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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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IRISH LANGUAGE ACTIVISM IN WEST BELFAST: A RESISTANCE TO BRITISH CULTURAL HEGEMONY  by PATRICIA MARY CATHERINE KACHUK B.A., York University, 1981 M.A., University of British Columbia, 1987  A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY in THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES DEPARTMENT OF ANTHROPOLOGY  We accept this thesis as conforming to the required standard  THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA March 1993 © Patricia Mary Catherine Kachuk, 1993  In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanced degree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make it freely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensive copying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of my department or by his or her representatives. It is understood that copying or publication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my written permission.  (Signature)  Department of Anthropology and Sociology The University of British Columbia Vancouver, Canada  Date^April  DE-6 (2/88)  13, 1993  ii  Abstract  This contribution to the understanding of the dynamics of domination and resistance will focus on the nature and development of Irish language activism in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and the subsequent response of the British State when 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 of disguise and surveillance, and is based on fifteen months of in-depth fieldwork in Northern Ireland, which I undertook from February 13, 1990 to May 10, 1991.  It has been argued that not all Irish language activism is revolutionary, but instead, to use Williams' terminology, has both alternative and oppositional ideologies as major components. While both alternative and oppositional Irish language activists have recovered the Irish language as "an effective element of the present," and are using it to challenge the legitimacy of British cultural hegemony in Northern Ireland, the difference lies in their ultimate goals. Alternative Irish language activists are seeking a permanent space for the Irish language in Northern Ireland, regardless of the political outcome of the present conflict.  iii  On the other hand, oppositional Irish language activists, have made the Irish language an integral part of their struggle for self-determination. Alternative Irish language activists have focused their efforts on demanding that the public status of the Irish language be raised, and on building an Irish-medium education system that would be the foundation of a permanent Irish language infrastructure in Northern Ireland. Central to oppositional Irish language activism is the struggle for the cultural and linguistic rights of republican prisoners. However, the State justifies the shunning of these demands by citing the security risk they may engender. Oppositional Irish language activists, in particular Sinn Fein (the political wing of the Republican Movement), have adopted a strategy of "encouraging" and  " supporting" alternative Irish language groups, thus creating the a priori appearance of a common goal. Since Sinn Fein does not assume a direct leadership role within the Irish language movement, any refusal of the cultural demands of alternative Irish language activists by the State, can be labelled as discriminatory toward the legitimate cultural rights of an ethnic minority. Hence, efforts by the State to dismiss the challenge by alternative Irish language activists by branding it as revolutionary, have been ineffectual.  iv  British cultural hegemony in Northern Ireland, it is argued, is both powerful and vulnerable. The reaction of the British State to the challenge of Irish language activists has varied, at times with its interpretation of the challenge, and at other times seemingly at will. Prior to 1980, attempts were made to exclude the Irish language and culture from Northern Ireland, branding it as "foreign" and "subversive." Since 1989, the approach of the British State has been a re-interpretation of the Irish language and culture into the Northern Ireland context, recognizing it as one of the "two traditions" of the State. This move to neutralize Irish language resistance, while welcomed by many alternative Irish language activists, has seriously ruptured the unity of the majority in Northern Ireland. As a result, the British government finds itself at an impasse. Because of strong oppositional and alternative Irish language resistance, the State is prevented from "excluding" Irish language and culture in Northern Ireland, but similarly, differences within influential and dominant groups will not allow the conciliation of Irish language resistance by a "process of incorporation." The stage is thus set for an examination of the background, growth, and durability of the Irish language movement, juxtaposed with the hegemonic determination of a State bent on cultural subjugation, in the boisterous environment of Northern Ireland.  ^  Table of Contents  ^ii  ABSTRACT LIST  OF  FIGURES  xii  ACKNOWLEDGEMENT ^ CHAPTER 1^ I. Research Aim and Questions ^ II. The Theoretical Framework A. Gramsci's Concept of "Ideological Hegemony" and the Thorny Question of "Consent"^  xiii 1 1 ^4 4  1. James Scott's Model of Hegemony and Resistance^5 2. Lears and Roseberry: Hegemony as a "Common Discursive Framework"^ B. Raymond Williams' Model of Cultural Hegemony and Counter-Hegemony  9 ^11  C. Understanding Resistance in West Belfast's Irish Language Activist Community: ^ A Definitional Model 16 1. British Linguistic Hegemony and Irish Language Resistance: A Definition of Terms ^  16  2. Language: A Symbolic Expression of Resistance . ^  19  a) Language as Ethnic Identity  23  b) Language as Power ^  33  (1) Language and Ethnonationalism: A Tool for Ethnic Mobilization ^  33  (2) Language and the State: To Win the Hearts and Minds of the People ^  42  III. The Plan^  45  vi  CHAPTER 2^Fieldwork in a Politically Turbulent Environment  ^49  I. A Terminological Muddle: The Search for Political Neutrality^  52  A.  The Actors^  52  B.  The Territory^  59  II. Fieldwork in a Dangerous Environment: Challenge and Survival^  62  A.  The Research Setting ^  62  B.  Negotiating Roles in the Field ^  67  C.  Ethical Considerations^  74  D.  The Problem of Objectivity^  78  III. Methodology: Data Collection and Research Techniques^  82  A.  Participant/Observation  ^82  B.  Interviewing^  85  C. Other Research Methods^  CHAPTER 3^The Roots of Alternative and Oppositional Irish Language Activism  91  93  I. The Pre-Eighteenth Century Battle for Linguistic Hegemony in Ireland  96  A. The Articulation of the Traditional Gaelic and English Feudal Modes of Production ^  96  1. Inheritance and Property Rights: A Clash of Legal Systems 2.  96  The Heart of Gaelic Culture Attacked: The Destruction of the Irish Monasteries ^ and Bardic Schools  101  3. The Irish Language Becomes a Class Issue: The Dominant English-speaking Culture ^ Takes Root  107  vii  II. The Restoration of the Irish Language: The Protestant Ascendancy and the Gaelic Culture of the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries^  112  A. The Protestant Ascendancy and the Restoration of the Irish Language ^  113  B. Murmurs of Alternative Irish Language Activism: Ulster's Protestants and Irish Language Revivalism, Pre-1850^  115  C. Nascent Oppositional Irish Language Activism: The United Irishmen Rising 1798^  120  III. Alternative and Oppositional Irish Language Activism: A Period of Political Upheaval in Belfast^  124  A. Belfast: The Turbulent Nineteenth Century ^ 125 B. Another Victory for Linguistic Hegemony: The National School Act of 1831^  130  C. Alternative and Oppositional Irish Language Activism Come of Age: Conradh na Gaeilge (Gaelic League) and Sinn Fein^  134  1. Pre-Partition Alternative Irish Language Activism: The Gaelic League 2. The Irish Language Becomes Part of the Republican Ethos: The Birth of Sinn Fein ^ IV. Chapter Summary  CHAPTER 4  ^  Pre-1980 Irish Language Activism in Northern Ireland: The Calm before the Storm ^  I. Ireland Divided: The Irish Language is Attacked by the New Northern Ireland Parliament ^ II. The Cumann Chluain Ard: The Bastion of the Irish Language ^  ^136 143 148  152 153 159  viii  III. The Shaws Road Irish Community: Irish Language Activists Create Their Own Gaeltacht in English-Speaking West Belfast ^ IV. Chapter Summary ^  CHAPTER 5^Irish Language Activism: ^ The Context of Resistance  167 174  176  I. Prelude to the 1981 Hunger Strike: Terror ^ Warfare as Lived Reality 178 A. Pre-1969: A Period of Sporadic Official and Sanctioned Unofficial Attacks on the Nationalist Population^  178  B. The "Troubles": The Militarization of Northern Ireland^  181  C. The Carrot and the Stick: A Mid-1970s Shift in British State Policy in ^ Northern Ireland 192 II. Irish at the Door: The Blanket Protest and Hunger Strikes^ A. Irish Language in the Prisons^ 1. Irish Language in the "Cages" 2. Irish Language in the H-Blocks ^ B. Impact of the Hunger Strike on the Nationalist Community in Belfast^ III. Chapter Summary ^  CHAPTER 6  The Aftermath: Sinn Fein Rises to Political and Cultural Prominence in Nationalist Belfast  I. Irish Culture Behind Bars: The Prison Struggle ^ for Irish Language Rights  196 196 ^196 201 206 208  212 215  II. Sinn Fein and the Nationalist Community ^ 230  ix  A. The Development of Community Action Groups in Belfast ^ B. Sinn Fein assumes an "Encouraging" and "Supportive" Role in the Nationalist ^ Community  230  235  III. Sinn Fein and the Irish Language Movement ^. 237 A. The Irish Language as Part of the Republican Ethos ^  237  B. Sinn Fein and the Irish Language Activist Community: A Self-Analysis ^  240  C. Suspicions that Sinn Fein "Hijacked" the Irish Language after the Hunger Strike: The Alternative Irish Language Activist ^ Community Responds 248 D. The Role of Sinn Fein in the Irish Language Movement IV. Chapter Summary  CHAPTER 7  ^  Post-1980 Alternative Irish Language Activism: Confronting British Linguistic Hegemony ^  254 258  260  I. Direct Action: The Welsh Model of Alternative Language Activism  263  II. The Radical Years: Alternative Irish Language Activism in the Early 1980s  271  A. Irish Language Activists Defy the Ban on Irish Language Street Signs  271  B. Media Campaigns for Irish Language Broadcasting in Northern Ireland  274  III. Belfast Irish Language Activists Unite in Constructing a Permanent Irish Language Infrastructure ^ A.  La:  283  The Celtic World's First Daily Newspaper^. 283  ^  B. A "Carrot" for Moderate Irish Language Activists: Government Money for Irish Language Education ^  287  C. GlOr na nGael, West Belfast Committee: Irish-Medium Education becomes a Priority ^• •^. 291 D. West Belfast becomes "The Irish Language Capital of Ireland"^  301  IV. "Hands Off Our Language": A Victory for Irish Language Activists^  304  V. Cultural Diversity: Fitting the Irish Language into the Northern Ireland Context  310  A. Bridging the Gap: ULTACH  311  B. Tolerance and Understanding in the Schools: A New Curriculum ^  316  C. Irish Language in the Northern Ireland Context: A Hegemonic Nightmare  322  1. The British State as "Honest Broker": Bringing "Tolerance and Friendliness" to the "Two Communities" in Northern Ireland ^ 323 2. Protestant Reaction: The Irish Language and Northern Ireland Culture  324  a) We are British: There is No Room for the Irish Language in Northern Ireland ^  325  b) We Are Irish: It's Our Language  325  c) Ulster Irish is Part of Our Ulster Heritage: Ian Adamson's Re-interpretation of the History of Ulster^  327  VI. Chapter Summary ^  330  CHAPTER 8^Flexing Hegemonic Muscles: The Blacklisting of GlOr na nGael ^ 333 I. GlOr na nGael: "A Cheeky Subordinate" ^ II. GlOr na nGael's Symbolic Declaration of War, Challenge and Counter-Challenge  335 339  ^  Xi  A. The Public Transcript of the State: Silence, Secrecy and Unsubstantiated Allegations  339  B. GlOr na nGael's Campaign to Clear Its Name  .  341  C. GlOr na nGael Takes the Government to Court  .  350  III. Reaction in the Irish Language Activist Community: The Mask of the Oppressed Thickens ^IV. Chapter Summary ^  CHAPTER 9^General  Conclusions  I. Alternative versus Oppositional Activism within the Irish Language Movement in West Belfast: Differences and Links II. British Cultural Hegemony: The Struggle for Legitimacy ^  NOTES  BIBLIOGRAPHY ^  355  361  363  363 365  370  382  xi i  List of Figures  FIGURE 1^Ireland: Irish Speaking Population Distribution 1851^  132  FIGURE 2^Ireland: Irish Speaking Population Distribution 1891^  133  Acknowledgement While it would be impractical, as well as strategically ill-advised, for me to acknowledge by name all the people who made this work possible, I would like to express my gratitude to the following groups and individuals. Those at GlOr na nGael, the Shaws Road Irish Community, ULTACH, the Committee for the Administration of Justice, the Linen Hall Library, Sinn Fein, and the Roddy McCorley Society, whose assistance was invaluable. I wish to thank my committee for their critical reading of my work, and the many suggestions offered that led to its successful completion. Special thanks to my advisor, Dr. Elvi Whittaker, for filling my methodological tool kit; to Dr. David Schweitzer, for his theoretical guidance; to Dr. Michael Blake for his guidance on practicalities such as funding; and to all three collectively, for their unwavering support, regardless of the obstacles. I would also like to thank my examining committee: Dr. Joan Vincent, Dr. Martin Silverman, and Dr. Diane Mauzy for their interest in and constructive comments on my work. Finally I would like to acknowledge the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, who provided funding for my fieldwork in Belfast; the Tina and Morris Wagner Foundation Fellowship; and the I.W. Killam Predoctoral Fellowship whose collective funding hastened the completion of this dissertation.  IRISH LANGUAGE ACTIVISM IN WEST BELFAST: A RESISTANCE TO BRITISH CULTURAL HEGEMONY  Chapter One  I. Research Aim and Questions  It is hard to recall an age when the Irish language was not an issue. The right to speak it; the right to use it as a medium of education for children; the right to have the Irish form of a name on State documentation. It would seem that the language has always . . . been linked in the public perception to a measure of disrespect for establishment politics^(Macauley 1990:11).1  This Belfast journalist could well have added that the imposition of the English language on the people of Ireland has always been met with resistance. The general concern of this dissertation will be an investigation of Irish language activism in the Northern Ireland capital city of Belfast, and the British state's response to this symbolic challenge to its linguistic hegemony. The analysis will focus on the nature of this resistance over time, examining how Belfast cultural groups, Sinn Fein, and the British government, perceive and construct Irish language activism. The principal questions suggested by this research will be:  2  Is Irish language activism in West Belfast solely connected to the armed struggle? Does cultural Irish language activism differ from politically motivated Irish language activism, if so, how? What are the demands of various groups of Irish language activists? What is the nature of British linguistic hegemony? How is this linguistic hegemony maintained when challenged by Irish language activist groups? In Northern Ireland, ethnonationalist conflict has escalated to the stage of armed struggle. As a corollary to this development, attempts made by members of the ethnic minority to continue their own non-violent resistance to discrimination and oppression are, if acknowledged at all, stigmatized by those in power as part of the overall revolutionary struggle. Once labelled as revolutionary, legitimate demands for human and civil rights made by ethnic minority members are often dismissed. Thus, the distinction between armed revolutionary resistance and symbolic resistance based on the struggle for justice by those caught up in the everyday reality of terror warfare, is crucial. Concentrating on the nature and forms of Irish language activism and how they are perceived and responded to by those in power, and drawing on the work of Raymond Williams (1977, 1980) and James Scott (1990), this ethnographic study will suggest ways in which the multiple meanings of  3  resistance in areas where liberation struggles are being fought, can be delineated and analyzed. Although I include comparative material on the civil disobedience campaign of Welsh language activists, the objective of this dissertation is not to be comparative but to understand the dynamic relationship between a particular form of resistance and domination as it is played out in the lives of everyday people. The analysis presented here however, could well be used as a theoretical framework for the study of other ethnonationalist conflicts involving linguistic differences as key elements of their struggle. Areas of significant present-day linguistic unrest, for example, could include Spain (Basque, Catalans), France (Bretons) or indeed Canada (Quebecois). This study, based on fifteen months of in-depth research conducted in the hostile atmosphere of West Belfast, is also intended to elucidate some of the physical and emotional concerns that may beset the anthropologist undertaking fieldwork in a potentially dangerous environment. Hence, the overall aim of this thesis is to offer a theoretical and methodological contribution to the anthropological literature on cultures in conflict and on culture and power.  4  II. The Theoretical Framework  A. Gramsci's Concept of "Ideological Hegemony" and the Thorny Question of "Consent"  Central to Gramsci's (1971), analysis of why the working class in advanced capitalist societies appears to be accepting the established order rather than, as Marx had predicted, plotting its overthrow and replacement with socialism is the concept of "ideological" hegemony. What Gramsci means by his "notoriously vague" concept of, "hegemonic rule [which] is rule through 'consent,'" is widely disputed, and generally misunderstood (Femia 1981:8, 35; also see Lears 1985; Roseberry 1992; Roseberry and O'Brien 1991; Scott 1977, 1985, 1990). The reason for this interpretive confusion in Gramsci's writing, Femia (1981:9) explains, is largely due to the fact that his Prison Notebooks were:  • • . an unfinished work, replete with elliptical passages, disorders, apparent contradictions, cryptic utterances, sly asides, esoteric allusions, aborted observations, unassimilated "rough" facts, and seemingly endless digressions--a monumental labyrinth of often opaque undeveloped ideas . . . [which] rarely reach[ed] final draft forms . . . [but, instead were merely] notes and jottings intended for the author alone, not for publication.  5  This ambiguity of how subordinate groups "consent" to their domination, as reflected in the different interpretations 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 Resistance  One reading of Gramsci, discussed by Scott (1977, 1985, 1990) implies that "consent" of the masses to their subordination is accomplished through the manipulation and control 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 those values that reinforce their position" (Scott 1977:272). The subordinate classes, who presumably have no input into this hegemonic process, are saturated by the ideology of the dominant, and thus rendered incapable of "thinking and acting on the basis of their objective interests" (Scott, 1977:271-272). Given this interpretation of "ideological" hegemony, the result is the "passive compliance to social domination" of these subordinate groups.  6  Hegemony constructed in this manner, Scott (1977:272; 1990:72) points out, amounts to nothing more than an explanation of the "institutionalization of false consciousness," 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 on to criticize this version of Gramsci's notion of ideological hegemony, claiming that there is no evidence that acceptance of a dominant value system by the subordinate classes will diminish social conflict. ^In order to convince subordinate groups that a "particular social order is in their best interest," it is necessary for the ruling classes to make promises, which once made, must be kept. Failure to do so would lead to the questioning of their legitimacy, thus paving the way for future conflicts. Scott (1990:79-81) concludes his criticism, arguing that there is no historical or contemporary evidence to support the assumption that the consciousness of the subordinate groups can be so completely imbued with the ideology of the dominant that they become incapable of either imagining a social order in which the "existing distribution of status and rewards" are reversed or which is the negation of the existing "onerous" social order.  7  He concludes that, "the obstacles to resistance, which are many, are simply not attributable to the inability of subordinate groups to imagine a counter factual social order" (Scott 1990:81). There are however, Scott argues, reasons why subordinate classes appear to consent to their own exploitation. Scott (1990:xii) explains, "If the powerless are not willing to engage in actual rebellion then it is in their self-interest to reinforce hegemonic appearances." Therefore power relations in the public domain may give the appearance that indeed the subordinate group "consents" to their oppression, however Scott warns, this "public transcript" of the weak is deceptive. Scott (1990:10) elaborates on his "model of resistance," saying that an understanding of the public performances of the dominant and the subordinate, requires an examination of each group's "hidden transcript," which is derived from "those gestures and words that inflect, contradict, and confirm what appears in the public transcript." The hidden transcript of the subordinate group, Scott explains, is created "out of its ordeal," and "represents a critique of power spoken behind the back of the dominant . . . usually in a place 'offstage' beyond direct observation by power holders" (Scott 1990:xii, 4, 9). Scott adds that, "the more menacing the power, the thicker  8  the mask [of the oppressed]" (Scott 1990:2). ^It is only in cases in which this "subservience evaporates and is replaced by 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 hidden transcript, a declaration that breaches the etiquette of power relations, that breaks an apparently calm surface of silence and consent, carries the force of a symbolic declaration of war. . . . [Therefore, when] angry or cheeky subordinates . . . spoil the performance . . . by breaching the frontier between hidden and public transcripts, the dominant have several strategies they can follow. . . . They may elect to ignore a symbolic challenge; they may make a public example of someone; . . . [they may deny the] rebels the status in public discourse they seek; [or] the authorities [may] choose to assimilate [the act of rebellion] to a category that minimizes its political challenge to the state (Scott 1990:8, 18, 205-206).  Rather than ideological hegemony, suggested by Scott as referring to the imposition of an immobilizing value system of the dominant on the subordinate, Scott (1990:4) proposes that the "cultural patterns of domination and subordination" can be much better understood if an examination is focused on "the dialectic of disguise and surveillance," that, he claims, "pervades relations between the weak and the strong."  9  2. Lears and Roseberry: Hegemony as a "Common Discursive Framework"  Lears (1985), Roseberry (1989, 1992), and Roseberry and O'Brien (1991) argue that Gramsci's concept of "ideological" hegemony implies neither "forced compliance" nor "unconscious adherence"Z of the subordinate to the will of the dominant, as one might conclude would be the case if Scott's interpretation of Gramsci were accepted. Rather, they claim since "the essence of the concept [of hegemony] is not manipulation but legitimation . . . the line between dominant and subordinate cultures is a permeable membrane, not an impenetrable barrier" (Lears 1985:574). These authors base their interpretation of the concept of "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 within the hegemonic and subaltern (or subordinate) groups in a certain 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 a unified bloc, Gramsci exposes the "fragility" of hegemony. These dominant groups, Gramsci found, were unable to rule through either force or consent. Revealed in Gramsci's detailed analysis of the reasons behind this abortive attempt at nation-building, is the heterogeneous nature of  10  both 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, Lears and Roseberry both conclude that Gramsci does not mean that dominant-subordinate interaction is un-problematic, the latter passively accepting the ideological rule of the former, but rather is one "characterized by contention, struggle, and argument . . . " (Roseberry 1992:15). Therefore in this interpretation of Gramsci, "What hegemony constructs . . . is not a shared ideology but a common material and meaningful framework for living through, talking about, and acting upon social orders characterized by domination" (Roseberry 1992:16). As Lears and Roseberry's interpretation of hegemony--which will be expanded upon and clarified in the next section in a discussion of William's model of cultural hegemony--corresponds closely with my own reading of Gramsci, it will be the one used in the remainder of this dissertation. While differing with Scott's interpretation of Gramsci, I will illustrate in Chapter Eight that his conclusion on the nature of the dialectic of "disguise and surveillance" that "pervades relations between the weak and the strong" has validity, and his method for demonstrating this dialectic has heuristic value in the ordering of  11  ethnographic material.^In this chapter, I will use the analysis Scott suggests in examining the hidden and public transcripts of the British state, and the Irish Language activist community in West Belfast: (a) to derive the "hegemonic purposes" behind the linking of an independent Irish language group to a paramilitary organization, and (b) to attempt to understand the subsequent response of the Irish language activist community to this apparent attempt to brand the Irish language as subversive.  B. Raymond Williams' Model of Cultural Hegemony and Counter-Hegemony  Elaborating on Gramsci's concept of hegemony, Raymond Williams (1977, 1980) has developed a theoretical model in which he analyzes how, as interpreted by Nordstrom and Martin (1992:6), "power shapes cultural processes." Williams asserts that "in any society, in any particular period, there is a central system of practices, meanings and values, which we can properly call dominant and effective" (Williams 1980:38). Arguing against the economic determinism of traditional Marxism, which dismisses cultural, political, social and ideological activity (or superstructure), as mere reflection, imitation, or reproduction of the forces of production (or base), Williams instead depicts cultural hegemony as being:  12  . . . the existence of something which is truly total, which is not merely secondary or superstructural . . . but which is lived at such a depth, which saturates the society to such an extent . . . that it corresponds to the reality of social experience very much more clearly than any notions derived from the formula of base and superstructure (Williams 1980:37).^[Hegemony, then] is a whole body of practices and expectations, over the whole of living: our senses and assignments of energy, our shaping perceptions of ourselves and our world. ^It is a lived system of meanings and values--constitutive and constituting--which as they are experienced as practices appear as reciprocally confirming. It thus constitutes a sense of reality for most people in the society, a sense of . . . experienced reality beyond which it is very difficult 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 of dominance and subordination," is at the same time, "  meaningful" because it represents "a selection from and  interpretation of a people's history . . . [which] touches aspects of the lived reality, or experience of the dominant and dominated alike" (Roseberry 1989:26-27). Cultural hegemony then, is both powerful and vulnerable in that not only does it allow the "effective self-identification" of the dominated with what is always passed off as "the tradition," "the significant past" (Williams 1980:39), but it leaves room for resistance or counter-hegemony to develop. Williams explains:  13  From a whole possible area of past and present, in a particular culture, [only] certain meanings and practices are selected for emphasis and certain other meanings and practices . . . [are, at best] reinterpreted, diluted, or put into forms which support or at least do not contradict other elements within the effective dominant culture. [This] . . . continual making and remaking of an effective dominant culture, [is achieved through a process of incorporation involving such forces of incorporation as] . . . the processes of education; the processes of much wider social training within institutions like the family; the practical definitions and organization of work; [and] the selective tradition at an intellectual and theoretical level (Williams 1977:115; 1980:39). [But at the same time those] . . . other meanings and practices [that the "effective dominant culture" has] . . . neglected or excluded [or dismissed] as "out of date" or "nostalgic," [or attacked as] "unprecedented" or "alien" . . [are] effectively recoverable, and many of the alternative or opposing practical continuities are still available (Williams 1977:115-116) [thus making its cultural hegemony vulnerable to both "alternative and oppositional" forms of resistance].  The sources of this resistance then, are found in what Williams calls "residual" and "emergent" cultures. Williams elaborates saying:  Residual [culture, as opposed to] the "archaic" . . . [has by definition] been effectively formed in the past, but it is still active in the cultural process, not only and often not at all as an element of the past, but as an effective element of the present (Williams 1977:122). [On the other hand, "emergent" cultures are the] new meanings and values, new practices, new significances and experiences, [that] are continually being created (Williams 1980:41).  