humour to ridicule thosewho were respected members of the Gaelic society such as themonastics, the bards, and the Gaelic chiefs as well as theGaelic population as a whole (see Curtis 1984); and107secondly, through legislation excluding the use of Gaelicreligion or language in the activities of institutions, suchas State run schools and Anglican churches.3. The Irish Language becomes a Class Issue:The Dominant English-speaking Culture Takes RootClaiming that Henry VII and Henry VIII had no desire toextirpate Gaelic culture or aristocracy, but only toassimilate both to the English monarchy, howeverBottigheimer (1982:101-102) writes that under Elizabeth I:English policy was openly hostile towards theIrish and especially Gaelic society. Assimilationwas replaced as an objective by "reformation", aremodelling which went far beyond religion toinclude law, language, custom and even socialhabits.Elizabeth began her rule by withdrawing all of theconcessions made to Catholics during the brief reign of theCatholic Queen Mary. Laws were passed requiring the use ofThe Book of Common Prayer and fines were imposed on thosewho did not attend an English or Anglican Church:By the act of Uniformity the new Book of CommonPrayer [1560] was imposed upon all ordainedclergy, and attendance at the State Church wasmade compulsory on pain of a fine of one shillingeach Sunday (the "Recusancy" fine). English wasthe language of the prayer book, and yet thislanguage was only understood by a minority of thepeople. It was provided that Latin might be usedinstead, but no provision was made for the Irishlanguage, which all the Gaelic race spoke and mostof the Old English understood(Curtis 1937:182-183).During the reign of Elizabeth I, the destruction of thetraditional Gaelic mode of production and the consolidationof political power was completed. The policy of Plantationwas continued, started on a small scale by Queen Mary. Thisentailed the dividing of the Irish countryside into shiresor counties, each administered by a loyal sheriff. Thelands of the Irish lords who rebelled against the Crown'sauthority were confiscated and these estates were thenleased to English settlers of the Protestant faith andtherefore considered loyal to the Crown.When the shire system was imposed upon the province ofUlster--by this time the only area in which Irish power andGaelic culture remained intact--a rebellion broke out. Thepersistence of Gaelic culture in Ulster was, according toBusteed (1972:4), partly because a strong Gaelic militaryand social organization had successfully resisted theforeign invaders, and partly because "such a vigorous peoplecould make full use of woodlands, lakes and mountain areas,"which presented difficult obstacles to late medieval armies.Therefore when rebellion broke out in 1594, the English werefaced with the strongest resistance they had yet encounteredin their struggle to subjugate Ireland.108109The Ulster Gaelic chieftain, Hugh O'Neill "appealed forsolidarity between the Gaels, whose traditional way of lifewas being threatened by the consolidation of Tudor power andthe imposition of English law. He also appealed forsolidarity between Catholics against the Protestant English"(Pringle 1985:93). However, Hugh O'Neill's plea for groupsolidarity of all the Irish population, based on theirGaelic cultural origin and common religion, failed. In thewake of the total military defeat of the Ulster chieftains,most of the Gaelic nobility forfeited all Irish rights toland and property and fled overseas to the Continent.Deprived of their natural military and political leaders,the Irish population was left disorganized and powerless toresist foreign English domination.After the defeat of the last of the Gaelic chiefs in1603 and the abolishment of the Brehon Laws of tanistry andgavelkind in 1608 and 1609 (Beckett 1981:34-35), Canon Lawbecame the official practice of both the Old English andGaelic Irish Churches. As oppression against those of theCatholic faith in Ireland and the Gaelic languageintensified throughout the seventeenth century, its effectwas felt mostly among the middle and upper Irish Catholicclasses.110The Irish language and culture continued to be devaluedand lampooned by English historians and entertainers. Forexample, Liz Curtis (1984:31) quotes from a 1693 history ofIreland by Nathaniel Crouch:the English endeavoured to civilise the people,and to introduce the English laws, language, habitand customs among them, thereby to reduce them tocivility, yet such was their rough, rebelliousdisposition, and their implacable malice to theEnglish, that nothing could attemper, or reducethem to any tolerable patience; so that in alltimes, as well as when they were admitted into thecondition of subjects, as while they were esteemedand treated as enemies, they took all advantages,most perfidiously to rise up and imbrue theirhands in the blood of their English neighbours,and Ireland hath long continued a true Alcedama,or field of blood, and a dismal sepulchre for theEnglish nation . . .Curtis continues (1984:34), quoting from the preface ofa 1749 joke book titled Teagueland Jests and Bog Witticisms:The bulls and witticisms that too frequentlydrop from Irish mouths have made them thediscourse and entertainment of all sorts ofcompanies. Nothing more recommends Teague and hiscountrymen than their natural stupidity.This stigmatizing of Irish culture and language, whencoupled with the Penal Laws of 1691, had the dual purpose:. . . firstly, of converting as many of the IrishCatholics as possible, particularly those of theupper and landowning class, to the Protestantreligion, and secondly, of excluding those whoremained Catholics from the rights: to carry arms;from all the professions except the medical; frompolitical power at local and national level; fromthe possession of landed property except on ashort-term lease-hold basis; and from alleducation, either at home or abroad, except suchas was avowedly proselytising in aim (Malcomson1975:1).This resulted in the abandonment of the Irish languageand many aspects of the traditional Gaelic culture by thosewho perceived the economic advantage of assimilation intothe dominant and by this time effective English culture.Beckett (1981:37) elaborates:The Anglicization of the upper classes ofGaelic society, so far as language and dress wereconcerned, had already made some progress by theend of the sixteenth century. . . . Among theupper classes, also, the use of the Englishlanguage made great progress; and though they nodoubt remained more at home in Irish, it isprobable that by the end of James's reign most ofthem spoke English . . .Deprived of the traditional Gaelic aristocracy whichhad given the language and the culture authenticity andprestige, both "descended into the ranks of the peasantry,who themselves, as a result of frequent confiscations, weresoon a blend of the noblest names of the old order and theblood of the common people" (Curtis 1937:271). Thus thebattle for linguistic hegemony had been in England's favour,but its rule would not be without resistance and directchallenge, as will be illustrated below.111II. The Restoration of the Irish Language: The ProtestantAscendancy and the Gaelic Culture of the Eighteenthand Nineteenth CenturiesEdmund Spenser, writing at the end of Elizabeth'sreign, said in defence of the "extermination" policy enactedby the Tudors against the Irish language:It hath ever been the use of the conquerors todespise the language of the conquered, and toforce him by all means to learn his(quoted in 6 Fiaich 1969:104).By the eighteenth century, the Catholic middle andupper classes had largely abandoned the Irish language infavour of English, for economic reasons. The CatholicChurch too, in reaction to the religious hegemonic threatfrom the new Protestant order, who had by this time realizedthe proselytizing benefits of translating the Bible intoIrish, was ". . . encourag[ing] their flock to speak Englishrather than Irish, and burn Gaelic manuscripts" (MacP6ilin1990b:31). The Protestant ascendancy however, was becominginterested in this "despised" language and this interest wasnot solely in its value as a tool for proselytizing. Adiscussion of the Protestant ascendancy's efforts to restorethis stigmatized language will begin this section.112113In following part of this section, I will argue thatthe restoration of the Irish language primarily by UlsterPresbyterians was differently motivated from that in therest of Ireland and by the late eighteenth century, thisIrish language activism had begun to assume two distinctlyrecognizable linguistic strands of identity. One strandincluded those Protestants who saw themselves as culturallyIrish but politically English (or British), and the otherstrand consisted of those who identified themselves as bothculturally and politically Irish.A. The Protestant Ascendancy and the Restoration of theIrish LanguageThe seventeenth century had been a period of intensecolonialism throughout the non-European world."Missionization" directed at tribal "savages" had become anintegral part of this colonial effort. From the eighteenthcentury onward the intellectual community in Britain andelsewhere had become preoccupied with "saving" traditionalcultures--on paper--before they were lost forever (seeStocking 1971). This was also the age of Romanticism andantiquarianism. Thus it was in this intellectual andpolitical environment that some members of the Protestanteducated middle classes and even some of the "countrygentry" began to show an interest in the Irish language(6 Fiaich 1969:107).114Many of these early attempts at the restoration of theIrish language concerned themselves primarily with:the investigation and publication of the sourcematerial of Irish manuscripts . . . the olderliterature or . . . the contents of the Irishhistorical documents and annals--and thevindication of Irish learning . . . [and] wereusually propagandist, scholarly and defensive incharacter. . . . [The efforts of theseProtestants] were of importance in so much as theyplayed no small part in the slow growth of anational awareness of the significance of thelanguage and of its value to the Irish people, butin general they showed little interest in thespoken language or in its survival as a vernacular(6 hAilin 1969:91).6 hAilin (1969:91) offers one reason for thisdisinterest in reviving the contemporary Irish language,saying that before the famine, the vernacular of Ireland wasin no danger as Irish was widely spoken despite continuingefforts by the English authorities to eradicate it andreplace it with English.The anti-Irish propaganda of the period, that hadstigmatized the Irish culture and language as "uncivilized"and inferior, provides another clue to why these earlyrestoration groups confined their efforts to collecting andpublishing historical Irish manuscripts and documents. As6 hAilin (1969:92) writes:None of . . . the founders of such societies asThe Gaelic Society of Dublin (1806), theIberno-Celtic Society (1818), and theIrish Archaeological Society (1840) . . . had anyinterest in contemporary literature, and theaverage ascendancy view of the spoken language iswell summed up in a pamphlet of 1822 whichdeclares "the common Irish are naturally shrewd,but very ignorant and deficient in mental culture;from the barbarous tongue in which they conversewhich operates as an effectual bar to any literaryattainment." Another contemporary view was thatspeaking Irish spoiled the English accent andcreated a prejudice against one in polite society.Thus to many of the Protestants involved in some ofthese earlier groups, the interest in the Irish language wasfor the most part, purely academic. It was in Ulster, andparticularly within the large Presbyterian population ofBelfast--which like the Catholics, was suffering the impactof the Penal Laws--where this interest in the Irish languageand culture became more than an academic hobby. Among thatportion of the Presbyterians who went on to organize theUnited Irishmen, this nascent interest became incorporatedinto a nationalist struggle for independence.B. Murmurs of Alternative Irish Language Activism:Ulster's Protestants and Irish Language Revivalism,Pre-1850Belfast, nestled in the heart of the last Gaelicstronghold able to resist English encroachment until theyear 1607, began as an English garrison of the twelfthcentury. Even before it received its town charter in 1613,115116Belfast had become a significant and prosperous seaport.From its beginning Belfast was very much a Protestant,essentially Presbyterian town and remained so into theeighteenth century. While the Penal Laws deniedPresbyterians political power as well as the right to voteor to buy land, they were free to practice their religion,as they were their professions or trades (Budge and O'Leary1973:4). Thus Belfast Presbyterians were able to benefitfrom the town's growing profits from commerce and the cottonindustry.In 1793, England was involved in a war withRevolutionary France, highlighting--as in the twelfthcentury--Ireland's strategic importance in securingEngland's western flank. This vulnerability, as well asEngland's need for recruits to replenish her armies,provided a strong incentive to remove the restrictions thePenal Laws had imposed on the Catholic and Presbyterianpopulation. The prevailing belief was that "Ireland wouldbe less vulnerable to invasion if its people weretranquillized by concessions, and more amenable to arecruiting-drive if the Catholic rank-and-file wererecruited by Catholic officers" (Northern Ireland PublicRecords Office 1976:29). However, these measures wereinsufficient to quell the growing dissatisfaction in Irelandand in the wake of the rebellion by the United Irishmen in1798, the Dublin government was abolished and Ireland was117integrated with the United Kingdom. The Act of Union in1801, lifted restrictions on industry and trade betweenBritain and Ireland, and Ulster--especially Belfast--prospered. "Steam power revolutionized the linen industry,an engineering industry developed and eventuallyshipbuilding as well" (Farrell 1980:14).From surrounding rural areas, Catholics came to Belfastto sell cattle or to obtain work as cotton weavers, and whenthe cotton industry collapsed, as labourers in the linenfactories. Those who stayed, settled in the areas of thecity around Divis Mountain and Black Mountain, areas nowcollectively known as West Belfast. The Catholic populationremained at or near eight percent of the total populationuntil the beginning of the nineteenth century, but jumped in1808 to sixteen percent (Budge and O'Leary 1973:32). Theinflux of Catholics during the period 1750 to 1810 had beenwelcome by Belfast's Protestant population. Protestants, asa gesture of goodwill, paid for the building of Belfast'sfirst Catholic Church, St. Mary's, in Chapel Lane whichopened in 1784 (Boyd 1987:4-5). This was one of the fewperiods of religious tolerance and co-operation in Belfast'shistory (Boyd 1987:2-3; Budge and O'Leary 1973).At the dawn of the nineteenth century, Belfast--knownlocally as the "Athens of the North"--was similarly endowedwith talented people in the areas of politics, science,industry and culture (MacPtiilin 1990a:28).^In the midst of118this fury of intellectual and industrial activity arose aninterest in Irish music and language. This interest waslargely fostered by Belfast Presbyterians who--ifO'Snodaigh's (1973:2-7) suggestion that many of the Scottishsettlers in Ulster were Gaelic speakers is correct--may havebeen motivated by their own Gaelic tradition which had itsancestral roots in Ireland.Throughout the eighteenth and well into the nineteenthcenturies, a growing number of Belfast groups were set up tostimulate interest in the Irish language. "The radicalBelfast of the seventeen nineties" saw the setting up ofmany diverse groups. One of these groups was the "BelfastReading Society (from which came the Linenhall Library)[that had resolved] on 2 March 1793, [to make fundsavailable to encourage] the obtaining and purchase of booksand manuscripts in the Irish language" (O'Snodaigh 1973:12).The aim of the Reading Society was to make this materialpublicly available to all, since prior to this time mostworks in the Irish language were collected by individuals.The Belfast Harp Society, founded in 1791, had goals thattranscended a routine preservation of "the Ancient Music andPoetry of Ireland" into the reviving and perpetuation of theotherwise forgotten arts (O'Snodaigh 1973:12). These andthe groups that followed were also active in promoting thelearning and use of the Irish language through thesponsoring of instructional classes.119O'Snodaigh (1973) argues in Hidden Ulster that, "theIrish language stratum is a deep and significant one in thehidden heritage of the Ulster Protestant," and goes on todescribe some other pre-1850 Irish language and music groupsof Belfast in which Ulster Protestants played a prominentrole:(a) The Literary Society, 1801, "one of the many precursorsof the Gaelic League."(b) The Irish Harp Society founded in 1808: i) to enableblind boys and girls with the means of making a living byplaying the harp; and ii) to stimulate interest in "thestudy of the Irish language, history and antiquities."(c) The Belfast Academical Institution (1810) (later tobecome Queen's University, Belfast), taught Irish as anacademic subject.In 1830, Cuideacht Gaedhilge Uladh (or the UlsterGaelic Society) was established. This society took a majorstep beyond the antiquarian nature of its predecessors inthe South, taking an active interest in the contemporaryIrish language (6 hAilin 1969:93). O'Snodaigh (1973:19)describes this group:The Society and its members, mostly middle classBelfast Presbyterians, were not only . . .extremely active in collecting, copying, andediting old Irish manuscripts and in commissioningscribes around the country to record [the] . . .many recent compositions [that] . . . had onlybeen in oral circulation beforehand . . . [butwere] teaching and organising teaching [of Irish],[and] lobbying, [and] corresponding with similarlydisposed people [on behalf of the language]. . . .[This group also published an Irish] translationof Maria Edgeworth's Forgive and Forget andRosanna in 1833.Although, like their southern counterparts, thesepre-1850 groups were non-political in nature, they hadtranscended the southern attitude toward the Irish languageby advocating its use in everyday speech. Importance wasalso placed on the oral tradition of Irish speakers. Ratherthan just regarding the language as an artifact to bepreserved for its museum value, the objective of manysouthern Irish language restoration groups, some of themembers of these Belfast groups and their students,especially in the 1790s, seem to have had more than acultural interest in the language.^It is on these peoplethat the remainder of the discussion in this section willfocus.C. Nascent Oppositional Irish Language Activism: The UnitedIrishmen Rising 1798That some of Belfast's Irish language enthusiastsrecognized the language as part of their own Gaelictradition and as such having the potential to culturally120121unite settler and native to their mutual benefit, is hintedat in this 1791 notice encouraging enrolment in Irishclasses:Irish LanguageAn attempt to revive the grammatical andcritical knowledge of the Irish language in thistown is generously made by Mr. Lynch: he teachespublicly in the Academy and privately in severalfamilies . . . It is particularly interesting toall who wish for the improvement and Union of thisneglected and divided kingdom. By ourunderstanding and speaking it we could more easilyand effectually communicate our sentiments andinstructions to our Countrymen; and thus mutuallyimprove and conciliate each other's affections.The merchant and artist would reap great benefitfrom the knowledge of it. They would then bequalified for carrying on Trade and Manufacturesin every part of their native country (quoted inO'Snodaigh 1973:10).It was this same Mr. Lynch, O'Snodaigh (1973:11) ando Fiaich (1969:108) claim, who probably wrote with ThomasRussell one of his students (or perhaps alone), the prefaceto the first Irish language magazine ever published, Bolg antSolair, in October 1795. This magazine was a supplement tothe publication Northern Star, the United Irishmen paper inBelfast, which Russell produced. (5 Fiaich (1969:108)describes Bolg an tSolair as:Selling to thirteen pence a copy, it had a hundredand twenty small pages containing an introductionto Irish grammar, simple dialogues in Irish withEnglish translation, and a selection ofFiannalocht poems, also with translation. Thecontents were obviously meant to aid the reader inpicking up some knowledge of the spoken language(6 Fiaich 1969:108).The contents of this preface was also political in thatit, in James Scott's (1990) terms, symbolically declaredwar, breaching the hidden transcript by publicly declaringthe abuses the English had inflicted on the Irish languageand appealing for Irishmen to rectify these wrongs. Thepurpose of the preface was:To recommend the Irish language to the notice ofIrishmen . . . any arguments laid down on thathead, to persuade the natives that their ownlanguage is of some importance to them, wouldappear quite superfluous in the eyes offoreigners; but seeing that the Gaelic has beennot only banished from the court, the college andthe bar, but that many tongues and pens have beenemployed to cry it down and to persuade theignorant that it was a harsh and barbarous jargon,and that their ancestors, from whom they derivedit, were an ignorant, uncultivated people--itbecomes then necessary to say something in reply. . . The Irish enjoyed their own laws andlanguage, till the reigns of Elizabeth and James,when the English laws were universally establishedand English schools were erected with the strictinjunction that the vernacular tongue should be nolonger spoken in the seminaries . . . It ischiefly with a view to prevent in some measurethe total neglect, and to diffuse the beauties ofthis ancient and once-admired language that thefollowing compilation is offered to the public,hoping to afford a pleasing retrospect to everyIrishman, who respects the traditions, orconsiders the language and compositions of ourearly ancestors, as a matter of curiosity orimportance (quoted in O'Snodaigh 1973:11-12).122123There is evidence that the author of this preface,whether Lynch or Russell (or indeed both), identifieshimself as culturally Irish. This cultural identificationmay be symbolic, as suggested by Whittaker (1986) or Heiberg(1979) (see chapter one above), as illustrated by thephrase, "to every Irishman, who respects the traditions"; orin fact imply a direct biological link as proposed by Barth(1969) and others, and as intimated by, "or considers thelanguage and compositions of our early ancestors." The useof the Irish language as a vehicle to make a politicalstatement can also be argued, given that the aims of theUnited Irishmen were to gain self-determination for Ireland.This political slant could be found in the impliedcondemnation of the English "foreigners" who tried thoughphysical coercion and derision to destroy "this ancient andonce-admired" language. That the Irish language was a partof the United Irishmen's ideology is further evidenced by astatement cited by ó Fiaich (1969:108) when writing ofanother Belfast United Irishman, Lord Edward Fitzgerald.o Fiaich reports on an account given by a biographer of LordFitzgerald of, "a meeting at his home [by the UnitedIrishmen leaders] where it was decided 'that the Englishlanguage should be abolished, setting themselves forthwithto the study of the Irish tongue'." This oppositional Irishlanguage activism is not unlike that found in the RepublicanMovement today. While they would probably settle for124bilingualism, republican members are actively trying toGaelicize their rank and file.The actual role of the Irish language in mobilizingpopular support for the United Irishmen Rebellion can onlybe speculated on. That the most prominent Presbyterians whohad leadership roles in this Rebellion--Ulstermen: ThomasRussell, Henry Joy McCracken, Lord Edward Fitzgerald, Dr.William Dennan, and even the Rebellion's leader, WolfeTone--took time to attend Irish classes and to vocalize theoppression of the language is however, an indication thatthese men of '98 were part of a segment of the Protestantpopulation in Ireland generally and Ulster in particular,who saw themselves as both culturally and politically Irish.III. Alternative and Oppositional Irish Language Activism:A Period of Political Upheaval in BelfastThe fragile "respectability" the Irish language hadgained--largely through the efforts of various Belfastsocieties devoted to its restoration and revival--in theearly decades of the nineteenth century, was shattered bythe dramatic, often violent political events that marredrelations between Protestants and Catholics from the 1830son. This section will begin with an examination of thepolitical factors underlying these events and their ultimateeffect on the attitudes of middle class Protestants towardthe Irish language.125Following this will be a discussion of the NationalSchool system of 1831 and the near fatal blow it dealt to analready faltering Irish language. To conclude this section,the alternative and oppositional Irish language activismthat arose as a reaction to this latest attempt by theEnglish to secure linguistic hegemony will be analyzed.A. Belfast: The Turbulent Nineteenth CenturyBy the 1830s, the tolerance and goodwill betweenBelfast Catholics and Protestants that had prevailed onlytwo decades earlier, was rapidly dissolving. The Catholicpopulation had doubled from sixteen percent in 1808 tothirty-four percent in 1834, and this rapid increase hadbegun to make Protestants uneasy. The influx of Catholicsfrom the poverty-stricken rural areas, hoping to reap somebenefits from Belfast's continued prosperity, had added tothe city's overcrowding, poor sanitation, and endemicdisease. These social problems coupled with cheap Catholiclabour had intensified competition for jobs and housing.The economic boom at the turn of the nineteenth century hadbegun to wane and low wages and periodic depressionsintensified the already competitive atmosphere--anatmosphere in which established Protestants regardedCatholics as an economic threat (Farrell 1980:16).126This period also saw a gain in popular support for theOrange Order, an exclusively Protestant organization formedin 1795. This support was bolstered by lobbying effortsagainst Catholic emancipation (a freedom which should havebeen part of the reform package of 1793 with the repeal ofthe Penal Laws, but was not enacted until 1829) and othergovernment legislation perceived as undermining thepolitical power of the Protestants in Ireland. Anadditional factor contributing to the rapidly deterioratingrelations between Belfast Protestants and Catholics was theemergence of a new breed of extremist clerics or "streetpreachers." Economic insecurity, the activities of theOrange Order and street preachers such as Rev. Henry Cooke,Rev. Thomas Drew and Rev. Hugh (Roaring) Hanna played acentral role in the serious disturbances or riots inBelfast. Starting in 1813 and recurring throughout thecentury, the riots peaked in the years: 1832, 1835, 1843,1857, 1864, 1872, 1880, 1884, 1886, and 1898 (Boyd 1987;Budge and O'Leary 1973; Farrell 1980). An examination ofthe circumstances leading to one of these riots, the one in1857, will serve to illustrate how the above factorscombined to