14  When these residual and emergent cultures are unsuccessfully incorporated or devalued by the "effective dominant culture," its hegemony may be challenged. Clarke et al. (1976), Hebdige (1979), Schweitzer (1988, 1991), Scott (1985), and others, argue that this challenge takes the form of "counter-hegemonic" resistance, in which the powerless group seeks to secure a permanent place for those "  meanings and practices" that the "effective dominant  culture" has rejected, demeaned and/or ignored. While "symbolic counter-hegemonic forms of expressive resistance, rejection, and revolt . . . involve overt acts of public defiance and direct confrontation with the authorities," Schweitzer (1988:93; 1991:39) argues that, "they remain almost exclusively within the realm of ideology and culture." Schweitzer (1991:39) adds that these practices "seldom represent a substantial political challenge to the fundamental relations of domination in society or to the concrete material conditions which lie at the root of their alienation and subordination." The reaction of the "effective dominant culture" to these counter hegemonic challenges differs depending on the form and perceived intent. Applying Williams' theory of cultural hegemony, counterhegemonic resistance can be further distinguished as being either alternative or oppositional in nature. Williams (1980:42) describes the  15  alternative resistor using the analogy of "someone who simply finds a different way to live and wishes to be left alone with it." He goes on to depict the oppositional resistor as, "someone who finds a different way to live and wants to change the society in its light." Williams (1980:42) adds that, "this is usually the difference between individual and small-group solutions to social crisis and those solutions which properly belong to political and ultimately revolutionary practice."  16  C. Understanding Resistance in West Belfast's Irish Language Activist Community: A Definitional Model  1. British Linguistic Hegemony and Irish Language Resistance: A Definition of Terms  Theory, Giddens (1984:ix) writes, not only aims to "illuminate, interpret and explain substantive features of human conduct" while "establishing and validating generalizations" but, more importantly for this study, it sensitizes those "conceptual schemes that order and inform processes of inquiry into social life." With this in mind, a theoretical framework will now be proposed, based primarily on Williams' model of "cultural hegemony." This framework will be used in the ensuing analysis in an attempt to decipher the contradictory constructions of language activism made by the British State, versus those of the citizens of West Belfast involved in promoting and reviving the Irish language. The "effective dominant culture" in Northern Ireland is essentially English-speaking and British. The British state, in keeping with the Gramscian definition of state, is that apparatus which, through force plus consent, implements an "effective dominant culture" in Northern Ireland. The term British government, its local arm being the Northern Ireland Office, refers to the actual people and offices that  17  carry out the task of the State. The subordinate culture (in this study, culture as it is embodied in the Irish language) is not just oppressed but it possesses neither autonomy nor its own hegemonic position within Northern Ireland. The Irish language, in this study, will be taken to be part of a "residual" not archaic culture, in that despite its two-thousand year heritage, its place in the Irish language activist community in West Belfast is not as a fossil revived from the past but as "an effective element of the present" (Williams 1977:122). Resistance in the Irish language activist community, it will be argued, is--using Williams concepts--both oppositional and alternative. The resistance of political Irish language activists--which include Sinn Fein, republican prisoners, and others who adhere to the philosophy from the 1916 Rebellion as embodied in the statement by one of its leaders, Pedraig Pearse, "Ireland, not free only but Gaelic as well; not Gaelic only but free as well!"--is oppositional in that it directly challenges British cultural hegemony. On the other hand, the resistance of cultural Irish language activists (in the sense that Williams defines it), is mainly alternative. As one Irish language activist I interviewed stated:  There are many people within the movement for the restoration and the revival of the Irish language who would not necessarily have any political goals  18  other than the revival of the Irish language. And people who would be happy, for example, to revive the Irish language within a British Commonwealth context or within an independent Northern Ireland context or whatever.  The reaction of the British state to this resistance to British linguistic hegemony has been varied. In the case of oppositional resistance, the State has continued in its cultural suppression of the language and its refusal of the demands of political activists, except in those instances in which the international legal apparatus has forced them to make concessions. The State's response to alternative resistance during the 1980s, reflects what Lears (1985:574) refers to when he describes the permeability of the membrane that separates dominant and subordinate cultures. The State's position on recognizing the Irish language as a part of at least one of the "two traditions" in Northern Ireland, and its decision to fund the Irish language, appears to be a significant change from its historical position of open hostility and "planned neglect" in the pre-1980 period. However, I will argue that rather than actually recognizing the Irish language as reflecting Irish culture, the British state is attempting to re-interpret the Irish language in the Northern Ireland context, thereby incorporating it in forms, "which support or at least do not contradict other elements within the effective dominant culture" (Williams 1980:39).  19  At times, the British state's response to the demands of cultural Irish language activists can resemble its response to oppositional resistance. When cultural activists have in the State's perception, stepped over the boundary, and in so doing, made what Scott describes as "a symbolic declaration of war," as was the case of GlOr na nGael, West Belfast Committee, an independent Irish language group, the State reaction has been punitive.  2. Language: A Symbolic Expression of Resistance  Throughout this study, the Irish language will be used to represent the dimension of ethnicity that activists, who see themselves as culturally Irish and in some cases also politically Irish, have chosen to accentuate as a symbolic expression of differentness from the "effective dominant culture." An in-depth analysis of language use, as undertaken for example by Milroy (1981), whose work on regional accents of English in Belfast relates speech variation to a social and cultural context, would have value in studies of a narrower focus. Such an analysis would be well suited to, for instance, a study focusing on the extent "jailtacht" Irish has been incorporated into the Irish language in Belfast. Such an analysis, however, is beyond the scope and nature of this study.  20  Similarly, the theoretical body of literature on language policy and language planning, which concentrates on "first, 'second' and 'other' languages for some citizens in a community which is organically bi- or multilingual . . . [rather than on] 'foreign' languages" (Pritchard 1990:26), is not pertinent to the present study. In Northern Ireland the Irish language has always been, and still is, considered a "foreign" language in a unilingual state. For this reason the Northern Ireland Office and the Department of Education in Northern Ireland have not developed an Irish language policy. Some attempts were made in the 1980s to channel funds into "safe" Irish language projects, and since 1990, to re-interpret the language into the Northern Ireland context. However at the time the research for this study was carried out, 1990-1991, a definite Irish language policy had not been formulated, thus in the school system the status of the Irish language continued to be one of a foreign language. The goal of alternative Irish language activists has been in the past and continues to be, to urge the government to establish an Irish language policy, hence this study of language activism deals with the attempt to create a policy concerning the Irish language in Northern Ireland. The 1991 Census of Northern Ireland, included for the first time a question on the Irish language, and  21  revealed that 9.4 percent of the population (142,003 people) in Northern Ireland had some knowledge of the language and 79,012 claimed complete fluency (An Phoblacht/Republican  News 1992c:12).^In light of this revelation, the area of language policy and planning may offer theoretical direction for future studies. In his socioeconomic profile of an Irish learner, based on a study of 234 people who were enrolled in adult Irish classes in the 1980s, 6 hAdhmaill (1985:30) discovered that unemployment did not seem to be a major motivating factor among people deciding to learn Irish, and that those who did choose to learn the language were spread evenly across socio-economic classes. 6 hAdhmaill (1985:30) also points out that there were a "high number of professionals learning Irish at a Sinn Fein class [suggesting that] the idea that Sinn Fein holds attraction mainly for the less well educated lower socio-economic groups either didn't affect these people or just doesn't hold true." While suggestive of future areas of research, the body of literature from sociolinguistics on the political economy of language (see Gal 1987; Woolard 1985) which relates "patterns of choice among linguistic variants . . . [to] class relations within the state" (Gal 1987:637), would appear, based on 6 hAdhmaill's conclusions, to have no direct application to this study of language activism in Belfast.  22  Gal's (1987) work on the analysis of code switching patterns would, however, be useful in a future analysis of the circumstances in which the Irish language is used in Belfast and what such usage reveals about the speakers' ^ For example, I was told by an Irish "consciousness." speaker of an incident that took place in West Belfast in the 1980s. The Irish speaker was standing on the sidewalk in Ballymurphy, a strongly nationalist area of West Belfast, having a conversation with another man who did not speak Irish. As a patrol of British soldiers approached, the non-Irish speaker said to his friend, "quick say something to me in Irish." Knowing that the man didn't understand Irish, the Irish speaker said a few simple Irish sentences to his friend and the non-Irish speaker responded in gibberish. After the patrol had passed the non-Irish speaker said to his Irish speaking friend, in English: "That will show them that they are foreigners here." This is but one example of how the study of code-switching could offer an understanding of another dimension of Irish language activism, which while beyond the scope of this work, could be an important focus of future research. It is the dynamic relationship between domination and resistance at the grass roots level that this ethnographic study of British cultural hegemony and Irish language activism will seek to illuminate. With that objective in mind, the following section will focus on a theoretical  23  analysis of linguistic/ethnic identity, the use of language in ethnic mobilization, and the responses of the State when the "linguistic hegemony" of the "effective dominant culture" is threatened.  a) Language as Ethnic Identity  In the Irish language activist community of West Belfast, 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 in his definition of the relationship between language and ethnicity:  A language, in a very real sense, is the pedigree of a people. . . . Language is both the social history of a people and its Anschauung; it structures both the social perception of a people's past and the interpretation of its future. Language creates consciousness; as Naipaul . . . has said, a native language ties a people more closely to its landscape and breeds definable loyalties to it. On the other hand, an adopted language, as Sartre maintains . . . is for the native writer a kind of prison, for it is the creation of a different civilization.^In short, a native language is a language of regeneration. [Khleif concludes by stressing that] an attack on one's language is but an attack on one's personal integrity and on one's group integrity, for the person is essentially a reflection of his group affiliations.  24  The question then, becomes who does and does not belong to this linguistic/ethnic group. This question has sparked lively debate in the anthropological literature. The following is a brief outline of the main arguments of this debate, and should serve to elucidate ideas relevant to the understanding of how Irish language activists construct their identity as a distinct ethnic group. The terms "ethnicity" and "ethnic" made their debut into the language of anthropology roughly twenty-five years ago. Their birth is generally linked to the appearance of a collection of articles in a book edited and introduced by Barth (1969) titled Ethnic Groups and Boundaries (Cohen 1978; Nagata 1973), even though prior to this time some attempts had been made to discover objective criteria that would delimit what Naroll (1964) called a "cultunit" and Moerman (1965) "Lue-ness." Since Barth's work there has been a steadily accelerating acceptance of these terms, so that today, "almost any cultural-social unit, indeed any term describing particular structures of continuing social relations or sets of regularized events now can be referred to as an 'ethnic' this or that" (Cohen 1978:379). The first attempts to distinguish the criteria which could be used to differentiate one group from another concentrated on finding objective cultural markers. For example Naroll (1964:284) proposed six criteria which could  25  be used for defining whole societies, or used in comparative studies of different societies: territorial contiguity; political organization; language; ecological adjustment; local community structure; and the distribution of the particular traits being studied. Cohen (1978:382) criticizes Naroll's definition of a "cultunit," saying, "but no set of criteria fits all cases.^Instead they vary with societal complexity, regional and continental contexts, the ethnographer and probably with time as well." Moerman (1965) hints that objective delimiters alone would not adequately describe the Lue, a tribe located in modern Thailand. But while Moerman points toward a definition of ethnic identity that would include both objective and subjective criteria, it was Barth 1969 who first postulated the definition. Barth (1969) summarizes the anthropological definition of ethnicity in four elements:  (a) A biologically self-perpetuating population. (b) A sharing of cultural values and forms. (c) A field of communication and interaction. (d) A grouping that identifies itself and is identified by other categories of the same type (Cohen 1978:385).  This definition has gained wide acceptance in anthropology. For example, Segal (1979:10) describes the three essential components of ethnicity as:  26  (a) Cultural and biological factors clustered over time and passed down from one generation to another. (b) Interaction of a "purported ethnic group" with another in the same society. (c) "A common subjective identification" based on the cultural and biological factors mentioned above as well as a "distinctive pattern of loyalties and solidarity" which are "passed on through differential socialization" thus making any attempt at arriving at a completely universal definition of ethnic identity impossible.  Sugar (1980:421-422) also discusses the objective and cultural attributes, which when combined with subjective feelings and behaviour patterns--often manifested by the use of numerous symbols--result in a sense of ethnic identity by a group of people. Linz (1985:205) on the other hand, argues that initially the definition of ethnicity is based on objective and cultural attributes but when the group is mobilized this definition of "belonging" becomes much more subjective. He advanced the hypothesis that while primordial elements--those relations based on a common descent, race, language, etc.--may be initially emphasized as the source of ethnic group membership, this emphasis will later shift as ethnicity and nationalism become linked. This shift in emphasis is toward a definition based on territoriality--members who "live and work" in an area, who are willing to identify with that community, or both. Thus, common descent is de-emphasized as a necessary condition for membership in a nation group.  27  Other anthropologists have departed significantly from the definitional model of ethnic identity posited by Barth, doing away with the biological attributes of ethnic identification 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. She supports her argument by pointing out that "one of the Basques' most revered martyrs, Juan Paredes Manot was an immigrant who spoke no Euskera; 'Long live free Euskadi!' he cried as he was executed by Franco's police" (Heiberg 1979:195). From this, Heiberg (1979:195) concludes that "a person is 'Basque' when he is seen as adhering to the symbols of Basqueness." Whittaker (1986), presents the interactionist and existentialist view of ethnic identity in which ethnicity is seen as a "social construction" (1986:148) and where the "variability and legitimacy" of the identity of interacting groups are "essentially negotiated in each encounter." Whittaker (1986:165) continues:  . . . ethnicity is not a physical fact but rather is the product of a consciousness shaped to see it.^It exists as a tradition of cultural ideas mapped onto a population. These ideas assert certain kinds of agreed upon social facts which serve as a warrant for other things. Their use becomes routinized, repetitive and invariant.  28  Whittaker (1986:191-192) concludes by suggesting that ethnicity should be appraised as "an organizing code, as a sense-making device, as a lingua franca . . . as a way of viewing the world . . . [and hence] analyzed as a metaphor." In much of the anthropological research undertaken in Northern Ireland, ethnicity has been defined primarily in terms of religion--Catholic or Protestant (see Burton 1978; Donnan and McFarlane 1986a, 1986b; Harris 1972; Jackson 1972; Larsen 1982a, 1982b; Leyton 1974a, 1974b, 1975; Sluka 1989). Some authors, (notably Burton and Sluka) however, see British imperialism rather than religion, as being largely responsible 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 Northern Ireland society are a "misrepresentation and [are] counter-productive." She argues that these two notions: (a) fail to take into account the internal heterogeneity within each of these so called "communities/tribes"; (b) imply parity, obscuring the "permanent majority/permanent minority" situation in Northern Ireland; ^(c) suggest "irrationality" (especially the "two tribes" notion); (d) fail to "take adequate account of the [historic and contemporary role of] the State" in the Northern Ireland situation; and (e) are "ahistorical."  29  In this dissertation, I will argue that the religious definition of ethnic identity does not reflect the way the Irish language activist community in Belfast defines ethnic identity.^I will propose that the Irish language activist discourse reveals three different definitions of ethnicity and that the membership of each of these three ethnic groups consists of both Catholics and Protestants. First, there are those who see themselves as both culturally and politically Irish; secondly, there are those who see themselves as culturally Irish but politically British; and then there are those who see themselves as both culturally and politically British. As will be discussed below, aspects of the different anthropological constructions of "ethnicity," even ones that appear to be mutually exclusive (e.g., those of Barth and Whittaker), are at varying times and circumstances part of the discourse of Irish language activists in defining the attributes of who is and who is not a member of each of these three ethnic groups. Given that Irish language activism depends on a mechanism which will ensure the stable and continued persistence of a linguistic identity, this section will conclude with a discussion of ethnic boundaries. In Barth's social interaction model of ethnic identity, ethnic groups are defined in terms of inclusion and exclusion.  30  Thus the construction of ethnic boundaries becomes a crucial part of defining who "we" are. A brief summary of Barth's (1969) concept of ethnic group boundaries would include the following basic premises:  (a) "Ethnic boundaries define the group, not the cultural stuff it encloses" (Barth 1969:15). (b) Because ethnicity is defined by boundaries, both the cultural and biological content and form of the group can alter but as long as the boundary mechanism is maintained, the distinctiveness of the group is retained. (c) "Boundaries persist despite a flow of personnel across them. . . . In other words, ethnic distinctions do not depend on an absence of mobility, contact and information, but do entail social processes of exclusion and incorporation whereby discrete categories are maintained despite changing participation and membership in the courses of the individual life histories" (Barth 1969:9-10). (d) Boundaries are created and maintained because of the self-perceived notion of group members that "belongedness" has an adaptive advantage. Perceived ecological, economic, demographic and political advantage, according to Barth, do affect choice of group membership.  31  It is this final point that has engendered the most criticism of Barth's model of ethnic boundaries and ethnic groups; criticism especially from those theorists who favour a more psychological approach to ethnicity. If as Barth suggests, boundaries are consciously created because of their adaptive advantage to the group, then why, several authors ask (Alverson 1979:15-16; DeVos 1975:8; Smith 1981:46-47) does a group that does not have any visible barriers to prevent its assimilation into the majority culture--a move that in most cases is assumed to be both politically and economically advantageous--choose to maintain a separate identity. Alverson (1979), Devereux (1975), and DeVos (1975) conclude that boundaries are a means of preserving self-identity and that membership in a group is not the result of perceived benefits that the individual believes will flow his way due to the resources that the group provides. Instead, these authors argue that "membership in itself is [deemed to be] the reason for belonging [and that this membership is less fluid than Barth posits because] an individual can deny or abandon [his or her] . . . ethnic identity only at a great psychic cost, for it lies at the core of self-identity" (Alverson 1979:16). Ethnic boundaries in Ireland, as Barth has suggested and as will be illustrated in Chapter Three below, have sometimes been defined in terms of their adaptive advantage.  32  This first occurred at the time the Anglo-Norman settlers in Ireland adopted the Gaelic language and culture, "becoming more Irish than the Irish," and later, in the wake of Henry VIII's conversion to Protestantism, joined with the native Irish to form a single Catholic group (see Kachuk 1987). Adaptive advantage, I will argue, also played a role in the decision of the Catholic middle and upper classes to abandon the Irish language and culture--and in some cases their religion as well--in favour of the imposed English culture and language. However, why some of the Catholic ascendancy (i.e., Anglo-Normans) opted to become part of the peasantry rather than become anglicized, why Protestant settlers chose to become culturally and in some cases politically identified as part of a Gaelic-speaking culture, and why both groups joined the native Gaels in resistance against English linguistic hegemony, probably is better explained by the above psychological arguments of Alverson, Devereux, and DeVos which are at variance with those of Barth. The oppression and discrimination that the decision to retain the Irish language and culture brought about could hardly be termed an adaptive advantage (see Chapter Three, below).  33  b) Language as Power  As Sagarin and Moneymaker (1979:35) argue, "Language is power . . . and is utilized by both sides in the fight over the redistribution of power." This section will examine how both ethnonationalist movements, and the State, utilize language to achieve their political goals.  (1) Language and Ethnonationalism: A Tool for Ethnic Mobilization  Language can become a potent weapon when it is used to mobilize and unify an ethnic minority. In the arsenal of a movement seeking separation from a linguistically different group, language can be used to win over such an ethnic minority and develop it into a strong ally of the struggle. To illustrate the intrinsic power of language in a nationalist struggle, Fishman (1977:19) writes that:  Mobilized ethnicity often makes language into a dynamic corpus mysticum. It is not only the conveyor of other ethnic symbols. It is not even merely 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, as a symbol, and as a summum bonum, well worth living and dying for.  34  Even if, as Sagarin and Moneymaker (1979:33) point out, a language is "diminish[ed] in its daily utilization [until it is] . . . little more than a cultural fossil [it can still] continue to be a symbolic rallying point for the ethnic group." The popularity of language as a mechanism for winning the support of an ethnic minority toward the goals and objectives of a nationalist movement, is rooted in its malleability as a symbol, in that: (a) it offers the movement a mark of legitimacy and authenticity (Fishman 1977, 1980, 1989); (b) it embodies the indignities inflicted upon a group's ethnolinguistic identity by a colonial/oppressive power (Fishman 1989); and (c) it can be re-cast as a symbol of the group's socio-economic and political oppression (Hechter 1975; Khleif 1979, 1985; Sagarin and Moneymaker 1979). Each of these symbolic linkages is relevant to the understanding of the relationship between the Irish language and the Irish Republican Movement, and each will be discussed separately. State and nation are acknowledged as having different meanings in the literature on politics but in actual usage the two terms tend to be regarded as interchangeable (Connor 1972:333). Richmond (1987:4) writes:  The essence of a state is that it is a system of government exercising supreme authority, having a monopoly over the legitimate use of military and other coercive agencies within a clearly defined territory, and whose sovereignty is recognized by other states.  35  Richmond adds that a state may consist of one or more nations. A nation on the other hand, is "a social group which shares a common ideology, common institutions and customs, and a sense of homogeneity" (Connor 1972:333). While "territory" is a necessary component of a nation, its boundaries may or may not be coterminous with those of the state (Connor 1972; Richmond 1987).  A central issue thus becomes: When does an ethnic group form a nation-group whose feelings of nationalism can be manipulated and intensified to correspond to the beliefs and goals of a nationalist movement? In a series of articles on this issue, Connor (1972, 1973, 1978), suggests two conditions which must be met before an ethnic group becomes a nation. First, the members of the ethnic group must become self-aware of the group's uniqueness, "while an ethnic group may, therefore, be other-defined, the nation must be self-defined" (Connor 1978:338). Secondly, the group's members must be aware that the customs, beliefs and attitudes they share are different from those shared by other groups. In other words, the group's members must be conscious that they form a "collective we," while members of other groups belong to a "collective them."  36  It is imperative then, that both a nationalist group's members, and their nationalist aspirations be identified as being legitimate parts of the "collective we" that they are attempting to mobilize. One of the ways a nationalist group can achieve this "collective we" legitimation is through emphasizing the common linguistic heritage that they share with the rest of an ethnic minority. Nationalists can seek this authenticity directly, not just by promoting identification with a language but by furthering the "identification of authenticity with a particular language which is experientially unique" (Fishman 1989:274). Nationalists may also pursue authenticity indirectly. The glorification of an ethnic group's oral and written imagery of the vernacular can be used to awaken and arouse feelings of difference and a sense of unity within the group. In the case of direct authentication, language and nationality are promoted as being inseparable. To illustrate this point, Fishman (1989:279) quotes from Spenser's A View of Ireland, indicating the "naturalness of the link" between language and nationality:  . . . by a single phrase: "So that the speech being Irish, the heart must needs be Irish" . . . [and] a Welsh writer of the same period, "Our tongue cannot be learned by a stranger; its fire burns only in a native breast" (Fishman 1989:279).  37  Thus, through the promotion of "our language" which is different from "their" language, the group is made conscious of itself as a unique linguistic entity.  In the case of indirect authentication, the ethnic group's awareness "that the customs, beliefs and attitudes they share are different from those shared by other groups," is brought forcefully into consciousness by the new intensified emphasis that nationalism gives to the vernacular. Therefore:  . . . through nationalism masses of people attain and maintain a new and a constantly renewed sense of identity and purpose. Their new (or old-new) songs, poems, slogans and proverbs, the moving phrases of their leaders and teachers, their national epics and their national literatures, are all part and parcel of a sense of (re)birth, awakening, and mastery . . . (Fishman 1989:287).  Finally, language is also used as the vehicle through which an ethnonationalist movement is able to reach into the "glorious past" to authenticate the present. Fishman (1989:276) explains, "vernaculars [are viewed] as direct bonds with historical glory (and, therefore, with either the reality or the potentiality for current glory)." For example, it is little wonder why Pddraig Pearse's cry from the battlefield of 1916, "Ireland, not free only but Gaelic as well; not Gaelic only but free as well!", has been  38  revived as a slogan of the Republican Movement of today, and with it the conviction that this time victory will bring a united thirty-two county Republic of Ireland. As one political Irish language activist in Belfast explained to me:  Since the Irish language revival began, we can trace [its beginnings] back to the time when the first people came under attack from the colonial power. There have always been those people within the Irish language movement--revivalist movement--who have been separatists and who believe that reviving the Irish language itself would be no use unless you have an independent country and a government of your own to rule that country. And I think that over the last 20 years, since 1969, that accent has been among those people who believe along with Pearse that they want Ireland to not only be Gaelic but free as well, not only free but Gaelic as well and I think that has come to the fore.  An ethnic minority that has been stimulated into heightened awareness of its own uniqueness and of its own "specific way of ordering belief and experience [and] of giving meaning" (Pi-Sunyer 1985:274), in the process becomes conscious that "the collective dominant them" has degraded and 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 a  39  nationalist movement to make their cause the cause of the people. Quoting from the literature of Ireland, Fishman shows how linguistic dignity and freedom of the ethnic minority, and the nationalist aspirations of de-colonization and self-determination come to be one and the same:  To impose another language on . . . a people is to send their history adrift . . . to tear their identity from all places. . . . To lose your native tongue, and learn that of an alien, is the worst badge of conquest--it is the chain on the soul. To have lost entirely the national language is death; the fetter has worn through. . . . Nothing can make us believe that it is natural . . . for the Irish to speak the speech of the alien, the invader, the Sassenach tyrant, and to abandon the language of our kings and Heroes. . . . No!, oh no! the "brighter day shall surely come" and the green flag shall wave on our towers and the sweet old language be heard once more in college, mart and senate (Thomas Davis 1845, quoted in Fishman 1989:280).  Sagarin and Moneymaker (1979:35) claim that language can also be, "useful, if not indispensible [for] rallying people in power struggles [even though the] . . . aims, goals and motives of this struggle may be unrelated to language itself." Khleif (1979:350, 348; 1985:178) explains, saying that:  . . . an emphasis on language is usually an emphasis on something else--on dignity, identity, and economic power. . . . When a language has been suppressed, banned, or humiliated, then an emphasis on its resurgence becomes a powerful symbol of regeneration. . . . We, therefore,  40  define ethnicity as political mobilization, a reaction to a perceived sociocultural threat. The supreme symbol of unity often becomes a traditionally suppressed native language, which cuts across internal divisions, vested interests, and feelings of inferiority.  The denial of language rights via linguistic discrimination then, can not be separated from the socio-economic and political discrimination experienced by the ethnic minority as a whole. Thus, the power of language as a symbol of ethnic mobilization is enhanced when it can be linked to the socio-economic and political issues which are at the core of a nationalist struggle (Khleif 1979:349; Sagarin and Moneymaker 1979:35). Hechter's (1975) internal colonialism model proposes one way that language could be linked to socio-economic and political issues and become instrumental in generating an "ethno-regional" movement. Hechter (1975:10) argues that the results of the "uneven spread of modernization" over the state at the beginning of the industrialization period produced "advanced" and "less advanced" groups. By institutionalizing this new stratification system, the super-ordinate group hoped to maintain the advantage gained by having an uneven distribution of resources and power within the state. The allocation of all social roles was regulated by the super-ordinate group. Subordinate groups, denied access to  41  positions 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, groups with "distinctive ethnic identification" emerged. While theoretically, peripheral groups should assimilate into the core, Hechter (1975:43) points out that:  When objective cultural differences [in particular language and accent; distinctive religious practices; and lifestyle] are superimposed upon economic inequalities, forming a cultural division of labor, and when adequate communication [through language societies, cultural festivals and similar institutions,] exists as a facilitating factor, the chances for successful political integration of the peripheral collectivity into the national society are minimized.  Hechter argues that the uneven development of economic resources between culturally dissimilar groups stimulates reactive collective action by the disadvantaged (peripheral) group. This reactive collective action, Hechter continues, often takes the form of an ethno-regional movement which seeks to change the allocation of societal resources. The Irish language is closely connected with the ethos of the Republican Movement, both today and in the past, and as such is used as a "symbolic weapon" of resistance by the movement in its struggle for self-determination. After the hunger strike in 1981, Sinn Fein became actively involved in the Irish language movement, which it saw as an effective  42  vehicle for raising Irish ethnic awareness. Through this involvement, Sinn Fein was able to mobilize support for and legitimization of itself and its goals in the nationalist community. Chapter Six, will examine the relationship between Sinn Fein and the Irish language movement, and especially the often made accusation, "Sinn Fein has hijacked the Irish language."  (2) Language and the State: To Win the Hearts and Minds of the People  Societies can be divided into ethnic and non-ethnic3 groups, the latter being defined as "the dominant or ethnically 'neutral' area which represents the ultimate goal of 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 of cultural hegemony, the "effective dominant culture," when confronted with "meanings and practices" that conflict with its own--in the case of Northern Ireland, a completely different language (and all the ethnically distinct identity  43  that it embodies) as discussed above--will seek to maintain its cultural hegemony through two courses of State action. The State can: (a) "incorporate," these challenging subordinate "meanings and practices" through "re-interpretation," or "dilution," or by the embodiment of these conflicting factors in "forms which support or at least do not contradict other elements within the effective dominant culture"; or (b) it can neglect or exclude them in such a way as to render them undesirable even to those segments of the population that identify with these "other meanings 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 group may employ to devalue and marginalize a minority group's language.^Tajfel describes one method as the "use of verbal affronts" or "ethnophaulisms" which are employed to "demean members of the subordinate groups." For example, in Northern Ireland the Irish Catholics are commonly referred to as "Paddies" or "Taigs." Humour is often used by the dominant group "to ridicule members of the subordinate group who are attempting to assert their identity." The "Irish bulls" (Irish jokes) have been used historically, and are still used to ridicule the Irish language and culture (see Curtis 1968; Curtis 1984; and Chapter 3, below).  44  Another tactic employed by the dominant group is the use of "rational statements" when "refusing ethnolinguistic minorities their right to develop their own cultural distinctiveness" (Giles, Bourthis and Taylor 1977:342-343). The often used "rational" argument by the British state for not supporting the Irish language is that "the language is dead" and has no place in a modern Britain or a unified Europe. Tajfel also argues, based on evidence from the United States, that even when the state appears to be granting linguistic rights to ethnic minorities "by means of bilingual programmes," that these programmes are "actually designed to promote assimilation rather than cultural pluralism." Tajfel concludes that the dominant group, as a last resort, can assert its "linguistic values onto minority groups through government legislation" (Giles, Bourthis and Taylor 1977:342-343). All of the above strategies--those of incorporation plus those outlined by Tajfel to undermine and exclude a subordinate language and culture--have been used in both historical and contemporary Northern Ireland to counteract the threat posed by the Irish language to British linguistic hegemony, as will be demonstrated in the following chapters.  45  III. The Plan  In any construction of knowledge, the conditions of the construction must be analyzed. The ideological and emotional agenda of the construction must be examined. This will be done reflexively in Chapter Two. Special attention will be given to the methodological and ethical problems of doing fieldwork in a dangerous environment. Through my fieldwork experience, the context in which contemporary Irish language resistance in Belfast is constructed will be elucidated. Using the "beyond the community" approach, Chapter Three will analyze the history of the oppressive conditions which brought into being the contemporary counter-hegemonic Irish language activist community in West Belfast. In the pre-1980 Northern Ireland State, hostility to the Irish language and what Andrews (1991) describes as a "planned policy of neglect" continued to dominate the government's public transcript. Within the Northern Irish language activist community prior to 1980, open resistance to government policy was at a low ebb. But despite the lack of serious public challenge to the government's hegemony over the Irish language community, there were some significant actions by these activists prior to 1980.  46  Those who organized Irish classes in the 1930s, 40s and 50s--the group that in 1969 set up an Irish language housing scheme on Shaws Road in West Belfast, and who in 1971 set up Northern Ireland's first Irish-medium primary school--and the activists who in 1936 opened the Cluain Ard (an Irish language club), are today acknowledged as having provided the basis for the Irish language revival that exploded in the 1980s. Chapter Four will examine what Scott (1990) would describe as the "apparently calm surface of silence and consent" that dominated relations between the government and the Irish language community prior to 1980. The Irish language has long been the symbolic "badge of resistance" of republican prisoners.^In 1980, the blanket and dirty protests against the British government's attempt to criminalize the republican struggle were entering their fifth year. The hunger strike of 1981 marked the next stage of these protests, which before it ended left Ireland with ten more martyrs. The image of naked men--wrapped only in a blanket, in filthy cells, some wasting away--teaching themselves to become fluent Irish speakers, had a tremendous impact on the nationalist community outside. There was a huge growth in interest in the Irish language, not just because of what was occurring in the jails but also on local streets. As Sinn Fein, the political wing of the Republican Movement gained prominence in the political arena, the  47  perceived connection between it and the Irish language movement became stronger--especially in State propaganda. The next two chapters will explore the relationship between Irish republicanism and Irish language activism. Chapter Five will focus on the context of Irish language activism, beginning with the formation of the Northern Ireland State and concluding with the 1981 hunger strike and its impact on the nationalist community. Chapter Six will be devoted to an investigation into the connection between Sinn Fein and the Irish language revival, following the period of prison protests. In contrast to the pre-1980 Irish language activism, during the post-hunger strike period alternative Irish language activists began to demand rights for Irish language speakers. The Sinn Fein style of Irish language activism was not the only model of activism that alternative Irish language activists had available to them to structure their campaigns. The Welsh model of "direct action" was becoming increasingly well known in Belfast. After a discussion of this model, Chapter Seven will contain a detailed examination of several individual campaigns by alternative Irish language activist groups and the State's response. The Chapter will conclude with an analysis of the State's recent attempts to incorporate the Irish language into the Northern Ireland context, through re-interpretation and dilution, and the difficulties it faced.  48  After the hunger strike, the State adopted a dual strategy of directly targeting republicans on the one hand and appealing to the less militant segments of the Nationalist population on the other. The mushrooming Irish language revival that followed in the wake of the hunger strikes prompted the government to make another policy decision: the allocation of funds toward Irish language initiatives. However, because it had had nothing to do with the Irish language for most of the life of the Northern Ireland State, the government had no contacts at the grass roots level. This, in addition to the high profile that Sinn Fein had in the Irish language movement, posed a real problem when it came to actually funding the language. Therefore, when it started to assume responsibility for the Irish language, the government acknowledged that not all the language activists were revolutionaries but it needed to weed out the most radical elements and those that it felt might be close to Sinn Fein. GlOr na nGael West Belfast Committee, an independent Irish language group, was one such group the government felt it must weed out. Chapter Eight will investigate the strategies used by the government when the demands of alternative Irish language activism take the form of a "symbolic declaration of war." The blacklisting of GlOr na nGael, and the impact that this action had on the Irish language activist community will be analyzed.  49  Chapter Two  Fieldwork in a Politically Turbulent Environment  A "subculture," as defined by Clarke et al. (1976), is said to consist of a subordinate "sub-set" which, through resistance, is keeping its hegemonic "parent" culture at bay. The authors maintain therefore, that a subculture, "though differing in important ways--in its 'focal concerns,' its peculiar shapes and activities--from the culture from which it derives, will also share some things in common with that 'parent' culture" (Clarke et al. 1976:13, emphasis added). While recognizing that through years of making and remaking of both the "effective dominant culture," and the subordinate Irish culture in Northern Ireland, the two may have some "meaning and practices" in common, the "parent" culture of the subordinate Irish culture is not British. Therefore, Irish language activists do not represent a sub-culture of the system of cultural hegemony they are resisting. On the other hand, according to Cohen (1985), a community is not a physically bounded unit, but instead one constructed by those who claim membership in it.  50  Cohen presents the view that:  whether or not its structural boundaries remain intact, the reality of community lies in its members' perception of the vitality of its culture. 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 symbolic mechanism to distinguish themselves from the linguistically and culturally different "effective dominant culture" in Northern Ireland, and as such can be said to constitute a community. With the discussion of ethnicity and ethnic boundaries in Chapter One in mind, and in concurrence with Cohen's (1985) definition of a "community," the analysis presented here will be based on a community study. I will provide a detailed account of the "community" of Irish language activists in West Belfast and their resistance to British cultural hegemony in Northern Ireland. This community is made up of two main groups of Irish language activists, with similar linguistic interests but differing aims. Alternative Irish language activists are attempting to secure a permanent space for the Irish language and culture in Northern Ireland, regardless of the political future of the area, while oppositional Irish language activists, have made the Irish language an integral part of their revolutionary ideology and strategy.  .51  In this chapter the methods used to study the nature of cultural hegemony and resistance in Northern Ireland will be discussed. There are no politically neutral terms to use for either territorial designations, or groups of people in Northern Ireland--including the term "Northern Ireland" itself. The first section of the chapter will introduce the main actors in the cultural struggle, and elucidate my somewhat querulous solution to the dilemma of politically neutral terms. My interaction with the participants in the sometimes hostile, sometimes beguiling, and always enigmatic environment of war-torn Belfast will be taken up in the next section. During an interview I was told, "people in West Belfast are in pain, they're drinking too much, you sort of get very depressed, you're asked for direct answers to questions when there are no direct answers. There's no black and white anything." With this in mind, the concluding section of this chapter will detail the methodology used to investigate Irish language resistance to British cultural hegemony.  52  I. A Terminological Muddle: The Search for Political Neutrality  A. The Actors  Both the dominant and the subordinate groups in Northern Ireland are neither politically nor religiously homogeneous. The Northern Ireland population of approximately 1.5 million (sixty percent Protestant and forty percent Catholic) is broadly labeled as either unionist/loyalist or nationalist/republican. Unionists identify themselves culturally and  politically as British. They are mostly monarchists and wish Northern Ireland to remain as part of the United Kingdom. Religiously, unionists are predominantly, but not exclusively, Protestant. From my research, a finding statistically confirmed by Sluka (1989), approximately five to ten percent of the Catholic population in Northern Ireland do see themselves as British, and support union with Britain. Politically, unionists range from those who support total union with Britain--a situation in which Westminster would continue to rule Northern Ireland directly (as it has done since 1972)--to those who want devolution--a return to the pre-1972 period when the local Stormont parliament had complete decision making power in Northern Ireland affairs. These two opposing political views are represented by the two major unionist political parties:  53  the Official Unionist Party, and the Democratic Unionist Party. The Official Unionist Party (OUP), is the largest political party, and the one that provided government in the North from the formation of the Northern Ireland State in 1922, until direct rule in 1972. While many OUP members support continued total union with Britain, others are seeking what the leader of the OUP terms "administrative devolution" (Molyneaux 1990). Under administrative devolution some decision making powers, especially those concerned with law-making, would remain the under the bailiwick of Westminster. Other areas, such as housing, health, and education, would be handled by one or more regional councils (Ulster Unionist Party, n.d.). The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), was founded in 1971 by Rev. Ian Paisley, the founder of the Free Presbyterian Church, and by the then MP and former OUP member, Desmond Boal. The party takes a strong stance on preventing anything Irish from tainting the British identity in Northern Ireland. To quote from its 1985 election manifesto:  The DUP being totally committed to the Union with Great Britain and implacably opposed to an All Ireland Republic, utterly rejects any involvement by Dublin in the affairs of Northern Ireland (Democratic Unionist Party 1985:2).  54  Unlike the OUP, the DUP wants the re-establishment of the full decision-making powers of the Stormont Parliament.  Having democratic Stormont rule as a top priority the DUP refuses to countenance support for anything which would delay or impede the return of powers to the Stormont Assembly (DUP 1985:3).  Loyalists represent an extreme unionist view, and believe that there should be no Irish influence, cultural or political, in Northern Ireland. A portion of the Loyalist population is actively involved in one of two major Loyalist paramilitary groups--the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF), and the Ulster Defense Association (UDA). These groups maintain that they are not sectarian and their targets are republicans, enemies of the British state. Loyalist paramilitary groups see their duty as performing tasks shirked by British security forces (see Ulster Volunteer Force 1974). The claim by the loyalist paramilitaries that they target only republicans, and the generally accepted notion that their activity is "reactive" to IRA violence rather than "proactive," has been challenged in a recently released special report. ^It was disclosed that during the current "troubles," only twenty of the more than eight hundred victims of loyalist paramilitaries were republicans (Thornton 1992:1). Nationalists and republicans identify themselves as culturally and politically Irish, and envision an eventual  _5_5  reunification of Ireland as a necessary element in the solution to the present conflict. While the perception of "the problem" in Northern Ireland varies somewhat between the two groups, the basic difference between them is over the means by which unification should be achieved. Despite a predominantly Catholic membership of both groups, a number of Protestants I interviewed during my fieldwork, identified themselves as either nationalists or republicans and maintained that Ireland should indeed be reunited. A sociological study conducted in 1968 claimed that approximately twenty percent of Protestants in Northern Ireland described themselves as Irish (Fitzgerald 1988:198). Moderate nationalists politically support the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP). The SDLP was formed in 1970 with a socialist platform that sought to end political and economic discrimination of the Catholic population in Northern Ireland. It strongly opposes the use of violence as a means of bringing about a united Ireland. Instead, the SDLP believes that through dialogue, compromise, and agreement among the four groups concerned (the unionists, the nationalists, and the British and Irish governments), a solution to the present conflict can be worked out (6 hAdhmaill 1990a:700). The SDLP were:  prepared to accept an interim internal Northern Ireland settlement, prior to Irish reunification [or to] accept a compromise settlement which would involve both the British and Irish States.  56  However, it was clear that the overwhelming view within the SDLP was that there must eventually be some sort of special constitutional linkage between North and South. In its view, this could be achieved only through dialogue and persuasion (6 hAdhmaill 1990a:700-701).  The Republican Movement consists of a political base--Sinn Fein—with a military component--the Irish Republican Army (IRA). Unlike the SDLP, Sinn Fein maintains  that peace is only possible following a complete British withdrawal from Northern Ireland. After this withdrawal, Sinn Fein proposes an "all Ireland solution" in which unionists, loyalists, nationalists, republicans, Catholics and Protestants, both north and south of the border, would decide Ireland's future together. The Republican Movement and its supporters, therefore, see Britain as the main obstacle to a political solution in Northern Ireland, and view "the problem" as British imperialism which can only be removed through armed struggle (6 hAdhmaill 1990a:700). The IRA, in carrying out this armed struggle, claims as its prime targets those who symbolically represent the British state via its military, legal, and administrative apparatus in Northern Ireland.^In keeping with republican ideology, the IRA is not governed by sectarian motives, thus if targets of the IRA fit its definition of "legitimate," religious beliefs will not mitigate the consequences (see Bell 1990). While the IRA is primarily involved in an armed  57  struggle against the formal institutions of the British state, the aims of the Republican movement go beyond the removal of the political and economic influence of the British 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 conflict between Catholics and Protestants, and portrays its role as a mediator, trying to bring the "two communities" peacefully together (Foreign and Commonwealth Office 1988). Twenty-three years of war in Northern Ireland has resulted in an enormous drain on the British economy. Recent actions by the State hint that Britain is looking for a way to withdraw from Northern Ireland without loss of face. The negotiation of the Anglo-Irish Agreement in 1985, and the periodic revival of the "talks" process in which members of the two Unionist parties, the SDLP, and the British and Irish governments attempt to reach some sort of agreement on Northern Ireland's political future, attest to the State's desire to withdraw with honour. Were the British to simply and immediately withdraw from Northern Ireland, as suggested by the Republican Movement, this action could be interpreted by the British  58  public as an IRA victory, and by the international community as giving in to terrorism. Loyalists have already interpreted these recent measures by the British government to reach a political solution to the conflict in Northern Ireland as a betrayal of the Protestant majority. As a result, Unionists have waged a vigorous "Ulster Says No" campaign against the Anglo-Irish agreement. These feelings of betrayal have also resulted in a deadlock in the "talks" process on the issue of involvement of the Irish government in Northern Ireland's future. Thus, a negotiated settlement that excludes Sinn Fein, and which could be interpreted as a British victory does not seem likely. When republicans use the term Brits, they are describing those who are involved directly in implementing or in maintaining "British colonial rule" in Northern Ireland: the Security Forces, those supplying goods and services to the Security Forces, politicians, judges, and so on. The term British is usually used in reference to the British government or more abstractly to the British state, rather than to the British people, whom republicans regard as uninformed in what their government is doing in Northern Ireland. The Northern Ireland Office is under the direct control of Westminster and the office holders in it are appointed by the ruling party in the British House of Commons.  59  The security forces consist of, the Royal Ulster  Constabulary (RUC), the Royal Irish Regiment (RIR)--which until July 1991, was called the Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR)--and the British Army. To most unionists, the RUC are the equivalent of a community police force. To the majority of nationalists and all republicans, the RUC is a sectarian paramilitary 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 and republicans alike.  B. The Territory  All terms used to describe the geographical division of Ireland are imbued with political implications. Northern  Ireland is the legal name for that portion of the ancient Irish province of Ulster politically claimed by Britain in 1922 when Ireland was divided. This term is most commonly used in unionist or British discourse and occasionally also in nationalist and republican discourse. Unionist and loyalist discourse has its own set of pertinent terminology. The term Ulster is used in place of Northern Ireland, and to emphasize the "constitutional relationship between Northern Ireland and Britain" (legally  60  England, Scotland and Wales), the term United Kingdom is often 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 the same sense--to emphasize that Northern Ireland is a province of Britain. The Southern portion of Ireland is referred to as the Republic of Ireland its legal name, or Eire its Irish equivalent. Eire, according to Rowthorne and Wayne (1988:13), "is a name rarely heard in the Republic; more commonly it is used by people in Northern Ireland who are strongly opposed to a united Ireland as it makes the Republic sound foreign." In the discourse of the nationalist population, Northern Ireland becomes the Six Counties, backed by the argument that the ancient province of Ulster had nine counties and only six of them are "occupied" by Britain. Nationalists refer to the rest of Ireland, not included in the Six Counties, as the Twenty-Six Counties. Northern republicans usually derogatorily refer to the rest of Ireland as the Free State, and its inhabitants as Free Staters. These terms refer to a period just after the partition of Ireland, when the South or "Free State" was given the status of a self-governing dominion under the British Crown. Republicans, in using these terms, are reminding the people south of the border that until all of  61  Ireland is free, the entire island remains under British control. Often nationalists will just refer to the geographical division of Ireland, that is, they will talk about, the North of Ireland or the South.  In this analysis, the term Northern Ireland will be used as its meaning is most widely understood. What is legally called the Republic of Ireland will be referred to here as the South, as the term is more geographically correct and less politically problematic. Britain is used in its legal sense, that is the union of England, Scotland and Wales. British, throughout this work is usually used as a modifier, for example, the British state. The phrases  British linguistic hegemony and British cultural hegemony are used interchangeably to describe the linguistic and cultural legacy of the "effective dominant culture" that prevails in Northern Ireland.  