produce deadly results.The change in Belfast's population makeup combined withCatholic emancipation had, The Presbyterian Church ofIreland (1975:14) claims, "re-awakened in the Protestants ofIreland fears of resurgent popery and of an undermining of127the Protestant position within Britain and Ireland." Thisperceived Catholic threat to Protestant economic, politicaland religious hegemony in Belfast was worked up to a feverpitch in July of 1857, when Rev. Thomas Drew spoke to alarge, predominantly Orangeman, crowd. The events directlypreceding the 1857 riot are described by Boyd (1987:12) whowrites that on Sunday, July 12, 1857:When Drew, dressed in the plain vestments ofan Episcopalian priest, mounted the pulpit . . .in Christ Church the congregation fell silent.The people had come from many parts of Belfast andwere estimated at more than 2,000. The first,carefully chosen words of his sermon were intendedto flatter them:Matthew five (he intoned), versesthirteen, fourteen, fifteen and sixteen. . . Ye are the salt of the earth. Ye arethe light of the world. Let your light soshine before men that they may see yourgood works and glorify your Father whichis in heaven. . . .But this flattery soon digressed to a fanatical attackon the Catholic Church, an inflammatory theme common in thestreet sermons of Drew's contemporaries, Cooke and "Roaring"Hanna. Drew continued:The Sermon on the Mount is an everlastingrebuke to all intolerance. . . old timelords of high degree, with their ownhands, strained on the rack the limbs ofthe delicate Protestant women, prelatesdabbled in the gore of their helplessvictims . . . cells of the Pope's prisonswith the calcined bones of men andcemented with human gore and human hair(quoted in Boyd 1987:12).128After this rousing speech by Drew, the Orangemen leftquietly but a few days later they attacked a Catholicdistrict, beginning ten continuous days of fighting, thatcontinued intermittently until September 6, 1857 (Budge andO'Leary 1973:79-80). The government inquiry into the causesof the riot blamed the Orange Order and criticized theirparades marking the victory of the Protestant William IIIover the Catholic James II (July 12, 1690), claiming both tobe causal factors of the periodic violence in Belfast (Boyd1987; Budge and O'Leary 1973).This turbulent period in Protestant-Catholic relations,had a profound effect on the attitude of the city'sProtestants toward the Irish language. O'Snodaigh (1973:22)best sums up the effect these events had on the attitude ofthe Protestant middle class, saying that:Up to about 1850 it was every bit as normal for amember of that class in society to be a member ofthe Harp Society or of Cuideacht Graedhilge Uladhas it was to belong to the Literary Society or theNatural History and Philosophic Society. After,say 1860, such being the byeproducts of politicaltension, the Irish language began to become moreassociated in the public mind with Catholicism(despite the continued existence of communities ofIrish-speaking Protestants, e.g., in Rathlin andDonegal, and despite the controversy twenty yearsearlier in the Glens when it was the Presbyterianswho were on the side of Irish, whereas thereaction of the Catholic clergy "destroyed alongthe Antrim coast the Irish language", in the wordsof Monsignor O'Laverty). While Irish continued tobe spoken in the North it was looked upon with acertain suspicion by people who had no first handknowledge of it and who seldom met the Irishspeakers, many of whom had little or no literacyin it.129In this atmosphere of political upheaval, thoseProtestants who had promoted the Irish language found itdifficult to find the funds to keep their societies andinstitutions viable. Cuideacht Gaedhilge Uladh (or theUlster Gaelic Society) established in 1830, ceased effectiveoperation in 1943. The Belfast Academical Institutiondropped Irish classes from its academic program, althoughO'Snodaigh (1973:20-21) writes that one instructor at theAcademy did continue teaching Irish until the 1880s.Queen's University was established in 1849 with a chairin Celtic studies, but as O'Snodaigh (1973:21) relates,because "of the decline in public interest, or hostility, orof both, Irish was not a normal B.A. subject." He continues,saying that the only professor in this department had veryfew students and that when he died in 1862, his position wasnot filled even though there had been requests from thepublic to do so.^(It should be noted here that by publicO'Snodaigh presumably means the Protestant public as mostCatholics who would be interested in learning Irish wouldhave been financially unable to attend the university.) Itwas not until 1909 that Irish was again taught as a subjectat Queen's, and a professorship in Celtic Studies was notre-established until 1945.B. Another Victory for Linguistic Hegemony:The National School Act of 1831To Gellner (1980, 1981) culture is communication,broadly defined, with language as its most importantcomponent. Thus for members to fully participate in modernsociety, an extensive, formal, centrally-controlledand--Gellner emphasizes--linguistically uniform, state-wideeducational system is necessary. Gellner (1980:244) addsthat nowadays, "it is the language of the ecole maternelleand not the mother tongue, that matters."This policy of using the school system tolinguistically "homogenize" the population seems to havebeen an underlying philosophy of British cultural hegemonyin Ireland long before the age of modernization. From thedays of Henry VIII with the establishment of the firstParish Schools in 1537, the education system had been usedas a tool by the English for religious and linguisticconversion of the Irish masses. The Charity Schools,introduced by Bishop Moule in 1712, were based on thephilosophy that, "the whole nation may in time be made bothProtestant and English." O'Snodaigh (1973:8) maintains thatCharter Schools, established in 1731 "for the instruction ofthe children of the Irish natives in the English tongue andthe fundamental principles of the true religion," proved tobe more effective in Ulster than the Charity Schools, inachieving their goals.130131The Education Act of 1831 established in Ireland agovernment-subsidized, nationwide system ofnon-denominational education in which all instruction was tobe in English even though at the time more than twentypercent of the Irish people spoke only Gaelic. Lando(1981:235) writes that in addition to English being the onlylanguage of instruction, only English literature and historywere taught in these schools, because the Englishpoliticians believed this English oriented curriculum wouldaccelerate the Anglicization of Ireland. While theseNational Schools were described as non-denominational, Lando(1981:235) reports that the Protestant politicians whodrafted this legislation did have a religious motivation inmind in that they "hoped that by taking the education offuture Irish citizens out of the hands of the priests, theywould be able to weaken the hold of the Catholic church overthe country."The effects of this new educational system on the Irishlanguage and Gaelic culture were "fatal" (Collins 1990:66;Coolahan 1981:21; Curtis 1937:362; O'Snodaigh 1973:8). Thescope of this devastation of the Irish language (see Figures1 and 2) and the failure of the National School system toproduce a religiously homogeneous population, are summed upby Beckett (1981:186) who writes:132Figure 1^Ireland: Irish Speaking Population Distribution 1851(Source: Census of Population, Ireland 1851.)133Over 80%50 - 80%10 - 50%Under 10%0 Dublin0r 1111" - WaterfordFigure 2^Ireland: Irish Speaking Population Distribution 1891(Source: Census of Population, Ireland 1891.)The "national schools" did a great deal towardsabolishing illiteracy, but almost nothing towardsincreasing mutual understanding between Irishmenof different faiths. One effect of the new systemwas to discourage the use of the Irish language.In 1831 the Irish-speaking population probablynumbered between 1,000,000 and 1,500,000; fiftyyears later it had shrunk into insignificance; andthe national schools, though by no means the onlycause of the decline, contributed substantially toit. 6C. Alternative and Oppositional Irish Language ActivismCome of Age: Conradh na Gaeilge (Gaelic League) andSinn FeinAs tensions increased in Belfast in the 1830s and 1840sa mass movement for Irish nationalism 7 was taking formthroughout the whole of Ireland under the leadership ofDaniel O'Connell, a middle-class Dublin Catholic. Economic,political and religious discrimination had been reasonsenough to attract enormous peasant support for this"traditional" and "constitutional" nationalist movement.However, the opposition of the Catholic ascendancy to anymoves that would destabilize the status quo and the distrustof O'Connell by Protestants, even those who may have seenthemselves as culturally and politically Irish, posed majorobstacles to the movement's success (Cronin 1981:66, 67).Cronin (1981:67) writes that O'Connell, realizing that heneeded "Protestant allies of national outlook . . .discovered a way of reaching them through a weekly journal,The Nation, which began publication in October of 1842 . . .134135[and employed as its chief writer] Thomas Davis, aProtestant barrister and graduate of Trinity College,Dublin."O'Connell was, according to Curtis (1937:359-360) "nofriend to the Gaelic past and though he could and often didaddress crowds in Irish, he told them that the old languagewas a barrier to modern progress." Davis on the other hand,whose hobby was Irish history but who had been unable tomaster the actual language, saw the Irish language andculture as having integral roles in developing a nationalismthat would "embrace all Irishmen" (Cronin 1981:67).8Several historians have argued that the writing on theIrish language of Thomas Davis has strongly influencedmodern cultural and political Irish language revivalistmovements. For example, Cronin (1981:71) claims Davis"supplied the watchwords of the Gaelic League and theslogans of Arthur Griffith's Sinn Fein . . . [when hewrote:] 'the loss of one's native tongue [is] . . . theworst badge of conquest--it is the chain on the soul . • •A people without a language of its own is only half a nation. A people should guard its language more than itsterritories.'"6 hAilin (1969:93) also credits Davis with anticipatingthe "the views of the founders of the Gaelic League, andeven foreshadow[ing] the bilingual programme of PatrickPearse," when Davis avowed:Simply requiring the teachers of the NationalSchools in these Irish-speaking districts to knowIrish, and supplying them with Irish translationsof the school books would guard the language,where it now exists, and prevent it from beingswept away by the English tongue (quoted in6 hAilin 1969:93).Thus by the mid-nineteenth century the roots of bothalternative and oppositional Irish language activism wereclearly visible. The final two parts of this section willconclude with a discussion of each of these forms of Irishlanguage activism as it was manifested in the Gaelic Leagueand Sinn Fein. Particular attention will be paid to theunderlying philosophies of each of these two groups towardthe revival of the Irish language and the challenges eachpresented to British linguistic hegemony.1. Pre-Partition Alternative Irish Language Activism:The Gaelic LeagueResistance to the "tide of Anglicization" that hadbeset Ireland after the establishment of the National Schoolsystem initially came from individuals and the combinedefforts of small groups of like-minded people who tried tostimulate interest in the study of Irish among commoners(6 hAilin 1969:94). For example the Archbishop of Tuam,John MacHale "advocated the use of Irish by the Catholicclergy . . . published a number of literary works in the136137language . . . [and] was a Patron of The Society for thePreservation of the Irish Language" (6 hAilin 1969:94).This Society, founded in 1876, tended to be more an academicthan a popular linguistic movement. Many of its membershowever, did develop ideas that went beyond the academicapproach to language education and restoration. Thesemembers later went on to become leaders of the Gaelic Leaguemovement (6 hAilin 1969:94). The primary aim of the Societyfor the Preservation of the Irish Language was to put Irishon the school curriculum, and in this they partiallysucceeded. Through the efforts of the Society, "Celtic"language and literature became subjects for examination inthe intermediate schools in 1878 (6 hAilin 1969:94-95).The Gaelic Union, a faction that broke away from theabove Society placed its emphasis on encouraging bothteachers and pupils to learn Irish by organizing Irishlanguage competitions with prizes.^Inexpensive Irishlanguage books--a rarity at any price--many containinginstructional material useful in the teaching of Irish, werepublished by this group.In 1882, the Gaelic Union founded the The GaelicJournal. This journal devoted itself to reviving interestin Irish literature and language. The Gaelic Journal was astep ahead of its predecessors that had been primarilyinterested in the restoration rather than revival of thelanguage. One of its founders, Thomas Flannery, "was138careful to point out . . . it was in no antiquarian spirit[that The Gaelic Journal] was founded, nor would it beconducted in such a spirit" (6 hAilin 1969:95). o hAilin(1969:96) credits the founding of The Gaelic Journal asmarking "a turning point" in the Irish language revivalmovement in two ways: first, "it enabled enthusiasts todevelop their ideas in public"; and second, it became avehicle for the emergence of "a modern Irish prose style"6 hAilin (1969:96).The tenets of modern Irish language revivalism were laidout in November 1892 via a lecture given by Douglas Hyde, aDublin poet and scholar. Titled "The Necessity forDe-Anglicizing Ireland," the lecture focused on the state ofthe Irish language in nineteenth-century Ireland. Thisspeech has been credited with being a turning point in thedevelopment of modern Irish language resistance to Englishlinguistic domination (Cronin 1981:97-98; Ellis 1972:171;Harkness 1988:127; 6 hAilin 1969:97-98).The son of a Church of Ireland minister, Hyde waspolitically Unionist. As a child he had learned Irish andhad developed a love of Gaelic culture. Cronin (1981:97)writes of his lecture, Hyde "taunted the nationalists fordiscarding 'with light heart the best claim which we haveupon the world's recognition of us as a nationality'--theIrish language--and with it the bricks of nationality."Hyde went on to describe the people of Ireland as being,139"in a half way house: 'ceasing to be Irish without becomingEnglish'" (Harkness 1988:127). Hyde's lecture was concludedwith a prescription for remedying the language situation:Our once great national tongue (must be revivedand the spiritual Irish nation saved.) . . . Inorder to de-Anglicize ourselves we must at oncearrest the decay of the language. (The peasantrywho used Irish in their daily speech must be madeto feel proud of it.) We can, however, insist,and we shall insist if Home Rule be carried, thatthe Irish language, which so many foreign scholarsof the first calibre find so worthy of study,shall be placed on a par with--or evenabove--Greek, Latin, and modern languages, in allexaminations held under the Irish Government. Wecan also insist, and we shall insist, that inthose baronies where the children speak Irish,Irish shall be taught, and that Irish-speakingschool-masters, petty session clerks, and evenmagistrates be appointed in Irish-speakingdistricts. If all this were done, it should not bevery difficult, with the aid of the foremostforeign scholars, to bring about a tone of thoughtwhich would make it disgraceful for an educatedIrishman . . . to be ignorant of his ownlanguage--would make it at least as disgraceful asfor an educated Jew to be quite ignorant of Hebrew(quoted in Cronin 1981:97-98).On July 31, 1893, Conradh na Gaeilge (The GaelicLeague) was formed to rescue the Irish language fromextinction by implementing the programme outlined in Hyde'sspeech of the previous November (Ellis 1972:171; 6 Fearail1975). The Gaelic League marked a new era in Irish languagerevival, differing from all previous societies in both itsobjectives and its organization.^Its two-pronged programme,included, "first the revival of Irish as the vernacular of140the whole Irish people and secondly, the creation of a newliterature in the Irish tongue" (6 hAilin 1969:96). Theenormity of this undertaking became clear when a survey madeby the Gaelic League in 1893, found that while ninety-ninepercent of the people of Ireland spoke English, eighty-fivepercent of them could not speak Irish (6 Cuiv 1969:128).Undaunted by these figures, the Gaelic League beganoperations by setting up locally autonomous branches aroundthe country to organize Irish language teaching and othercultural activities. There were 58 branches of the GaelicLeague by 1898, 120 branches by 1900, 964 by 1906, and 588by 1909.From the beginning, the Gaelic League pressured thegovernment to introduce Irish into the school system. Theensuing struggle is described by 6 Pearail (1975:30):In the schools An Conradh [the Gaelic League]continued to play a sort of game with theeducation authorities and the British Treasury.The game went like this: An Conradh made certaindemands for teaching of Irish. The BritishGovernment refused them. All shades of publicopinion [were] brought to bear by An Conradh andthe authorities gave in. However, a short timelater the Government introduced some new rule ormeasure which hit the teaching of Irish. AnConradh mobilized its forces again. There wasanother submission and a little later anotherwriggle by the Government and Irish sufferedagain.141As will be discussed below, the game played out in thefirst decade of the nineteenth century resembled the onethat occurred in the last two decades of the same centurybetween the British government and Irish language groups inWest Belfast. These groups were in the process of settingup an Irish-medium school system and were engaged in a fightto get Irish, in Hyde's words (quoted above), "placed on apar with--or even above--Greek, Latin, and modern languages"in the school curriculum.During its first ten years of operation, the GaelicLeague achieved several significant victories.^In 1906, theLeague managed to secure the teaching of Irish during normalschool hours in primary schools (Coolahan 1981:36; Ellis1972:171). Upon examining the methods used for the teachingof modern languages, the League declared them inadequate toachieve the goal of the restoration of Irish into thevernacular. In place of these methods, the League designeda specimen Irish language programme to be used as aguideline in schools, utilizing a direct method--teachingphrases instead of individual words--and emphasizingphonetic drill (6 hAilin 1969:96). The League had alsosuccessfully lobbied the government to allow bilingualprogrammes using qualified Irish language teachers, in theGaeltacht (Irish-speaking) areas. Outside the educationsystem, classes were set up to teach the Irish language, aswell as its history, folklore, music and dances (Coolahan1421981:36). To rectify the dearth of adequately trainedteachers of Irish, the League set up a summer school inwhich students at the end of each session had to pass both awritten exam and give a sample lesson to their classmates,before qualifying for a teaching certificate (6 hAilin1969:96).^In its most difficult battle with the government(1910-1913), the League succeeded in getting Irishrecognized as an essential matriculation subject in the newNational University (Ellis 1972:171; 6 hAilin 1969:99).One of the reasons for the successes of the GaelicLeague can be directly attributed to its non-politicalnature. As 6 hAilin (1960:100) points out, "Hyde and theother founders realised the dangers of introducing eitherreligious or political views to the councils of the Leagueand these were rigidly excluded." The first branch of theGaelic League in Belfast was set up in 1895, with more thanhalf of it membership being Protestant (MacP6ilin 1990b:31;O'Snodaigh 1973:23). But regardless of its mixed religiousmakeup and its non-political stance, the Belfast branch ofthe Gaelic League was regarded by most with suspicion. As alocal nineteenth-century writer Cathal O'Byrne, states:With the advent of the Gaelic League the languagecame, at least partly, into its own. But theLeague was never considered quite "respectable"--that awful Belfast word--by the planters. To bea Gaelic Leaguer was to be suspect always (quotedin O'Snodaigh 1973:23).143Despite all the successes of the Gaelic League, itfailed to achieve its primary goal, "preserving andextending the use of the spoken tongue" (6 hAilin 1969:99).The reason for this, o hAilin (1969:99) writes, is that "novoluntary organisation unsupported by the power of the statecould hope to achieve this." As will be clear in thefollowing analysis of alternative Irish language activism inWest Belfast, the root cause of the Gaelic League's failureto achieve its overall objective is still the major obstacleto voluntary Irish language groups in West Belfast today.2. The Irish Language Becomes Part of the Republican Ethos:The Birth of Sinn FeinHyde's 1892 lecture not only inspired modernalternative Irish language activism--the form of resistanceadopted by the Gaelic League to England's cultural hegemonyin Ireland--but it "shaped profoundly twentieth-centuryIrish nationalist ideology, particularly republicanism,although [Cronin adds] that was never Hyde's intention"(Cronin 1981:98). The infusion of the Irish language andculture into the republican ethos can largely be attributedto Padraig Pearse. While still a member of the League,Fearse developed a new system of teaching Irish, elements ofwhich have been incorporated into the teaching practices ofboth republican and non-republican Irish language activistsin West Belfast.144It was Pearse who introduced to the League both thedirect method of teaching Irish and the concept of bilingualeducation. In his pamphlet The Murder Machine, Pearse(1916:4) attacked the English system of education, that hadbeen imposed on Ireland, as deliberately seeking to destroythe Irish culture and language rather than having theobjective of a proper school system, to educate.When one uses the term education system asthe name of the system of schools, colleges,universities, . . . which the English haveestablished in Ireland, one uses it as aconvenient label, just as one uses the termgovernment as a convenient label for the system ofadministration by police which obtains in Irelandinstead of a government. There is no educationsystem in Ireland. The English have establishedthe simulacrum of an education system, but itsobject is the precise contrary of the object of aneducation system. Education should foster; thiseducation is meant to repress. Education shouldinspire; this education is meant to tame.Education should harden; this education is meantto enervate. The English are too wise a people toattempt to educate the Irish, in any worthy sense.As well expect them to arm us (Pearse 1916:4).Pearse had been strongly influenced by the bilingualschool system in Belgium, and its use of the direct methodof teaching (i.e., conversation rather than word drills)which he had studied during a trip to the Continent. Uponhis return, he put into practice what he had observed byopening in Dublin, St. Enda's Sgoil Eanna School for boysand Sgoil Ite for girls, in the year 1908. The philosophyof these schools embodying Pearse's revolutionary view of145an Ireland without England, is a philosophy still very muchevident in the current education programme of Sinn Fein.This philosophy is evident in the main points of theschools' syllabus:(1) An Irish standpoint and atmosphere.(2) Bilingual teaching as far as possible.(3) All language teaching on the direct method.(4) Special attention to science, "modern"subjects generally while not neglecting theclassical side.(5) Association of pupils with shaping ofcurriculum, cultivation of observation andreasoning, nature study, etc.(6) Physical culture, Irish games, etc.(7) Systematic inculcation of patriotism andtraining in the duties of citizenship.(8) Above all, formation of character(An Phoblacht/Republican News 1988f:8).The Gaelic League had directly challenged England'slinguistic hegemony in Ireland. As Hyde put it in his 1892speech in Dublin, the goal of the Anglicization policy willnever be achieved because the Ireland can not be remade intoanother England. Hyde implored the Irish to "cultivate whatthey have rejected and build up an Irish nation along Irishlines" (Harkness 1988:128). Yet while Hyde and the Leagueunder his leadership called for a cultural revolution thatwould create an Irish nation with a distinct Irish ethos,these aspirations in no way posed a threat to England'spolitical and economic domination of Ireland. Because ofthis, England allowed some of the League's cultural demandsto be incorporated into the "effective dominant culture"146(i.e., the English culture) that prevailed in Ireland.The League's non-political policy was changed in 1915,when delegates attending the Ardfheis (annual meeting) ofthe Gaelic League, "agreed to add to the Constitution aclause stating that An Conradh was devoted to the idea of a'a free Irish nation' (6 Fearail 1975:44). Shortly afterthis, Douglas Hyde resigned as President of the League.6 Fearail (1975:44) states that the reason given by Hyde forhis resignation was ill health, but many believed the realreasons were based on the political nature of this clause,and that the League now included in elected positions "avery strong left-wing and 11289 representation." Theintroduction of this clause split the League into twofactions: those who sought to bring about a Gaelic onlyIreland; and those who felt it was not enough simply tobuild an Irish-speaking nation that would remain in bondage.6 Fearail (1975:44) writes, "Easter, 1916, came and itwas discovered that six of the seven men who signed theProclamation of a Republic had been members of Conradh naGaeilge, and four of them had been members of An Coiste Gn6,the governing body of the organisation." No longer was theGaelic League perceived by the authorities to be solely acultural organization.^It had in the State's eyes, evenstepped beyond what Scott (1990) might have termed"symbolically declaring war," a declaration that could havebeen overlooked by the British government.147Under the circumstances however, the British government'sresponse was predictable, and reflected its current opinionof Irish language organizations that bear too close aresemblance to Sinn Fein or "paramilitary organizations"(see Chapter Eight, below). 