62  II. Fieldwork in a Dangerous Environment: Challenge and Survival  A. The Research Setting  Below the approach to Belfast's Aldergrove airport are whitened stones in a farmer's field spelling out the word "Peace." This was my first glimpse of the city that was to be my home for the next fifteen months. During my stay in Belfast, I would remember this solitary missive as idealistic, and far removed from the reality in which I found myself. As I was subsequently informed by a friend, "You always live in a state of unease; never sure if you will be alive at the end of the day or what will happen next." In response to my inquiry as to whether one ever gets accustomed to this unease, another friend replied, "You never really get used to it. You get angry, you get scared, but never used to it." Visitors to Belfast can spend their entire stay seeing only the occasional military vehicle, and if they go to the city centre having their passage delayed by the ubiquitous gates that only open to allow "authorized" traffic to pass. In the area I studied, the evidence of State reaction to republican resistance was everywhere. Permanent barricades of concrete and corrugated iron--the so called "peace walls"--partially contained the communities studied. Large boulders decorated the fronts of taverns, and other likely  63  targets of car bombs. During "marching season," when the Orangemen celebrate King William III's victory over the Catholic King James II at the Battle of the Boyne (see Larson 1982a, 1982b), twenty foot high screens attached to army trucks, temporarily sealed off nationalist areas in the path of marchers. Then there were the personal barricades in the homes of a number of people I interviewed and visited: the bullet proof glass in the living room and kitchen windows; the front door reinforced with iron and secured with three or more locks of various types; the club by the door to use in case the locks didn't work; the wrought iron gate installed at the bottom of the stairs and padlocked at night to prevent access to the bedrooms from the ground floor. Usually, I was told that when a person's name is on a Loyalist paramilitary "hit list," the security forces inform the "target," and then the next move is to go to the DHSS (Department of Housing and Social Services) who provide partial funding for the installation of security gates and doors. Belfast is a society under surveillance. Cameras are everywhere: on building walls; on observation towers; looking down from army barracks; perched on top of apartment buildings. Your movements are recorded, walking or driving on the streets of nationalist Belfast. Helicopters hover day and night, equipped with infrared cameras, maintaining a watch from the sky.  64  IRA warning posters tell the citizens of West Belfast to:  Stay Clear Isolate the Enemy The primary consideration of Oglaigh na heireann active service units while exploring the viability of any operation is the safety of the civilian population in the area. As a result many actions are cancelled or delayed, greatly endangering the security and lives of our Volunteers, because of the proximity of civilians to crown forces personnel, installations and vehicles. We therefore appeal for your co-operation and understanding and ask you to stay clear of all crown forces personnel (Republican Movement 1990).  As I walked to a lecture on Irish mythology a couple of days after the posters went up, I found myself surrounded by dozens of army troops and several RUC members who saturated both sidewalks and formed a line down the centre of the road. My thoughts were verbalized by a woman who looked at me and said with indignation, "How do they expect us to isolate them? They're everywhere." "You are never allowed to remove yourself from the ever present reality of a war zone," I wrote in my journal in August of 1990. That morning as I walked to my Irish class at the GlOr na nGael office on Falls Road, I had allowed my mind to wander--composing articles and books that could be written. My journal entry read:  6_5  While I was completely caught up in my thoughts, I still had an awareness of my surroundings so as to keep from walking into people and other more stationary obstacles. As I approached Glor na nGael I looked down for some reason--maybe I heard a grunt or some sense of danger abruptly brought me back to reality, I don't know--I do know my eyes focused on a crouching British soldier, his rifle but a foot from my forehead. I gasped and jumped, my heart pounding. By the time I reached GlOr na nGael, a minute away, I was angry at showing him my fear, at reacting, and at allowing him to be aware of these feelings. I imagined a grin forming on his face. At times like this your helplessness becomes a vivid reality. My taxi driver classmate said, after the first time it is less frightening. But this wasn't the first time.^It belies the myth that you get used to it--"it" (the situation), is never far from your consciousness. The taxi classmate said, "They make you feel this small," demonstrating with his fingers less than an inch apart. He's right.  Thursday and Friday usually brought bomb alerts. Obstructions made walking difficult, and bus travel impossible. I was confronted with the reality that not all alerts were hoaxes when a bomb was thrown across the path of the taxi I was riding in, exploding near its intended target, 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 driving through the neighbourhood, or every parked car with a person just sitting, supposedly reading. Often attacks were made by people on motorcycles, hence the surge of adrenalin whenever I saw one approaching. Seeing people being bodily  66  searched on the streets was always accompanied with the thought--what would happen if I was stopped and the tape of the interview I had just completed was discovered. I was almost to find out when, after attending the annual march in memory of the government's internment policy, an RUC member jumped from his vehicle and began running toward me (the only person on the street at the time). Realizing my safety lay among the local people, I quickly went into a nearby crowded fast-food restaurant, at which point my pursuer apparently changed his mind. I was not comforted when a man said to his friend, "He was going to lift that girl," and then to me, "He nearly arrested you." There was also the constant concern that the security forces would search where I was staying, and confiscate my research material. After a three week stay with a friend in West Belfast, I decided that while I would have been physically safer there, the threat of house searches in the area was more common. In West Belfast, the friendliness of the locals could not mitigate the oppressive atmosphere of constant surveillance, and I decided to relocate. As my new landlord in North Belfast put it, "You have to be born there [West Belfast] to live there," although getting used to oppression (even if possible), is bound to leave psychological scars. The district in North Belfast where I eventually settled was known as "murder mile." It gained  67  this appellation after being the location of one quarter of all killings in Northern Ireland during the last twenty or more years of conflict. Despite its reputation, there was considerably less military presence in the area and fewer house searches. One reason for this may have been the RUC's initiative in North Belfast to improve its image to Catholics, and in so doing encourage them to report any IRA activity in the area (see Irish News 1991:1).^It was not until fourteen days before I was to fly home to Vancouver, that five RUC members did try, at 7:30 a.m., to enter my residence. Getting no response from constant hammering on the door, they were finally dissuaded from their task by the attention they attracted from neighbours. Thus, sympathetic neighbours, 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 Field  Olesen and Whittaker (1967) view the researcher's role in participant observation, "as a mutual venture in which reciprocal interpersonal exchanges between the research investigator and the actor result in more or less mutually meaningful, well understood, viable social roles" (Olesen and Whittaker 1967:274). The authors maintain that the  68  reliability and validity of the data gathered can be greatly influenced by the outcome of this process of role negotiation. My interest in Northern Ireland dates back to 1986 when I was searching for a topic for my MA thesis. My knowledge 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 on Irish folklore. I did not have a wide background in folklore or myth, but was interested in the methods by which the media, along with other more politically motivated groups, employed these topics in an attempt to manipulate the opinions of the population at large. Therefore, to garner information on Celtic mythology, my husband and I embarked on a search of university and national libraries in England, Scotland, and Wales. Ireland was not included in my itinerary at this time. When I was not searching through shelves of dusty tomes in pursuit of exciting primary source material, I was enjoying local tourist attractions. High on my list of priorities was a visit to the Central Criminal Court, or Old Bailey. Having always had an avid interest in jurisprudence, mainly spurred by reading books on crime (both fiction and non-fiction), the prospect of observing the English legal system in action held a singular  69  fascination for me. As I stood in the long queue outside the court, my excitement rose as I heard that this day's "major attraction" was the trial of the IRA's "Brighton bomber," Patrick McGee. McGee was also on trial for planning, along with four other conspirators (two men and two women), a series of hotel bombings, scheduled to begin during the summer of 1986. While I passed through the metal detector; was subjected to two separate body searches; had my passport examined; my name and address recorded; stated that "no" I did not personally know any of the accused; and then took a seat in the front row of the visitors' gallery, I wondered what these "terrorists" would look like. My composite portrait of a criminal came from a combination of the strong negative images imparted whenever a person is labelled a terrorist, along with many hours in my youth absorbed in reading Agatha Christie novels, and tales of mass killers. When the accused were brought into the courtroom, however, my image was shattered. They adhered more closely to my image of ordinary law abiding citizens. A flood of questions about the societal conditions that would motivate these people to engage in such extreme acts of violence poured into my mind. On my return to university in the Fall of that year, I changed my research topic from Celtic mythology to Irish nationalism, which I went on to pursue ethno-historically in my Master's Thesis.  70  In 1987, a meeting of Commonwealth leaders was held in Vancouver. To bring attention to issues not covered by the Commonwealth Conference, a second meeting, the Alternative Commonwealth Conference, was to run concurrently with it. It was the latter meeting which I attended, and where I met a member of Sinn Fein who would prove pivotal to my research. After learning of my M.A. thesis and indicating I wished to pursue this topic at a Ph.D. level, he invited me to Belfast, promising that he would introduce me to nationalists so I could learn about Irish nationalism first-hand. In June of 1988, I partook of his offer, and during my seventeen-day stay spoke with many people in Belfast, Derry, and Crossmaglen. I met both supporters and non-supporters of Sinn Fein, and got an overpowering introduction to what it is like to be a nationalist and live in Northern Ireland. During this trip, I discussed with Sinn Fein representatives, the feasibility of doing future research in Belfast.^I received the assurance that, as far as they were concerned, such research would be acceptable. When I arrived in Belfast on February 13, 1990, I initially stayed with the family of a friend from Vancouver. Shortly after my arrival in Belfast I re-contacted the people at Sinn Fein and gave them a copy of my dissertation proposal, explaining that I wanted to be educated about what  71  it is like to be a nationalist or a republican living in Belfast. A Sinn Fein representative told me that I would have to educate myself by talking to the people. However, it was added that if I had a specific request or needed an interview arranged relating to a specific topic--for example with prisoners or their families--Sinn Fein would be able to help me. I took Sinn Fein at its word and if I needed specific information--for example the location of a safe place to get my film developed--or wanted to interview their members on research related topics I did not hesitate to ask. I attended and taped lectures and speeches at events and marches arranged by Sinn Fein with no difficulty. Sinn Fein did not inquire as to what my conclusions were or how I planned to present them. In a way I was surprised by this lack of inquisitiveness by Sinn Fein.^I felt that if I ran a revolutionary movement, I would certainly want to know what 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 in Northern Ireland, an attitude that I now consider may have been somewhat naive. I was however, always conscious of the possibility that I might be in the proximity of an exploding bomb, or caught in the cross-fire of a tactical operation. While Sinn Fein did not complicate my research, I soon discovered the necessity of knowing the politics of the person I was speaking with, before identifying myself as a  72  researcher. While returning home to North Belfast from a ceili (dance) at a social club in West Belfast on St. Patrick's Day 1990 my taxi driver, who worked for a firm in West Belfast, asked me if I was visiting Belfast. Under what turned out to be a mistaken assumption that since he was from a nationalist area and worked for a nationalist taxi company, he was probably a nationalist, and as such would be interested in my work, I said "No, I am doing academic research here on what it is like to be a nationalist and to live in Belfast." He replied that he was a nationalist but was only concerned with raising his kids. Then he turned to me and said could I prove I wasn't a CIA spy over to gather information for the British. ^I replied that he could check with Sinn Fein because they knew me. He belligerently denied any interest in Sinn Fein, and asked again if I could prove I was not a spy. ^By this time, having stopped in front of my residence, we were having a quite heated discussion. He did not seem in any hurry to leave so I responded to him that I could see his point and that in reality I could tell him I was not a spy, but I did not have any way to prove I was not a spy. He then said to me, "What's stopping me from going over to a loyalist hit squad after I leave here, and saying to them that there is this Canadian anthropologist staying over on [my address] and that she's a supporter of the IRA." I agreed that there was nothing stopping him from doing this.  73  I had not been prepared for the possibility that people may assume I was a spy--an accusation that was difficult for me to refute.^I did not believe that the taxi driver would carry out his threat, however from then on my response to any taxi driver who asked if I was over on holidays was "yes," and that I was visiting friends and would be returning home to America in a month or so. The only other threat I received was from a friend, who told me with great sincerity that if I proved to be anything different from what I presented myself to be, that she would put a bullet in my brain. These incidents were great incentives to pursue my research objectives, and not delve into areas that may have satisfied my curiosity, but could have put into question my motives for being there. In loyalist areas, where I did a lot of photographing of murals and slogans, I was more cautious. The people however were friendly, and since I was not judgmental of their stories--either verbally or non-verbally--were quite talkative. In these areas I retained the aura of a foreign visitor.^I was always conscious of the danger loyalist paramilitaries presented but was not unduly concerned. The majority of people in Belfast, Catholic and Protestant, accepted me as an academic, genuinely interested in their lives, and went out of their way to help me in my research. I do believe my being a woman aided my acceptance, because although many women are actually  74  involved in the conflict, men are the primary targets of the IRA, loyalist paramilitaries, and the security forces.^I also represented the outside world, and the people of Northern Ireland, especially the nationalists and republicans, want the world to know the truth of what is happening. Other possible reasons for my acceptance may have been: because I was alone; my willingness to learn the Irish language; my participation in some of the things that were of symbolic and real importance to the nationalist people, such as the annual marches and commemorations, or the "Save the Belfast Hills" walk.^I was very visible as I roamed the streets most days. I listened to people and did not pass judgment on them, and in discussion with people shared my life experiences with them. One woman even expressed concern that I may have sacrificed my marriage to come over to Northern Ireland to study. I assured her I had not done so.  C. Ethical Considerations  The "Principles of Professional Responsibility" adopted by the American Anthropological Association (1973) proclaim that "an anthropologist's paramount responsibility is to those he studies . . . when there is a conflict of interest [i.e., between the anthropologist's responsibility to those  75  studied and those of the public, the discipline, one's sponsors, or one's own or host government], these individuals must come first." Many of the difficulties of adhering strictly to the AAA stated responsibility of the anthropologist in cases of conflict of interest, are brought to light in a book by Punch (1986), which outlines such key ethical issues as consent, deception, privacy, identification, confidentiality, sponsorship, freedom to publish, etc. Punch (1986:29, 30, 34-35) discusses many of the political and moral dilemmas that arose in my field work, the most pertinent are enumerated here in the form of questions:  (1) Are there areas that should not be researched? (2) Does the end (knowledge) justify the scientific means? (3) Does the researcher enjoy any immunity from the 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 of my fieldwork, I next chose to centre my interest on the experiential reality of the daily warfare for the ordinary citizen, not the armed struggle per se. ^I neither sought nor was I told any details of IRA war operations, as this was not part of my research.  76  The understanding of the dimensions of domination and resistance at the local level is, in my opinion, a necessary step toward the eventual resolution of ethnonationalist conflict, not just in Northern Ireland but in similar venues throughout the world. As my aim is to contribute to this understanding of domination and resistance, it was crucial that my analysis be based on extended fieldwork, seeking to investigate this relationship as it was acted out in everyday life. Therefore, the potential knowledge gained from such research superseded the inherent dangers for both the researcher and the researched. Northern Ireland affords no immunity to its citizens (or its visiting academics), from arrest and imprisonment of up to ten years if the material in their possession is deemed "likely to be useful to terrorists" (Clause 30 and 31 of the Northern Ireland Emergency Provisions Bill 1991). Equally relevant is that there are no "safe" places in Northern Ireland to secure research data gathered, and short of burning it--a measure I was prepared to take--such material is always in danger of being confiscated. The people I interviewed knew the risk of providing a permanent record of their accounts, probably better than I did, but they were willing to take that risk. For my part, I took every precaution possible, under the circumstances, to avoid attracting the attention of security forces. ^I also took the precaution of coding my fieldnotes and journal entries  77  to exclude all names and more blatant identifying features. Keys to the codes used were mailed to my husband in Vancouver. Audio tapes in the field posed the greatest risk as names, places and dates often were used by my respondents in relating the history of an event. In the process of transcription, this identifying material has been coded and the original tapes erased. However, the fieldwork experience offered little time for the processing of tapes, thus the transcription and erasure of tapes, had to be postponed until my arrival home. The attempts to present data in a manner that would protect the identity of the interviewee has posed many difficulties during the actual writing of this dissertation. Some of the information given to me was background information, and for "my eyes only," while other information could be quoted. However, it was often not clearly designated which information was which. This was especially true when I got to know my respondent before the interview and it was assumed I would understand what was and wasn't for disclosure. My decision about disclosure was further complicated by the knowledge that a mistake in judgment on my part could be fatal to the people I interviewed. My research was primarily focused on the symbolic expression of Irishness as a form of resistance. Those who produce these symbols of resistance, such as poster and mural artists, or public advocates of the Irish language,  78  have been designated as targets for loyalist paramilitaries. Therefore, my presentation of data received, and especially information from ex-prisoners, had to be scrutinized with great diligence lest a clue to the identity of the author be given. There is no definite way of knowing that what appears to me (an outsider) to be an innocent statement may in fact jeopardize an interviewee's physical safety. To limit the risk of accidental identification of the sources of personal communication, I have followed Feldman's (1991:12) example and broken apart interviews, distributing them non-sequentially throughout this work, between sections of analysis.^In addition, I have only identified the speaker as an alternative Irish language activist, a spokesperson for Sinn Fein, or an ex-prisoner. When the term Irish language activist is used alone, it is referring to alternative Irish language activists.  D. The Problem of Objectivity  The positivist contends that there are "discrete," "recognizable," "objective," and "true" facts that the researcher can discover by using a set of "widely known and accepted," standardized interviewing methods, and then interpreting them by using "neutral" scientific theories (Hammersley and Atkinson 1983:4-5; Whittaker 1986:xvi).  79  In contrast to this view, Schutz (1964:5) argues that "there are no such things as facts, pure and simple. All facts are from the outset . . . interpreted facts." Not only are all facts interpreted, Descombes (1985) argues that "accepted facts" are a question of power--that is, general acceptance depends on the power of the interpreter. He writes, "If there is any controversy about a fact, the question arises: who is to settle the matter and how? It is obvious that this last question is a question of right" (Descomes 1985:58).^In Northern Ireland "all facts" are "interpreted," and power plays a significant role in determining which facts become generally accepted and which are suppressed.^In this dissertation, the "facts" presented are the interpretations of the social world of the actors involved. My theoretical bias, albeit scientific, will of necessity determine how these facts are structured. Neither is this analysis free of my own biases regarding victimization. Positivists have argued that "knowledge is gained ready-made, unspoiled by biases" (Whittaker 1986:xvi), and prejudices of the researcher can be readily eliminated, "by an act of self-assertion" (Weinsheimer 1985), hence the "guiding presuppositions" that govern "analysis and methodological questioning" are never queried (Palmer 1969:233). Put another way, the notion of scientific objectivity argues that since "scientific ideas are . . . morally and socially neutral things, . • •  80  objects, 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 "scientific ideas" and "guiding presuppositions," they themselves have no "observer effect" on the research environment. Lopate (1979:322) writes that positivists, "like other 'scientists'. . . have bought the ideology of objectivity and neutrality and [tried] to give the impression that they were homunculi floating through the communities they studied, unobservable to those they observed." I was not unobserved by those I studied and with whom I shared my personal experiences. As one such person told me, "whether or not you go back and write about us it doesn't matter. By coming here and being my friend, my life is now different, and your life is now different. After you leave I will be doing something and suddenly remember, Pat and I talked about this and she said such and such." The people I studied and who showed me such uninhibited kindness did change me, and even if they had not been so accepting, I could not morally have overlooked the oppressive circumstances under which they lived. As Roger Keesing notes:  It is being realized that not taking a political position, not making a moral commitment, is not neutral: it is making a commitment--to the support and continuation of the system of which one is a  81  part and within which one is working anthropologically. If one does not "notice" oppression or injustices or exploitation because one is only a scientist and science does not concern itself with political issues, then one is being myopic and self-deluding about objectivity. Ultimately amorality is immorality (quoted in Huizer 1979:6).  Dumont (1992:133) echoes these sentiments when writing of his research in the Philippines:  Because violence remains hopelessly entangled with the issue of legitimacy, it is fair and necessary to state, once more, that I have no pretension to objectivity. There are villains in my biased story, and I shall let them wear the black hats.  Therefore, while I make no claim to complete impartiality (scientific or otherwise) in my analysis, this is not to imply that I have ignored the contradictions, inconsistencies, and nuances encountered in the field--they are dealt with in a thorough manner. As well, I have attempted to give my "villains" a chance to defend their malevolence toward the Irish language, by quoting their rationalizations offered in the print and electronic media. The ultimate choice lies with the reader in determining whether these rationalizations have been correctly interpreted.  82  III. Methodology: Data Collection and Research Techniques  A. Participant/Observation  The majority of my time during the fifteen months of fieldwork in Belfast, was spent attending demonstrations, marches, local talks, exhibitions, and events. ^I read locally produced material, and walked the streets of Belfast, observing, and at every opportunity, speaking to local people about their experiences in the besieged city. During my fieldwork there were several major commemorations, including the seventy-fifth anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising; the tenth anniversary of the hunger strike; the twentieth anniversary of the Falls curfew and the three hundredth anniversary of the Battle of the Boyne. Many events and marches in observance of these occasions were included in my itinerary. Local events attended were as diverse as: (a) a lecture series on "Liberation Theology: An Irish Perspective," and the "Law and Society Series," on discrimination; (b) conferences such as, "1690 Educate Not Celebrate"; "Painting A Different Picture" (Radical Arts Conference); "State Power: Can It Be Controlled?" (a conference sponsored by Committee on The Administration of Justice); "Ireland: The Way Forward" (a three day international conference put on by Springhill Community  83  Centre in West Belfast); (c) local solidarity events such as "Nicaragua Solidarity Night" (sponsored by the Belfast Nicaragua Solidarity Group); and a show of support for the visiting delegation from the American Indian Movement; (d) other events including ceilis (dances), and folk nights, etc. I attended fourteen marches in all, including the International Women's Day march, halted twice by security forces preventing the women of West Belfast from joining their Protestant, and academic "sisters" at Belfast City Hall. Security forces effectively disrupted the women's attempt at a meaningful demonstration by forcing the Falls Road marchers back in the direction of West Belfast. More specific to my Irish language research, I took two six-week intensive Irish language courses from GlOr na nGael, and at the end of the first course passed the examination to receive a silver Fainne, the badge of an Irish learner. I attended and taped a series of lectures sponsored by GlOr na nGael on the history of the Irish language, Irish place names, and Irish myths and legends. I was present at an all day Irish language conference at which Irish language issues such as Irish language television, schools, and prisoners', Welsh and Irish language rights were discussed. I joined a woman's group called Fainne na  mban (Women of the Ffiinne), and joined in monthly get-togethers. Typical of such occasions would be a reading of members' poetry, the singing of traditional Irish songs  84  in both Gaelic and English, and a buffet meal. At another group sponsored event, Mary Condron, author of The Serpent and the Goddess: Women, Religion and Power in Celtic Ireland, was the invited speaker. Through role-playing we examined the portrayal of women in Irish mythology. I also had the opportunity to participate in various regional excursions. One such coach trip, arranged by members of Chit- na nGael, included visits to: The Valley of the Boyne; Monasterboice (home of the oldest Celtic crosses in Ireland); Newgrange (site of one of the oldest passage graves in the world); Drogheda, to see Saint Oliver Plunkett's head; and then to Ross Cairn in County Meath (an Irish-speaking area), for a home-cooked meal followed by a visit to a Gaelic pub, to be entertained by Irish music, set and cell': dancing, and Gaelic songs. These are but a few of the events I attended, participated in, and made careful records of, always accompanied by my ubiquitous camera, tape recorder, and note pad.  85  B. Interviewing  Douglas (1985) has said that interviewing is a creative process, a mutual search for self-understanding by the enthnographer with her subjects. He writes that the concept of "creative interviewing" is based on the assumptions that:  (1) the discovery of human beings . . . is overwhelmingly dependent on the use of vastly complex commonsensical methods of interacting and understanding [and] (2) . . . that for most purposes, and certainly ideally, it is most fruitful for us human explorers to begin by immersing ourselves in natural situations and observing ourselves and others a great deal before presuming that we know enough to ask significant questions about the experience (Douglas 1985:12).  Thus, it could be said that creative interviewing is a combination of common sense and experience. Guided by the technique suggested here by Douglas, the first three months of my fieldwork were spent familiarizing myself with the social environment of Belfast. This I felt necessary in order to gain a basic knowledge of the position of groups, organizations, and individuals within the society, and of utility as a precursor to the conducting of interviews. As previously stated, my research goals included the investigation of symbolic expressions of Irishness as resistance to British domination. After my first two months in Belfast, I realized that the predominant symbol of Irish  86  expression was the Irish language itself. ^I saw embodied in the language, the dynamics of the cultural struggle of domination and resistance taking place around me in Northern Ireland. During the fifteen months spent in the field, I tape recorded 101.5 hours of interviews with seventy-six people, and had brief, untaped, topic-related interviews with approximately seventy other people. Those interviewed both on and off tape included: mural and poster creators, poets, language activists, Sinn Fein activists, former prisoners, republicans, nationalists, and Protestants with nationalist views. In addition, I taped eighty-two hours from conferences, lectures, discussions, speeches at marches, and speeches at other events. Of the taped interviews, thirty-one pertained directly to the Irish language. Twenty-one of these were with alternative Irish language activists, and the remainder were with Sinn Fein representatives, ex-prisoners, and other oppositional Irish language activists who were neither members of Sinn Fein nor ex-prisoners. Fluency in Irish was not required to be a language activist. One alternative Irish language activist I interviewed did not speak the language, but all her children were in the Irish-medium school system, and three others were adult Irish language learners. All oppositional Irish language activists interviewed were fluent Irish speakers. Regardless of  87  fluency, all thirty-one Irish language activists interviewed spent a substantial part of their time promoting the Irish language and working toward gaining recognition of the Irish language in Northern Ireland. It should be noted that Irish language speakers and activists make up a growing part, but still a minority, of both the republican and nationalist population in Belfast. It is estimated, from the 1991 census, that there were 30,000 people (10 percent), of Belfast's 300,000 population who knew some Irish--which is up from 7,900 (2.3 percent), in the 1911 census. The attitude of the majority of English speaking nationalist and republican population appeared to be sympathetic toward the endeavors of Irish language activists, as evidenced by the monetary contributions made to support Irish language schools during street collections, and the donations made by people in high unemployment areas for the erection of Irish language street signs. However, this sympathy for the Irish language movement was not universal among Belfast republicans and nationalists.^I spoke with one former prisoner, for example, who had been interned during the prison protest period and the hunger strikes, and who had refused to learn Irish. To him, the struggle was one of political and economic freedom from Britain, and there was no need to learn any language other than English. A nationalist explained that he did not need to learn Irish to know that  88  he was an Irishman. These attitudes, much to the dismay of both alternative and oppositional Irish language activists, are far from isolated. Of the twenty-one alternative language activists I interviewed, one was in his twenties, nine were in their thirties, seven were in their forties, one was in her fifties, one was sixty-four, and two were in their seventies. There were ten men and eleven women interviewed, nineteen Catholics and two Protestants. Alternative Irish language activists claimed that politics was not a part of their work, and hence not relevant. Some may have voted for Sinn Fein—and this includes at least one Protestant--but would not necessarily support the armed struggle. While this is essentially a contradiction, the people I spoke with did not see this stance as contentious. The majority of alternative Irish language activists, if opting to vote at all, would have voted for the SDLP. Of the alternative Irish language activists interviewed, six were teachers who had taught in the Catholic school system, while three of these had taught also in the Irish medium school system. One of these teachers had a Ph.D. Another activist--a Protestant--had a Ph.D. in Celtic studies, while yet another--a Catholic--had a Ph.D. and was a lecturer at a Belfast university. One activist was a journalist, another a secretary, and another a technician.  89  Four people I interviewed were parents actively involved in the Irish medium primary schools, and the Irish medium play groups. The alternative Irish language activists I interviewed could not be labelled as coming from any one socio-economic class, a finding generally applied to those in the Irish language movement by 6 hAdhmaill (1985) in his study of 234 Belfast Irish language learners in the 1980s. Five of the people I interviewed worked full time for Gl6r na nGael; two for  La,  a daily Irish language newspaper;  and two for ULTACH Trust (see Chapters 7 and 8). These people were interviewed both before and after Gl6r na nGael was blacklisted by the British government. The majority of those interviewed--eighteen of the twenty-one--had, at some time in their lives, close ties to an Irish language club, the Cluain Ard (see Chapter 4). Several of the above had been active in Conradh na Gaeilge and Comhaltus Uladh (the Gaelic League in Northern Ireland, see Chapter 4). Four of those interviewed were part of the original group which established the Shaws Road Irish language community in 1969, and set up the first Irish medium primary school in Northern Ireland in 1971 (see Chapter 4). Of the ten oppositional Irish language activists interviewed--seven men and three women--all but three were also Sinn Fein activists. Most were in their late twenties or early thirties, however two were in their sixties and one in her seventies. All came from Catholic backgrounds.  90  Of the three who were not Sinn Fein activists, one was a former prisoner who was currently taking university courses in Celtic studies and was a teacher of adult Irish language classes, another was a retired teacher, another described himself as a self-taught historian. All except two of the Sinn Fein activists were ex-prisoners and unemployed. One of the two non-prisoners had the equivalent of a bachelor's degree, and was active in politics in addition to Irish language activism, and the other was a former teacher. All oppositional Irish language activists supported Sinn Fein and the armed struggle. Questions asked of all Irish language activists were grouped into three main categories: (1) their reasons for becoming involved in the Irish language revival; (2) why they chose language as their avenue of expression; and (3) the consequences of this decision both for themselves and their families. When the respondent was involved with a specific Irish language group, I also inquired as to the group's history, its goals, and the obstacles it encountered while trying to achieve its goals. More general questions about the Irish language revival itself, its raison d'être, its extent, and its future were also asked.  91  C. Other Research Methods  The investigation of Irish language activism in Belfast also involved many hours of archival and library research. The origins of primary source material scrutinized and in most cases photocopied, included: the Linen Hall Library; the collections of the Committee for the Administration of Justice, Queen's University; the museum of the Roddy McCorley Society; and the books and papers collected by republicans and nationalists. In addition, I made tape recordings of 228 hours of programmes from various radio and television sources on topics pertinent to my research. Loyalist and republican bookstores, and other used and new bookstores were frequented, and many locally produced books and pamphlets purchased. Research related articles from local daily newspapers: The Irish News, The Belfast  Telegraph, and The Belfast Newsletter, both from during the period of my fieldwork, and prior to it, were cut out or photocopied. Other sources of data included:  The Irish Times; The Irish Independent; The Sunday World; The Sunday Press; The Daily Mail; The Evening Standard; The Guardian; Republican News; An Phoblacht; An Phoblacht/Republican News; Andersonstown News; Fortnight (a nationalist magazine); Women's News (a locally produced Irish Feminist Magazine); Troops Out; Labour in Ireland; The  Captive Voice (a magazine produced by republican prisoners);  92  The Irish Democrat; Unity; The Irish Reporter; and loyalist  papers such as, The Shankill People; and the loyalist paramilitary periodicals, Ulster, Combat, and The Red Hand.  In summary, my approach to fieldwork has been to immerse myself in Belfast society, and having done so, to gather as much written and verbal data as possible on all issues that the local citizens felt were important to them in their lives--from the spectacular to the mundane. The material gathered in the field presented many contradictions. Once home, away from the "baptism of fire" that permeated every minute of my waking hours, and often my dreams at night, I began to search for a theoretical framework that would make sense of the data. I chose to examine the history of the struggle to elucidate how the cultural battle being acted out in contemporary Northern Ireland developed. The analysis presented here is the result of an attempt to understand the "field reality" I encountered while in Belfast.  93  Chapter Three  The Roots of Alternative and Oppositional Irish Language Activism  As discussed in Chapter One, language as identity is more than just a way of speaking. It encompasses a social history and those values and ways of doing things that are "  meaningful" to an ethnic group. ^I postulate that the  battle for linguistic hegemony in Ireland began with the colonial encounter. Thus, in this chapter I will use the "beyond the community" approach4 to map out the "historical and exploitative dimensions of those processes" (Rebel 1989a:122), which subordinated the Gaelic culture to one beneath its English invaders. Any "analysis of cultural hegemony," Rebel insists:  . . . has to begin with a precise analysis of social formation; and this . . . has to begin at those historical moments when people enter processes of primary accumulation, when the definitions, negotiations, and structurally determined applications of terms of ownership, property rights, and appropriation change. This is where modes of production are born and die, where they begin and terminate their articulations, where cultural hegemonies struggle for dominance and where they collapse and reform (Rebel 1989b:351).  94  With this in mind, I will commence my analysis by examining the articulation of the traditional Gaelic mode of production with, and its eventual destruction by, the English feudal mode of production, beginning at the time of the first Anglo-Norman invasion in the twelfth century and ending with the Flight of the Earls in 1607.  Until the Tudors came to the throne in the early sixteenth century the Gaelic culture had not been seriously threatened. The preoccupation during this period had been with the subordination of the traditional Gaelic mode of production to the feudal mode of production. However, this changed with the rule of Henry VII and later Henry VIII, as an attack of everything Gaelic began in earnest. Although by the early seventeenth century, the last vestiges of the Gaelic mode of production had all but disappeared, "  capitalism [had] not yet successfully incorporated nor  effectively eliminated all precapitalist [i.e., Gaelic] ideological [or cultural] practices" (Muratori° 1980:40). However, what had begun to occur after the "Flight of the Earls" and what had to a large extent been completed by the early part of the eighteenth century, was a class shift whereby the Catholic middle and upper classes were abandoning many aspects of Gaelic culture, especially language, and leaving them to the rural peasantry and working class poor.  95  In the second section of this chapter, I will examine the Protestant ascendancy's role in restoring the Irish language during the eighteenth and first half of the nineteenth centuries, with special emphasis on their activities in Belfast. ^While the Catholic middle and upper classes, as well as the Catholic clergy, were actively assimilating into the dominant English-speaking culture, the Protestant ascendancy were deeply involved in collecting manuscripts in the old Gaelic language and setting up Gaelic speaking literary and cultural organizations. Why this group of middle-class Protestants chose to devote its time and money to restoring a language and culture that was being stigmatized as inferior and associated with the "uncivilized" rural peasantry will be analyzed.  The political atmosphere of the nineteenth century led to the politicization of the Irish language and the waning of Protestant ascendancy support for its restoration. The concluding section of this chapter, will examine this politicization process and both the alternative and oppositional Irish language activisms that emerged.  96  I. The Pre-Eighteenth Century Battle for Linguistic Hegemony in Ireland  A. The Articulation of the Traditional Gaelic and English Feudal Modes of Productions  1. Inheritance and Property Rights: A Clash of Legal Systems  By the fifth century A.D., an indigenous, highly developed and complex legal system called Brehon Law had been drawn up to "uniformly delineate and enforce the Gaelic method of organizing society throughout Ireland" (Kelley 1982:1). The Brehon Laws were a complete set of authoritative decisions upon nearly every civil, military, and criminal question that may have arisen in the lives of the early Gaelic people (Hayden and Moonan 1927:62). Medieval Gaelic society comprised about 150 Gaelic clan territories or petty states called tuatha. The organization and structure of the tuatha was of an aristocratic nature and the states were often violently defended by armies led by the clan kings. The various ranks in Gaelic society were regulated by Brehon Laws which enumerated their rights and privileges and governed relationships between and among their numbers. Clan membership was extremely important to all members of Gaelic society, as it ensured the individual of both political and  97  property rights. This was especially true for illegitimate children, who under the custom of "naming" could be "affiliated" with a clan solely on the sworn declaration of a mother just before death (Nicholls 1972:11, 77). The usual practice Nicholls claims, was for the mother to name a clan chief as the father of her child. As Brehon Law did not distinguish between the legitimate and illegitimate child, either had the right to inherit clan chiefdomship, or at least a share of the clan's property. Inheritance in Irish society was governed by the customs of Gavelkind and Tanistry. "'Gavelkind' was the Gaelic practice whereby the lands of a family group were re-distributed on the death of one of its landholding members [amongst members of his immediate fine or extended fraternal family, rather than going to his children] and 'Tanistry' was the practice whereby during the lifetime of a king or chief, his successor was chosen from among his kindred within a certain degree of consanguinity" (Beckett 1981:34-35n). "The Gaelic chief was chosen by his peers of the derbfine, the ruling family, from 'the eldest and worthiest' of the [male] candidates; his successor, the tanist (hence tanistry) was elected during the chief's lifetime" (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 owned  98  by the clan. While the Gaels did grow some wheat and oats, most of the land was utilized for grazing. In this traditional system of land tenure, rather than owning the land, "the chief had but a demesne of his own, called 'mensal lands', and further to maintain him in his office he had rights of tributes, food-rents and military service over his whole 'country' (Curtis 1937:179). The Gaelic Brehon Laws, rules of inheritance and property rights governed by these laws, as well as the society's communal agricultural practices conflicted sharply with the forms of landholding under the feudal system of the Anglo-Normans, which strictly followed the Canon law of primogeniture. Thus by the thirteenth century, when the Anglo-Normans had gained effective control over much of the better land areas, these regions were converted into manors, Canon law introduced, and the English (i.e., Norman) concept of feudal obligation to political structure was brought to bear on the Irish countryside (Pringle 1985:78). The Anglo-Normans introduced a three-field system of crop rotation which converted most of the best land in Ireland into cereal production for the British market (Pringle 1985:77). Anglo-Norman agriculture also emphasized mixed farming, especially the growing of fruits and vegetables. As a consequence, much of the grazing land in Ireland was converted into agricultural land. This action greatly reduced the economic base of the Gaelic chiefs, and  99  threatened their continued economic viability. It was only a combination of geography and strong resistance from the Gaelic clans that prevented the Anglo-Normans from effectively destroying the native Irish economy. The Gaelic resurgence of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries had pushed back effective English control to within the borders of the Pale, a small area which extended a mere thirty miles inland from the ports of Dublin and Drogheda. Outside the Pale, the Irish enjoyed a period of relative freedom with only occasional clashes with the English. This relative peace was broken in 1485, when the first Tudor King, Henry VII, began a process of consolidation of power, designed to build a strong, centralized monarchy at home and to complete the goal of the Anglo-Norman invasion by finally bringing Ireland under total English domination. The Anglo-Norman settlers in the Pale bore the brunt of of Henry VII's action to tighten English control over Ireland. Shortly after ascending to the English throne, he annulled the Act of 1468 which had asserted that in order for English statutes to be valid in Ireland, they first had to be ratified by the Irish Parliament in Dublin. Further, he forbade the Irish Parliament from meeting unless the English King had been informed beforehand of what legislation the assembly intended to sanction. Thus the political power formerly enjoyed by the Anglo-Normans (or  100  Old English) in the Pale was severely curtailed. Gaelic culture was next on Henry's hegemonic agenda when in 1494 the Poyning Laws were enacted, authorizing the King's forces to impose the provisions of the Statutes of Kilkenny on both native and settler living in the Pale. The Statutes of Kilkenny, originally passed in 1367, required everyone living in areas under English control to speak English at all times. The Statutes also prohibited settlers from: following Brehon Laws; adopting Gaelic names (Kelley 1982:2); singing Irish songs and airs; playing the harp; and wearing the Irish kilt. Intermarriage between the native Irish and the English settlers was made a capital crime (Colleary 1985:5). While Henry VII was able to secure the loyalty of the Old English in the Pale, his forces made little headway in subduing the Gaelic and Anglo-Norman population outside this English stronghold. Even as late as 1532, some twenty-three years after Henry VIII became King of England, most of Ireland remained under the control of the Gaelic kings and a few Anglo-Norman lords who had adopted the Gaelic culture and whose loyalty to England was questionable. When Henry VIII came to the throne, his primary focus was the assertion of English domination over the entire Gaelic population. He began by instituting a policy of "Surrender and Regrant" by which the Gaelic chiefs could turn over their land to the English Crown and then receive  101  it back to be held in vassalage. While the Gaelic kings still retained their land, they were forced to abide by English law, and "aristocratic home rule" was brought to an end (Bottigheimer 1982). Henry's next target was the Gaelic culture itself and in this attack he was much more determined and effective than his predecessor had been.  2. The Heart of Gaelic Culture Attacked: The Destruction of the Irish Monasteries and Bardic Schools  By A.D. 590, bardic schools had become prominent throughout the Irish countryside. In each province a large bardic school, similar to a modern university was built. A smaller bardic school serviced the educational needs of each parish. "The Bardic Schools were purely secular institutions. The medium of instruction was the native tongue; and the Irish language and literature, Irish history, and the Brehon Law were intensively and scientifically studied. For centuries they produced a long succession of poets, historians and brehons" (Dowling 1968:7-8). While the Bardic schools catered to the educational needs of those specializing in the arts and law, the monastic schools provided children with a practical education that prepared them for their future roles in Gaelic society. Religion and education had been closely  102  linked in Ireland even before the sixth century, when Irish eminence in both fields had earned the land the title, "the island of saints and scholars" (Darby 1976:113). Many scholars from the continent had sought refuge in the Gaelic monasteries to avoid the invasions of the Barbarians. They brought with them their expertise and books, making Irish monastic schools of the fourth and fifth centuries attractive places of learning for many foreign students, especially ones from England (Scherman 1981:240-249). For the native Irish, who believed from pagan times that, "a man could rise, through his thrift, his profession, or talent given him by the gods, above the station of his father" (Scherman 1981:247), the education provided by the bardic and monastic schools was the key to upward social mobility within Gaelic society. But the Gaelic monasteries were more than just schools. These religious organizations which were erected on the lands of the powerful clan families, penetrated most of the social, economic and political institutions which organized Gaelic life. Scherman (1981:206) writes, "The lay connections of monasteries extended to all conditions of life: they were trading centers, schools, penitentiaries, [and] repositories of food in times of famine." Thus their activities, went far beyond the realm of those of a purely religious and academic institution.  103  Each monastery was a "self-sufficient entity" with its own "absolute ruler." It was the activities of the Irish monastic clergy which evoked the wrath of the Roman Church. Ideally the abbot who ruled the monastery, was chosen from within the family of the patron saint, however when this was not possible, the abbot was appointed from the descendants of the Gaelic king on whose land the monastery was built. After the Anglo-Norman invasion, Canon Law had been declared the official policy of the Irish Church, yet Brehon Law continued to influence the education policies and religious practices of the monasteries in those areas of Ireland that were not under effective British control (Scherman 1981). Under Brehon Law, marriage was a secular issue and divorce was permitted. Thus, the Irish clergy neither practiced nor was obliged to practice celibacy, and thus fathered many legitimate as well as illegitimate children. Along with the rest of the population, the Irish clergy observed tanistry--a procedure in direct violation of Canon Law. As a result, the religious profession in Ireland adopted a "strongly hereditary character." As the monastery was an integral part of the clan, the clergy actively participated in secular wars and battles waged against their rival clans. This activity of the Irish clergy was also strongly denounced by the Roman Church. Thus these Monastic Churches, the custodians of Gaelic education, developed a "distinctive nationalistic character"  104  which deviated in many significant aspects from the nature of the Church of Rome. This "nationalistic character," being reproduced in each new generation of Gaelic children, was seen as a major obstacle to English cultural hegemony in Ireland. In an action aimed at undermining the power of the monasteries, these differences in attitudes and practices between the Irish monastics and the Roman Church, were used as propaganda to justify English domination in Ireland and stigmatize the Gaelic culture as inferior and uncivilized. Liz Curtis writes:  The English colonists justified their actions by arguing that the Irish were culturally inferior to themselves, and that the English would civilize them. They condemned Irish religious practices, criticising them more for failing to practise Catholicism properly than for their rejection of Protestantism. Spenser [poet and author of A View of Ireland (1596), The Faerie Queene, and who had spent 18 years in Ireland amassing considerable property in County Cork] wrote that the Irish "all be papists by their profession, but in the same so blindly and brutishly uninformed (for the most part) that not one amongst a hundred knoweth any ground of Religion, or any Article of his faith" (Curtis 1984:17).  A more direct attack on the bardic and monastic systems was implemented when Henry VIII came to the throne. In 1534, Henry VIII broke with Rome and established a separate Church of England. This independence from Roman Catholicism by the English monarch was soon forced on  105  Ireland--an almost entirely Catholic island. The Church of Ireland was established with the English monarch at its head, no longer acknowledging the superiority of the Pope. To the old English living in the Pale, the newly established Church did not appear to pose a serious threat to either the doctrine or the liturgy of their faith. Thus when Henry VIII drafted three bills and presented them to the Irish Parliament in 1537, all passed with little dissention. The first was an act denying papal authority in Ireland; the second prescribed for office holders, an oath acknowledging royal supremacy; and the third proposed the dissolution of thirteen of Ireland's monasteries (Bottigheimer 1982:79-80). The dissolution of the monasteries--the pride of Gaelic religious life and centres of learning and creativity-struck at the very heart of Gaelic culture. Monastic houses totalled more than four hundred in 1534, in which between four and five thousand monastics resided (Bottigheimer 1982:80). The suppression of the monasteries which began in earnest in 1539 saw, "the monks expelled and their possessions taken away . . . [and] buildings which had been the pride of the pious founders [came] into the hands of the despoiler, and were pulled down or suffered to fall into decay" (Dowling 1968:15). As these institutions were central to the reproduction of Gaelic society, it is hardly surprising that the resistance to this policy was strongest in the very traditional regions of Ireland.  106  Bottigheimer (1982:81) writes that, "By Henry VIII's death in 1547 nearly one-half of the monasteries had been dissolved, leaving only those in the strongly Gaelic regions of northwestern Ulster, northern Connacht and southwestern Munster mainly untouched." Along with the destruction of the monasteries, Henry VIII instituted a policy of active assimilation directly aimed at the destruction of the Gaelic language and religion, establishing in 1537 a system of Parish Schools which were to:  introduce a knowledge of the English language among the native Irish. This Act enjoined on oath every clergyman to "keepe, or cause to be kept, within the place, territory, or paroch, where he shall have . . . benefice or promotion, a schole for to learne English." The clergyman was directed to "bid the beades in the Englishe tongue, and preach the work of God in English" (Dowling 1968:26). The Irish language and culture, as expressed in the bards, poets, and others, were again forbidden or even penalized. Ireland was to be made if possible a second England through the complaisant bishops and nobility, and no provision was made for the recognition of Irish and Gaelic tradition (Curtis 1937:170).  Thus, the battle for linguistic hegemony had intensified on two fronts: first, through the practice of demeaning Gaelic culture and using humour to ridicule those who were respected members of the Gaelic society such as the monastics, the bards, and the Gaelic chiefs as well as the Gaelic population as a whole (see Curtis 1984); and  107  secondly, through legislation excluding the use of Gaelic religion or language in the activities of institutions, such as State run schools and Anglican churches.  3. The Irish Language becomes a Class Issue: The Dominant English-speaking Culture Takes Root  Claiming that Henry VII and Henry VIII had no desire to extirpate Gaelic culture or aristocracy, but only to assimilate both to the English monarchy, however Bottigheimer (1982:101-102) writes that under Elizabeth I:  English policy was openly hostile towards the Irish and especially Gaelic society. Assimilation was replaced as an objective by "reformation", a remodelling which went far beyond religion to include law, language, custom and even social habits.  Elizabeth began her rule by withdrawing all of the concessions made to Catholics during the brief reign of the Catholic Queen Mary. Laws were passed requiring the use of The Book of Common Prayer and fines were imposed on those who did not attend an English or Anglican Church:  By the act of Uniformity the new Book of Common Prayer [1560] was imposed upon all ordained clergy, and attendance at the State Church was made compulsory on pain of a fine of one shilling each Sunday (the "Recusancy" fine). English was the language of the prayer book, and yet this  108  language was only understood by a minority of the people. It was provided that Latin might be used instead, but no provision was made for the Irish language, which all the Gaelic race spoke and most of the Old English understood (Curtis 1937:182-183).  During the reign of Elizabeth I, the destruction of the traditional Gaelic mode of production and the consolidation of political power was completed. The policy of Plantation was continued, started on a small scale by Queen Mary. This entailed the dividing of the Irish countryside into shires or counties, each administered by a loyal sheriff. The lands of the Irish lords who rebelled against the Crown's authority were confiscated and these estates were then leased to English settlers of the Protestant faith and therefore considered loyal to the Crown. When the shire system was imposed upon the province of Ulster--by this time the only area in which Irish power and Gaelic culture remained intact--a rebellion broke out. The persistence of Gaelic culture in Ulster was, according to Busteed (1972:4), partly because a strong Gaelic military and social organization had successfully resisted the foreign invaders, and partly because "such a vigorous people could 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 were faced with the strongest resistance they had yet encountered in their struggle to subjugate Ireland.  