6 Fearall (1975:44) continues,"In the Autumn of 1918 Conradh na Gaeilge was declared bythe British government to be 'a dangerous organisation whichencourages and aids persons to commit crimes,' and wasbanned." Members of the League were harassed by the policeand some were arrested. However, locally it was believedthat "the banning of Conradh na Gaeilge by the Englishauthorities had not been intended and that there was noevidence of any military activity by its members. [Thisbelief became an 'accepted truth' when] a year later the banwas lifted" (6 Fearail 1975:45).The Gaelic League resumed its non-political,non-religious policy, continued with its activities, andbecame more popular than ever. Those who ascribed toPearse's philosophy of "Ireland not only Gaelic but free aswell," went on to form Sinn Fein. Thus alternative andoppositional forms of Irish language resistance to Britishcultural hegemony were now entrenched in Irish society.Writing in the Manchester Guardian in 1923, Douglas Hydesummarized the development of the Gaelic League inpre-partition days:. . . when, in 1893, the Gaelic League wasfounded, we openly preached the doctrine of an"Irish Ireland" as distinguished from anAnglo-Irish Ireland, which we stigmatised asthird-rate and vulgar. The Gaelic League grew upand became the spiritual father of Sinn Fein, andSinn Fein's progeny were the Volunteers who forcedthe English to make the treaty. The Dail is thechild of the Volunteers, and thus it descendsdirectly from the Gaelic League, whose traditionsit inherits^(quoted in 6 Fearail 1975:46).IV. Chapter SummaryTwo thousand years ago Tacitus wrote, "The language ofthe conqueror in the mouth of the conquered is ever thelanguage of the slave" (quoted in 6 Fiaich 1969:102). Thischapter has outlined the process in which the Englishconquerors of Ireland imposed their language on the nativepopulation, and has traced the development of the two formsof ensuing resistance that attempted if not to remove theconqueror's language altogether, at least to make the Gaelictongue its equal.The linguistic consequence of the destruction of theGaelic mode of production was to deprive the Irish languageof its aristocratic prestige. The Catholic upper and middleclasses abandoned the language and it was passed down to theIrish masses. Stigmatization of the language by Englishjokesters, writers, and historians, coupled with theintroduction of a hostile, repressive education policy,148149sought to eradicate the Irish language altogether. Reactionto the destruction of the Irish language came from theProtestant ascendancy who, caught up in the antiquarianspirit of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, soughtto preserve this "ancient" language as a museum piece.Others saw the Irish language as an effective mechanism inbringing about Protestant hegemony in Ireland. In Ulsterhowever, some Protestants involved in the restoration of theIrish language began to look upon it as part of their commonheritage. While this group remained politically British,they began to see themselves as culturally Irish. OtherUlster Protestants envisioned themselves as both politicallyand culturally Irish and many of these Protestants becameleaders in the United Irishmen and took part in theRebellion of 1798. While the turbulent years that followedin Belfast stigmatized the Irish language as being asubversive, Catholic phenomenon, Protestants continued totake an active role in its revival, as evidenced by theGaelic League whose Belfast branch attracted Protestants aswell as Catholics and continues to have a religiously mixedmembership (O'Snodaigh 1973:23).The restoration activities of individuals and groups inthe pre-1890 period made no demands on the State with regardto the Irish language, and therefore posed no threat toBritish cultural hegemony in Ireland. By the time theGaelic League did start to make demands, a linguistically150English, capitalist mode of production was firmly in placein Ireland. Thus the "membrane" separating the "effectivedominant culture" and the subordinate Gaelic culture, couldafford to be more "permeable" than it had been in the past.As a result the Gaelic League was able to achieve some hardwon successes in the area of education. But while itsucceeded in placing Irish on the curriculum, Englishremained the primary language of the school system. Themain objective of the Gaelic League--to restore Irish as thevernacular in Ireland--failed however, because itconstituted a direct challenge to British linguistichegemony.Irish republicanism that began with Wolfe Tone and theUnited Irishmen was always perceived as a threat toEngland's domination of Ireland and as such was violentlyattacked by the State. When the Irish language, which hadbeen a part of republican ideology since the 1790s was,through Pearse, made an integral part of the struggle forthe self-determination of Ireland, the State made known itsstrong objections. The Gaelic League was the first Irishlanguage organization to experience the consequences of thisnew political role of the Irish language, when it was bannedby the State and its members were harassed and jailed.When Ireland was divided in 1922 then, the new state ofNorthern Ireland inherited an education system which hadincorporated the successes of the Gaelic League:1.51Irish was taught during the normal school day as an optionalsubject at all levels in the schools and as an extra subjectoutside of school hours for fees; the government appointedand paid the salary of an Irish language organizer for theschool; and training grants were made available for teachersto attend Belfast's two independent Irish language colleges(Andrews 1991:90). The new State also inherited a minoritynationalist population "who had just come through the mostintense phase of the Irish language revival, [and] sawthemselves as Irish," and a Unionist population who sawthemselves as British and considered "nationalists to bedisloyal and dangerous on religious, political and culturalgrounds" (Andrews 1991:91).^In addition, the new Stateinherited two well established forms of resistance toBritish cultural hegemony that would continue to make theirpresence felt in British ruled Northern Ireland.Chapter FourPre-1980 Irish Language Activism in Northern Ireland:The Calm before the StormWithin the Northern Irish language community prior to1980, open resistance to British linguistic hegemony was atits nadir. One local Belfast Irish language activistdescribed this pre-1980 dispirited attitude, saying that "upuntil 1981-82 the Irish language revivalist organizationshad made no demands on the State. They shrugged theirshoulders and accepted that the State would not support whatthey were doing."This chapter will begin by examining the politicalatmosphere in Northern Ireland after partition, and theattitude of the new Stormont government toward the Irishlanguage, which together appeared to extinguish the Irishlanguage revival spirit that had been developed by theGaelic League. After two unsuccessful campaigns in the1920s--one by Catholic teachers and the other by ComhaltusUladh (Ulster Gaelic League)--against the anti-Irish bias ofthe new Ministry of Education, the Irish language activistcommunity turned inward. Resistance during the first sixtyyears of the Northern Ireland State had been alternative in152153nature. Without imposing on the State in any way, culturalIrish language activists had opted to continue to maintainand reproduce an Irish language ethos in Belfast byorganizing numerous Irish language groups within thenationalist ghettos. This activity culminated in 1969 inthe setting up of an Irish speaking community on Shaws Roadin West Belfast. The final two sections of this chapterwill investigate this pre-1980 Irish language activity inBelfast, concentrating first on the Cumann Chluain Ard, anIrish speaking social club established in 1936, and then onthe Shaws Road Irish language community development and theIrish-medium school system it initiated.I. Ireland Divided: The Irish Language is Attacked by theNew Northern Ireland ParliamentOn Easter Sunday 1916, with fewer than two thousandmen, the rebel forces led by Padraig Pearse and JamesConnolly seized the General Post Office on O'Connell Streetin Dublin, and from this stronghold proclaimed anindependent Irish Republic. While the insurrection did notinitially have the support of the general population, theindiscriminate brutal retaliation of the Black andTans--troops sent over by England to restore order--led theIrish people into electing an overwhelming Sinn Feinmajority in the general election of December 14, 1918154(Bennett 1959:66; Comerford 1969; Greaves 1980:14; Ward1983:142-43). On January 21, 1919 the first Dail eireannmet in Dublin and declared Ireland's independence. Thistime the British formulated a political response, ratherthan the usual show of physical force. Under the Governmentof Ireland Act (1920), Ireland was divided. The Irish FreeState was to be a self-governing dominion within the BritishEmpire and would consist of twenty-six counties, mainly inthe south. Six of the nine counties of Ulster in thenorth-east would become a semi-autonomous province, ruledfor the next fifty years by a one-party Protestant/Unionistgovernment. The new Northern Ireland government atStormont, Rowthorn and Wayne (1988:26-27) write, was:practically free from any intervention by thegovernment in Britain. . . . Unlike England,Scotland and Wales, for 50 years NorthernIreland's domestic affairs were shaped by its ownparliament and government. A few British MPs,chiefly Labour members, did retain an interest inand concern about Northern Ireland. However,their attempts to put it on the British politicalagenda were universally rebuffed. By agreeing noteven to talk about Northern Ireland much lessintervene in its affairs, all the major politicalparties in Britain were able to avoid thinkingabout the province and gaining any knowledge aboutit. . . . Britain [had] closed its eyes [to whatwas happening in Northern Ireland].The new Northern Ireland state was "profoundly divided"and "Catholics [were] treated as dangerous outsiders"(Rowthorn and Wayne 1988:26). The position of Northern155Irish Catholics in the new State was clarified when LordCraigavon, the first prime minister of the Northern IrelandParliament at Stormont, proclaimed:I have always said I am an Orangeman first and apolitician and member of this parliamentafterwards . . . all I boast is that we are aProtestant parliament for a Protestant State(quoted in Probert 1978:58).Despite the continued involvement of Protestants in therevival of the Irish language, to those Unionist members ofthe new Stormont Parliament who saw themselves as bothculturally and politically British, the Irish language was asymbol of Irish Catholic nationalist aspirations, and assuch subversive. Therefore in the tense, hostileenvironment of the 1920s, an attack on the language and itsplace in the education system was imminent.The first order of business for the newly formedNorthern Ireland Ministry of Education was the drafting of anew Education Act which in its final form negated themajority of the concessions achieved by the Gaelic League inthe two decades preceding partition. Even before the newEducation Act was finalized, a precursor to what was to bethe Stormont government's attitude to the Irish language wasrevealed in Parliament when "towards the end of 1921Unionists members queried the payment of a Government salaryto an organiser of Irish language instruction saying 'What156do we want with the Irish language here? There is no needfor it here" (Andrews 1991:90). Thus what Andrews, a localBelfast Irish language historian, describes as "a policy ofplanned neglect" toward the Irish language was initiated inNorthern Ireland. The aim of this policy was, Andrews(1991:92) argues:. . . to create conditions that would encouragenationalists to reject the Irish language andassociated aspects of Irishness by self-censorshipas a result of intimidation . . . through:(a) negative statements on the subject inParliament and elsewhere;(b) negative policy decisions;(c) negative attitudes to lobbying;(d) the neglect of educational research inrelation to Irish; and(e) the development of an ethnocentricinfrastructure within educationaladministration.Resistance to this strong bias against the Irishlanguage displayed by the Ministry of Education came swiftlyfrom the Northern Irish nationalist community (Andrews1991:91). A Non-Recognition Campaign in 1922, which at itsheight included some seven hundred Catholic teachers, who,with the "moral and financial support from Dublin" sought to"destabilise the newly transferred educational services" byrefusing to participate in Ministry authorized publicexaminations (Andrews 1991:91). The campaign lasted foreleven months and ended in a victory for Ulster Unionists inthat, "Catholic educational interests had been harmedthrough association with it and the morale in thenationalist community was damaged . .^" (Andrews 1991:91).However Andrews (1991:91) concludes that if the campaign hadany effect it was to show the Ministry that its policiescould provoke strong reaction from sections of thenationalist community.When the Education Act of 1923 was finally presented,it did not reflect any concern about this possible strongnationalist reaction, instead it:claimed that the preferential treatment of Irishwas unjustified; it recommended that all existingrules regarding the subject should be abolishedand that it should be treated in the same manneras Latin or French . . . [effectively makingIrish] a "foreign" or alien language. However,unlike other foreign languages it was subject toperiodic attacks in Parliament (Andrews 1991:93).Under the provisions of this Act, the post of organizerfor the bilingual programme was eliminated, curriculumsupport and funding for Belfast's two Irish languageteaching colleges was severely reduced and the teaching ofIrish at the public elementary school level was limited toninety minutes a week (Andrews 1991:93).In 1924, the Education Act was amended to limit furtherthe teaching of Irish at the elementary school level.Andrews (1991:93) describes these changes, saying, "Irishwas classified as a Group B optional subject and restrictedto Standards V-VII. Group A optional subjects had157158precedence over the former making it difficult for schoolsto choose Irish and satisfy the new regulations." Theeffect of this change, Andrews (1991:93) reports, was toreduce the number of pupils studying Irish as an optionalsubject by fifty percent. When the government took thefurther step of restricting the use of Irish as an extrasubject to Standard V or higher, the number of studentstaking Irish as an extra subject fell by seventy percent(Andrews 1991:93).In the wake of this sharp decline in the studentpopulation studying Irish, the Gaelic League--shattered inthe North by partition--was resurrected. The first order ofbusiness for Comhaltus Uladh, the new Gaelic League formedin 1926, was to petition the Government to reverse itsnegative policies toward the Irish language. A discrepancyin the 1924 legislation that made Irish an optional subjectgave Comhaltus Uladh its first concession from thegovernment and in 1928, Irish was allowed to be taught as analternative to History, from Standard III up (Andrews1991:94). As well, the new Education programme for 1928abolished the grouping system for optional subjects, makingall optional subjects equal. These minor successes weregrudgingly acknowledged by the Minister of Education, whocommented that, "in Northern Ireland Irish was dead or dyingand that French was a more useful language" (Andrews1991:94).159Like its predecessor, Comhaltus Uladh engaged in a gamein which a campaign was mounted to pressure the governmentto make a concession. Afterward, the government wouldrespond with a more repressive policy against the Irishlanguage (see Chapter Three, page 140). Thus, the gainsmade in the Education Policy of 1928 were nullified, and thefuture of Irish in the North made even more precarious whenin 1933, the Government voted to discontinue the payment offees for the teaching of Irish as an extra subject."Comhaltus Uladh tried to continue the scheme but itsfinances proved inadequate and before long Irish was notlonger available as an extra subject" (Andrews 1991:94).II. The Cumann Chluain Ard: The Bastion of the IrishLanguageWhile the Stormont government was actively trying todiscourage the reproduction of Irish-speakers in theschools, culturally interested Belfast Protestants andCatholics were getting together, as they had done throughoutthe nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, to form avariety of small Irish language groups.^Irish classes hadbeen set up in the '30s, '40s, and '50s by a number of Irishlanguage groups to compensate for the dearth of Irishlanguage instruction in the education system. One suchgroup was Comhaltus Uladh, which after an unsatisfactory160encounter with the new Ministry of Education in the latter1920s, refocused its energy into setting up branchesthroughout the North and providing Irish languageinstruction to all those interested. Comhaltus Uladh wasalso active in organizing "dancing and singing classes,lectures in English and Irish on various aspects of Irishhistory and culture, and a wide range of entertainmentsincluding ceills, concerts, debates, and excursions. Somebranches established drama groups and others formed hurling,camogie and Gaelic football teams" (Andrews 1991:98). Othergroups formed, such as the Ard-Scoil (which in 1929 moved toDivis Street in West Belfast from its previous city centrelocation of 49 Queen Street), the Gaelic Athletic League,and the Belfast Literary Society. These groups becameactive in promoting the Irish language, and organizingcultural events including lectures, debates, ceilis, andsimilar activities.The Cluain Ard, in many ways embodied the principlesand makeup of most of the groups. What made it exceptionalwas the dedication of its members, the efforts of whom madethis club the heart of Irish language and culture inBelfast, from its inception in 1936 to the start of the"Troubles" in the late sixties. The following profile ofthe Cluain Ard was constructed from several interviews withmembers who, like their parents before them, had joined theCluain Ard when they were in their early twenties.161Most had been members for more than twenty-five years, somehad been active in the Club's management, and all arecurrently prominent Irish language activists in Belfast.My initial inquiry concerned the inspiration behind theestablishment of the Cluain Ard.[Respondent 1:] The Cluain Ard was established in1936, and moved to its present premises in 1944 inHawthorne Street [West Belfast]. It wasestablished because people thought that theArd-Scoil was too central and that Irish activistsshould be active in their own communities and beworking locally with people rather than with justall people who joined the Ard-Scoil and weretaking the Irish there.The Cluain Ard and the Ard-Scoil in those dayswere bilingual--Irish and English. It wasprobably due to the circumstances. They wanted toget people in to hear Irish first before you putin an Irish only rule.[Respondent 2:] The Cluain Ard would be in andout of the Gaelic League.^It was set upindependently and every so often it would join theGaelic League and then fall out with some of them.It was a very strong minded group.Some people are drawn toward Irish for simplycultural reasons. Some people are drawn towardIrish for cultural nationalism. Most people tendto be drawn toward the Irish language as anextension of their political nationalism orrepublicanism. And there are also people drawntoward Irish and nobody has figured out why theyare drawn toward Irish. And all those kinds ofpeople would be coming to the Cluain Ard. Itwould not have a political philosophy.^When theCluain Ard was first set up the Gaelic choir wasconducted at a hall on the Shankill Road [astaunchly loyalist area of West Belfast] and therewere a number of Protestants who came to theCluain Ard quite regularly in those days.^Itchanged when "the troubles" started. There wasone man who used to be at the Cluain Ard all thetime. He lived on the Oldpark Road, [in NorthBelfast] I think. And he had to cross theShankill Road to get home. And one night he wasbeaten up by Protestants for being an Irishspeaker. He finished up by moving to Donegal.[Respondent 3:] The Cluain Ard was founded in1936 and its whole development and structure wastotally apolitical, non-denominational and a lotof the early members and even today--a lot of thefounding members of the Cluain Ard--were actuallyProtestant. The Cluain Ard in those early yearshad a choir, the choir master was a Protestant.They had an old shed apparently, behind theClonard Monastery and they grew from there toanother house which they got in Waterford Street.In 1944 they took out a lease on their presentpremises in Hawthorne Street and they have beenthere since.The inspiration then was to expose people tothe Irish language and culture. At the time yousee the Cluain Ard was basically a bilingual club.. . . some of the founding members . . . did haverepublican tendencies at the time. There werecommunists in their midst at the time as well.They were actually blasted from the pulpits by thepriests in the Clonard monastery, and that peopleshouldn't go into the Cluain Ard because they hadCommunist tendencies. So you had this element aswell. At that time then Tuesday night had beenset aside as the Irish speaking night. No one wasto speak English on a Tuesday night. It was abilingual effort until the late 40s. Then almostovernight in 1953 a rule was brought in thatEnglish was no longer to be spoken on thepremises.[Respondent 4:] The Cluain Ard had a ceili everySunday night. And it was packed to the doors everySunday night. It was famous for its ceilis butagain everything was done through the medium ofEnglish. Maybe there was the odd word of Irishhere and there. This just didn't go down too wellwith some of the hard-line members of the club whoinsisted that the Cluain Ard should adopt atotally Gaelic policy where everything was done inIrish. So almost overnight a policy was broughtin that no English was to be spoken at all in theclub. One of the leading nationalists at the time. . . he actually stood at the door and informedeveryone that from next week, next Sunday night,no English was to be spoken at the ceilf, that all162dances would be called in Irish and that the wholebusiness would be done through the medium of Irishfrom then on. And actually they were putting anend to the whole bilingual aspect of the CluainArd. So the next week the numbers felldramatically. There wasn't a crowd that waspouring into the street as there had been foryears previously. It got so bad apparently in thefollowing period that they actually didn't haveenough people to make up a set to do dances. Thathas changed now.[Respondent 5:] The Cluain Ard started in the'30s apparently by dedicated Belfast Gaels. Theyset up their own sort of Gaeltacht area. Becauseat that time it was something you could have beenput in prison for--speaking or practicing Irish.[During the 1930s?]Yes and later too, into the '50s. What they donewas at the Cluain Ard, they went in there an madeit all Gaelic. In my opinion again, unfortunatelythey closed the doors to the ordinary man.Andrews (1991:98) explains why the bilingual policy atthe Cluain Ard changed:In spite of a widespread interest in Irishamong nationalists during the 1940s and thevibrant social life surrounding Gaelic Leaguebranches, some radical working-class Irishspeakers in Belfast began to feel that this fellshort of their goal. Influenced by the writingsof Seosamh MacGrianna they sought to construct aset of values and an institutional framework thatwould bring a modern independent Irish-speakingsociety into existence, using what remained intactand worthwhile of pre-colonial Gaelic Ireland.Emphasis was placed on the preservation anddevelopment of the Gaeltacht and on theestablishment locally of a variety ofIrish-speaking institutions in the belief thatthey might coalesce, eventually creating thenucleus of this new society.What made this element different from theGaelic League generally was its insistence thatonly Irish should be used at all times in all163activities. To speak English was to underminethis objective. These views, which were pioneeredby the organisation, Pal, became a majorpreoccupation of the members of Cumann ChluainArd, a Belfast Gaelic League branch, in the early1950s.Activities held at the Cluain Ard went beyond those ofbasic Irish language classes.[Respondent 6:] There were not just classes, butlively debates, lectures, table tennis, dancing,chess all through the medium of Irish. Everythingyou could possibly think of through the medium ofIrish.[Respondent 7:] Over its history it has gone incycles. Over time there are a series of differentthings that people enjoy doing togetherparticularly young men and women. So in the veryearly days there was a cycling club. You wouldhave had skating clubs and swimming clubs, an artclub. You would have had all kinds of classesgoing on in the Cluain Ard where the Irishlanguage was promoted, in which you would havespoken in Irish.^In the cycling club, we wouldhave conversed in Irish. We would have gone onpicnics and so on. It was very rich. How goodeach was depended on each sort of groupsorganizing committee.With the onset of "the troubles" in 1969, the type ofclientele at Cluain Ard activities was permanently altered.[Respondent 7:] They still run ceilis: and otheractivities through the medium of Irish since 1953but the troubles actually put to bed thedevelopment of the Cluain Ard in certain ways.For instance a lot of Protestants were coming tothe classes. Now Protestants do still attend butat the moment their numbers are very few. So the164troubles have had a detrimental effect on thatpolicy of the Cluain Ard. For instance, I haveheard it said at one particular time almost athird of the members of the Cluain Ard wereProtestant. Generally you will find anyway thereis great respect for the Irish language. Even theextreme loyalist groups like the UDA, they are nowbeginning the policy of tracing their Ulsterroots. And they have a certain amount of respectfor the Irish language. As Dr. Adamson [aUnionist Belfast councillor and author of severalbooks on the Ulster identity, see Chapter Seven,below] said it is part of the ancient language ofthe Ulster people and for that reason the languageshould be nourished. Gusty Spence [former leaderof the UVF] he's an Irish speaker as well. I havenever spoken with him. So it is quite a spectrumthat you come across.The Cluain Ard is still seen by many as the birthplaceof the present Irish language revivalist spririt in Belfast.[Respondent 8:] I would say a major element thathave produced the Irish language activists todaywould be the Cluain Ard. That would be really thesource of all today's Irish language activists.And the Ard-Scoil, was another place at the verybottom of the Falls Road. So those two really Ithink would have been the source. If you go backin everyone's history that's what it would bebecause your parents would have gone to theArd-Scoil or the Cluain Ard and they would havedanced and fallen in love and it would have goneon from there.[Respondent 9:] Then you have the developmentfrom '53 right up to now--that development thatwhole period from the fifties on--you have couplescoming into the Cluain Ard. They would have metin the Cluain Ard, and then married. And thatprovided the base for the thinking and thedevelopment of the whole revival here in Belfast.So in the early '60s you had these groups comingtogether and a sort of think tank developed. Herewe are in the Cluain Ard speaking Irish all thetime and that provided the impetus to develop165166further.^If we can speak Irish here in the CluainArd, it naturally followed that everyone couldapply that to their everyday circumstances--wecould speak Irish from morning to night. Sotherefore, they got together--this was through the'60s now--this was a developing thing throughoutthe '60s. At that time there were only a handfulof families in Belfast who had brought theirchildren up speaking Irish prior to the '60s andsome of them were academics and so on. So quiteapart from that handful of families who werebringing their children up through the medium ofIrish, this '60s development actually led to thissmall Gaeltacht being developed on the Shaws Road.That emanated from the Cluain Ard members, becausethey were the people who started it all.The Irish language and cultural organizations that grewup in pre-1980 Northern Ireland resembled their nineteenth-century predecessors in many ways:(a) the groups were formed in a turbulent politicalatmosphere where everyone who was involved with anythingIrish was suspect by the establishment; (b) the primarymotivation was the promotion of the Irish language throughclasses and cultural events; and (c) the membership wasmixed both religiously and politically. As one person toldme, "the rule was that guns and politics were left at thedoor." These organizations, then represented a continuationof past alternative resistance in that they provided anoutlet for Irish cultural expression in a way that neitherchallenged nor imposed upon the state.III. The Shaws Road Irish Community: Irish LanguageActivists Create Their Own Gaeltacht inEnglish-Speaking West BelfastInspired by the all-Irish environment of the CluainArd, six couples, most of whom had met in the Club, had thevision of creating an all Irish community in which to liveand raise their children.^In 1969, this vision, along withthe philosophies of Seosamh MacGrianna, were realized in thebuilding of a Gaeltacht on Shaws Road in Andersonstown,nationalist West Belfast. This development is credited asbeing the Cluain Ard's "greatest" achievement. As oneperson put it:In retrospect the greatest development thatthe Cluain Ard actually spun was the developmentof the school. The Cluain Ard members I wouldsay, and I am not exactly sure of my figures butto the majority of the people that went into thehousing scheme and built their own houses on theShaws Road, they were Irish speakers. They camefrom the Cluain Ard. Some of those couples hadmet in the Cluain Ard got married then began toraise their families there [on Shaws Road]. Thenthe school developed. The school was built behindthe houses. So therefore that started the ballrolling completely. The Cluain Ard brought Irishspeakers together; it made them realize if theywanted to speak Irish from morning to night therewas nothing stopping them. They could cometogether and process some development plan. Theybuilt their houses. From that came the school,and the school has mushroomed. There are now fourhundred children there. It started off with sixchildren.167168The Shaws Road Development actually started in 1968,just before "the troubles", when five families purchased anold farm in Andersonstown and built homes beside each other.Two years later they were joined by two additional families.When I asked one of the founding members if republicanismhad been the motivating ideological force behind the settingup of the the community, he responded:No. The range of politics was quite wide, theywere all people from a Catholic background and allfrom I guess a nationalist background but therewas not any direct ideological link between thatcommunity and republicanism for example, orextreme nationalism or whatever you callit--advanced nationalism.From its start, this Irish-speaking community dependedon its friends from the Cluain Ard for support, rather thanthe State. One person involved in the discussions of thedevelopment explained:They moved up to the Shaws Road. Then someof the men who were involved in discussions at theCluain Ard were builders and bricklayers andplumbers and electricians, and in 1967-68 theystarted building the community. This was beforethe first civil rights march.The architect was also part of the group whohad been involved in the Cluain Ard. He worked inconjunction with the men and the women to designthe house that they wanted.^I think the firstfive were built on a piece of land that had beenpurchased. They realized that the land that wasthere for the school was part of the originalfarm. So right from the beginning they planned tobuild a school for their children to be educatedin Irish.169In 1971, this group built Northern Ireland's firstIrish-medium primary school, so that their children who hadbeen raised with Irish as their first language could receivetheir education in their mother tongue. An informationpamphlet was produced to commemorate the eighth anniversaryof this Irish primary school by some of those originallyinvolved in the project. It was titled Irish Education forIrish Children, and details some of the initial problemsencountered:Ten years ago, if you had mentioned thepossibility of education through the medium ofIrish in Belfast, or in any part of the SixCounties you would have been regarded as adreamer, an idealist with no idea of the realitiesof life. Even if the demand ever arose, thegovernment would never permit it! This wasproved, by the way, in 1967, when one man wrote tothe Education Department to get their reaction tothe idea of education through Irish--he was toldbluntly that not only would he not receivepermission to found such a school, but that anyoneconnected with any such school would beprosecuted! . . .It was decided, in 1971, to found BunscoilGhaeilge Bheal Feirste [an Irish-medium primaryschool]. The parents had been collecting moneyfrom ceilis, etc. for some time; they now had alittle money, nine children and no school orteacher. The school was provided, ironically, bythe "troubles" in Belfast at the time; chalets hadbeen provided for the hundreds of families burnedout of their houses in 1969. As these familieswere re-housed, the chalets became vacant, and oneof these became the Bunscoil. The parents boughtit, dismantled it, brought it to Shaw's Road, andrebuilt it there.Now all that was needed was a teacher; forsome time they had been advertising for a nativeIrish speaker; naturally enough, few were preparedto come to Belfast at that time, but they wereeventually lucky enough to find Caitlin BeanDhiscin, from Kilcar in Donegal, who had retiredsome years before. She agreed to come to Belfastfrom Dublin, where she was then living, to helpfound the Bunscoil.The parents are still in debt to Bean UiDhiscin for the dedication and hard work that wentinto the first few months of the Bunscoil--thosenine children who were at school in the first daysstill speak of her often and affectionately.However, in 1971, Belfast, and the Six Countiesgenerally, was not the most peacefully place inthe world, and Bean Ui Dhiscin also had troublewith her health; in February 1972, after BloodySunday, she was forced to admit that the strain onherself and her family was too much. Sheresigned, but had played her part. Scoil GhaeilgeBheal Feirste was founded (reproduced in theAndersonstown News, September 16, 1978:8-9).At the time the Bunscoil was set up, Andrews (1991:99)indicates that the State's preoccupation with the "troubles"may have been the reason that it didn't carry through withits threat of legal action against those involved in theschool, in the probable belief, he adds, that the schoolwould fail. Another person commenting on the State'sreaction to this novel attempt to establish a Gaeltacht inthe centre of English-speaking West Belfast remarked:Actually the State did nothing, sat on itshands as it were, when they set up their housingdevelopment. The State did nothing which allowedfor tax breaks for their school. When they triedto start the school, the Belfast Education andLibrary Board wrote them and threatened them withcourt action and jail if they dare set up theirown school. They ignored that and set up theirown school anyway. The State then said that theywouldn't give it [the school] any recognitionbecause it wasn't good enough [academically]. Asthe 70s went on, the school did establish itself.170For example, up until last year [1989] no childever failed the government leaving exam forprimary school [this exam is called the elevenplus]. Their record became better than any otherschool in the North.It was not until 1977-78 that the school organizersbegan to petition the government for funding. By this timethe enrolment of the school had passed the fifty mark and anIrish-medium nursery school had been set-up to preparechildren from English-speaking families for entrance intothe Bunscoil. This request for official recognition andfunds was a departure from pre-1980 alternative resistancepatterns which sought to create their own Irish-speakingenvironment without any interaction with the State.However, even though the group did finally approach theState in 1977, it was only after 1980 that the actualcampaign to demand that the State fund the school began.As one person explained:So it was only when the school decided to askthe government about funding that that particulargroup of people began to interact with the State.There were some things earlier on when they firstset up the school as an Irish medium school. In1971, whenever the school opened, there probablywas some kind of friction there. A parent caneducate their own child but they have to ask forpermission. So right from the word go, theletters were going into the government departmentsfor recognition. But there was no attempt to askthe government for money until the late 70s.They first began to ask for funds in 1977-78.It was only in 1980 that they actually started topressurize the government to get money and to171recognize the schools. The school started offslow and gradually increased.^In 1980-81 and '82it got thick and fast. In 1981-82 they begancampaigning, writing many letters to thegovernment, having meetings.The increasing enrolment of the school and the higheducational achievements of its students plus a vigorouscampaign in the early eighties finally resulted inrecognition of the school in 1984. This recognition meantthat the school would receive grant-aid which covered theschools operating costs and eighty-five percent of itscapital expenditure (Northern Ireland Office 1991).The Irish language activists who set up the WestBelfast Gaeltacht had been primarily concerned with creatingtheir own Irish-speaking community. They made no attempt toimpose their "different way of life" on those around them.At first the Shaws Road development was largely ignored byits English-speaking neighbours. However, in time people inthe area began to take notice of this small group who wereliving their lives in a way that was vastly different fromtheir own. As one Irish language activist involved in thisIrish-speaking community explained:Initially people weren't aware of what wewere doing. The only people who were aware of itwas the Irish speaking community itself.^It isonly since the hunger strike that they have reallybecome aware of the Irish language in thiscommunity.172You may not know the true significance of thesetting up of an Irish language community in anarea. It is only when you get to know yourneighbours that you think, they are not like me orthat they are like me but they are doing somethingvery strange and wonderful or whatever. It isonly as the time passes by, that people becomeaware of things. They were so much involved intheir own lives so I can understand why no oneknew about this Irish speaking community. Therewas no resistance from the [surroundingEnglish-speaking] community. For example, theywould have helped. If you needed wood, someonewould say, "I can get what you need for a cheaperprice." There would have been that kind of help.But that kind of help is normal here in Irelandanyway. But I think that once the Irish communitydoes get going, people around do become aware ofthem. Because after all they would hear themalways talking to their children in Irish.^If wewent to a shopping centre we would talk to ourchildren in Irish. So neighbours couldn't helpbut notice.It was through the women that others becameaware of us, because the women were bringing upthe children. They were taking the children tothe shops and speaking Irish to them.Once the school opened, then there wasadvertising. All this takes time.^I think it wasa natural progression.As the 1970s came to a close the small Irish Gaeltachton Shaws Road was making its presence felt throughout thenationalist ghettoes. As one person put it, "To many in thearea the Shaws Road school became the 'heart of whole Irishlanguage movement in Belfast.'"173IV. Chapter SummaryWhen the Northern Ireland State was formed in 1922, theBritish "effective dominant culture" that its Unionistcontrolled Parliament wanted to establish, was not secure.The Irish Free State was embroiled in a civil war over theissue of partition and although the pro-treaty forceseventually won out, the unionist population in the North didnot trust the South to stay out of their affairs. Thus thenew Northern Ireland State was in no mood to permit anyreligious, political or cultural accommodation for itsminority Catholic population, that the State deemed to besubversive. A new Education Act in 1923, followed in the1930s by increasingly more repressive cultural amendments,sought to discourage the use of the Irish language, indeedeliminate it altogether, from the education system.The initial reaction of Irish language activists, tooffset the attack being made on the Irish language in theschools, was to themselves provide Irish languageinstruction. Numerous groups formed in the 1930s and 40s topropagate the Irish language through classes, and a widevariety of Irish cultural activities. Most of these earlygroups' activities were bilingual. However, in the 1950ssome members of this community of activists were influencedby the philosophy of Seosamh MacGrianna who suggested thatIrish communities should be created and children should be174175raised in an all Irish environment as Irish speakers. Thefirst Irish organization to implement MacGrianna'ssuggestion was the Cluain Ard, when in 1953 a rule wasestablished that only Irish was to be spoken in the Club.This change in policy was not positively received by all themembers of the Cluain Ard, but the all-Irish rule remainedin effect. In the 1960s a group of young people whofrequented the Cluain Ard and who were just settling downafter marriage, decided to fully employ MacGrianna'sproposal by creating an Irish-speaking community on ShawsRoad in West Belfast. This dream of a Gaeltacht in WestBelfast came to fruition in 1971 with the building ofNorthern Ireland's first Irish-medium primary school.As the 1970s progressed, the Irish language activistcommunity became bolder and began to make demands on theState to support the Shaws Road Irish-medium primary school.Until the early 1980s, these demands were not backed up by alarge scale campaign, did not unduly challenge the culturalhegemony of the State, and were thus ignored. Althoughlittle headway was made during this pre-1980 period ingetting any recognition from the State for the rights ofIrish-speakers, Irish language activists did manage to putin place a solid foundation for the Irish language revivalwhich would explode in the 1980s.Chapter FiveIrish Language Activism: The Context of ResistanceThroughout the turbulent nineteenth century the Irishlanguage was to become increasingly more politicized. Thoseinvolved in promoting the Irish language, Protestantsnotwithstanding, were considered to be of dubious loyalty.After the 1916 Rebellion, the language became identifiedwith republicanism and as such was perceived by the loyalistpopulation to be a symbol of Catholic nationalism--hencesubversive. While Protestants continued to be involved inits revival and promotion, those in positions of power inNorthern Ireland who saw the Irish influence as a threat toBritish cultural hegemony, tried in the early years of thenew State to diminish, if not eradicate, the languagealtogether. To this end, an attempt was made by thesemi-independent, unionist Stormont government to institutea British "effective dominant culture" through physicalcoercion. Emergency measures legislation was enacted toenable the new Stormont government to physically subdue anypolitical expression of Irish nationalism by the Catholicminority.176177As was proposed in Chapter Four, the Irish languageactivists' resistance to this domination by force manifesteditself in the development of small Irish speaking clubs andorganizations that ran Irish language classes and sponsoredIrish cultural events, within the relative safety of theirown area of Belfast. Protestants interested in the languagewould attend these classes and events in the nationalistareas, or involve themselves in similar groups that had beenestablished in the city centre area of Belfast. Just beforethe start of "the troubles," Irish language activists set upa small Irish-speaking village and Irish-medium primaryschool on Shaws Road in West Belfast--an action indicativeof alternative resistance to British linguistic hegemony.Until the late 1970s, Irish language activists neither askedfor, nor expected any support or financial assistance fromthe State. However, with the approach of the 1980s, thisalternative Irish language resistance movement did begin tomake quite definite demands on the State.The dominant-subordinate interaction during the firstsixty years of the Northern Ireland State had a profoundeffect on the forms of Irish language resistance thatemerged after the 1981 hunger strike. This chapter will,investigate the context of Irish language resistance,beginning with the sporadic official and unofficial Stateviolence of the 1920s, and ending with the hunger strike of1981.I. Prelude to the 1981 Hunger Strike:Terror Warfare as Lived RealityA. Pre-1969: A Period of Sporadic Official and SanctionedUnofficial Attacks on the Nationalist PopulationWide ranging emergency measures to help the new stateof Northern Ireland restore control physically, were amongthe first pieces of legislation enacted by the Stormontgovernment. The 1922 Civil Authorities (Special Powers)Act, which became a permanent part of Northern Ireland'slegal code in 1928,10 included the following provisions,(Rowthorn and Wayne 1988:35-36):(1) People suspected of crimes could be arrestedand interned--that is, kept in prison withouttrial--for as long as the government wished.(2) The death penalty applied for some firearmsand explosives offences.(3) It was an offence to refuse to answerquestions put by a policeman.(4) The government could examine bank accounts andseize money deposited in accounts.(5) Newspapers could be prevented from printingcertain reports or could be banned altogether.(6) Houses could be searched without warrant.(7) Named individuals could be confined toparticular areas of the province.(8) The authorities did not have to hold inquestson any dead bodies found in Northern Ireland.(9) People who committed offences connected withexplosives, firearms, causing fires andblackmail, could be punished by flogging.The Act also included the following "catch all" clause,seemingly to cover any and all other actions:178If any person does any act of such anature as to be calculated to beprejudicial to the preservation of thepeace and maintenance of order in NorthernIreland and not specifically provided forin the Regulations, he shall be deemedguilty of an offence against theregulations.Under this Act, power was given to "the Minister ofHome Affairs to make any measures 'he thinks necessary forthe maintenance of order' without consulting parliament, orto delegate the Act's powers to whomever he chooses"(Bambery 1986:51). The restrictions on civil libertiescontained in this Act were enforced primarily on theNorthern Irish Catholic minority by the newly formed RoyalUlster Constabulary (RUC), and the B-Specials, a Protestantlegalized para-military force (Bambery 1986; Farrell 1983).These groups jointly monitored the activities of theNorthern Irish Catholic population.During times that British hegemony over the NorthernIreland State was challenged (for example during the IRAcampaigns of 1921-22, 1938-39, and 1956-62), the governmentwould introduce internment under the Special Powers Act.Internment was also employed during this period as a meansof suppressing potentially embarrassing politicalopposition. For example, during the week of the Royal visitto Northern Ireland in 1951, the evocation of the SpecialPowers Act found many republican politicians in prison forthe duration of the visit (Hillyard 1983). The first179180memories of government oppression among many people Iinterviewed aged over fifty were of security forces enteringtheir homes to conduct house searches or to intern theirolder brothers and/or their fathers.Common too, in this pre-civil rights era, werespontaneous riots and incidents which erupted each yearmainly during "marching season" (beginning in the month ofMarch and lasting until the Orangemen celebration of theBattle of the Boyne on July 12). One such incident, whichoccurred in 1923, was described to me by a Catholic womanwhose father had been a Protestant and whose brother hadbeen in the British Army at the time. As her story is notunlike several I was told of this period it will be usedhere to illustrate the sanctioned unofficial sporadicviolence that Belfast Catholics experienced before the"troubles" began:Our house was the only house on the blockthat had a back kitchen. My mummy, when she wasin the kitchen couldn't hear what was going on inthe street. I was about five years old at thetime. It suddenly dawned on her that there wassomething different, and she went to the frontdoor and opened it. Then a head came around thewall of the house across the street and my mummyasked "what's wrong?" The man mouthed the wordsat her, "are you never out" that's Irish for youasked a stupid question. I had followed outbehind her with my sister and she lifted me in herarms and the man dashed across the road andsnatched me in his arms and grabbed my sister bythe hand and ran with us across the street intothe other street. As my mummy shouted "what didyou do that for?" we heard the noise come aroundthe corner just about two minutes walk away at theProtestant end of the street. She realized whatit was and got the rest of the kids and dashedacross the street. And she was running acrossthe street when the first shot came from the endof the street. She thought she was shot andstopped dead in the street. A man ran out andgrabbed her and then both had to make a run forit. As he ran the shots were coming up the streetand the RUC and the British Army never moved amuscle to find out who was doing the shooting.They just didn't do a thing.Now that crowd just came up into our streetand saturated the houses with petrol and putmatches to them. In our house we had an oven andin the oven they had put our cat Topsy. Whenmummy found her, Topsy had suffocated in the oven.My daddy died in the house--my daddy died on the25 of January and we were burned to the ground onEaster Monday.B. The "Troubles": The Militarization of Northern IrelandBy the mid-1960s, a recognizable change had taken placein the nature of state violence in Northern Ireland. Nolonger was it just a spontaneous "reaction to perceived orreal challenges to [the State's ability to conduct itsaffairs]" (Lopez 1984:60).^It had instead becomeinstitutionalized as a systematic and purposeful act, aimedat controlling by force that portion of the populationregarded as a threat to the status quo. Lopez (1984:61)writes that the second level in the development of stateterrorismil can be recognized to have occurred when:181. . . ruling elites in societies undergoingincreasing pressure for social, economic andpolitical reforms appear to find no way (orconsciously choose to find no way) of translatingthese forces into the development of moreeffective rule. Rather, the government, whetherdemocratic or autocratic, capitalist or socialist,civilian or military, begins to respond to thechanging national environment with a curtailmentof civil and human rights, with increased militantpolicies of coercive controls of collective andindividual behavior.By the late 1960s, the second stage of state terrorism,as described by Lopez, had been reached in Northern Ireland.This was clearly illustrated when, during the civil rightsperiod, the demands for social justice and an end toeconomic and political discrimination against Catholics weremet with repressive legislation and increasing stateviolence. By the mid-1970s, a "general system of repressivepractices and policies designed to maintain power of theincumbents [the British State], and benefits accruing totheir allies [the loyalists]" (Lopez 1984:61) was in place.Thus, what Lopez refers to as the final stage in thedevelopment of state terrorism had been achieved in NorthernIreland.O'Hearn (1987:97) writes of the escalating violence inthe period leading to the first civil rights marches in1968:Actually, the main civil rights organizationwas formed in early 1967 and the several yearsbefore 1968 saw quite a bit of violence: almost182entirely by Paisleyite mobs against reformistgovernment officials and the Catholic population,and by loyalist death squads againstrandomly-picked Catholics.This violence intensified when, spurred on by theapparent successes of black civil rights marches in theUnited States during the 1960s, the Irish in NorthernIreland also began to organize marches to demand equalrights and an end to economic and political discrimination.The government declared the marches illegal and state forcesjoined loyalist mobs in brutal attacks on the marchers (seeO'Hearn 1987:98; Rowthorn and Wayne 1988:40).The marches were followed by a period of intenserioting. In 1970, a clause was added to the legal code tomake a six-month sentence mandatory for riotous behaviour(Bambery 1986:52). Nationalists became the prime targets ofthis new law. Violence continued, and in August 1969 theunionist (loyalist) dominated government of Stormontrequested that the troops be brought in to quell the unrest.A young man who had been ten years old in 1969, and wholived in a nationalist area separated from West Belfast by astaunchly loyalist district, describes his memories of thecivil rights marches and early 1970s, saying:I can remember my first recollections . . .standing there and seeing a big double-decker busblocking off the street, people were collectingpavement stones. The word was out that war was tostart. Apparently the Protestants had sent word183to "get your women and children out because we areinvading." People were running up and down thestreets packing their clothes and everything. Iwas young at the time and I couldn't go runningaround the streets. I used to stand down at thebarricade and look around. There were barricadeseverywhere. There were guys standing with sticks.I noticed one guy at the bottom of the garden, anold fellow, an ex-British soldier from the war,and a couple of other fellows and they had an oldforty-five, one of these old war guns. And he wasshowing them how to work it. They didn't know howto work it. That was the first time I ever saw aweapon in my life. And I was standing listeningto them saying "Look, you do it this way," andthere were other guys sitting in the bus withbinoculars looking up and down the streets.People were just running around, back and fortheverywhere.So what happened in '69, just after BombayStreet is that all women and children, and I wasamong those, we were all put on double deckerbuses. A few men tried to sneak on but they wereput off because they were not allowed to go. Menhad to stay behind to do the fighting. I canremember getting on one bus and there was this manat the back trying to get under the back seat. Imean people were really panicking. Men werecrying and everything to get out of the district.They weren't allowed to get out. I mean therewere guys standing everywhere and they weren'tletting men on those buses. They were told you'restaying and you're going to fight and that was allthere was to it. There were pensioners on thebuses but a lot of older men didn't want to go.We were all herded on these double decker busesand there were these white sheets with red crossesput on them and they were hung up all around thebuses. We got right through Belfast up to aschool on the Glen Road. We even drove through aloyalist area and we weren't stoned. Anyway wewere driving and there was just a mass ofbarricades and men around them. The troops hadn'teven arrived at this stage. I never saw anyactual violence. There was a barricade at everysingle street corner, and in the loyalist areas aswell.We stayed there for a period of time and thenwhen the storm had sort of lulled we were broughtback on buses again into the area. And when we184were driving back I saw the armed troops [Britishtroops came in August 1969] just lining the wholeway. They were just standing on either side ofthe road, ready for action or pulling barbed wireacross.