109  The Ulster Gaelic chieftain, Hugh O'Neill "appealed for solidarity between the Gaels, whose traditional way of life was being threatened by the consolidation of Tudor power and the imposition of English law. He also appealed for solidarity between Catholics against the Protestant English" (Pringle 1985:93). However, Hugh O'Neill's plea for group solidarity of all the Irish population, based on their Gaelic cultural origin and common religion, failed. In the wake of the total military defeat of the Ulster chieftains, most of the Gaelic nobility forfeited all Irish rights to land and property and fled overseas to the Continent. Deprived of their natural military and political leaders, the Irish population was left disorganized and powerless to resist foreign English domination.  After the defeat of the last of the Gaelic chiefs in 1603 and the abolishment of the Brehon Laws of tanistry and gavelkind in 1608 and 1609 (Beckett 1981:34-35), Canon Law became the official practice of both the Old English and Gaelic Irish Churches. As oppression against those of the Catholic faith in Ireland and the Gaelic language intensified throughout the seventeenth century, its effect was felt mostly among the middle and upper Irish Catholic classes.  110  The Irish language and culture continued to be devalued and lampooned by English historians and entertainers. For example, Liz Curtis (1984:31) quotes from a 1693 history of Ireland by Nathaniel Crouch:  the English endeavoured to civilise the people, and to introduce the English laws, language, habit and customs among them, thereby to reduce them to civility, yet such was their rough, rebellious disposition, and their implacable malice to the English, that nothing could attemper, or reduce them to any tolerable patience; so that in all times, as well as when they were admitted into the condition of subjects, as while they were esteemed and treated as enemies, they took all advantages, most perfidiously to rise up and imbrue their hands in the blood of their English neighbours, and Ireland hath long continued a true Alcedama, or field of blood, and a dismal sepulchre for the English nation . . .  Curtis continues (1984:34), quoting from the preface of a 1749 joke book titled Teagueland Jests and Bog Witticisms:  The bulls and witticisms that too frequently drop from Irish mouths have made them the discourse and entertainment of all sorts of companies. Nothing more recommends Teague and his countrymen than their natural stupidity.  This stigmatizing of Irish culture and language, when coupled with the Penal Laws of 1691, had the dual purpose:  . . . firstly, of converting as many of the Irish Catholics as possible, particularly those of the upper and landowning class, to the Protestant religion, and secondly, of excluding those who  111  remained Catholics from the rights: to carry arms; from all the professions except the medical; from political power at local and national level; from the possession of landed property except on a short-term lease-hold basis; and from all education, either at home or abroad, except such as was avowedly proselytising in aim (Malcomson 1975:1).  This resulted in the abandonment of the Irish language and many aspects of the traditional Gaelic culture by those who perceived the economic advantage of assimilation into the dominant and by this time effective English culture. Beckett (1981:37) elaborates:  The Anglicization of the upper classes of Gaelic society, so far as language and dress were concerned, had already made some progress by the end of the sixteenth century. . . . Among the upper classes, also, the use of the English language made great progress; and though they no doubt remained more at home in Irish, it is probable that by the end of James's reign most of them spoke English . . .  Deprived of the traditional Gaelic aristocracy which had given the language and the culture authenticity and prestige, both "descended into the ranks of the peasantry, who themselves, as a result of frequent confiscations, were soon a blend of the noblest names of the old order and the blood of the common people" (Curtis 1937:271). Thus the battle for linguistic hegemony had been in England's favour, but its rule would not be without resistance and direct challenge, as will be illustrated below.  112  II. The Restoration of the Irish Language: The Protestant Ascendancy and the Gaelic Culture of the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries  Edmund Spenser, writing at the end of Elizabeth's reign, said in defence of the "extermination" policy enacted by the Tudors against the Irish language:  It hath ever been the use of the conquerors to despise the language of the conquered, and to force him by all means to learn his (quoted in 6 Fiaich 1969:104).  By the eighteenth century, the Catholic middle and upper classes had largely abandoned the Irish language in favour of English, for economic reasons. The Catholic Church too, in reaction to the religious hegemonic threat from the new Protestant order, who had by this time realized the proselytizing benefits of translating the Bible into Irish, was ". . . encourag[ing] their flock to speak English rather than Irish, and burn Gaelic manuscripts" (MacP6ilin 1990b:31). The Protestant ascendancy however, was becoming interested in this "despised" language and this interest was not solely in its value as a tool for proselytizing. A discussion of the Protestant ascendancy's efforts to restore this stigmatized language will begin this section.  113  In following part of this section, I will argue that the restoration of the Irish language primarily by Ulster Presbyterians was differently motivated from that in the rest of Ireland and by the late eighteenth century, this Irish language activism had begun to assume two distinctly recognizable linguistic strands of identity. One strand included those Protestants who saw themselves as culturally Irish but politically English (or British), and the other strand consisted of those who identified themselves as both culturally and politically Irish.  A. The Protestant Ascendancy and the Restoration of the Irish Language The seventeenth century had been a period of intense colonialism throughout the non-European world. "Missionization" directed at tribal "savages" had become an integral part of this colonial effort. From the eighteenth century onward the intellectual community in Britain and elsewhere had become preoccupied with "saving" traditional cultures--on paper--before they were lost forever (see Stocking 1971). This was also the age of Romanticism and antiquarianism. Thus it was in this intellectual and political environment that some members of the Protestant educated middle classes and even some of the "country gentry" began to show an interest in the Irish language (6 Fiaich 1969:107).  114  Many of these early attempts at the restoration of the Irish language concerned themselves primarily with:  the investigation and publication of the source material of Irish manuscripts . . . the older literature or . . . the contents of the Irish historical documents and annals--and the vindication of Irish learning . . . [and] were usually propagandist, scholarly and defensive in character. . . . [The efforts of these Protestants] were of importance in so much as they played no small part in the slow growth of a national awareness of the significance of the language and of its value to the Irish people, but in general they showed little interest in the spoken language or in its survival as a vernacular (6 hAilin 1969:91).  6 hAilin (1969:91) offers one reason for this disinterest in reviving the contemporary Irish language, saying that before the famine, the vernacular of Ireland was in no danger as Irish was widely spoken despite continuing efforts by the English authorities to eradicate it and replace it with English. The anti-Irish propaganda of the period, that had stigmatized the Irish culture and language as "uncivilized" and inferior, provides another clue to why these early restoration groups confined their efforts to collecting and publishing historical Irish manuscripts and documents. As 6 hAilin (1969:92) writes:  None of . . . the founders of such societies as The Gaelic Society of Dublin (1806), the Iberno-Celtic Society (1818), and the  115  Irish Archaeological Society (1840) . . . had any interest in contemporary literature, and the average ascendancy view of the spoken language is well summed up in a pamphlet of 1822 which declares "the common Irish are naturally shrewd, but very ignorant and deficient in mental culture; from the barbarous tongue in which they converse which operates as an effectual bar to any literary attainment." Another contemporary view was that speaking Irish spoiled the English accent and created a prejudice against one in polite society.  Thus to many of the Protestants involved in some of these earlier groups, the interest in the Irish language was for the most part, purely academic. It was in Ulster, and particularly within the large Presbyterian population of Belfast--which like the Catholics, was suffering the impact of the Penal Laws--where this interest in the Irish language and culture became more than an academic hobby. Among that portion of the Presbyterians who went on to organize the United Irishmen, this nascent interest became incorporated into a nationalist struggle for independence.  B. Murmurs of Alternative Irish Language Activism: Ulster's Protestants and Irish Language Revivalism, Pre-1850  Belfast, nestled in the heart of the last Gaelic stronghold able to resist English encroachment until the year 1607, began as an English garrison of the twelfth century. Even before it received its town charter in 1613,  116  Belfast had become a significant and prosperous seaport. From its beginning Belfast was very much a Protestant, essentially Presbyterian town and remained so into the eighteenth century. While the Penal Laws denied Presbyterians political power as well as the right to vote or to buy land, they were free to practice their religion, as they were their professions or trades (Budge and O'Leary 1973:4). Thus Belfast Presbyterians were able to benefit from the town's growing profits from commerce and the cotton industry. In 1793, England was involved in a war with Revolutionary France, highlighting--as in the twelfth century--Ireland's strategic importance in securing England's western flank. This vulnerability, as well as England's need for recruits to replenish her armies, provided a strong incentive to remove the restrictions the Penal Laws had imposed on the Catholic and Presbyterian population. The prevailing belief was that "Ireland would be less vulnerable to invasion if its people were tranquillized by concessions, and more amenable to a recruiting-drive if the Catholic rank-and-file were recruited by Catholic officers" (Northern Ireland Public Records Office 1976:29). However, these measures were insufficient to quell the growing dissatisfaction in Ireland and in the wake of the rebellion by the United Irishmen in 1798, the Dublin government was abolished and Ireland was  117  integrated with the United Kingdom. The Act of Union in 1801, lifted restrictions on industry and trade between Britain and Ireland, and Ulster--especially Belfast-prospered. "Steam power revolutionized the linen industry, an engineering industry developed and eventually shipbuilding as well" (Farrell 1980:14). From surrounding rural areas, Catholics came to Belfast to sell cattle or to obtain work as cotton weavers, and when the cotton industry collapsed, as labourers in the linen factories. Those who stayed, settled in the areas of the city around Divis Mountain and Black Mountain, areas now collectively known as West Belfast. The Catholic population remained at or near eight percent of the total population until the beginning of the nineteenth century, but jumped in 1808 to sixteen percent (Budge and O'Leary 1973:32). The influx of Catholics during the period 1750 to 1810 had been welcome by Belfast's Protestant population. Protestants, as a gesture of goodwill, paid for the building of Belfast's first Catholic Church, St. Mary's, in Chapel Lane which opened in 1784 (Boyd 1987:4-5). This was one of the few periods of religious tolerance and co-operation in Belfast's history (Boyd 1987:2-3; Budge and O'Leary 1973). At the dawn of the nineteenth century, Belfast--known locally as the "Athens of the North"--was similarly endowed with talented people in the areas of politics, science, industry and culture (MacPtiilin 1990a:28).^In the midst of  118  this fury of intellectual and industrial activity arose an interest in Irish music and language. This interest was largely fostered by Belfast Presbyterians who--if O'Snodaigh's (1973:2-7) suggestion that many of the Scottish settlers in Ulster were Gaelic speakers is correct--may have been motivated by their own Gaelic tradition which had its ancestral roots in Ireland. Throughout the eighteenth and well into the nineteenth centuries, a growing number of Belfast groups were set up to stimulate interest in the Irish language. "The radical Belfast of the seventeen nineties" saw the setting up of many diverse groups. One of these groups was the "Belfast Reading Society (from which came the Linenhall Library) [that had resolved] on 2 March 1793, [to make funds available to encourage] the obtaining and purchase of books and manuscripts in the Irish language" (O'Snodaigh 1973:12). The aim of the Reading Society was to make this material publicly available to all, since prior to this time most works in the Irish language were collected by individuals. The Belfast Harp Society, founded in 1791, had goals that transcended a routine preservation of "the Ancient Music and Poetry of Ireland" into the reviving and perpetuation of the otherwise forgotten arts (O'Snodaigh 1973:12). These and the groups that followed were also active in promoting the learning and use of the Irish language through the sponsoring of instructional classes.  119  O'Snodaigh (1973) argues in Hidden Ulster that, "the Irish language stratum is a deep and significant one in the hidden heritage of the Ulster Protestant," and goes on to describe some other pre-1850 Irish language and music groups of Belfast in which Ulster Protestants played a prominent role:  (a) The Literary Society, 1801, "one of the many precursors of the Gaelic League." (b) The Irish Harp Society founded in 1808: i) to enable blind boys and girls with the means of making a living by playing the harp; and ii) to stimulate interest in "the study of the Irish language, history and antiquities." (c) The Belfast Academical Institution (1810) (later to become Queen's University, Belfast), taught Irish as an academic subject.  In 1830, Cuideacht Gaedhilge Uladh (or the Ulster Gaelic Society) was established. This society took a major step beyond the antiquarian nature of its predecessors in the South, taking an active interest in the contemporary Irish language (6 hAilin 1969:93). O'Snodaigh (1973:19) describes this group:  The Society and its members, mostly middle class Belfast Presbyterians, were not only . . . extremely active in collecting, copying, and editing old Irish manuscripts and in commissioning  120  scribes around the country to record [the] . . . many recent compositions [that] . . . had only been in oral circulation beforehand . . . [but were] teaching and organising teaching [of Irish], [and] lobbying, [and] corresponding with similarly disposed people [on behalf of the language]. . . . [This group also published an Irish] translation of Maria Edgeworth's Forgive and Forget and Rosanna in 1833.  Although, like their southern counterparts, these pre-1850 groups were non-political in nature, they had transcended the southern attitude toward the Irish language by advocating its use in everyday speech. Importance was also placed on the oral tradition of Irish speakers. Rather than just regarding the language as an artifact to be preserved for its museum value, the objective of many southern Irish language restoration groups, some of the members of these Belfast groups and their students, especially in the 1790s, seem to have had more than a cultural interest in the language.^It is on these people that the remainder of the discussion in this section will focus.  C. Nascent Oppositional Irish Language Activism: The United Irishmen Rising 1798  That some of Belfast's Irish language enthusiasts recognized the language as part of their own Gaelic tradition and as such having the potential to culturally  121  unite settler and native to their mutual benefit, is hinted at in this 1791 notice encouraging enrolment in Irish classes:  Irish Language An attempt to revive the grammatical and critical knowledge of the Irish language in this town is generously made by Mr. Lynch: he teaches publicly in the Academy and privately in several families . . . It is particularly interesting to all who wish for the improvement and Union of this neglected and divided kingdom. By our understanding and speaking it we could more easily and effectually communicate our sentiments and instructions to our Countrymen; and thus mutually improve and conciliate each other's affections. The merchant and artist would reap great benefit from the knowledge of it. They would then be qualified for carrying on Trade and Manufactures in every part of their native country (quoted in O'Snodaigh 1973:10).  It was this same Mr. Lynch, O'Snodaigh (1973:11) and o Fiaich (1969:108) claim, who probably wrote with Thomas Russell one of his students (or perhaps alone), the preface to the first Irish language magazine ever published, Bolg an tSolair, in October 1795. This magazine was a supplement to  the publication Northern Star, the United Irishmen paper in Belfast, which Russell produced. (5 Fiaich (1969:108) describes Bolg an tSolair as:  Selling to thirteen pence a copy, it had a hundred and twenty small pages containing an introduction to Irish grammar, simple dialogues in Irish with English translation, and a selection of Fiannalocht poems, also with translation. The  122  contents were obviously meant to aid the reader in picking up some knowledge of the spoken language (6 Fiaich 1969:108).  The contents of this preface was also political in that it, in James Scott's (1990) terms, symbolically declared war, breaching the hidden transcript by publicly declaring the abuses the English had inflicted on the Irish language and appealing for Irishmen to rectify these wrongs. The purpose of the preface was:  To recommend the Irish language to the notice of Irishmen . . . any arguments laid down on that head, to persuade the natives that their own language is of some importance to them, would appear quite superfluous in the eyes of foreigners; but seeing that the Gaelic has been not only banished from the court, the college and the bar, but that many tongues and pens have been employed to cry it down and to persuade the ignorant that it was a harsh and barbarous jargon, and that their ancestors, from whom they derived it, were an ignorant, uncultivated people--it becomes then necessary to say something in reply . . . The Irish enjoyed their own laws and language, till the reigns of Elizabeth and James, when the English laws were universally established and English schools were erected with the strict injunction that the vernacular tongue should be no longer spoken in the seminaries . . . It is chiefly with a view to prevent in some measure the total neglect, and to diffuse the beauties of this ancient and once-admired language that the following compilation is offered to the public, hoping to afford a pleasing retrospect to every Irishman, who respects the traditions, or considers the language and compositions of our early ancestors, as a matter of curiosity or importance (quoted in O'Snodaigh 1973:11-12).  123  There is evidence that the author of this preface, whether Lynch or Russell (or indeed both), identifies himself as culturally Irish. This cultural identification may be symbolic, as suggested by Whittaker (1986) or Heiberg (1979) (see chapter one above), as illustrated by the phrase, "to every Irishman, who respects the traditions"; or in fact imply a direct biological link as proposed by Barth (1969) and others, and as intimated by, "or considers the language and compositions of our early ancestors." The use of the Irish language as a vehicle to make a political statement can also be argued, given that the aims of the United Irishmen were to gain self-determination for Ireland. This political slant could be found in the implied condemnation of the English "foreigners" who tried though physical coercion and derision to destroy "this ancient and once-admired" language. That the Irish language was a part of the United Irishmen's ideology is further evidenced by a statement cited by ó Fiaich (1969:108) when writing of another Belfast United Irishman, Lord Edward Fitzgerald. o Fiaich reports on an account given by a biographer of Lord Fitzgerald of, "a meeting at his home [by the United Irishmen leaders] where it was decided 'that the English language should be abolished, setting themselves forthwith to the study of the Irish tongue'." This oppositional Irish language activism is not unlike that found in the Republican Movement today. While they would probably settle for  124  bilingualism, republican members are actively trying to Gaelicize their rank and file. The actual role of the Irish language in mobilizing popular support for the United Irishmen Rebellion can only be speculated on. That the most prominent Presbyterians who had leadership roles in this Rebellion--Ulstermen: Thomas Russell, Henry Joy McCracken, Lord Edward Fitzgerald, Dr. William Dennan, and even the Rebellion's leader, Wolfe Tone--took time to attend Irish classes and to vocalize the oppression of the language is however, an indication that these men of '98 were part of a segment of the Protestant population 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 Belfast The fragile "respectability" the Irish language had gained--largely through the efforts of various Belfast societies devoted to its restoration and revival--in the early decades of the nineteenth century, was shattered by the dramatic, often violent political events that marred relations between Protestants and Catholics from the 1830s on. This section will begin with an examination of the political factors underlying these events and their ultimate effect on the attitudes of middle class Protestants toward the Irish language.  125  Following this will be a discussion of the National School system of 1831 and the near fatal blow it dealt to an already faltering Irish language. To conclude this section, the alternative and oppositional Irish language activism that arose as a reaction to this latest attempt by the English to secure linguistic hegemony will be analyzed.  A. Belfast: The Turbulent Nineteenth Century  By the 1830s, the tolerance and goodwill between Belfast Catholics and Protestants that had prevailed only two decades earlier, was rapidly dissolving. The Catholic population had doubled from sixteen percent in 1808 to thirty-four percent in 1834, and this rapid increase had begun to make Protestants uneasy. The influx of Catholics from the poverty-stricken rural areas, hoping to reap some benefits from Belfast's continued prosperity, had added to the city's overcrowding, poor sanitation, and endemic disease. These social problems coupled with cheap Catholic labour had intensified competition for jobs and housing. The economic boom at the turn of the nineteenth century had begun to wane and low wages and periodic depressions intensified the already competitive atmosphere--an atmosphere in which established Protestants regarded Catholics as an economic threat (Farrell 1980:16).  126  This period also saw a gain in popular support for the Orange Order, an exclusively Protestant organization formed in 1795. This support was bolstered by lobbying efforts against Catholic emancipation (a freedom which should have been part of the reform package of 1793 with the repeal of the Penal Laws, but was not enacted until 1829) and other government legislation perceived as undermining the political power of the Protestants in Ireland. An additional factor contributing to the rapidly deteriorating relations between Belfast Protestants and Catholics was the emergence of a new breed of extremist clerics or "street preachers." Economic insecurity, the activities of the Orange Order and street preachers such as Rev. Henry Cooke, Rev. Thomas Drew and Rev. Hugh (Roaring) Hanna played a central role in the serious disturbances or riots in Belfast. Starting in 1813 and recurring throughout the century, 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 of the circumstances leading to one of these riots, the one in 1857, will serve to illustrate how the above factors combined to produce deadly results. The change in Belfast's population makeup combined with Catholic emancipation had, The Presbyterian Church of Ireland (1975:14) claims, "re-awakened in the Protestants of Ireland fears of resurgent popery and of an undermining of  127  the Protestant position within Britain and Ireland." This perceived Catholic threat to Protestant economic, political and religious hegemony in Belfast was worked up to a fever pitch in July of 1857, when Rev. Thomas Drew spoke to a large, predominantly Orangeman, crowd. The events directly preceding the 1857 riot are described by Boyd (1987:12) who writes that on Sunday, July 12, 1857:  When Drew, dressed in the plain vestments of an Episcopalian priest, mounted the pulpit . . . in Christ Church the congregation fell silent. The people had come from many parts of Belfast and were estimated at more than 2,000. The first, carefully chosen words of his sermon were intended to flatter them: Matthew five (he intoned), verses thirteen, fourteen, fifteen and sixteen . . . Ye are the salt of the earth. Ye are the light of the world. Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven. . . . But this flattery soon digressed to a fanatical attack on the Catholic Church, an inflammatory theme common in the street sermons of Drew's contemporaries, Cooke and "Roaring" Hanna. Drew continued: The Sermon on the Mount is an everlasting rebuke to all intolerance. . . old time lords of high degree, with their own hands, strained on the rack the limbs of the delicate Protestant women, prelates dabbled in the gore of their helpless victims . . . cells of the Pope's prisons with the calcined bones of men and cemented with human gore and human hair (quoted in Boyd 1987:12).  128  After this rousing speech by Drew, the Orangemen left quietly but a few days later they attacked a Catholic district, beginning ten continuous days of fighting, that continued intermittently until September 6, 1857 (Budge and O'Leary 1973:79-80). The government inquiry into the causes of the riot blamed the Orange Order and criticized their parades marking the victory of the Protestant William III over the Catholic James II (July 12, 1690), claiming both to be causal factors of the periodic violence in Belfast (Boyd 1987; Budge and O'Leary 1973). This turbulent period in Protestant-Catholic relations, had a profound effect on the attitude of the city's Protestants toward the Irish language. O'Snodaigh (1973:22) best sums up the effect these events had on the attitude of the Protestant middle class, saying that: Up to about 1850 it was every bit as normal for a member of that class in society to be a member of the Harp Society or of Cuideacht Graedhilge Uladh as it was to belong to the Literary Society or the Natural History and Philosophic Society. After, say 1860, such being the byeproducts of political tension, the Irish language began to become more associated in the public mind with Catholicism (despite the continued existence of communities of Irish-speaking Protestants, e.g., in Rathlin and Donegal, and despite the controversy twenty years earlier in the Glens when it was the Presbyterians who were on the side of Irish, whereas the reaction of the Catholic clergy "destroyed along the Antrim coast the Irish language", in the words of Monsignor O'Laverty). While Irish continued to be spoken in the North it was looked upon with a certain suspicion by people who had no first hand knowledge of it and who seldom met the Irish speakers, many of whom had little or no literacy in it.  129  In this atmosphere of political upheaval, those Protestants who had promoted the Irish language found it difficult to find the funds to keep their societies and institutions viable. Cuideacht Gaedhilge Uladh (or the Ulster Gaelic Society) established in 1830, ceased effective operation in 1943. The Belfast Academical Institution dropped Irish classes from its academic program, although O'Snodaigh (1973:20-21) writes that one instructor at the Academy did continue teaching Irish until the 1880s.  Queen's University was established in 1849 with a chair in Celtic studies, but as O'Snodaigh (1973:21) relates, because "of the decline in public interest, or hostility, or of both, Irish was not a normal B.A. subject." He continues, saying that the only professor in this department had very few students and that when he died in 1862, his position was not filled even though there had been requests from the public to do so.^(It should be noted here that by public O'Snodaigh presumably means the Protestant public as most Catholics who would be interested in learning Irish would have been financially unable to attend the university.) It was not until 1909 that Irish was again taught as a subject at Queen's, and a professorship in Celtic Studies was not re-established until 1945.  130  B. Another Victory for Linguistic Hegemony: The National School Act of 1831  To Gellner (1980, 1981) culture is communication, broadly defined, with language as its most important component. Thus for members to fully participate in modern society, an extensive, formal, centrally-controlled and--Gellner emphasizes--linguistically uniform, state-wide educational system is necessary. Gellner (1980:244) adds that nowadays, "it is the language of the ecole maternelle and not the mother tongue, that matters." This policy of using the school system to linguistically "homogenize" the population seems to have been an underlying philosophy of British cultural hegemony in Ireland long before the age of modernization. From the days of Henry VIII with the establishment of the first Parish Schools in 1537, the education system had been used as a tool by the English for religious and linguistic conversion of the Irish masses. The Charity Schools, introduced by Bishop Moule in 1712, were based on the philosophy that, "the whole nation may in time be made both Protestant and English." O'Snodaigh (1973:8) maintains that Charter Schools, established in 1731 "for the instruction of the children of the Irish natives in the English tongue and the fundamental principles of the true religion," proved to be more effective in Ulster than the Charity Schools, in achieving their goals.  