^It was just like a battlefield. Therewere armed soldiers everywhere. There wereactually tanks and all sorts of equipment. We alllooked at it because it was exciting--we hadplayed soldiers and that type of thing. And whenwe got back in the area, the level of violencethat I saw was really armed soldiers on the streetand people running about getting them tea. Westarted running about their bunkers. Everyone wasfriendly with them and were glad they were there.These were sort of makeshift ones [the bunkers]made up of sandbags and the troops were in them.They had started to build the peace lines as well.They were putting corrugated iron up and down [theroad].^It is all walls now. But they startedbuilding that as far back as '69 to keep the twosides apart--that was the excuse they gave. To uskids it was all fun and exciting. We didn'tunderstand the situation. One minute we wererunning in and out of the huts loving Britishsoldiers and the next we were calling them namesand throwing stones at them. I never understoodwhy and never asked questions why. We justnaturally started stoning them. I had to sneakout to go to riots. My ma would get paintbombedand everything else looking for me. I mean Iwould have gotten a bigger kicking in the housethan if the Brits had caught me.Army at this time were stationed all aroundthe periphery of an area which meant that theProvos could have walked around the area armed tothe teeth as there was no fear of soldiers. Theywould have avoided being seen by the army post.This was a silly thing for them to be doingbecause everyone knew what everyone else wasdoing.Our house was near the line [between theloyalist and nationalist areas] and the peacewalls weren't built yet. Every night there weregun battles. We had to sleep on the floor. Evenif we were sitting at a meal a bullet would comein through the window. The bullets came from bothsides.185I remember in the early '70s every housewould have this basin of water sitting by thewindow sill with all these little rags in it.What these were for was that when the rioters gotthe CS gas thrown at them, they would just go topeople's window sills and lift a damp cloth andput it around their mouth and it was able toprotect them from the gas. Everyone used to leavetheir doors open for the rioters.Often, nationalists would attempt to subvert the terrorof their lived experience in the beginning of the "troubles"using humour. One woman from West Belfast constructs herexperiences of the early 1970s as a series of humorousepisodes:[Incident 1:] One night there was heavy riotingand over seven hundred canisters of gas had beenthrown into Ballymurphy. We like most of theCatholics had gone to the high windows in ourplaces to watch the action. As we watched, a manand a drunk on a motorcycle approached the troublespot. They were weaving along when suddenly thedriver hit the wall of gas fumes. The driverjolted to a stop and the drunk fell off and lay onthe ground. The driver grabbed the drunk by thecollar and all you could see was the driverrunning away as fast as he could from the gas,down the road, dragging his drunk friend alongbehind him by his collar.[Incident 2:] One night we were watching andspotted a gang from the Shankill approachingBallymurphy near our home. I rarely use theLord's name in vain but this night I said "Jesus,we are done for now." My daughter who was inuniversity doing Celtic studies watched calmly asthe shouts of the mob got louder. All you couldhear were shouts of, "We are the boys from theShankill. We are the boys from the Shankill."My daughter turned to me and said, totally186unconcerned, "You know that is the first time Ihave heard anyone in Belfast pronounce theShankill correctly." [Note: "Shankill" is an Irishword meaning "Old Church."][Incident 3:] During the early troubles there wasmostly brick throwing. What would inevitablyhappen would be that Catholics would be pelted bybricks from their own side. One day my husbandand I were walking up the Springfield Road, at atime when we were still living on a Protestantestate. We were intimidated out in 1971 and movedinto a house in Ballymurphy. Trouble flared whena patrol went by. Immediately bricks rained downon the patrol and on us. We were on the otherside of the patrol. The soldiers waved us ontowards their vehicles. So up the SpringfieldRoad we walked, cuddled up to a saracen, as thelads from Ballymurphy stood on the other sideheaving bricks.[Incident 4:] In the middle of rioting one time ayoung lad from our side stood up and startedshouting orders out with an English accent.[Incident 5:] I was in a fresh meat shop inBallymurphy one time in the 1970s when there wasthis long burst of gunfire. At the time we hadjust moved into the area and I was shaking. Awoman came into the shop and calmly said, "Soundslike they're attacking from the Shankill and twopounds of whitefish, please."The welcome that the Catholic population had cautiouslyextended to the British troops, quickly changed when itbecame apparent that the troops were more interested inrooting out the IRA than protecting nationalists fromloyalists. The Falls Curfew in 1970, internment in 1971,and Bloody Sunday in 1972, are some of the more notoriousincidents of these early days of the "troubles," that187profoundly changed how northern nationalists perceived theBritish army. One man's recounting of his reaction toBloody Sunday (when a British paratrooper regiment hadopened fire on unarmed civilians, in Derry, during a marchcommemorating the anniversary of the civil rights marches,killing fourteen and injuring many more), embodies theintense emotional response I found common in nationalistBelfast to incidents involving the security forces:I distinctly remember Bloody Sunday. I thinkBloody Sunday was a big turning point for us aswell, because when we saw that happen on the TVscreens--I remember coming in and seeing the newsand I will always remember this and it scares meeven to think about it--I can never get this outof my head even to this very day. That I sat andwatched that news and my mother watched andeveryone else was sitting around watching it--even the little ones, and I heard this para-mansaying "keep firing, keep firing, keep firing,"He just kept shouting "keep firing" and thesoldiers were standing there firing into thecrowd. And I was livid and I was calling at theTV, "bastards, bastards" and all that type ofthing. "Fucking animals," "you fucking murderingbastards," that was the way I felt then. So Iwould say from that day we really started gettingmilitant towards them [the British army]. Wereally hated after that. We actually did hatethem. At that time I would have literally cuttheir throats myself because I hated them so much.Imagine seeing that on your TV screen at that age[mid-teens]. You know, "keep firing, keepfiring."^I will never forget that day.188189The British military's attitude toward peacekeeping andrule-by-force is best summed up by Robin Evelegh(1978:60-61), Commanding Officer of the Third Battalion ofthe Royal Green Jackets, based in the Upper Falls area ofBelfast in 1972 and 1973. Evelegh writes:The dilemma facing a democratic society isthat the means needed to defeat terrorism andsuppress insurrection are the very ones needed toenforce a tyranny. The methods that defeated theCommunist terrorists in Malaya are those thatsustained the Gulag Archipelago. The methods ofthe Gestapo and of the Swedish Special Branch,which was reported in 1973 to have operated asecret intelligence group that kept close tabs onleft-wing members of the ruling Social DemocraticParty and the trade unions, are of the samenature.^Indeed, all the practices of thesedifferent internal security services, while ofvery different intensities and with very differentlimits, are basically the same because they arethe only methods by which a society can protectitself against organized citizens within itself,who wish to destroy their own polity.In the case of Northern Ireland, Evelegh argues:. . . this meant that law enforcement in therepublican areas . . . was more akin to that in acolony than to that in a self-governingindependent state. Ultimately these Catholicareas could only be governed by the British bymethods, however mollified, that all occupyingnations use to hold down all occupied territories.Given this line of thinking, military action inNorthern Ireland, as Evelegh (1978:61) explains, is based onthe belief that:. . . the terrorist there can only be defeated andunwilling subjects kept from rebellion byconsiderable erosion of the liberties considerednormal in a Western democracy. [In addition, the]substantial portion of the Catholic population [ofNorthern Ireland, which] simply does not wish tobe a part of the British state or under Britishrule [can] in the final analysis only be governedby force of British arms, albeit tempered bypolitical subtlety and material benefits.Brigadier Frank Kitson, the proclaimed architect ofmilitary strategy in Northern Ireland during the 1970s,emphasized that the gathering and maintaining of up-to-datedetailed intelligence files on members of a suspectpopulation was the backbone of any successfulcounter-insurgency policy (see Kitson 1971:95-101, 126-131,188-192). A series of techniques--which had been used incolonial emergencies in the past and had been developed andrefined by Brigadier Kitson--with the combined aim ofcollecting as much information as possible on the IRA inparticular and the Catholic population in general, wereimplemented (Hillyard 1983:37).Each soldier was given training in intelligence workand instructed to find out as much as possible about thepeople in the area in which his unit operated (Ackroyd, etal. 1977:40). Much of the intelligence data on thenationalist population as a whole came from house searches.On July 3, 1970, a curfew was imposed on the Lower Fallsarea of Belfast, during which a house-to-house search wasconducted of every home in the district by more than three190191thousand British troops. When the curfew was lifted, somethirty-six hours later, five civilians were dead and afurther fifteen soldiers and sixty civilians were injured(Farrell 1980:273-274, O'Malley 1983:207). While over threehundred suspects had been arrested, this massive searchoperation had netted only one hundred firearms, many ofwhich were unusable (Colleary 1985:83-88). House searchingescalated, and in 1971, 17,262 homes were searched. Thisfigure doubled in 1972 to over 36,000, and in 1973 (andagain in 1974), 75,000 homes were searched. This representsapproximately one fifth of all the homes in Northern Ireland(Bonner 1985:96; O'Malley 1983:259).The effect of these massive house searches on theNorthern Irish population was profound. A lieutenant in aparachute brigade told The Guardian, "You know when we werein Ballymurphy the people were really fed up with us,terrified really. I understand what the refugees must feellike in Vietnam . . . after every shooting incident we wouldorder 1500 house searches . . . 1500!" (quoted in Ackroyd,et al. 1977:38).Internment also had been used during this period as away of collecting information on the general NorthernIreland Catholic population. McGuffin (1973:86-87) writesthat, "Militarily, the initial internment sweep [August 9,1971, was] . . . a complete failure. The IRA had known ofit for some time and as a result virtually every senior IRA192man was billeted away from home." However, the massivearrests at random followed by in-depth interrogation, andfor the majority, subsequent release without charge--apattern introduced during internment and nowinstitutionalized as normal procedure--was of immeasurablesuccess.12 This process provided a means for the screeningof, and the building of dossiers on the nationalistpopulation. An offshoot of this policy provided acontinuing source of "inside" information, gained fromsuspects induced into becoming informers (Ackroyd, et al.1977:40-41; Bonner 1985:125; Boyle, et al. 1975:44-48,67-69; Hillyard 1983:45-46; Kitson 1971: 102-112; Walsh1983:33-40).C. The Carrot and the Stick: A Mid-1970s Shift in BritishState Policy in Northern IrelandBy the mid-1970s, the State policy of mass arrests,mass house searches and general harassment of thenationalist population as a whole was replaced with a dualstrategy of targeting republicans and appealing to moremoderate nationalists. Steps were taken by the Britishgovernment to isolate republicans by offering economic andsocial inducements to those sections of the nationalistpopulation perceived to be less radical. 6 hAdhmaill(1990a:830) describes this "carrot and stick" policy saying:During the mid-1970s, the British Labouradministration had copied many past Britishadministrations in Ireland in adopting a carrotand stick approach to the nationalists. Thecarrot involved increased employment, social andrecreational provision in areas like West Belfast.The stick was increasing security measures,controversial interrogation techniques at placeslike Castlereagh, and the increasing use ofundercover ambushes of suspected republicans(also see Amnesty International 1977, 1978, 1979,1988, 1989a, 1989b, 1990; Asmal 1985, 1990;Campbell 1984a, 1984b, 1984c; Boyle, et al.1975:49; Hillyard 1983; McGuffin 1974;Munck 1985:146; Taylor 1980, 1987).This "carrot and stick," or as it was officially called"normalization," policy had three aspects that were topermanently change the nature of the war in NorthernIreland. Beside the economic inducements offered to themoderate nationalist population in the form of moreemployment opportunities, better social services (especiallyin the areas of health and education), and improvedcommunity facilities, the policy included, "the new twinstrategies of 'criminalizing' the paramilitaries, and'Ulsterizing' the security forces . . . [so that fromMarch 1, 1976, on] the government [could] present theconflict in the province not as a serious political problem,but solely as a matter of law and order" (Rowthorn and Wayne1988:45, 47).Ulsterization meant that the primary responsibility forsecurity in Northern Ireland would be passed from theBritish Army to local forces. These regional groups were to193194consist of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), and theUlster Defence Regiment (UDR)--a locally raised contingentof the British Army. Members of the RUC and the UDR were,and continue to be, predominantly Protestant (Rowthorn andWayne 1988:45).In 1972, Billy McKee, a Belfast man who had beeninterned in Long Kesh prison, went on a hunger strike to getpolitical status for both internees and sentenced prisoners.McKee's hunger strike was successful and from 1972 through1976, "political and ethnic origins of the prisoners weregiven recognition in the Northern Ireland prison system"(Feldman 1991:149). Thus, prisoners, both republican andloyalist, were accorded "Special Category" status and thefollowing accompanying privileges:(1) The right to wear their own clothing;(2) The right to refrain from prison work;(3) The right of free association (duringrecreation);(4) The right to organize their own educationaland recreational facilities and the right toreceive one letter, one visit, and one parcelper week;(5) The right to full remission on good behaviour.Rowthorn and Wayne (1988:44-45) explain that thegranting of Special Category status to the prisonersessentially signified that:Until the mid-1970s "the troubles" weregenerally regarded as being political in origin,and therefore needing a political solution. Thismeant that though the conflict was not actuallydescribed in this way, up till then, it washandled as a war over Northern Ireland's politicalfuture, which was being waged between a guerrillaarmy and a regular army.Internment ended on December 31, 1975 and on March 1,1976, the British government decreed that any person chargedwith a "scheduled offence" would in the future be classifiedas an ordinary criminal. This had the effect of rescindingSpecial Category status and all the privileges and rights ithad accorded. The prisoners protested in the only way theyfelt open to them: they refused to wear the prison uniform,thus rejecting this perceived "badge of criminalization."This marked the beginning of the "blanket protest" (Coogan1980), which escalated into the 1981 hunger strike, an eventthat would claim the lives of ten men (Adams 1986;Berresford 1987; O'Malley 1990).195II. Irish at the Door: The Blanket Protest and HungerStrikesA. Irish Language in the Prisons1. Irish Language in the "Cages"13Many of the people who joined the Irish Republican Army(IRA) in the early 1970s did so as a reaction to localoppression--a way to fight back against a seeminglyunreachable force. These people had no particularrevolutionary or cultural ideology in mind, but weremotivated by what was happening on their streets and in thenationalist community. One such man, who started as amember of Fianna 8ireann (the junior IRA) at the age offifteen and eventually went to prison in 1978, told me:I got involved in 1974 but I wouldn't say Iwas politically aware. I was never politicallyaware until I ended up in prison actually. [Didyou speak Irish?] In the early 70s, I never evenheard of the Irish language.^I don't think thatvery many of us in the early 70s even knew theIrish had a language. I never understood thatIreland had a language. In primary school we weretaught Irish but we didn't know how to speakIrish. We saw it on the curriculum with the othermodern languages. But we just didn't choose it.Another ex-republican prisoner explained that whilepeople are much more politically and culturally aware todaythan they were in the 1970s, it is still the case that a196major force that motivates young people to join the IRA isthe State's repressive and violent actions in their owncommunities. Referring to the 1970s, he commented:Because of the way the struggle erupted, mostof the people who ended up becoming members of theIRA were very young--sixteen, seventeen. Theycame into the struggle from a gut reaction to theState, but they couldn't articulate what was wrongwith it. Their main concern was to fight a waragainst the British and to ensure that the Britishdidn't catch them while they were fighting thewar.When these young men went to prison, they had a lot oftime to think and to search for the reasons that wouldexplain the violence that had disrupted their adolescentyears and resulted in their present incarceration. Theyalso wanted to find ways in which they could continue tocontribute to the struggle, even though they had "been foundout and exposed." A man who had been a sentenced prisonerin Long Kesh prison prior to 1976, explained how these youngprisoners went about developing their cultural and politicalawareness after they had been captured and imprisoned in the"cages":When we moved into Long Kesh and settled, westarted to take more interest in what was actuallyhappening politically and what we could do tohelp. We set up discussion groups, there werevarious political lectures. Of course you knowabout the Gaelic language revival that was takingplace. We set up our own study huts. We hadthree of these different huts in the cages to197house prisoners and the other one was used forcampaigning, sort of a work area. What we did waswe separated the huts themselves and we had onebut which was only for the Gaelic language. Youknew what type of character the person had reallyby what but they were living in. In the Gaeltachtbut we really tried to put pressure on to getpeople more interested in politics. The majorityof the people in our cage were sentenced and weregoing to be released within two or three years andsome were going to be released in six months. Sowhat we wanted to do was to try and educateourselves so that when we went back out onto thestreet again we would be better equipped to fightthe British and carry on the struggle.After the identity of these prisoners had been exposedby their arrest and conviction, it was realized that theywould be of little value to the IRA fighting units.Therefore they began to develop whatever talents they had,such as their artistic or writing ability, to convey theirnewly acquired interpretation of what was happening inNorthern Ireland to the outside world, both locally andinternationally:We had our own newspaper going, and againbecause of my artistic talents I was used toproduce the graphics in it and design the layoutof it. We had other people typing it up. We hadpeople who did the writing. We set up printingcontacts with the outside--this was about '74 or'75, and we actually got them to produce a coupleof the editions of the newspaper that we hadproduced in the jail, exactly the same as theCaptive Voice now does.We got copies of Republican News at the timeand it seemed most of the campaigns on the outsidewere aimed at highlighting the plight of theprisoners. Every other article was talking aboutthe conditions in Long Kesh, about visitingconditions for relatives, and people being beaten198in Long Kesh, about raids in Long Kesh--and wefelt what had happened was this was allowing theBritish to propagate the idea that it [thesituation in Northern Ireland] really wasn't to dowith the British presence. It [the war] was[being portrayed as] more to do with just socialupheaval, two religions. The British presence wasvery rarely ever mentioned except maybe by toplevel statements by Sinn Fein or something likethat. So we thought that we should try to getaway from the prisons issue and startconcentrating on British withdrawal.At first, the stuff we started to send outwas just ideas--they were not formal articles--wejust sent them out to press and said do you thinkyou could use this, and a lot of them were [used].The people on the outside were dealing with thedaily business of keeping the war going and thepressures that brought. They were reallyconcentrating on getting more arms in, and gettingmore recruits in, and getting some safe houses.Now you had a stronger political machinedeveloping [i.e., Sinn Fein] which was based onpeople who had time to sort of read the books andeducate themselves and discuss and debate the wayforward. So a lot of these things we wrote wereaccepted. We then started to produce severalpamphlets.While conditions in the "cages" had been harsh,especially in the early years of internment, they began toease somewhat by 1974-75. This more liberal trend, coupledwith the Special Category status granted to these prisoners,enabled them to create, within their section of Long Kesh, anationalist ethos in which to educate themselves bothpolitically and culturally:There was a relaxation on conditions in theperiod this was happening. [When the prisonerswere producing their pamphlets and articles.] Itwas 1974, the IRA called a truce in late '74 andconditions in Long Kesh were quite reasonable.199I think taking your freedom away from you is theworst thing people can do. Those in underinternment were under a lot of psychologicalpressure in that they were being held with norelease date. They didn't know when they weregoing to be released. People like us in thesentenced pen, while we were serving eight yearsand we knew that in 1978 we were going to bereleased, or 1979, so we had two or three years topass in the wee pen before going back into thestreets again.The conditions had relaxed to a certaindegree in that they had started to supply us withbeautiful cages after we had burned the place in1974. And the conditions they supplied us withafterwards were actually more superior than whatwe had prior to that. And also with a bit ofingenuity from the people in the jail who knew abit of electronics and things, we started torenovate inside the huts and everything. Weacquired a typewriter machine and people sentthings in from outside--wee bits and pieces, weformed a library. We asked all our relatives tostart leaving a pound or two pound each week--eachperson in the cages was asked to do this--andeveryone agreed, we had a big meeting and everyonethought it was a good idea. Our relativescouldn't afford to buy us the books that we wantedso we asked each relative to pay two pounds and wegot in all the book lists--all different sorts ofpublishers who dealt with political books, and weused to do this every week and we used to selectthree or four new books. The money would all bepooled into one. We set up a library with maybetwo or three hundred books, political classics,which up until then wouldn't even be allowed inLong Kesh and shortly afterwards were bannedagain.For example we had [previously] banned booksby James Connolly, and international books [Marx,etc]. When we got the books then, the politicaldiscussion took another form and sort of chargedforward. You find that people were just sort ofsitting reading each day. There would probably betwo or three lectures a day that you couldactually join. Whereas before that everyone wasbusting to go to a single nationalistlecture--which we all had a certain incentive todo. Now you sort of sat down in groups and peopletold you about what they had read and that sort ofthing.^It was an electrifying sort of a period.200201Special Category status also meant the prisoners weregranted a number of cultural privileges, including the rightto: play Gaelic football; wear An Fainne (the badge of theIrish speaker); and organize their own Irish languageeducation. When the Normalization Policy took effect, theserights were denied to all republican prisoners charged afterMarch 1, 1976.2. Irish Language in the H-BlocksOn September 14, 1976, Ciaren Nugent, who had been thefirst person sentenced for a "scheduled offense" after theMarch 1 deadline, also became the first prisoner to refusethe wearing of prison clothes, proclaiming, "If they want meto wear a convict's uniform, they'll have to nail it to myback" (Adams 1986:73). This reaction to the newcriminalization policy of the British government initiatedthe "blanket protest" which progressed to the "dirtyprotest" when prisoners, prevented from "slopping out" theirwaste buckets, decorated cell walls with the sordidcontents. These actions culminated in 1981 with a hungerstrike, which saw ten men eventually starve themselves todeath. For men who had lost all privileges, who had beentreated in a way perceived as unfair and unjust, who werefacing an unreachable and oppressive captor, the Irish202language itself became a key to survival. This weapon ofresistance would be used by prisoners to assert and affirmcultural and political difference, and hence a small degreeof control, over their jailers.Coogan's (1980) account of the blanket and dirtyprotests, details "life on the blanket." The men werelocked up for twenty-four hours a day, with no exercise orfresh air. They were frequently subjected to beatings, aswell as verbal and psychological abuse. Under theseconditions the Irish language became a way of shutting outthe brutal world in which the "blanket-men" lived. As onesuch man, quoted by Coogan (1980:5), put it, "Gaelic was aGodsend. Only for it, we would have been climbing thewalls."An ex-prisoner, whose prison term began at the start ofthe blanket protest and continued throughout the hungerstrike, explained to me just how the Irish language hadhelped the prisoners cope with their brutal environment:I went into prison in 1976.^I was seventeen.When I was sentenced in 1977, a year later, I wentto the H-Block in Long Kesh. I was . . . one ofthe first prisoners to be denied political status.During the blanket protest we had nothingwhatsoever with respect to books to read, exceptthe Bible given to us by the chaplain. There weretwo men there at the time. One was Bobby Sandswho had been in the cages and was in for a secondterm in prison. Those two were fluent Irishspeakers and they started teaching Irish at thedoors. At that time education was a privilege butbecause we were on blanket protest we had lost allprivileges--visits, letters, and we were in thecells twenty-four hours. We got pens from ourfriends and sympathetic screws [prison guards],which we often lost during the many cellssearches. There were no Irish speakers on ourwing, so they would shout it over to me. We wrotethe Irish on toilet paper, anything. If we werecaught, their attitude was to charge him withdefacing prison property. A pen was a prohibitedarticle. Screws were hard on anything that wasdifferent from them: religion, culture, language.The official policy was to "give themnothing," baths once a week, one to a cell.Individual screws could take any action theywanted.Culture to us--the Irish language--was veryimportant. The most obvious reason was that it'sour culture, it's our language. We are in prisonfor being Irish. We therefore felt it was ourobligation to learn Irish. We never got theopportunity in school to learn Irish. So now wewere in jail, we decided that we should learnIrish. It had been offered in school but thebrother who taught it didn't wind up teaching it,and besides, we were caught up in what washappening outside.The first reason we learned it [Irish] was theobligation, and the second reason was we wereliving in a totally hostile environment. For theblanket-men in '78 and '79, the beatings becamecommon. It was a way of communicating with eachother that the screws wouldn't understand. Wecould build a defensive wall around ourselves. Wespoke Irish, they spoke English.^I could speak tosomeone across the wing and have a privateconversation. This was a conversation thatprisoners could hear--screws could hear it as wellbut they couldn't understand it. This gave us acomradeship. When you are talking about personalthings and you're asking about how your mother isor how your wife is doing, there was always somescrew on the wing listening and trying to pick upon it. We spoke in Irish--that was the differencebetween us and them. It was something theycouldn't penetrate. They could take us out of theBlock, they could bend us over a mirror and searchus, they could beat us, but at least we could talkand they couldn't respond.203204Unlike the formal Irish classes previously held in thecages, an entirely new education system had to be developedby the prisoners and adapted to the adverse conditions inthe H-Block. A prisoner who was on the blanket protest,describes this new system:The way we learned it was that a fellow gotup and shouted the lesson out the door, thespelling of the words. It was just a methodicalthing. You had a set of rosary beads, a screw, ora nail, and you scratched the lesson on the walls,which were whitewashed. The beginner's class wasMonday, Wednesday, Friday between twelve and onep.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays from about three tofive you had advanced classes, and on a Sundayfrom twelve to two p.m. you had the class for theteachers, where the teachers all got together andimproved each other's Gaelic. At the end of theweek you would set aside a day of story telling,and then I done the history, Irish history alldone in Gaelic from the head. The Gaelic was partof a whole education programme that Bobby Sandsinitiated, and it was all done from the head andby shouting out the doors. Some of us had beentrained in the Cages for this. Bobby was the mainadvocate of cultural separatism. That was themessage that came from inside the jails out to thewhole community now. Bobby told us that the proofof the pudding was in the eating. The jailsproved that when you become culturally separate itbreaks the enemy, that it builds walls they can'tcross, and people within those walls (quoted inFeldman 1991:212-213).It was this image of naked men who were living infilthy cells and being beaten regularly, standing at thedoor of their cells learning Irish that was being projectedto the local community and around the world. One mother ofa prisoner described her horror, which was not unlike thehorror of many I spoke with, at what was happening in theH-Block:That fellow who came in a little while agowith the blond hair, that was the guy that was inthe H-Blocks. I used to go and see him, his hairwas jet black and was down to there [shoulderlength]. The lice used to be crawling up and downthe side of his face. They never saw each otherso they never knew how bad they were and you hadto sit there with this fixed smile on your facebecause you were absolutely shocked out ofexistence, looking at them. But you couldn't letthem see how bad they were.You know I was watching my son, they allowedvisits after he had been in about nine months.Once a month, you'd get thirty minutes with him.Sometimes you didn't get it. And you watch yourson growing like an old man. They were never outof the cell. They never saw daylight. Starknaked. No books, no papers, no TV, no anything.They weren't allowed anything not even a sweet.He used to write with his nails on the walls, andthey had to use their cells for a toilet and all.They started to use excrement on the walls towrite and teach each other Irish. They developedthis whole kind a system of teaching.The prisoners had transformed their cells into "apedagogical space" where they "scratched their accumulatedlearning alongside the fecal matter on the walls" (Feldman1991:217), and in doing so triumphed over the repressiveState that wanted to brand them as criminals. Their victorybecame an inspiration for the nationalist population outsidethe prison walls and sparked the Irish language revival thatexploded in West Belfast in the 1980s.205206B. Impact of the Hunger Strike on the Nationalist Communityin BelfastThe State had hoped that the new normalization policywould erode support for the IRA and that once deprived ofits "oxygen," the IRA would "wither away, and things wouldgradually return to normal," thus negating the need for anymajor political or structural change in Northern Ireland(Rowthorn and Wayne 1988:47). However, the State wasunprepared for the bitterness the hunger strike generated inthe nationalist--even the moderate nationalist--community.The extent of this bitterness became clear during aninterview with a nationalist woman, who told me:Maybe other people can do it but I can't andwill never forgive the English, the CatholicChurch, the Protestant Church, and the Irishgovernment and the professionals and people inthis country for allowing those men to die.^I'llnever forgive them and God will judge them becausein retrospect they will find out that the year ofthe hunger strike was a year when I believeeverything changed in Ireland. Although it'sdifficult to say it when you are in the middle ofit, but historians will write it up some day.It actually cleared a lot of confusion I had,because up to that point you sort of half hopedthat the Dublin politicians, these so calledpeople who call themselves nationalists, thesepeople who stand around our tricolour and speakour language and sort of call themselves Irishcitizens, but you sort of hoped that they wouldstand up to the British. You sort of hoped thatsomewhere among the church leaders that there wassomebody with enough guts to sort of say what'shappened to these guys as a result of brutalityover a long period in prison, the dehumanization,the brutality, and they had no other redress butto embark on this protest and the culmination,which is the hunger strike; you hoped that thissort of Christian charity which people and thechurch are always telling you about would havecome across somewhere, but it didn't. Not by anyin the South. Ordinary people came out by thehundreds of thousands and we had this march inDublin. The Gardi beat the living daylights outof them. You get more punishment from the Irishpolice than the RUC. You know, the CatholicChurch, the Protestant Church, the Britishgovernment, the Irish government, the professionalpeople, the business people, all lined up clearlyagainst the dying bodies of ten young men. It wasso clear the way they were doing it.The State also had not anticipated the way these deepnegative feelings were to be expressed in the broaderpolitical arena. O'Malley (1990:211) writes thatpolitically, "Sinn Fein and the IRA were seen asindisputable winners" in the aftermath of the hunger strike.During the hunger strike, Bobby Sands had been elected toWestminster and when he died, Owen Carron, Sands' electionmanager, was chosen to replace him. As well, two hungerstrikers had been elected to the Dublin Parliament. In theelections that followed the hunger strike, Sinn Fein provedthat it and indirectly the IRA, had the support of a fargreater portion of the nationalist population than theestablishment had ever imagined. Thirty percent of theCatholic vote was given to Sinn Fein in the local Assemblyelections in the fall of 1982.^In the general election of1983, Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams was elected as theWestminster MP for West Belfast, and the party's percentageof the Catholic vote increased to forty-three. These Sinn207208Fein victories at the polls, O'Malley (1990:213) adds, "sentshivers of apprehension through the . . . [British]political establishment."III. Chapter SummaryDuring the early years of the new Northern Irelandstate, the Stormont government tried to eliminate all"meanings and practices," it felt opposed those of the"effective dominant culture" which was narrowly defined bythose in power to mean British culture. Emergencylegislation was passed that gave the local Protestantsecurity forces practically unlimited powers to suppress anypolitical opposition and to censor any ideological orcultural material that conflicted with the views of theState. Official and unofficial violence during the firstforty years of the State was sporadic. In the wake of thecivil rights marches of 1968-69, when Catholics (and aconsiderable number of working class Protestants) demandedan end to political and economic discrimination, Stateviolence in Northern Ireland became systematic andinstitutionalized and was directed primarily against thegeneral Catholic population. This resulted in a period ofintense rioting and the re-organization of the IrishRepublican Army.209IRA recruits in the 1970s joined the struggle primarilyas a "gut-reaction" to the State violence occurring in thenationalist communities. After a hunger strike in 1972,republican and loyalist prisoners were given SpecialCategory status, which in essence gave political legitimacyto the war that was being fought. During this period,republican prisoners used their time in jail to study theconditions that led to their imprisonment, whileconcentrating on their political and cultural development.On March 1, 1976, the British state changed itspolitical and military strategy in Northern Ireland. Athree pronged "Normalization Policy" was instituted whichcriminalized the republican struggle for self-determination;"Ulsterized" the security forces; and attempted to isolatethe more radical elements of the nationalist population byoffering economic and social inducements to the moremoderate portion of the Catholic minority. The response ofthe republican prisoners was to begin a blanket protest.During the blanket protest and the subsequent dirty protest,republican prisoners refused to wear prison uniforms whichto them symbolically represented the State's refusal torecognize the political nature of the armed struggle. Tothese men who had nothing but their bodies to use as aweapon of protest, the Irish language became a salvation, asit legitimized their cultural distinctiveness, and in so210doing gave them the strength to continue their protest.The Irish language also was a method of communicationincomprehensible to English-speaking jailers. This enabledprisoners to create a bond of solidarity that theauthorities could not penetrate. When the State showed nosign of changing its policy, a hunger strike began. As theworld and the local nationalist community watched the tenhunger strikers die, the worst rioting erupted since theearly 1970s.After the hunger strike ended, rather than diminishingpublic support for the republican struggle, a significantportion of the Catholic electorate began casting their votesfor Sinn Fein candidates in local assembly and Westminsterelections. What had, prior to the hunger strikes, primarilybeen an armed struggle, was now a struggle that had beengiven a strong political voice--one which could no longer besilenced by State repression.Seeing television images, reading newspaper accountsand hearing personal stories of republican prisoners, whoduring the blanket and dirty protests and the ensuing hungerstrikes were living in Draconian conditions, yet teachingthemselves to become fluent Irish speakers, was topermanently change the form of Irish language activism inBelfast.211Prior to 1980, alternative Irish language activists,had made no demands on the State, instead choosing tosatisfy their cultural needs within the safe confines of thenationalist community. After 1980, the State was faced withboth a resurgence of oppositional Irish languageactivism--in the prisons and from the politically victoriousSinn Fein—as well as much more vocal and organizedalternative Irish language activism which now demanded notonly that the State recognize Irish language rights but thatit support and fund the Irish language.Chapter SixThe Aftermath: Sinn Fein Rises to Political and CulturalProminence in Nationalist BelfastThe struggle for the restoration of Irish languagerights at least to the level previously granted torepublican prisoners in the "cages," did not end with thehunger strike. This investigation into the nature ofoppositional Irish language resistance, therefore, willbegin where it started--in the prison system--with anexamination of the fight for cultural freedom both frominside and outside prison walls.Embodied in the following comments by two formerrepublican prisoners, who heralded the hunger strike as botha military and a political success, is the indication thatthe Republican Movement did not believe that the ten hungerstrikers died in vain, even though the settlement of thestrike fell short of restoring political status to theprisoners:(1) The effect of the hunger strike was just totalpolarization in our society. Sinn Fein was comingon great guns. The IRA had more recruits than itcould handle after the hunger strike. All sortsof support was coming in.212(2) The blanket protest marked a turning point inthe struggle. . . . The IRA had to stop because ofthe hunger strike. Sinn Fein didn't want thehunger strike. But politically and militarily itwas good. Politically Sinn Fein would not havebeen taken seriously without it. Connolly'spolitical position was taken seriously because hestood outside the G.P.O.,1 4 in my opinion. Thisdidn't hurt the cause of republicanism any. If wehad had a strong political side from 1975, wemight not have wound up where we are today. Youneed politics.The significant role the Irish language played in thispolitical and military success did not go unnoticed by SinnFein. Even before the end of the hunger strike, Sinn Feinwas developing a new political platform that would betterreflect its elevated political status. Since the platformwas to include a dynamic cultural programme, in 1982 theSinn Fein Cultural Department was established. 6 hAdhmaill(1985:6) writes that:Prior to 1982 Sinn Fein paid lip service tothe Irish language but was not closely identifiedwith the cultural movement. However in 1982, theSinn Fein Roinn Cultuir or Cultural Department wasset up.6 hAdhmaill (1985:6) suggests several reasons for thisdevelopment. One was the role the Irish language had playedin the prisons, both to create solidarity among theprisoners, and as a weapon of resistance which could be usedagainst monolingual jailers. Sinn Fein had recognized thatthe hunger strike demonstrated that there was a link between213the "cultural struggle" and the "national struggle," and. . they felt that many in West Belfast agreed with thisassessment." As well, a number of Irish speakers, inspiredby the bilingual writing of Bobby Sands, had become involvedin the hunger strike protests. As a result of thesereasons, coupled with the effect of the influx of additionalmembers into Sinn Fein, 6 hAdhmaill concludes, "Sinn Feinleaders began to stress the importance of the languagemore.This examination of Sinn Fein's construction ofoppositional Irish language activism will begin by lookingat the relationship between Sinn Fein and the nationalistcommunity in Belfast. Many community action groupsdeveloped during the early 1970s when the state, preoccupiedwith the "troubles," all but abandoned the administration ofcommunity protection, housing, and similar social services.Sinn Fein's assessment of its role both in community actiongroups, and in the nationalist community generally, providesan insight into its perceived role in Irish languageactivism.Sinn Fein's appraisal of its role in the Irish languagemovement will be investigated initially by probing how theIrish language fits into the overall revolutionary ideologyof the Republican Movement. Then, Sinn Fein's assessment ofits contributions to the Irish language revival which tookplace after the 1981 hunger strike, will be analyzed.214215Sinn Fein's high profile in the Irish language movementhas elicited the accusation from the State that Sinn Feinhas "hijacked the Irish language." This charge will beprobed first by examining how Sinn Fein has responded to itand then by examining how cultural or alternative Irishlanguage activists view the State's claim. The concludingsection will attempt to put in perspective the actualinter-relationship between oppositional Irish languageactivism and that of the alternative Irish language activistcommunity.I. Irish Culture Behind Bars: The Prison Struggle for IrishLanguage RightsPrior to the implementation of the 1976 criminalizationpolicy, republican prisoners had had a number of culturalrights granted to them at the time they were given "SpecialCategory" status. These rights included the right: to playGaelic football; to organize Irish language education; towear the Fainne (the badge of an Irish speaker); and to"carry on with cultural pursuits of the nationalist ethos"(Irish News 1990c:1). These cultural rights were rescindedfor all prisoners sentenced after March 1, 1976.The policy of the authorities concerning the denial ofcultural rights was, however, inconsistently applied torepublican prisoners. For example, while all internees had216been released by the end of 1975, the sentenced prisoners inthe "cages," whose release date--if they had one--was beyondthe March 1 deadline, continued to exercise the culturalrights granted to them prior to 1976. Republican womenprisoners, convicted after March 1, 1976 had not been deniedthe right to wear their own clothes and while they did notgo on the blanket protest, they did join the dirty protestin support of their male counterparts in Long Kesh. Four ofthese women prisoners also had participated in the firsthunger strike in 1980. These women republican prisonerswere not denied the cultural rights taken away from the menin Long Kesh. As a result, they were allowed to organizetheir own Irish classes, to wear Fiiinnes and to receiveIrish language books and papers15^(6 Neill 1984:1).The months following the end of the hunger strike inOctober 1981 saw the granting of most of the five demandsthat had been made by the blanket, dirty and hunger strikeprotesters. However, the authorities steadfastly refused tore-institute pre-1976 cultural rights for the republicanprisoners in the H-Blocks of Long Kesh, taking the positionthat to do so would pose a security risk. Gaelic footballwas now deemed to be a security risk because, unlike soccer(an authorized prison activity), it involved eight moreplayers. The Fainne was declared to be a political emblemand as such offensive, and likely to cause a breach of thepeace. All Irish language publications were banned from the217prison, except books used in authorized "Irish classes for'0' and 'A' levels [which had been made available to] alimited number of prisoners" (MacSiacais 1983:7). Securitywas also cited as the reason for terminating visits if theIrish language was used. For the same reason, letterscontaining Irish words or names could neither be sent norreceived by the prisoners.The government's intransigent position on this issuebrought a storm of protest from a number of cultural groupswho, like Sinn Fein, condemned the authorities for denyingthe prisoners their cultural rights. 6 Neill (1984:1)reports that:The British Government is coming underincreasing pressure to give full recognition tothe Irish Language and Gaelic games in the North'sprisons.Both the S.D.L.P. and Sinn Fein this weekexpressed strong support for a demand from Conradhna Gaeilge (Gaelic League) that prison authoritiesprovide facilities for any prisoner who wishes tolearn or use the Irish language.And the G.A.A. [Gaelic Athletic Association,a national sports league] has also condemned theban on Irish culture in the prisons describing itas "a denial of basic rights."The latest initiative to bring pressure onthe British is being organised by the RoddyMcCorley Club. A full page advertisement whichappeared in last week's Irish News, detailing "thesuppression of the Irish culture in the prisons"was sponsored by many cultural and sporting groupsand attracted widespread attention. Lettersdetailing the suppression of Irish in the 6Counties have been sent to Pope John Paul II,President Reagan, Cardinal 6 Fiaich, GeraldineFerraro, Tip O'Neill, Edward Kennedy and otherpublic figures world-wide.218The Northern Ireland Office (NIO), the governing bodyset up in Northern Ireland and controlled by Westminsterafter direct rule was implemented in 1972, took a defensiveposition in response to the accusations of culturaldiscrimination being made against it from many local,national and international groups, individuals, and Celticorganizations:An NIO spokesman denied however, that there is apolicy of cultural discrimination. "Anyrestrictions are purely of a security nature, andare not intended to suppress Irish culturalidentity. It is not practical to check materialin Irish but letters with a word or two in Irishshould get through all right" [a claim refuted bythe prisoners].He was not aware of any plans to introducecensors with a knowledge of Irish, he said(6 Neill 1984:1).While the campaign outside of the prisons in support ofprisoners' cultural rights was building momentum, theprisoners themselves were waging a vigorous campaign frominside the prisons, in an effort to regain their lostcultural privileges. The State was equally as adamant thatthe prisoners would not have these cultural rights,defending their position on grounds of good order andsecurity. As one ex-prisoner told me, "You can't argue withsecurity." Using newspaper accounts of legal challenges andthe narratives of ex-prisoners involved in this fight, theremainder of this section will attempt to derive the hidden219transcripts of both the prisoners and the State in thisbattle over Irish language and cultural rights.That the Irish language was a weapon of resistance hadbeen openly admitted to by the prisoners (see Chapter Five;also see Coogan 1980; and Feldman 1991). The prisoners'cultural demands were clearly stated in the followingsix-point programme:(1) The right to receive and send letters inIrish;(2) The right to speak Irish during visits;(3) The right to play Gaelic games;(4) An improvement in the lengthy delays incensoring Irish language books or papers, or forthe system to be organised on the same basis asEnglish language publications;(5) The right to wear the Fainne;(6) The right to use the Irish form of theirproper names (An Phoblacht/Republican News1989:12).However, as the majority of these cultural rights onlybecame security risks after the criminalization policy wentinto effect, the reasons behind the State's refusal toreinstate them seems less obvious.The use of the Irish language appeared to be allowed bythe prison authorities as a privilege, thus forcing prisonercompliance in other areas. I was informed that:In 1981 we got the right to education. Partof the settlement of the hunger strike was thatprison work would still continue. But we wouldn'tdo prison work so we still lost privileges,although we got some privileges back.The privilege of education was still withheld fromus [the protesting prisoners].Cardinal 6 Fiaich had got an agreement fromthem [the government] during his talks before 1980that he would be allowed to present us with IrishBibles. He had just put together the Bible inIrish and it was a good achievement at the time.They said, "Yes they can have the Bibles as soonas they come off protest." One of the rights youare given is that they can't take your Bible.That is one right they can't take off you. They[the authorities] said they can have that Bible inIrish but it will be a privilege Bible because itis in a foreign language (emphasis added).Irish was indeed considered part of the educationcurriculum, but Irish language material was restricted togovernment approved textbooks, written for "A" and "0" LevelIrish language courses. All other Irish language materialwas viewed as a potential security risk prior to itstranslation. Yet the government made no attempt, until1987, to appoint an Irish language censor (AndersonstownNews 1987a:21). The following accounts related to me by twoex-prisoners, detail the extent of censorship in the prisonsand outline the long and continuing battle being wagedagainst it by the prisoners:[Ex-prisoner 1:]^So the first experience withwritten Irish was the Bible. Even so the Bible isnot the most enjoyable reading. We were notallowed dictionaries even in English. We wereallowed novels. We were not allowed any book atall that was political or of a factual nature.^Ithad to be of a fictional nature, novels. No SinnFein publications were allow in. No Irishpublications were allowed in. The AndersonstownNews was banned. Republican News was banned. Infact the ban from the Republican News was onlylifted last year [1990].