131  The Education Act of 1831 established in Ireland a government-subsidized, nationwide system of non-denominational education in which all instruction was to be in English even though at the time more than twenty percent of the Irish people spoke only Gaelic. Lando (1981:235) writes that in addition to English being the only language of instruction, only English literature and history were taught in these schools, because the English politicians believed this English oriented curriculum would accelerate the Anglicization of Ireland. While these National Schools were described as non-denominational, Lando (1981:235) reports that the Protestant politicians who drafted this legislation did have a religious motivation in mind in that they "hoped that by taking the education of future Irish citizens out of the hands of the priests, they would be able to weaken the hold of the Catholic church over the country."  The effects of this new educational system on the Irish language and Gaelic culture were "fatal" (Collins 1990:66; Coolahan 1981:21; Curtis 1937:362; O'Snodaigh 1973:8). The scope of this devastation of the Irish language (see Figures 1 and 2) and the failure of the National School system to produce a religiously homogeneous population, are summed up by Beckett (1981:186) who writes:  132  Figure 1^Ireland: Irish Speaking Population Distribution 1851 (Source: Census of Population, Ireland 1851.)  133  Over 80%  50 - 80% 10 - 50%  Under 10%  0 Dublin  0  r 1111 - Waterford "  Figure 2^Ireland: Irish Speaking Population Distribution 1891 (Source: Census of Population, Ireland 1891.)  134  The "national schools" did a great deal towards abolishing illiteracy, but almost nothing towards increasing mutual understanding between Irishmen of different faiths. One effect of the new system was to discourage the use of the Irish language. In 1831 the Irish-speaking population probably numbered between 1,000,000 and 1,500,000; fifty years later it had shrunk into insignificance; and the national schools, though by no means the only cause of the decline, contributed substantially to it. 6  C. Alternative and Oppositional Irish Language Activism Come of Age: Conradh na Gaeilge (Gaelic League) and Sinn Fein  As tensions increased in Belfast in the 1830s and 1840s a mass movement for Irish nationalism 7 was taking form throughout the whole of Ireland under the leadership of Daniel O'Connell, a middle-class Dublin Catholic. Economic, political and religious discrimination had been reasons enough to attract enormous peasant support for this "traditional" and "constitutional" nationalist movement. However, the opposition of the Catholic ascendancy to any moves that would destabilize the status quo and the distrust of O'Connell by Protestants, even those who may have seen themselves as culturally and politically Irish, posed major obstacles to the movement's success (Cronin 1981:66, 67). Cronin (1981:67) writes that O'Connell, realizing that he needed "Protestant allies of national outlook . . . discovered a way of reaching them through a weekly journal,  The Nation, which began publication in October of 1842 . . .  135  [and employed as its chief writer] Thomas Davis, a Protestant barrister and graduate of Trinity College, Dublin." O'Connell was, according to Curtis (1937:359-360) "no friend to the Gaelic past and though he could and often did address crowds in Irish, he told them that the old language was a barrier to modern progress." Davis on the other hand, whose hobby was Irish history but who had been unable to master the actual language, saw the Irish language and culture as having integral roles in developing a nationalism that would "embrace all Irishmen" (Cronin 1981:67).8 Several historians have argued that the writing on the Irish language of Thomas Davis has strongly influenced modern cultural and political Irish language revivalist movements. For example, Cronin (1981:71) claims Davis "supplied the watchwords of the Gaelic League and the slogans of Arthur Griffith's Sinn Fein . . . [when he wrote:] 'the loss of one's native tongue [is] . . . the worst 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 its territories.'" 6 hAilin (1969:93) also credits Davis with anticipating the "the views of the founders of the Gaelic League, and even foreshadow[ing] the bilingual programme of Patrick Pearse," when Davis avowed:  136  Simply requiring the teachers of the National Schools in these Irish-speaking districts to know Irish, and supplying them with Irish translations of the school books would guard the language, where it now exists, and prevent it from being swept away by the English tongue (quoted in 6 hAilin 1969:93).  Thus by the mid-nineteenth century the roots of both alternative and oppositional Irish language activism were clearly visible. The final two parts of this section will conclude with a discussion of each of these forms of Irish language activism as it was manifested in the Gaelic League and Sinn Fein. Particular attention will be paid to the underlying philosophies of each of these two groups toward the revival of the Irish language and the challenges each presented to British linguistic hegemony.  1. Pre-Partition Alternative Irish Language Activism: The Gaelic League  Resistance to the "tide of Anglicization" that had beset Ireland after the establishment of the National School system initially came from individuals and the combined efforts of small groups of like-minded people who tried to stimulate 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 Catholic clergy . . . published a number of literary works in the  137  language . . . [and] was a Patron of The Society for the Preservation of the Irish Language" (6 hAilin 1969:94). This Society, founded in 1876, tended to be more an academic than a popular linguistic movement. Many of its members however, did develop ideas that went beyond the academic approach to language education and restoration. These members later went on to become leaders of the Gaelic League movement (6 hAilin 1969:94). The primary aim of the Society for the Preservation of the Irish Language was to put Irish on the school curriculum, and in this they partially succeeded. Through the efforts of the Society, "Celtic" language and literature became subjects for examination in the intermediate schools in 1878 (6 hAilin 1969:94-95). The Gaelic Union, a faction that broke away from the above Society placed its emphasis on encouraging both teachers and pupils to learn Irish by organizing Irish language competitions with prizes.^Inexpensive Irish language books--a rarity at any price--many containing instructional material useful in the teaching of Irish, were published by this group. In 1882, the Gaelic Union founded the The Gaelic Journal. This journal devoted itself to reviving interest  in Irish literature and language. The Gaelic Journal was a step ahead of its predecessors that had been primarily interested in the restoration rather than revival of the language. One of its founders, Thomas Flannery, "was  138  careful to point out . . . it was in no antiquarian spirit [that The Gaelic Journal] was founded, nor would it be conducted in such a spirit" (6 hAilin 1969:95). o hAilin (1969:96) credits the founding of The Gaelic Journal as marking "a turning point" in the Irish language revival movement in two ways: first, "it enabled enthusiasts to develop their ideas in public"; and second, it became a vehicle for the emergence of "a modern Irish prose style" 6 hAilin (1969:96). The tenets of modern Irish language revivalism were laid out in November 1892 via a lecture given by Douglas Hyde, a Dublin poet and scholar. Titled "The Necessity for De-Anglicizing Ireland," the lecture focused on the state of the Irish language in nineteenth-century Ireland. This speech has been credited with being a turning point in the development of modern Irish language resistance to English linguistic 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 was politically Unionist. As a child he had learned Irish and had developed a love of Gaelic culture. Cronin (1981:97) writes of his lecture, Hyde "taunted the nationalists for discarding 'with light heart the best claim which we have upon the world's recognition of us as a nationality'--the Irish 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 becoming English'" (Harkness 1988:127). Hyde's lecture was concluded with a prescription for remedying the language situation:  Our once great national tongue (must be revived and the spiritual Irish nation saved.) . . . In order to de-Anglicize ourselves we must at once arrest the decay of the language. (The peasantry who used Irish in their daily speech must be made to feel proud of it.) We can, however, insist, and we shall insist if Home Rule be carried, that the Irish language, which so many foreign scholars of the first calibre find so worthy of study, shall be placed on a par with--or even above--Greek, Latin, and modern languages, in all examinations held under the Irish Government. We can also insist, and we shall insist, that in those baronies where the children speak Irish, Irish shall be taught, and that Irish-speaking school-masters, petty session clerks, and even magistrates be appointed in Irish-speaking districts. If all this were done, it should not be very difficult, with the aid of the foremost foreign scholars, to bring about a tone of thought which would make it disgraceful for an educated Irishman . . . to be ignorant of his own language--would make it at least as disgraceful as for an educated Jew to be quite ignorant of Hebrew (quoted in Cronin 1981:97-98).  On July 31, 1893, Conradh na Gaeilge (The Gaelic League) was formed to rescue the Irish language from extinction by implementing the programme outlined in Hyde's speech of the previous November (Ellis 1972:171; 6 Fearail 1975). The Gaelic League marked a new era in Irish language revival, differing from all previous societies in both its objectives and its organization.^Its two-pronged programme, included, "first the revival of Irish as the vernacular of  140  the whole Irish people and secondly, the creation of a new literature in the Irish tongue" (6 hAilin 1969:96). The enormity of this undertaking became clear when a survey made by the Gaelic League in 1893, found that while ninety-nine percent of the people of Ireland spoke English, eighty-five percent of them could not speak Irish (6 Cuiv 1969:128). Undaunted by these figures, the Gaelic League began operations by setting up locally autonomous branches around the country to organize Irish language teaching and other cultural activities. There were 58 branches of the Gaelic League by 1898, 120 branches by 1900, 964 by 1906, and 588 by 1909.  From the beginning, the Gaelic League pressured the government to introduce Irish into the school system. The ensuing struggle is described by 6 Pearail (1975:30):  In the schools An Conradh [the Gaelic League] continued to play a sort of game with the education authorities and the British Treasury. The game went like this: An Conradh made certain demands for teaching of Irish. The British Government refused them. All shades of public opinion [were] brought to bear by An Conradh and the authorities gave in. However, a short time later the Government introduced some new rule or measure which hit the teaching of Irish. An Conradh mobilized its forces again. There was another submission and a little later another wriggle by the Government and Irish suffered again.  141  As will be discussed below, the game played out in the first decade of the nineteenth century resembled the one that occurred in the last two decades of the same century between the British government and Irish language groups in West Belfast. These groups were in the process of setting up an Irish-medium school system and were engaged in a fight to get Irish, in Hyde's words (quoted above), "placed on a par with--or even above--Greek, Latin, and modern languages" in the school curriculum. During its first ten years of operation, the Gaelic League achieved several significant victories. ^In 1906, the League managed to secure the teaching of Irish during normal school hours in primary schools (Coolahan 1981:36; Ellis 1972:171). Upon examining the methods used for the teaching of modern languages, the League declared them inadequate to achieve the goal of the restoration of Irish into the vernacular. In place of these methods, the League designed a specimen Irish language programme to be used as a guideline in schools, utilizing a direct method--teaching phrases instead of individual words--and emphasizing phonetic drill (6 hAilin 1969:96). The League had also successfully lobbied the government to allow bilingual programmes using qualified Irish language teachers, in the Gaeltacht (Irish-speaking) areas. Outside the education system, classes were set up to teach the Irish language, as well as its history, folklore, music and dances (Coolahan  142  1981:36). To rectify the dearth of adequately trained teachers of Irish, the League set up a summer school in which students at the end of each session had to pass both a written exam and give a sample lesson to their classmates, before qualifying for a teaching certificate (6 hAilin 1969:96).^In its most difficult battle with the government (1910-1913), the League succeeded in getting Irish recognized as an essential matriculation subject in the new National University (Ellis 1972:171; 6 hAilin 1969:99). One of the reasons for the successes of the Gaelic League can be directly attributed to its non-political nature. As 6 hAilin (1960:100) points out, "Hyde and the other founders realised the dangers of introducing either religious or political views to the councils of the League and these were rigidly excluded." The first branch of the Gaelic League in Belfast was set up in 1895, with more than half of it membership being Protestant (MacP6ilin 1990b:31; O'Snodaigh 1973:23). But regardless of its mixed religious makeup and its non-political stance, the Belfast branch of the Gaelic League was regarded by most with suspicion. As a local nineteenth-century writer Cathal O'Byrne, states:  With the advent of the Gaelic League the language came, at least partly, into its own. But the League was never considered quite "respectable" --that awful Belfast word--by the planters. To be a Gaelic Leaguer was to be suspect always (quoted in O'Snodaigh 1973:23).  143  Despite all the successes of the Gaelic League, it failed to achieve its primary goal, "preserving and extending the use of the spoken tongue" (6 hAilin 1969:99). The reason for this, o hAilin (1969:99) writes, is that "no voluntary organisation unsupported by the power of the state could hope to achieve this." As will be clear in the following analysis of alternative Irish language activism in West Belfast, the root cause of the Gaelic League's failure to achieve its overall objective is still the major obstacle to voluntary Irish language groups in West Belfast today.  2. The Irish Language Becomes Part of the Republican Ethos: The Birth of Sinn Fein Hyde's 1892 lecture not only inspired modern alternative Irish language activism--the form of resistance adopted by the Gaelic League to England's cultural hegemony in Ireland--but it "shaped profoundly twentieth-century Irish nationalist ideology, particularly republicanism, although [Cronin adds] that was never Hyde's intention" (Cronin 1981:98). The infusion of the Irish language and culture into the republican ethos can largely be attributed to Padraig Pearse. While still a member of the League, Fearse developed a new system of teaching Irish, elements of which have been incorporated into the teaching practices of both republican and non-republican Irish language activists in West Belfast.  144  It was Pearse who introduced to the League both the direct method of teaching Irish and the concept of bilingual education. In his pamphlet The Murder Machine, Pearse (1916:4) attacked the English system of education, that had been imposed on Ireland, as deliberately seeking to destroy the Irish culture and language rather than having the objective of a proper school system, to educate.  When one uses the term education system as the name of the system of schools, colleges, universities, . . . which the English have established in Ireland, one uses it as a convenient label, just as one uses the term government as a convenient label for the system of administration by police which obtains in Ireland instead of a government. There is no education system in Ireland. The English have established the simulacrum of an education system, but its object is the precise contrary of the object of an education system. Education should foster; this education is meant to repress. Education should inspire; this education is meant to tame. Education should harden; this education is meant to enervate. The English are too wise a people to attempt 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 bilingual school system in Belgium, and its use of the direct method of teaching (i.e., conversation rather than word drills) which he had studied during a trip to the Continent. Upon his return, he put into practice what he had observed by opening in Dublin, St. Enda's Sgoil Eanna School for boys and Sgoil Ite for girls, in the year 1908. The philosophy of these schools embodying Pearse's revolutionary view of  145  an Ireland without England, is a philosophy still very much evident in the current education programme of Sinn Fein. This philosophy is evident in the main points of the schools' syllabus:  (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8)  An Irish standpoint and atmosphere. Bilingual teaching as far as possible. All language teaching on the direct method. Special attention to science, "modern" subjects generally while not neglecting the classical side. Association of pupils with shaping of curriculum, cultivation of observation and reasoning, nature study, etc. Physical culture, Irish games, etc. Systematic inculcation of patriotism and training in the duties of citizenship. Above all, formation of character (An Phoblacht/Republican News 1988f:8).  The Gaelic League had directly challenged England's linguistic hegemony in Ireland. As Hyde put it in his 1892 speech in Dublin, the goal of the Anglicization policy will never be achieved because the Ireland can not be remade into another England. Hyde implored the Irish to "cultivate what they have rejected and build up an Irish nation along Irish lines" (Harkness 1988:128). Yet while Hyde and the League under his leadership called for a cultural revolution that would create an Irish nation with a distinct Irish ethos, these aspirations in no way posed a threat to England's political and economic domination of Ireland. Because of this, England allowed some of the League's cultural demands to 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) of the Gaelic League, "agreed to add to the Constitution a clause stating that An Conradh was devoted to the idea of a 'a free Irish nation' (6 Fearail 1975:44). Shortly after this, Douglas Hyde resigned as President of the League. 6 Fearail (1975:44) states that the reason given by Hyde for his resignation was ill health, but many believed the real reasons were based on the political nature of this clause, and that the League now included in elected positions "a very strong left-wing and 11289 representation." The introduction of this clause split the League into two factions: those who sought to bring about a Gaelic only Ireland; and those who felt it was not enough simply to build an Irish-speaking nation that would remain in bondage. 6 Fearail (1975:44) writes, "Easter, 1916, came and it was discovered that six of the seven men who signed the Proclamation of a Republic had been members of Conradh na Gaeilge, and four of them had been members of An Coiste Gn6, the governing body of the organisation." No longer was the Gaelic League perceived by the authorities to be solely a cultural organization. ^It had in the State's eyes, even stepped beyond what Scott (1990) might have termed "symbolically declaring war," a declaration that could have been overlooked by the British government.  147  Under the circumstances however, the British government's response was predictable, and reflected its current opinion of Irish language organizations that bear too close a resemblance 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 by the British government to be 'a dangerous organisation which encourages and aids persons to commit crimes,' and was banned." Members of the League were harassed by the police and some were arrested. However, locally it was believed that "the banning of Conradh na Gaeilge by the English authorities had not been intended and that there was no evidence of any military activity by its members. [This belief became an 'accepted truth' when] a year later the ban was lifted" (6 Fearail 1975:45).  The Gaelic League resumed its non-political, non-religious policy, continued with its activities, and became more popular than ever. Those who ascribed to Pearse's philosophy of "Ireland not only Gaelic but free as well," went on to form Sinn Fein. Thus alternative and oppositional forms of Irish language resistance to British cultural hegemony were now entrenched in Irish society. Writing in the Manchester Guardian in 1923, Douglas Hyde summarized the development of the Gaelic League in pre-partition days:  148  . . . when, in 1893, the Gaelic League was founded, we openly preached the doctrine of an "Irish Ireland" as distinguished from an Anglo-Irish Ireland, which we stigmatised as third-rate and vulgar. The Gaelic League grew up and became the spiritual father of Sinn Fein, and Sinn Fein's progeny were the Volunteers who forced the English to make the treaty. The Dail is the child of the Volunteers, and thus it descends directly from the Gaelic League, whose traditions it inherits^(quoted in 6 Fearail 1975:46).  IV. Chapter Summary  Two thousand years ago Tacitus wrote, "The language of the conqueror in the mouth of the conquered is ever the language of the slave" (quoted in 6 Fiaich 1969:102). This chapter has outlined the process in which the English conquerors of Ireland imposed their language on the native population, and has traced the development of the two forms of ensuing resistance that attempted if not to remove the conqueror's language altogether, at least to make the Gaelic tongue its equal. The linguistic consequence of the destruction of the Gaelic mode of production was to deprive the Irish language of its aristocratic prestige. The Catholic upper and middle classes abandoned the language and it was passed down to the Irish masses. Stigmatization of the language by English jokesters, writers, and historians, coupled with the introduction of a hostile, repressive education policy,  149  sought to eradicate the Irish language altogether. Reaction to the destruction of the Irish language came from the Protestant ascendancy who, caught up in the antiquarian spirit of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, sought to preserve this "ancient" language as a museum piece. Others saw the Irish language as an effective mechanism in bringing about Protestant hegemony in Ireland. In Ulster however, some Protestants involved in the restoration of the Irish language began to look upon it as part of their common heritage. While this group remained politically British, they began to see themselves as culturally Irish. Other Ulster Protestants envisioned themselves as both politically and culturally Irish and many of these Protestants became leaders in the United Irishmen and took part in the Rebellion of 1798. While the turbulent years that followed in Belfast stigmatized the Irish language as being a subversive, Catholic phenomenon, Protestants continued to take an active role in its revival, as evidenced by the Gaelic League whose Belfast branch attracted Protestants as well as Catholics and continues to have a religiously mixed membership (O'Snodaigh 1973:23). The restoration activities of individuals and groups in the pre-1890 period made no demands on the State with regard to the Irish language, and therefore posed no threat to British cultural hegemony in Ireland. By the time the Gaelic League did start to make demands, a linguistically  150  English, capitalist mode of production was firmly in place in Ireland. Thus the "membrane" separating the "effective dominant culture" and the subordinate Gaelic culture, could afford to be more "permeable" than it had been in the past. As a result the Gaelic League was able to achieve some hard won successes in the area of education. But while it succeeded in placing Irish on the curriculum, English remained the primary language of the school system. The main objective of the Gaelic League--to restore Irish as the vernacular in Ireland--failed however, because it constituted a direct challenge to British linguistic hegemony. Irish republicanism that began with Wolfe Tone and the United Irishmen was always perceived as a threat to England's domination of Ireland and as such was violently attacked by the State. When the Irish language, which had been a part of republican ideology since the 1790s was, through Pearse, made an integral part of the struggle for the self-determination of Ireland, the State made known its strong objections. The Gaelic League was the first Irish language organization to experience the consequences of this new political role of the Irish language, when it was banned by the State and its members were harassed and jailed. When Ireland was divided in 1922 then, the new state of Northern Ireland inherited an education system which had incorporated the successes of the Gaelic League:  1.51  Irish was taught during the normal school day as an optional subject at all levels in the schools and as an extra subject outside of school hours for fees; the government appointed and paid the salary of an Irish language organizer for the school; and training grants were made available for teachers to attend Belfast's two independent Irish language colleges (Andrews 1991:90). The new State also inherited a minority nationalist population "who had just come through the most intense phase of the Irish language revival, [and] saw themselves as Irish," and a Unionist population who saw themselves as British and considered "nationalists to be disloyal and dangerous on religious, political and cultural grounds" (Andrews 1991:91).^In addition, the new State inherited two well established forms of resistance to British cultural hegemony that would continue to make their presence felt in British ruled Northern Ireland.  152  Chapter Four  Pre-1980 Irish Language Activism in Northern Ireland: The Calm before the Storm  Within the Northern Irish language community prior to 1980, open resistance to British linguistic hegemony was at its nadir. One local Belfast Irish language activist described this pre-1980 dispirited attitude, saying that "up until 1981-82 the Irish language revivalist organizations had made no demands on the State. They shrugged their shoulders and accepted that the State would not support what they were doing." This chapter will begin by examining the political atmosphere in Northern Ireland after partition, and the attitude of the new Stormont government toward the Irish language, which together appeared to extinguish the Irish language revival spirit that had been developed by the Gaelic League. After two unsuccessful campaigns in the 1920s--one by Catholic teachers and the other by Comhaltus Uladh (Ulster Gaelic League)--against the anti-Irish bias of the new Ministry of Education, the Irish language activist community turned inward. Resistance during the first sixty years of the Northern Ireland State had been alternative in  153  nature. Without imposing on the State in any way, cultural Irish language activists had opted to continue to maintain and reproduce an Irish language ethos in Belfast by organizing numerous Irish language groups within the nationalist ghettos. This activity culminated in 1969 in the setting up of an Irish speaking community on Shaws Road in West Belfast. The final two sections of this chapter will investigate this pre-1980 Irish language activity in Belfast, concentrating first on the Cumann Chluain Ard, an Irish speaking social club established in 1936, and then on the Shaws Road Irish language community development and the Irish-medium school system it initiated.  I. Ireland Divided: The Irish Language is Attacked by the New Northern Ireland Parliament  On Easter Sunday 1916, with fewer than two thousand men, the rebel forces led by Padraig Pearse and James Connolly seized the General Post Office on O'Connell Street in Dublin, and from this stronghold proclaimed an independent Irish Republic. While the insurrection did not initially have the support of the general population, the indiscriminate brutal retaliation of the Black and Tans--troops sent over by England to restore order--led the Irish people into electing an overwhelming Sinn Fein majority in the general election of December 14, 1918  154  (Bennett 1959:66; Comerford 1969; Greaves 1980:14; Ward 1983:142-43). On January 21, 1919 the first Dail eireann met in Dublin and declared Ireland's independence. This time the British formulated a political response, rather than the usual show of physical force. Under the Government of Ireland Act (1920), Ireland was divided. The Irish Free State was to be a self-governing dominion within the British Empire and would consist of twenty-six counties, mainly in the south. Six of the nine counties of Ulster in the north-east would become a semi-autonomous province, ruled for the next fifty years by a one-party Protestant/Unionist government. The new Northern Ireland government at Stormont, Rowthorn and Wayne (1988:26-27) write, was:  practically free from any intervention by the government in Britain. . . . Unlike England, Scotland and Wales, for 50 years Northern Ireland's domestic affairs were shaped by its own parliament and government. A few British MPs, chiefly Labour members, did retain an interest in and concern about Northern Ireland. However, their attempts to put it on the British political agenda were universally rebuffed. By agreeing not even to talk about Northern Ireland much less intervene in its affairs, all the major political parties in Britain were able to avoid thinking about the province and gaining any knowledge about it. . . . Britain [had] closed its eyes [to what was 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 Northern  155  Irish Catholics in the new State was clarified when Lord Craigavon, the first prime minister of the Northern Ireland Parliament at Stormont, proclaimed:  I have always said I am an Orangeman first and a politician and member of this parliament afterwards . . . all I boast is that we are a Protestant parliament for a Protestant State (quoted in Probert 1978:58).  