^It was 1985 that the ban220was lifted on the Andersonstown News and La [alocal Irish language newspaper]. They were underobligation by the European court to provide somany newspapers a day to each wing. Even thenthey [the newspapers] are subject to scrutiny andif they see something they don't like they cut itout. I was sent La for years and they all went tothe NIO [Northern Ireland Office] and I reckon theNIO still have them. No books written in Irishwere allowed in.We protested. Then the attitude they tookwas that Irish, like German, French, and Spanish,is an educational subject, if you want to do thissubject in foreign languages, we will do theclasses. So those were the basic Irish books thatwe were allowed to get.We were not allowed contact with Irishspeakers. For a large number of prisonersspeaking Irish,16 you have to have that flow, thatsort of living contact with the language if youwant it to survive. We weren't allowed that.In the middle of '87 they agreed to allow usto get [Irish] books in. They didn't agreebecause they wanted to. They were getting accusedof cultural oppression--an accusation that theydidn't like. They decided to show themselves asliberals and show that they are not doing this.Officially they decided to not support thelanguage but not to suppress it either. Howevervisits could be stopped for speaking Irish. Ourletters were never sent out if they were writtenin Irish. Even if the person you wrote to justhad an Irish name--a screw could stop that, sayingthat Irish is not allowed, and the governmentwould back up the screw's decision.In '87 they said they would allow us to getin Irish books. A Christian Brother sent me upsome books. Now at this time we were alloweduncensored books--we were allowed uncensoredpublications. We were allowed almost everything.These books, [from the Christian Brother] whichwere story books in Irish that the kids would havein school [and] were left up for me in Christmas'87, and when I was transferred from the mazeprison to Maghaberry prison work out scheme in[1990] . . . these books were given to me comingout the door. They were accepted in the prisonand sat with the Northern Ireland censor for overthree years. What they are saying is "Of coursewe will let them in, there is a slight delay, anyprisoner knows that." But the delays are three tofour years.221222[Ex-prisoner 2:]^It was a running battle foryears and years over anything Irish. I mean ifthe Irish News printed an article in Irish--I meanyou are talking about national newspapers, you aretalking about the Irish Times which is theequivalent of the London Times--but that type ofpaper, if it carried Irish it would be censored.It wouldn't be allowed in. What they were sayingwas that they didn't have the facilities. Butwhat they didn't have was the political will. Youare not allowed to send or receive letters inIrish. Up until the courtcase you weren't allowedto sent or receive Irish publications. I mean youhave an Irish language newspaper called La, andthat was coming into the prison and then they weresaying, "Oh, this has to be sent away to becensored in case that it is subversive." So thisdaily newspaper was coming in and being sent tothe censors in the jail, who were then passing thebuck up and sending it to the Northern IrelandOffice. At the end of the day it was justvindictiveness. The irony of it was that if youlook at the whole Irish Celtic revival at lot ofthe people who were involved especially at theturn of the century in and around Belfast, theIrish language groups that sprung up at that timewould have been Presbyterian. So they wereactually denying part of their own heritage.The campaigns by the prisoners for permission to wearthe Fainne, and to be allowed to play Gaelic games, wasanother long struggle, although one that had more successfulresults than the fight against censorship of Irish languagematerial:[Ex-prisoner 2:]^Most of us learned the languageon the blanket. Once the protest was over we allwould have been fluent Irish speakers. The nextstage was to sort of concretize that by just doingthe exams. You know you have the silver Fainneand the gold Fainne. So we all put in for a goldFainne. And after a whole lot of debating andarguing with the NIO they decided to let aninstructor come in to take us for the exam.There was no problem of us passing it. Then weentered into the next struggle of being actuallyable to wear your gold Fainne in the prison. Weapplied to have those sent in. We didn't even askthe administration to buy them. We said we wouldget our own relatives to send them in. And theysaid "No," that that was a political emblem. Theytalked about good order and discipline within theprison. This is a direct quote that they wereusing: That if we were to wear the Fginne, thiscould be considered offensive by the otherprisoners or prison staff and therefore it wasn'tto be allowed.[So even though republican and loyalist prisonerswere segregated, the wearing of the Fainne wasstill offensive?]Yes.[Was this because the Fginne was offensive toloyalist prisoners?]No, because they wouldn't have seen you. It wasjust sticking it in their gut really. And you areback to that innate sectarianism within the prisonestablishment. Ninety-five percent of the prisonestablishment is loyalist so therefore theprevailing ideology within the prison, and thatgoes from ground level to top management, rightthrough all the different layers, within theprison would be by and large loyalist. And thoseCatholics who would take on the job, would be yourtoken taigs, in one sense. They had to provethemselves, so they had to be twice the bastardthat an ordinary loyalist would be.[Were you ever allowed to play Gaelic games?]No. They said we haven't got the facilities. Weused to go down once a week to the football pitch.And soccer was no problem. But in terms ofplaying Gaelic football there was just a blank.They say they could not provide the facilities forGaelic football or hurling. The point that theymade about hurling was that you could use it as anoffensive weapon. You got to give them a pointthere. But it is still the same football. Thenthey say it's a matter of security again. There223is fifteen a side for Gaelic football and it isonly eleven a side for soccer. They said fifteenplus fifteen would be thirty, as opposed totwenty-two going down, therefore that would be agreater security risk. But basically they werejust meaningless arguments. When you got a screwon his own or you got the governor on his own awayfrom sort of taking the mass sort of line, hewould say, "Look, you are just not getting it,"and that was it. "The bottom line is we are in noway going to try to encourage you in your cultureor in your belief as being nationalist. You arehere to be punished because you are a republican."In 1989 two Long Kesh prisoners took legal action toforce the government to defend its refusal of the sixcultural demands listed above. The Belfast County Courtruled against the claims of cultural oppression by the twomen, and they subsequently appealed their case in the HighCourt (Andersonstown News 1990b:15). Before the decision ofthe High Court was rendered the NIO indicated that thewearing of the Fainne no longer posed a security risk andthat the authorities were studying whether it might bepossible to allow Gaelic football. (Before the end of theHigh Court case, Gaelic football received NIO approval.)o Neill believes these actions by the government wereprompted by the possible embarrassment that the High Courtverdict may have brought:During the High Court case . . . prisonchiefs admitted that their ban on the Fainne,defended for years on grounds of "security" hadbeen lifted within the past month.And the provision of Gaelic football andhandball, previously regarded as "impracticable"is now being seriously considered.224A senior prison official told the Court thatthe prison authorities had met GAA officialswithin the last three weeks and that they nowforesaw no long term problems about the provisionof Gaelic football. The news of the u-turn by theNIO was being greeted with caution by prisonersbut it was clear that they had scored a majorsuccess in forcing Long Kesh officials to concedethat there are no security or other reasons forrefusing to allow Gaelic football or the wearingof the Fainne, contrary to what they had arguedfor fourteen years. . . . Judgment has beenreserved in the case which ended yesterday, but itbecame evident during the hearing that the prisonauthorities have eased their ban on Irish withinthe last few months in a deliberate attempt toavoid an embarrassing verdict in court(o Neill 1990:2).The official reasons given by the NIO for this apparentchange of heart with respect to the Fainne and Gaelic games,and why the other demands could not be granted, wereprovided by:The principal of the Regimes DevelopmentBranch responsible for Irish cultural matters,[who] said that a recent decision meant thatprisoners are now allowed to wear the Fainne,because it was achieved as a result of theeducational programme.Prisoners' conversing and writing in Irishwas forbidden because it could be detrimental togood order and discipline as well as prisonsecurity.Prisoners were not allowed to change theirnames because it would lead to confusion inidentification.He said discussions had taken place with theGAA to see if the all-weather pitches at the Mazecould be adapted for the safe playing of Gaelicfootball (Irish News 1990d:3).225226The Gaelic Athletic Association (CAA) and the Irishlanguage group Conradh na Gaeilge, both cultural Irishlanguage organizations, demonstrated their support for theprisoners demands by giving evidence on their behalf in theHigh Court. When the ruling was announced, it was againstthe claims made by the prisoners that the NIO practiced apolicy of cultural discrimination. But while the ruling wasin favour of the State, in his final summation, JusticeCarswell made it clear that the court wasn't giving itsapproval to the Irish language ban in the prisons. JusticeCarswell stated:I am well aware that in some instances onemay find a multitude of complaints about matterswhich can be justified individually, but which,when taken together, provide more convincingevidence of a discriminatory intention. I haveconsidered the evidence as a whole with care inorder to determine whether the restrictions whentaken together demonstrate such an intention inthe present case, taking into account theplaintiffs' complaint that they consistentlyoperate to the disadvantage of Irish Nationalistprisoners. I have concluded that they do not.That is not to say that I am expressing judicialapproval of each and every restriction or the wayin which each has been handled (AndersonstownNews 1991b:15).The reaction of the prisoners was defiance, and adetermination that they would continue the fight in theEuropean Court of Human Rights:227[Ex-prisoner 2:]^We said that we are not goingto be treated as ordinary criminals. We had tenof our men die in there for the five demands [seeChapter Five]. And that struggle did not end whenthe hunger strike ended. We have kept on chippingaway at them. We can operate as a body of men inprison who wanted to educate themselves--to get apolitical education, a cultural education, orwhatever.[Ex-prisoner 1:]^Because the court case has beenrefused twice, we are now taking the case toEurope, to establish the same rights for Irishspeakers as English speakers have. To get freeaccess to books, written material, newspapers.Freedom to speak Irish on visits. The right toplay all Irish games. Just total rights for anIrish speaker, the same for the Irish culture asfor the Protestant culture or whatever you want tocall it. As a result of that you are now allowedto wear a Fainne. You are allowed to play handball, Gaelic football. La newspaper is allowedin. As far as the procedure for censoringmaterial, it has been speeded up somewhat. Itstill goes to the NIO first, and there is a personin the NIO who did Irish at school who acts ascensor. It's a girl who has her own duties as acivil servant. She wouldn't have the sort ofIrish that you would need to read it. It would besort of like beginner's Irish. Probably she wouldhave her low level Irish which wouldn't match abook written by a fluent Irish speaker. So as faras I know that is speeded up but I don't know towhat speed.The prisoners and former prisoners are now using theIrish language rights they have gained to provide presentrepublican prisoners with a cultural education within theprisons:[Ex-prisoner 1:]^As for ourselves, what we havedone is because most of the Irish speakers werethose of us on the blanket and we were out now, wehad noticed that the Irish language had run down alot. So we done our own course. When we were inwe were getting outside courses in Irish in.^Ifyou have been in for eight years and you haveanother eight years to go, the vocabulary ofoutside the prisons is alien to you because youare living in a different world. So we wrote ourown course that deals with life in prison. Itaddresses the surroundings around you. It's agood basic course. So what we did last year aboutMay [1990], we put this course into the prison.Part of the security is that you can be moved to adifferent block at any time. Some are movedeveryday. That's very destructive for anindividual especially if you are studying there,even just to settling down to prison life. Sowhat we done was, we got this course printed, andgot it photocopied in the [Sinn Fein] educationdepartment and had a copy of it put in each of theblocks. Then what we said was it was nowcompulsory for everyone to do this course. Wedidn't really say it was compulsory but we said wewould like everyone to do it. So that leaves itto their own initiative because I think it is agood thing for everybody to do. If everybodystarts doing the course and say I got moved fromH3 to H4 everybody in H4 would be at the samestage as I was in H3 because we have it all boxedoff. This is what you do in week one, this iswhat you do in week two. So even if you weremoved you weren't disrupted, you just carried on.That culminated in August [1990] with the fun run[in support of the Irish language nurseries andprimary schools]. That catches all the new bloodthat was coming in. That heightens the awarenessof Irish. Even those that are just taking thebasic course will have enough to converse andprogress. We have a number of books and we havedictionaries. I think we will have an advancedlevel course. But even if people come through thefirst level they will then have the confidence togo on in their own way and their own classes. Thecourse is ten to twelve weeks. You will be in anIrish speaking atmosphere.The public transcript of the prisoners is similar tothe hidden one articulated above: the republican prisonerswant to be able to express their distinct228229linguistic/cultural identity within an Irish-speakingenvironment they themselves have created in the H-Blocks.Even after losing their major court case against culturaldiscrimination, they proceeded, using the gains theirstruggle had produced, to set up their own Irish languageeducation system in order to Gaelicize current republicanprisoners.The public transcript of the State was that the demandsof the republican prisoners, if permitted, would jeopardizethe "good order and security" within the prisons. However,when the actions of the State are examined the hiddentranscript bears a similarity to the attitude expressed bythe Stormont government in the 1920s toward anything Irish(see Chapter Four). The Irish language was treated as aforeign language, to be sanctioned only as an educationalsubject. All Irish language publications were treated assuspect and banned--including Irish language articleswritten in well respected newspapers such as the IrishTimes. No effort was made, until 1987, to appoint a personto censor incoming and outgoing Irish material, and eventhen, delays of nine months to several years were commonbefore the sender or receiver actually got the material.The security argument also seems tenuous at best withregard to other expressions of Irishness. The wearing ofthe Fainne and the playing of Gaelic football were seen assecurity risks. (Hurling could legitimately be seen as a230security risk as it is played with a hockey-like stick.)However, the republican prisoners in the "cages" wereallowed to continue to play Gaelic football and both theyand women republican prisoners, were allowed to wearFainnes. In 1990, prior to a decision on a case of culturaldiscrimination in the prisons against the NIO, theauthorities decided that the wearing of the F6inne and theplaying of Gaelic football no longer posed threats to eithergood order or security in the prisons. Therefore,prohibitions on Irish language material and publications,the wearing of the Fainne, and the playing of Gaelic games,appear to have had less to do with security concerns andmore to do with the State's perception that the prisoner'soppositional language activism posed an intolerable threatto British linguistic hegemony.II. Sinn Fein and the Nationalist CommunityA. The Development of Community Action Groups in BelfastDuring the course of the last twenty or more turbulentyears in Belfast, little has been written on the local levelorganization of the city's community action groups. To alarge extent, the material presented here will be drawn from231Griffiths' (1978) examination of the growth of communityaction groups during the years 1969 to 1975, and oninformation imparted to me personally by nationalistsinvolved in some of these organizations. It should be notedthat Griffiths' article concentrates on the development ofloyalist community action groups, however he does providesome useful information on similar organizations in thenationalist areas.Using religion and socio-economic class to divide theNorthern Irish population, Griffiths (1978) argues thatwhile Protestant and Catholic attitudes toward statutoryinstitutions were different prior to 1969, neither communityhad a "real tradition of community action nor even communityconsciousness, except in relation to the political-religiousdivide."Protestants (working, middle and upper classes), Griffithsclaimed, were encouraged to believe that their right toexist and their livelihood depended on the continuedexistence of the Stormont Parliament, the Unionist Party,and the Orange Order. It was the perception of theProtestant community that any expression of "discontent orgrievance" on its part would undermine the State and thusjeopardize its privileged position. On the other hand, theCatholic working class, according to Griffiths, had beenpacified by the political rhetoric of the Irish governmentinto believing Ireland would eventually be united once232again. This group, while "more militant in its interactionwith statutory agencies," tended to allow the CatholicChurch to control all social organization. The tradition ofrepublicanism with its "Sinn Fein tradition ofself-reliance" was alive during the 1960s but other thannurturing a low level community agitation against prevailingdiscriminatory political and economic condition (see Adams1986:6-17), and producing a growing number of republicanclubs, this tradition was still in a nascent stage ofdevelopment with respect to generating any organizedcommunity action.In the violent wake of the 1969 civil rights marches, theNorthern Ireland political system faltered and thenationalist and loyalist communities began to organizeaction groups to take over functions that statutoryagencies, such as the Housing Executive, no longer provided.With the creation of a "network of no-go areas, where thecivil writ no longer ran" (Griffiths 1978:175), communitieswere left undefended. Local residents formed paramilitaryand vigilante groups to protect their communities, usurpingthe responsibility for local security from the government.As the violence escalated in the wake of civil rightsmarches, there was a massive displacement of population asfamilies left or were intimidated out of the mixed areas andforced to seek refuge in more religiously and politicallyhomogeneous sectors of Belfast. As Catholics continued to233pour into the nationalist ghettos and departing loyalistsburned their former homes, the housing shortage in the areabecame acute. In the early 1970s, and particularly in lateryears, the only way to obtain a house was, in the localparlance, "to go and take a house." As Griffiths (1978:175)writes, "When pressed by a relief worker, the best advicethat an official of the Housing Executive could give afamily turned out of their home was to go ahead and squat."The Housing Executive lost all hope of controlling theallocation of houses and along with it, its credibility inthe community. It was out of this situation that the firsttenant's groups were formed, to perform the duties that theHousing Executive had abandoned.As the leadership of these groups matured and skill wasgained in handling issues of housing and security, theirattention was directed to other needs of the community, suchas the provision of social facilities and amenities. Whilethis served to increase local confidence in and support forthe community action groups, it also created a dilemma forthe groups:Although they [could] . . . themselves undertakecertain responsibilities for the provision ofservices and amenities to their own communities ona self-help basis, at the end of the day they mustturn to the major institutions of society, notonly for services, but even for the support whichthey need to do what they [could] . . . forthemselves^(Griffiths 1978:190-191).234With the advent of Direct Rule in 1972, came the forcedrelinquishing of political control by the StormontParliament. The resulting control exercised by London overNorthern Ireland, served to further alienate the politicalsystem from local communities (O'Malley 1983:243-244). Thepolitical system now faced a dilemma similar to that of thecommunity groups, which were unable to operate effectivelywithout the support of the government:How can it [the political system] effectivelycontinue to operate as a form of representativegovernment if its representativeness iscontinually challenged and its actions discreditedand brought into disrepute by articulate andwell-informed criticism and opposition?(Griffiths 1978:191).As the process of politicization continued in thenationalist community, the pre-1969 style of governmentbecame less and less viable. The community action groupsknew the needs of the community and how best to fill thoseneeds--they also had the support of the local residents.But the statutory institutions, regarded by the communitywith militant distrust, controlled the resources necessaryto satisfy these community needs. It was into this gap thatSinn Fein stepped as an answer to Prime Minister MargaretThatcher's challenge to enter the political arena in the1980s.B. Sinn Fein assumes an "Encouraging" and "Supportive"Role in the Nationalist CommunityWhen questioned as to the general role that Sinn Feinperceived itself to have assumed in the nationalistcommunity, a Sinn Fein spokesperson answered:Sinn Fein within the community sees itself asproviding a service, and that service is moreoften than not a multi-faceted service. One is tohelp people to deal with the various statutoryagencies that they come into contact with, many ofwhom are totally hostile to the needs of thenationalist community--completely hostile.Another--and it is a very important one, and it isone that takes up a huge amount of time--isadjudicating or negotiating between two sets ofindividuals. Two sets of families or two sets ofresidents on a street. To adjudicate and tonegotiate a way out of the difficulties that arepresented.We have more advice centres in Belfast thanall other political parties collectively have inthe six counties. So we have a whole host ofadvice centres and they are community based advicecentres. They provide the role we have mentioned,and that's to say we assist the community in anumber of problem areas--welfare rights is oneexample of that, harassment by the British forces.These centres also provide another importantfocus, and that's they allow people to come to usand to complain about us--which happensoccasionally. Now that method and mechanism offeeling confident that you can complain about whatSinn Fein did or didn't do or in fact, what theIRA did or didn't do guarantees a steady flow ofunderstanding between the various sections of thecommunity and of course ourselves who are a partof that community.When asked about Sinn Fein's involvement in the localcommunity-based groups, I was told:235We support and encourage other schemes andcommunity groups that are certainly not organizedby us but have our support. For example, thereare a number of drop-in centres which areorganized by small fairly hard working communitygroups who simply provide a drop-in centre fortheir immediate area. We would be in support ofthose projects.The difficulty for us and indeed for them[community action groups] is that there is acontinual attempt by the British propagandists toconvince people that Sinn Fein for instance,despite our obviously large representation, thatSinn Fein somehow survives within the nationalistarea by threat. Now what they have attempted todo to any community group or any individual whowill not toe the line, that is, who challenges theBritish government's interpretation or propagandaline, they themselves are penalized. Their grantsare removed, their buildings are allowed to rundown, until it becomes impossible to have any kindof a drop-in centre or a community service. Weare very conscious that those people--it would bereally a disservice by us to them if those groupswould be labeled as a Sinn Fein front. They arenot a front. I mean they are people who havetheir own views, their own way of doing things.We support them. We don't always agree with thembut we are in support of them.Another Sinn Fein spokesperson, in reply to my questionconcerning the interaction between Sinn Fein andcommunity-based groups, reiterated the previous response:It's no good controlling single issue groups.It's no good controlling tenant's associations.We have proven it. We have learned by ourmistakes because we've done it. There was a verysmall tenant's association and our people--becausethe area was so small--ended up controlling it andit ended up a disaster.People saw it as the Republican Movementcoming in and taking over their tenant'sassociation, and they pulled back from it and welearned very, very, quickly by that mistake.236III. Sinn Fein and the Irish Language MovementA. The Irish Language as Part of the Republican EthosCurrent revolutionary ideology of the Irish RepublicanMovement considers the restoration of the Irish language asan integral part of the struggle for self-determination.This ideology draws its authenticity and legitimacy (seeChapter One) from the legacy of the United Irishmen (1798),Thomas Davis (1840), Pddraig Pearse (1916), and otherrevolutionary heroes, who proclaimed economic and politicalfreedom could only be achieved in a culturally andlinguistically distinct Ireland (see Chapter Three).Therefore, as in the past, Sinn Fein today believes thatcultural liberation is inseparable from political andeconomic freedom. 6 Muilleoir (1986:20-21, 23) articulatesthe linkage between present republican cultural thinkingwith that of their forefathers:Republicans have always realised that to be free,the Irish people must have a culture of their own,as distinct from that of the oppressor. Pearsesaid "chan amhain saor ach Gaelach chomh maith,chan amhain Gaelach ach saor chomh maith," i.e.,not free merely but Irish as well, not Irishmerely but free as well. Mellows [the leader ofthe Galway Volunteers in 1916] spoke of the fightto maintain our Irishness as the intellectual partof the Irish revolution when he said:237The revolution going on in Ireland, has athreefold aspect, it is intellectual, itis political, it is economic. Of theintellectual aspect it is sufficient tosay that Ireland to be free, must beIrish, must be free from the domination ofalien thought as from alien armies.Sinn F6in accepts both the above statementsand understands the necessity for urgent action toredress the neglect of culture and defeat culturaloppression. We realise we are oppressed not onlyeconomically and physically but that the oppressoralso exercises a cultural and social control overour people.^It is only natural then thatresistance to the oppressor must take place on allthese fronts.We must replace the ideology of the oppressorwith a republican ideology rooted in our ownhistory and experiences. . . .Imperialism has been described as a situationwhere "The centre of gravity of a nation, i.e.,it's crucial decision making, is no longer in thatnation but in some other." It is clear that whilethe cultural domination of Ireland continues, our" centre of gravity" will not be in our owncountry.It is essential therefore that our struggleagainst economic and political oppression isunited with cultural resistance.Cultural resistance in republican ideology is based onthe belief that to be a sovereign people the Irish mustfirst regain control of their own destiny. The Irishlanguage is seen as an essential element in restoring to thedemoralized nationalist population a sense of this control,and as a step toward re-establishing their self-esteem andself-worth as a people. The belief that the success of theliberation struggle lies in building a stable, self-reliantpeople is put into practice by encouraging members of238the nationalist community to speak out and demand theircivil and human rights. A Sinn Fein spokesperson explained:From our point of view, we don't administerto the community. We don't simply provide aservice to the community. We don't simply lookafter the needs of the community. That would betotally counter-productive. We see our role asbeing a vehicle through which community grievancescan be heard. For example, if there is a problemwith an individual housing estate, that has to betaken up with the Housing Authority, it's not SinnFein's role to go on behalf of the residents toraise that issue.^It is Sinn Fein's role to gowith the residents to raise the issue . . . if youlike it is almost psychological, like trainingsomeone to be involved in athletics. If they canlook after and stand up for their own rights onany given issue, they will stand up for themselveson every given issue.I mean that's where we differ [from Southernand other Irish politicians], apart from thenature of our analysis--but that's why we differtremendously from what is called a constitutionalparty [here referring to SDLP]. They seethemselves as speaking on behalf of the people andthey are full of baloney. I mean the people canspeak on their own behalf. We are there toprovide assistance for that. We are not the voiceof the people, we are a voice with the people.And that's the only way Sinn Fein can go forward.By assuming a supportive role in the community, SinnFein has encouraged the people to fight for their rights, tochallenge the authorities directly.^In the process, thenorthern nationalist population in general, and portions ofthe alternative Irish language community, have becomestrongly politicized.239B. Sinn Fein and the Irish Language Activist Community:A Self-AnalysisIt would be unfair to say that Sinn Fein's culturalliberation ideology is solely a product of the prisonprotests of the late 1970s and early 1980s. For example,included in Sinn Fein's 1971 Social and Economic Programmeis a section entitled "An Ghaeilge," which begins bystating, "One of the primary aims of Sinn Fein is there-establishment of the Irish language in its correct placeas the principal community language of the Irish People"(Sinn Fein 1971:39).However, the prison protests did heighten Sinn Fein'sawareness of a definite need to assume a much more visiblerole in the Irish language revival that had been spurred bythe 1981 hunger strike. As Andrews (1991:100) commented:The fact that Irish had helped to sustainrepublican prisoners through their worstexperiences during the years of protest, includinghunger strikes, had brought SF [Sinn Fein] to therealisation that the language could be equallymeaningful outside the prisons as a distinctiveexpression of cultural identity and as a form ofcultural resistance.Sinn Fein's new role would demand the formulation of adefinite plan of action to enable the reaching of theirgoals. At the 1985 Sinn Fein Ard Fheis (annual meeting) aseries of proposals were put forward that were to become240incorporated into a Sinn Fein cultural policy document,issued in 1986. These proposals included:(109) That the cultural department should then beresponsible for increasing Sinn Fein involvementin the following areas and ways:(a) Classes: the setting up of a Sinn Fein classin every Comhairle Ceantar [district council] inthe Six Counties and in every Comhairle Limisteir[territorial council] in the 26 Counties; allpublic representatives to learn Irish; an Irishsummer college to be set up.(b) Prisons: That Sinn Fein publicises andagitates around the ban on Irish in Six-Countyjails and highlights the contribution by prisonersto the cultural revival.(c) Irish language education: That Sinn Feinrecognises the vital role of Irish languagenursery schools in the cultural revival andpledges its active support to all such schemes.(d) Abroad: To establish close links withcultural groups in Wales and Euskadi.(121) That Sinn Fein pledges its support to theefforts of Irish speakers to obtain moreprogrammes in Irish on television and radio and tothe obtaining of an Irish television station.(124) That Sinn Fein favours the use ofGaelic-only names on roads and in new housingestates.(125) That Sinn Fein be seen to support Irishcultural organisations such as, Comhaltas CeOtoiriEireann [Irish musicians association], fleadhs[Irish festivals], etc.(126) That this Ard-Fheis sends revolutionarygreetings to all Gaeilge cultural bodies inIreland and in particular to Conradh na Gaeilge,Cumann na bhFian, Comhdail Naisiunta na Gaeilgeand La (Sinn Fein 1985:56, 61, 63).241Among the proposals that are not written into theofficial Sinn Fein Cultural Policy document but do reflectthe desire of the leadership, and from my observations, asignificant portion of the Sinn Fein membership, are asfollows:(117) That within five years, all republicanpublications be bilingual.(120) All Sinn Fein members should have a basicgrasp of the Irish language and where thissituation does not prevail it should be the dutyof the membership to attain this, either togetheras a cumann, comhairle, ceantair or through . . .night school classes.(123) Sinn Fein members should change their namesto the Irish equivalent (if in English)(Sinn Fein 1985:61).(131) That it be made mandatory for all newmembers of Sinn Fein to attend Irish classesduring the six-week probationary period.(132) That members, candidates for elections andspokespersons in particular, recognise theimportance and value of having a working knowledgeof the Irish language. We propose that Roinn anChultuir at national level organises facilities inneglected areas (Sinn Fein 1986:69).The Sinn Fein Cultural Department had, prior to theadvent of the 1986 Policy Document, involved itself insetting up almost thirty classes (twenty in Belfast alone).Many of these classes were taught by Irish teachers, whowhile not entirely in agreement with Sinn Fein's policy,were "broadly sympathetic" toward Sinn Fein's position on242243culture (o hAdhmaill 1985:7). Sinn Fein's President, GerryAdams, now called on 1980's republicans to increase theirinvolvement in the Irish language, even if only entailed theincorporation of a few simple Irish words and phrases intodaily speech:This [involvement] may take such small forms asdeciding never again to say "cheerio" and alwayssay "slam," or it may mean a total involvement insupporting the demands of the language struggleand the demands of the people of the Gaeltachtaiby working actively alongside them (Adams1986:147).The media demand special attention because oftheir importance in influencing their audiences'opinions and values (Adams 1986:147).Adams called on elected Sinn Fein representatives to usetheir:. . . elected positions in both the 26 and 6counties to promote Irish culture in such areas asthe erection of street signs in Irish, grant aidfor feiseanna [festivals], bilingual councilstationery and signs, the use of Irish at formalcouncil occasions, and an emphasis on Irish musicand dances at council-sponsored social events(Adams 1986:147).This sudden high profile of republicans in the Irishlanguage movement shocked politicians, especially members ofthe SDLP who accused Sinn Fein of "hijacking the Irishlanguage" to enhance their political position in the244nationalist community. The State echoed this charge. Whenasked about the interaction between Sinn Fein and the Irishlanguage movement, a Sinn Fein spokesperson explained:The Irish [primary] school had asked for money,but there was no demand for funding for Irishlanguage arts on par with that for Wales; therewas no demand for the government administration todeal with Irish speakers in Irish; there was nodemand for the removal of the law that bannedIrish street signs; there was no demand for peopleto be allowed to speak Irish in courts or whenthey were stopped by British army troops. Thatwasn't part of the organizations' themes becauseof this belief that it would be impossible and awaste of time. And then what happened and I thinkSinn Fein can take some of the credit for this, isthat as the policy of Sinn Fein developed westarted making demands about housing, theenvironment, about women's needs, about childrens'needs, for play areas, and so on. And obviouslywe used the traditional methods of politics--oflobbying, of applying pressure--it was logicalthen to those people involved in the Irishlanguage that Sinn Fein would embark on a similarcourse of action for the Irish language and wedid. And we would have meetings with thebroadcasting authority which is responsible forUlster Television [UTV], and Downtown Radio.Ulster Television is the worst because it hasalways refused to broadcast anything in the Irishlanguage. We would have meetings with them topress for Irish language programmes. We wouldhave meetings with the Arts Council to talk aboutthe funding for arts. We would have organizedourselves, or helped organize pickets of courtswhere people appeared on charges involved with theIrish language. We would have pickets in front ofthe BBC, and so on. So the principles that SinnFein has adopted for political work, we perhapsintroduced to the Irish language movement. So youhad for the first time the State being met with alot of different demands from different fronts.When a reporter for An Phoblacht/Republican News(1990:10] asked the head of the Sinn Fein CulturalDepartment:How much of an impact has Sinn Fein had on thepromotion of Irish language and culture in the SixCounties?Gear6id 6 hAra [replied]: There can be no denyingthat republicans have had an impact. Republicanshave argued the case for political recognition ofthe Irish language in a forceful manner. SinnFein has raised the issue of the language in everyarena and has forced the issue on to the agenda ofall the political parties. Through variouscampaigns they have exposed the anti-Irishpolicies of the British government.The profusion of Irish street signs, roadsigns, and murals in Irish throughout the SixCounties bear testimony to the energy andenthusiasm with which republicans promoted thelanguage on the streets, and supported everycommunity initiative in this field vigorously.However, in 1990, when I asked a Sinn Fein CulturalDepartment spokesperson about Sinn Fein's accomplishments inimplementing its cultural programme, his assessmentexpressed disappointment that they were not doing more inthe restoration of the language:On the question of what Sinn Fein is doing for theIrish language, my answer is not half enough. Andin many ways the Sinn Fein attitude to the Irishlanguage would be similar to the attitude ofFianne Fail or the SDLP. It wouldn't be part ofmy job to bolster Sinn Fein image or try topretend that Sinn Fein is doing more work for theIrish language than they are. Sinn Fein is doinga modest amount of work, but it just seems to bean awful lot because the rest of them [political245parties] are doing nothing. We publish anoccasional magazine in Irish. We havesimultaneous translation at the Ard Fheis. Weorganize an annual political convention entirelyin Irish. We have a page in Irish in our paper.And we have a lot of Irish language activistswithin the movement. But that's really not anawful lot.It's difficult.^Sinn Fein, like every otherpolitical organization in the country, exceptperhaps for a very small group in the West of thecountry, is an English language organization. Butwe just live with it--we suffer with it.^It isvery difficult to Gaelicize an organization whichis an English language organization. An Phoblachthas 16 pages and only one or two in Irish.^It'sas bad as the SDLP paper or the Fianne Fail paper.Before turning to a discussion of the State'saccusation that Sinn Fein has politicized the Irish languagefor its own purposes, this examination of Sinn Fein'sactivities in the Irish language movement, will concludewith an answer received to the question: How do republicansbalance their political and cultural interests?:I belong to Sinn Fein because I believe in morethan just the Irish language.^I believe inindependence of this country and equality in thiscountry. I believe in having a fairer type ofsociety. So for all those things, I belong toSinn Fein. There is no Irish languageorganization fighting to get the British army offour streets. So for all those reasons then andthe additional baggage that I carry around withme--those beliefs--then Sinn Fein is theorganization for me. There are other Irishspeakers who believe strongly also inindependence, but believe without the languagethat is impossible, so they just work solely onthe language problem.^I have a loyalty to SinnFein but at the same time I have an equal loyaltyto the Irish language. Obviously there will be aconflict in what you do with your time.246But I have no great interest in being part of afree Ireland in which the language is treated theway it is today. That's a revolutionary view ifyou wish, but it comes from the recognition thatcultural oppression is the worst and the mostinsidious type of oppression. As Stephen BantuBiko said: "The most potent weapon in the hands ofthe oppressor is the minds of the oppressed."In his concluding remarks, the Sinn Fein CulturalDepartment representative emphasized that he did not want toleave me with the impression that involvement in the Irishlanguage meant that a person was either a republican or atthe very least a nationalist:Just to close off, I think it is important thatyou don't associate the language completely withthe Republican Movement or the NationalistMovement. Everybody that speaks Irish are notrepublican regardless of what the government triesto say. And I think the other thing is not toattribute the Irish language revival torepublicans alone, not only because Sinn Fein isan English language organization but because thereare a lot of people working in the background, andworking hard, and working because of their love ofthe language and for its status.^It is a revivalof interest. There are very few with our views.What they [the government] has done is that theyhave tried to get away with creating an image thatthe Irish language is subversive, saying thateverybody who speaks Irish is republican.247C. Suspicions that Sinn Fein "Hijacked" the IrishLanguage after the Hunger Strike: The AlternativeIrish Language Activist Community RespondsSinn Fein's increased interest in the Irish languageand in the rights of Irish language speakers, after the 1981hunger strike, elicited the accusation, first from the SDLPand then from the establishment generally, that it had"hijacked" the Irish language for political purposes. Thisaccusation served a dual purpose, in that the use of theword "hijacked" portrayed Sinn Fein's role in the languagemovement as that of a terrorist, and also it created theimage that Sinn Fein's interest in the Irish language waspurely political.^In an interview with Gear6id 6 hAra, headof Sinn Fein's Cultural Department, An Phoblacht/RepublicanNews (1990:10) asked:What do you say to the accusation that republicanshave "hijacked" the Irish language?Gear6id 6 hAra: This is a negative argument andusually comes from people who are hostile to ourvigorous promotion of the language and who in manycases are anti-republican.It is true that republicans are prominent andnumerous in many language initiatives but this isdue to individual commitment and an understandingamong republicans of the need to be active on theissue. They are doing the work to build groups,to create opportunities and to publicise theirefforts, and in many cases none of that work wouldbe done if they were not there.It is impossible to de-politicise thecultural struggle or to separate it from thestruggle for self-determination. I would welcomean opportunity to debate the issue publicly orprivately with cultural activists who have analternative view.248249Adams (1986:146) also made it clear that Sinn Fein didnot view the Irish language as a political weapon of theparty, when he stated:Culture is not a party political question or themonopoly of any one section of the people, but thedestruction of our culture was a political act andits revival also requires political action. Noprogress can be made in any political strugglewithout the involvement of ordinary people, andthe most pertinent point about the current modestrevival is that it is happening because theordinary people have identified with it(Adams 1986:146).During my research, I asked a number of Irish languageactivists, none of whom were members of Sinn Fein and themajority of whom did not support the Republican Movement,what their feelings were about the accusation of Sinn Feinhijacking the Irish language. Most people spoken to,questioned the accuracy of the accusation. Some, however,echoed the view that, "Sinn Fein had hijacked the language,"adding that "it does not belong to a political party."Others dismissed the accusation outright:[Respondent 1:] They [Sinn Fein] didn't have to[hijack the language].^It [the Irish language] ismore identified with Sinn Feinism than anythingelse. The Gaelic League in the 1800s--like SinnFein, was born from the Gaelic League. But thiswas a cultural revival from the upheaval from theFenians of the 1860s, and the Gaelic League in the1890s. And then from the Gaelic League you hadSinn Fein and Irish Nationalism. They didn't haveto hijack it you know.[Do you see the attaching of Sinn Fein's name tothe Irish language movement, as an attempt to makethe language subversive?]That's right. But I don't give that much room forthought even, because I'm an Irishman, and youknow how much it has cost us to be Irish. AndSinn Fein—and there is nothing more Irish inIreland than Sinn Fein—so how can Sinn Feinhijack something that is already theirs?Still other respondents, such as those in the followingtwo examples, did not see the involvement of Sinn Fein inIrish language activism as presenting any difficulty to theIrish language movement. Both felt that it would befoolhardy for any political party to attempt to hijack theIrish language:[Respondent 2:] Conradh na Gaeilge in Twinbrookwas the first group to rename all their streets inIrish. That was ten years ago. [There were 160signs made] . . . and those signs were paid for bydonations given by the Twinbrook people. Butafter that you see, Sinn Fein took it uponthemselves to develop Irish as part of theirstrategy.[Did you find that a detriment?)No, I didn't.^It's a very difficult arrangementthat we are in here because you find that quite alot of our ex-workers also have republicantendencies. And you also have the opposite ofcourse. So it doesn't necessarily fall thatbecause you are a republican you are in favour ofIrish. But it does follow that if you are anIrish speaker it doesn't matter if you arerepublican or not. You get this mixture all thetime and it is very difficult to separate them.250[Does that mean that there are some people who usethe language for political reasons and somecultural?]Well that's very difficult to answer. To quoteGerry Adams at an event organised here about ayear and a half ago, I got together a panel fromacross the political board. There was Gerry Adamshimself, the General Secretary of the SDLP, PatsyMcGlone, who is an Irish speaker of course.^I gotsomeone from the Communist Party and a person fromthe Alliance Party.^Invitations also went out todifferent Irish groups like Conradh na Gaeilge andother groups--so there was a broad spectrum ofviews on the platform. And Gerry Adams actuallysaid that it was time for Irish speakers to takethe Irish language away from the politicians.Again you have this sort of common denominatorbetween politicians that they want to leave theIrish language alone.^It's above politics. Thelanguage is sacrosanct. They don't want to sullyit in any way. And I think that although SinnFein's development has come through this periodwhereby the Irish language was part of thepresent, not ancient culture, the living part ofthe culture of Ireland and that it is part andparcel of the revolution--its our culture,therefore it comes on with us under the heading ofIreland and what it means and all. When theRising of 1916 came about, Irish nationalismbecame the Gaelic language. Therefore itestranged the Protestant population to a degree.[Respondent 3:] The Irish language movement isquite right wing. This myth regarding Sinn Feinbeing involved [in the Irish language movement]initially is ridiculous. This is a very rightwing organization. You go to any Irish languagegathering and you will see the suits and ties.It's very right wing. But the work of the Irishlanguage movement would have been quite acceptableto the Government before Sinn Fein actually got ahold of the language and actually brought it downto the level of the people.That is where the difficulty of politicscomes in, because you have to be very carefulabout the things you do because you don't want toput a political image on the Irish language. Soyou have to watch. It can be used both ways.^Itcan be used by the Sinn Fein members to say thatyou are discriminating against them if you exclude251them from a group, when all you are really doingis saying you are having nothing to do with them[some Sinn Fein members], because he/she is a badperson or why should you [the Sinn Fein member] doit because you haven't done any work before now.Or it can be used the other way where you dodiscriminate against them [Sinn Fein].By the same token, the Irish language isdivorced from politics in that it is divorced fromparty politics. Each individual has their ownpolitics. You can't say the Irish language hasnothing to do with politics--that's ridiculous.Politics is the people. The language is thepeople. And if they are going to try and demotethe language in some obscure back room, you takeaction against this. If you chose between a blacktaxi and a bus, that's a political decision in away. What I am saying is that it [the language]should not be manipulated to build the profile foranybody in the political movement.The State has tainted the language byattaching it to politics. The Irish language, Ialways felt from when I was young, was part of me.I was always involved in the Irish culture and thelanguage but I never liked the Irish languagecrowd. I always found them very, very clean,straight, Catholic, the three piece suit types.^Imean they bore . . . me. Now you have the chanceof having Protestant people being involved and Iam very willing to have Protestants involved,because I am telling you, it needs a breath offresh air. You've got to have people from allwalks of life and all political persuasions. Howcan a language survive if it belongs to oneparticular political party? Even that politicalparty [i.e., Sinn Fein] would likely admit that.There is no way any political party would want tohijack a language, because you can't. Because ifeverybody involved in the language was from SinnFein, how could you have a debate for a start.For example, what I find when I am teaching thelanguage is that no one will start to speak ituntil the issue becomes more important than thelanguage. When you are constantly worrying aboutgrammar and the right way to say the words youwill constantly go plodding along through itsaying, "is this the right way to say that?" Butif you have a debate, let's say on feminism, thenlanguage becomes alive because people are notstopping to worry about their grammar, or whatkind of words they are using--the important thingis the point. The only way the language can252survive is for people from different politicalpersuasions, different religious persuasions,different walks of life, and different interests,outlooks, different ways of dressing, differentattitudes, to become involved. That's when alanguage lives. Not when there's a little groupof people who say right, this is the way wepronounce this word here. Everybody say it afterme.Another person felt that the impetus for Sinn Fein'sincreased interest in the Irish language came from itspresident, Gerry Adams. In responding to my questions, thisinterviewee like others, emphasized the problems that agroup would run into if it were to become stigmatized as a"Sinn Fein front":[Respondent 4:] Republicans, since early '80s,have learned the language as a symbol ofsolidarity with the prisoners. Today the interestof republicans in the language is partly to dowith the rise of Gerry Adams. Now this is guesswork. Quite a lot of the early leaders of theRepublican Movement were from the ground in theNorth, that means they came from nowhere. Theydidn't have a background, that means they didn'tknow all that much about republicanism. Adamscomes from a family with a long history ofrepublicanism so whenever he moved up into theleadership, Irish began to have a high profileamong republicans in the North.Prison Irish drew attention to Irish in a waythat nothing else had done--the fact that BobbySands wrote songs in Irish for example. This useof Irish by prisoners started in the '70s butdidn't get as much attention as in the '80s. Alot of prisoners who initially went into prisonlearned Irish but dropped it when they came out.Now the numbers keeping their Irish up isincreasing especially since the hunger strikes.Sinn Fein has done a lot of work promotingIrish, and Irish is part of their ideology andmore so since Gerry Adams has taken over the253leadership. The problem with politicians is thatpoliticians like publicity, so that sometimes theyhave used the fact that they are involved in theIrish movement to promote their political ends.There is a tension there.The problem with a group being connected withSinn Fein is that members of that group who arenot members of that party withdraw from that kindof activity because they don't want to be tainted.When there is a public per