Despite the continued involvement of Protestants in the revival of the Irish language, to those Unionist members of the new Stormont Parliament who saw themselves as both culturally and politically British, the Irish language was a symbol of Irish Catholic nationalist aspirations, and as such subversive. Therefore in the tense, hostile environment of the 1920s, an attack on the language and its place in the education system was imminent. The first order of business for the newly formed Northern Ireland Ministry of Education was the drafting of a new Education Act which in its final form negated the majority of the concessions achieved by the Gaelic League in the two decades preceding partition. Even before the new Education Act was finalized, a precursor to what was to be the Stormont government's attitude to the Irish language was revealed in Parliament when "towards the end of 1921 Unionists members queried the payment of a Government salary to an organiser of Irish language instruction saying 'What  156  do we want with the Irish language here? There is no need for it here" (Andrews 1991:90). Thus what Andrews, a local Belfast Irish language historian, describes as "a policy of planned neglect" toward the Irish language was initiated in Northern Ireland. The aim of this policy was, Andrews (1991:92) argues:  . . . to create conditions that would encourage nationalists to reject the Irish language and associated aspects of Irishness by self-censorship as a result of intimidation . . . through: (a) negative statements on the subject in Parliament and elsewhere; (b) negative policy decisions; (c) negative attitudes to lobbying; (d) the neglect of educational research in relation to Irish; and (e) the development of an ethnocentric infrastructure within educational administration.  Resistance to this strong bias against the Irish language displayed by the Ministry of Education came swiftly from the Northern Irish nationalist community (Andrews 1991:91). A Non-Recognition Campaign in 1922, which at its height included some seven hundred Catholic teachers, who, with the "moral and financial support from Dublin" sought to "destabilise the newly transferred educational services" by refusing to participate in Ministry authorized public examinations (Andrews 1991:91). The campaign lasted for eleven months and ended in a victory for Ulster Unionists in that, "Catholic educational interests had been harmed  157  through association with it and the morale in the nationalist community was damaged . . ^" (Andrews 1991:91). However Andrews (1991:91) concludes that if the campaign had any effect it was to show the Ministry that its policies could provoke strong reaction from sections of the nationalist community. When the Education Act of 1923 was finally presented, it did not reflect any concern about this possible strong nationalist reaction, instead it:  claimed that the preferential treatment of Irish was unjustified; it recommended that all existing rules regarding the subject should be abolished and that it should be treated in the same manner as Latin or French . . . [effectively making Irish] a "foreign" or alien language. However, unlike other foreign languages it was subject to periodic attacks in Parliament (Andrews 1991:93).  Under the provisions of this Act, the post of organizer for the bilingual programme was eliminated, curriculum support and funding for Belfast's two Irish language teaching colleges was severely reduced and the teaching of Irish at the public elementary school level was limited to ninety minutes a week (Andrews 1991:93). In 1924, the Education Act was amended to limit further the teaching of Irish at the elementary school level. Andrews (1991:93) describes these changes, saying, "Irish was classified as a Group B optional subject and restricted to Standards V-VII. Group A optional subjects had  158  precedence over the former making it difficult for schools to choose Irish and satisfy the new regulations." The effect of this change, Andrews (1991:93) reports, was to reduce the number of pupils studying Irish as an optional subject by fifty percent. When the government took the further step of restricting the use of Irish as an extra subject to Standard V or higher, the number of students taking Irish as an extra subject fell by seventy percent (Andrews 1991:93). In the wake of this sharp decline in the student population studying Irish, the Gaelic League--shattered in the North by partition--was resurrected. The first order of business for Comhaltus Uladh, the new Gaelic League formed in 1926, was to petition the Government to reverse its negative policies toward the Irish language. A discrepancy in the 1924 legislation that made Irish an optional subject gave Comhaltus Uladh its first concession from the government and in 1928, Irish was allowed to be taught as an alternative to History, from Standard III up (Andrews 1991:94). As well, the new Education programme for 1928 abolished the grouping system for optional subjects, making all optional subjects equal. These minor successes were grudgingly acknowledged by the Minister of Education, who commented that, "in Northern Ireland Irish was dead or dying and that French was a more useful language" (Andrews 1991:94).  159  Like its predecessor, Comhaltus Uladh engaged in a game in which a campaign was mounted to pressure the government to make a concession. Afterward, the government would respond with a more repressive policy against the Irish language (see Chapter Three, page 140). Thus, the gains made in the Education Policy of 1928 were nullified, and the future of Irish in the North made even more precarious when in 1933, the Government voted to discontinue the payment of fees for the teaching of Irish as an extra subject. "Comhaltus Uladh tried to continue the scheme but its finances proved inadequate and before long Irish was not longer available as an extra subject" (Andrews 1991:94).  II. The Cumann Chluain Ard: The Bastion of the Irish Language  While the Stormont government was actively trying to discourage the reproduction of Irish-speakers in the schools, culturally interested Belfast Protestants and Catholics were getting together, as they had done throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, to form a variety of small Irish language groups. ^Irish classes had been set up in the '30s, '40s, and '50s by a number of Irish language groups to compensate for the dearth of Irish language instruction in the education system. One such group was Comhaltus Uladh, which after an unsatisfactory  160  encounter with the new Ministry of Education in the latter 1920s, refocused its energy into setting up branches throughout the North and providing Irish language instruction to all those interested. Comhaltus Uladh was also active in organizing "dancing and singing classes, lectures in English and Irish on various aspects of Irish history and culture, and a wide range of entertainments including ceills, concerts, debates, and excursions. Some branches established drama groups and others formed hurling, camogie and Gaelic football teams" (Andrews 1991:98). Other groups formed, such as the Ard-Scoil (which in 1929 moved to Divis Street in West Belfast from its previous city centre location of 49 Queen Street), the Gaelic Athletic League, and the Belfast Literary Society. These groups became active in promoting the Irish language, and organizing cultural events including lectures, debates, ceilis, and similar activities. The Cluain Ard, in many ways embodied the principles and makeup of most of the groups. What made it exceptional was the dedication of its members, the efforts of whom made this club the heart of Irish language and culture in Belfast, from its inception in 1936 to the start of the "Troubles" in the late sixties. The following profile of the Cluain Ard was constructed from several interviews with members who, like their parents before them, had joined the Cluain Ard when they were in their early twenties.  161  Most had been members for more than twenty-five years, some had been active in the Club's management, and all are currently prominent Irish language activists in Belfast. My initial inquiry concerned the inspiration behind the establishment of the Cluain Ard.  [Respondent 1:] The Cluain Ard was established in 1936, and moved to its present premises in 1944 in Hawthorne Street [West Belfast]. It was established because people thought that the Ard-Scoil was too central and that Irish activists should be active in their own communities and be working locally with people rather than with just all people who joined the Ard-Scoil and were taking the Irish there. The Cluain Ard and the Ard-Scoil in those days were bilingual--Irish and English. It was probably due to the circumstances. They wanted to get people in to hear Irish first before you put in an Irish only rule. [Respondent 2:] The Cluain Ard would be in and out of the Gaelic League.^It was set up independently and every so often it would join the Gaelic League and then fall out with some of them. It was a very strong minded group. Some people are drawn toward Irish for simply cultural reasons. Some people are drawn toward Irish for cultural nationalism. Most people tend to be drawn toward the Irish language as an extension of their political nationalism or republicanism. And there are also people drawn toward Irish and nobody has figured out why they are drawn toward Irish. And all those kinds of people would be coming to the Cluain Ard. It would not have a political philosophy. ^When the Cluain Ard was first set up the Gaelic choir was conducted at a hall on the Shankill Road [a staunchly loyalist area of West Belfast] and there were a number of Protestants who came to the Cluain Ard quite regularly in those days. ^It changed when "the troubles" started. There was one man who used to be at the Cluain Ard all the time. He lived on the Oldpark Road, [in North Belfast] I think. And he had to cross the  162  Shankill Road to get home. And one night he was beaten up by Protestants for being an Irish speaker. He finished up by moving to Donegal. [Respondent 3:] The Cluain Ard was founded in 1936 and its whole development and structure was totally apolitical, non-denominational and a lot of the early members and even today--a lot of the founding members of the Cluain Ard--were actually Protestant. The Cluain Ard in those early years had a choir, the choir master was a Protestant. They had an old shed apparently, behind the Clonard Monastery and they grew from there to another house which they got in Waterford Street. In 1944 they took out a lease on their present premises in Hawthorne Street and they have been there since. The inspiration then was to expose people to the Irish language and culture. At the time you see the Cluain Ard was basically a bilingual club. . . . some of the founding members . . . did have republican tendencies at the time. There were communists in their midst at the time as well. They were actually blasted from the pulpits by the priests in the Clonard monastery, and that people shouldn't go into the Cluain Ard because they had Communist tendencies. So you had this element as well. At that time then Tuesday night had been set aside as the Irish speaking night. No one was to speak English on a Tuesday night. It was a bilingual effort until the late 40s. Then almost overnight in 1953 a rule was brought in that English was no longer to be spoken on the premises. [Respondent 4:] The Cluain Ard had a ceili every Sunday night. And it was packed to the doors every Sunday night. It was famous for its ceilis but again everything was done through the medium of English. Maybe there was the odd word of Irish here and there. This just didn't go down too well with some of the hard-line members of the club who insisted that the Cluain Ard should adopt a totally Gaelic policy where everything was done in Irish. So almost overnight a policy was brought in that no English was to be spoken at all in the club. One of the leading nationalists at the time . . . he actually stood at the door and informed everyone that from next week, next Sunday night, no English was to be spoken at the ceilf, that all  163  dances would be called in Irish and that the whole business would be done through the medium of Irish from then on. And actually they were putting an end to the whole bilingual aspect of the Cluain Ard. So the next week the numbers fell dramatically. There wasn't a crowd that was pouring into the street as there had been for years previously. It got so bad apparently in the following period that they actually didn't have enough people to make up a set to do dances. That has changed now. [Respondent 5:] The Cluain Ard started in the '30s apparently by dedicated Belfast Gaels. They set up their own sort of Gaeltacht area. Because at that time it was something you could have been put in prison for--speaking or practicing Irish. [During the 1930s?] Yes and later too, into the '50s. What they done was at the Cluain Ard, they went in there an made it all Gaelic. In my opinion again, unfortunately they closed the doors to the ordinary man.  Andrews (1991:98) explains why the bilingual policy at the Cluain Ard changed:  In spite of a widespread interest in Irish among nationalists during the 1940s and the vibrant social life surrounding Gaelic League branches, some radical working-class Irish speakers in Belfast began to feel that this fell short of their goal. Influenced by the writings of Seosamh MacGrianna they sought to construct a set of values and an institutional framework that would bring a modern independent Irish-speaking society into existence, using what remained intact and worthwhile of pre-colonial Gaelic Ireland. Emphasis was placed on the preservation and development of the Gaeltacht and on the establishment locally of a variety of Irish-speaking institutions in the belief that they might coalesce, eventually creating the nucleus of this new society. What made this element different from the Gaelic League generally was its insistence that only Irish should be used at all times in all  164  activities. To speak English was to undermine this objective. These views, which were pioneered by the organisation, Pal, became a major preoccupation of the members of Cumann Chluain Ard, a Belfast Gaelic League branch, in the early 1950s.  Activities held at the Cluain Ard went beyond those of basic Irish language classes.  [Respondent 6:] There were not just classes, but lively debates, lectures, table tennis, dancing, chess all through the medium of Irish. Everything you could possibly think of through the medium of Irish. [Respondent 7:] Over its history it has gone in cycles. Over time there are a series of different things that people enjoy doing together particularly young men and women. So in the very early days there was a cycling club. You would have had skating clubs and swimming clubs, an art club. You would have had all kinds of classes going on in the Cluain Ard where the Irish language was promoted, in which you would have spoken in Irish.^In the cycling club, we would have conversed in Irish. We would have gone on picnics and so on. It was very rich. How good each was depended on each sort of groups organizing committee.  With the onset of "the troubles" in 1969, the type of clientele at Cluain Ard activities was permanently altered.  [Respondent 7:] They still run ceilis: and other activities through the medium of Irish since 1953 but the troubles actually put to bed the development of the Cluain Ard in certain ways. For instance a lot of Protestants were coming to the classes. Now Protestants do still attend but at the moment their numbers are very few. So the  165  troubles have had a detrimental effect on that policy of the Cluain Ard. For instance, I have heard it said at one particular time almost a third of the members of the Cluain Ard were Protestant. Generally you will find anyway there is great respect for the Irish language. Even the extreme loyalist groups like the UDA, they are now beginning the policy of tracing their Ulster roots. And they have a certain amount of respect for the Irish language. As Dr. Adamson [a Unionist Belfast councillor and author of several books on the Ulster identity, see Chapter Seven, below] said it is part of the ancient language of the Ulster people and for that reason the language should be nourished. Gusty Spence [former leader of the UVF] he's an Irish speaker as well. I have never spoken with him. So it is quite a spectrum that you come across.  The Cluain Ard is still seen by many as the birthplace of the present Irish language revivalist spririt in Belfast.  [Respondent 8:] I would say a major element that have produced the Irish language activists today would be the Cluain Ard. That would be really the source of all today's Irish language activists. And the Ard-Scoil, was another place at the very bottom of the Falls Road. So those two really I think would have been the source. If you go back in everyone's history that's what it would be because your parents would have gone to the Ard-Scoil or the Cluain Ard and they would have danced and fallen in love and it would have gone on from there. [Respondent 9:] Then you have the development from '53 right up to now--that development that whole period from the fifties on--you have couples coming into the Cluain Ard. They would have met in the Cluain Ard, and then married. And that provided the base for the thinking and the development of the whole revival here in Belfast. So in the early '60s you had these groups coming together and a sort of think tank developed. Here we are in the Cluain Ard speaking Irish all the time and that provided the impetus to develop  166  further.^If we can speak Irish here in the Cluain Ard, it naturally followed that everyone could apply that to their everyday circumstances--we could speak Irish from morning to night. So therefore, they got together--this was through the '60s now--this was a developing thing throughout the '60s. At that time there were only a handful of families in Belfast who had brought their children up speaking Irish prior to the '60s and some of them were academics and so on. So quite apart from that handful of families who were bringing their children up through the medium of Irish, this '60s development actually led to this small Gaeltacht being developed on the Shaws Road. That emanated from the Cluain Ard members, because they were the people who started it all.  The Irish language and cultural organizations that grew up in pre-1980 Northern Ireland resembled their nineteenthcentury predecessors in many ways: (a) the groups were formed in a turbulent political atmosphere where everyone who was involved with anything Irish was suspect by the establishment; (b) the primary motivation was the promotion of the Irish language through classes and cultural events; and (c) the membership was mixed both religiously and politically. As one person told me, "the rule was that guns and politics were left at the door." These organizations, then represented a continuation of past alternative resistance in that they provided an outlet for Irish cultural expression in a way that neither challenged nor imposed upon the state.  167  III. The Shaws Road Irish Community: Irish Language Activists Create Their Own Gaeltacht in English-Speaking West Belfast  Inspired by the all-Irish environment of the Cluain Ard, six couples, most of whom had met in the Club, had the vision of creating an all Irish community in which to live and raise their children. ^In 1969, this vision, along with the philosophies of Seosamh MacGrianna, were realized in the building of a Gaeltacht on Shaws Road in Andersonstown, nationalist West Belfast. This development is credited as being the Cluain Ard's "greatest" achievement. As one person put it:  In retrospect the greatest development that the Cluain Ard actually spun was the development of the school. The Cluain Ard members I would say, and I am not exactly sure of my figures but to the majority of the people that went into the housing scheme and built their own houses on the Shaws Road, they were Irish speakers. They came from the Cluain Ard. Some of those couples had met in the Cluain Ard got married then began to raise their families there [on Shaws Road]. Then the school developed. The school was built behind the houses. So therefore that started the ball rolling completely. The Cluain Ard brought Irish speakers together; it made them realize if they wanted to speak Irish from morning to night there was nothing stopping them. They could come together and process some development plan. They built their houses. From that came the school, and the school has mushroomed. There are now four hundred children there. It started off with six children.  168  The Shaws Road Development actually started in 1968, just before "the troubles", when five families purchased an old 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 republicanism had been the motivating ideological force behind the setting up of the the community, he responded:  No. The range of politics was quite wide, they were all people from a Catholic background and all from I guess a nationalist background but there was not any direct ideological link between that community and republicanism for example, or extreme nationalism or whatever you call it--advanced nationalism.  From its start, this Irish-speaking community depended on its friends from the Cluain Ard for support, rather than the State. One person involved in the discussions of the development explained:  They moved up to the Shaws Road. Then some of the men who were involved in discussions at the Cluain Ard were builders and bricklayers and plumbers and electricians, and in 1967-68 they started building the community. This was before the first civil rights march. The architect was also part of the group who had been involved in the Cluain Ard. He worked in conjunction with the men and the women to design the house that they wanted.^I think the first five were built on a piece of land that had been purchased. They realized that the land that was there for the school was part of the original farm. So right from the beginning they planned to build a school for their children to be educated in Irish.  169  In 1971, this group built Northern Ireland's first Irish-medium primary school, so that their children who had been raised with Irish as their first language could receive their education in their mother tongue. An information pamphlet was produced to commemorate the eighth anniversary of this Irish primary school by some of those originally involved in the project. It was titled Irish Education for Irish Children, and details some of the initial problems encountered:  Ten years ago, if you had mentioned the possibility of education through the medium of Irish in Belfast, or in any part of the Six Counties you would have been regarded as a dreamer, an idealist with no idea of the realities of life. Even if the demand ever arose, the government would never permit it! This was proved, by the way, in 1967, when one man wrote to the Education Department to get their reaction to the idea of education through Irish--he was told bluntly that not only would he not receive permission to found such a school, but that anyone connected with any such school would be prosecuted! . . . It was decided, in 1971, to found Bunscoil Ghaeilge Bheal Feirste [an Irish-medium primary school]. The parents had been collecting money from ceilis, etc. for some time; they now had a little money, nine children and no school or teacher. The school was provided, ironically, by the "troubles" in Belfast at the time; chalets had been provided for the hundreds of families burned out of their houses in 1969. As these families were re-housed, the chalets became vacant, and one of these became the Bunscoil. The parents bought it, dismantled it, brought it to Shaw's Road, and rebuilt it there. Now all that was needed was a teacher; for some time they had been advertising for a native Irish speaker; naturally enough, few were prepared to come to Belfast at that time, but they were  170  eventually lucky enough to find Caitlin Bean Dhiscin, from Kilcar in Donegal, who had retired some years before. She agreed to come to Belfast from Dublin, where she was then living, to help found the Bunscoil. The parents are still in debt to Bean Ui Dhiscin for the dedication and hard work that went into the first few months of the Bunscoil--those nine children who were at school in the first days still speak of her often and affectionately. However, in 1971, Belfast, and the Six Counties generally, was not the most peacefully place in the world, and Bean Ui Dhiscin also had trouble with her health; in February 1972, after Bloody Sunday, she was forced to admit that the strain on herself and her family was too much. She resigned, but had played her part. Scoil Ghaeilge Bheal Feirste was founded (reproduced in the Andersonstown 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 with its threat of legal action against those involved in the school, in the probable belief, he adds, that the school would fail. Another person commenting on the State's reaction to this novel attempt to establish a Gaeltacht in the centre of English-speaking West Belfast remarked:  Actually the State did nothing, sat on its hands as it were, when they set up their housing development. The State did nothing which allowed for tax breaks for their school. When they tried to start the school, the Belfast Education and Library Board wrote them and threatened them with court action and jail if they dare set up their own school. They ignored that and set up their own school anyway. The State then said that they wouldn't give it [the school] any recognition because it wasn't good enough [academically]. As the 70s went on, the school did establish itself.  171  For example, up until last year [1989] no child ever failed the government leaving exam for primary school [this exam is called the eleven plus]. Their record became better than any other school in the North.  It was not until 1977-78 that the school organizers began to petition the government for funding. By this time the enrolment of the school had passed the fifty mark and an Irish-medium nursery school had been set-up to prepare children from English-speaking families for entrance into the Bunscoil. This request for official recognition and funds was a departure from pre-1980 alternative resistance patterns which sought to create their own Irish-speaking environment without any interaction with the State. However, even though the group did finally approach the State in 1977, it was only after 1980 that the actual campaign to demand that the State fund the school began. As one person explained:  So it was only when the school decided to ask the government about funding that that particular group of people began to interact with the State. There were some things earlier on when they first set up the school as an Irish medium school. In 1971, whenever the school opened, there probably was some kind of friction there. A parent can educate their own child but they have to ask for permission. So right from the word go, the letters were going into the government departments for recognition. But there was no attempt to ask the 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 to pressurize the government to get money and to  172  recognize the schools. The school started off slow and gradually increased. ^In 1980-81 and '82 it got thick and fast. In 1981-82 they began campaigning, writing many letters to the government, having meetings.  The increasing enrolment of the school and the high educational achievements of its students plus a vigorous campaign in the early eighties finally resulted in recognition of the school in 1984. This recognition meant that the school would receive grant-aid which covered the schools operating costs and eighty-five percent of its capital expenditure (Northern Ireland Office 1991).  The Irish language activists who set up the West Belfast Gaeltacht had been primarily concerned with creating their own Irish-speaking community. They made no attempt to impose their "different way of life" on those around them. At first the Shaws Road development was largely ignored by its English-speaking neighbours. However, in time people in the area began to take notice of this small group who were living their lives in a way that was vastly different from their own. As one Irish language activist involved in this Irish-speaking community explained:  Initially people weren't aware of what we were doing. The only people who were aware of it was the Irish speaking community itself. ^It is only since the hunger strike that they have really become aware of the Irish language in this community.  173  You may not know the true significance of the setting up of an Irish language community in an area. It is only when you get to know your neighbours that you think, they are not like me or that they are like me but they are doing something very strange and wonderful or whatever. It is only as the time passes by, that people become aware of things. They were so much involved in their own lives so I can understand why no one knew about this Irish speaking community. There was no resistance from the [surrounding English-speaking] community. For example, they would have helped. If you needed wood, someone would say, "I can get what you need for a cheaper price." There would have been that kind of help. But that kind of help is normal here in Ireland anyway. But I think that once the Irish community does get going, people around do become aware of them. Because after all they would hear them always talking to their children in Irish.^If we went to a shopping centre we would talk to our children in Irish. So neighbours couldn't help but notice. It was through the women that others became aware of us, because the women were bringing up the children. They were taking the children to the shops and speaking Irish to them. Once the school opened, then there was advertising. All this takes time. ^I think it was a natural progression.  As the 1970s came to a close the small Irish Gaeltacht on Shaws Road was making its presence felt throughout the nationalist ghettoes. As one person put it, "To many in the area the Shaws Road school became the 'heart of whole Irish language movement in Belfast.'"  174  IV. Chapter Summary  When the Northern Ireland State was formed in 1922, the British "effective dominant culture" that its Unionist controlled Parliament wanted to establish, was not secure. The Irish Free State was embroiled in a civil war over the issue of partition and although the pro-treaty forces eventually won out, the unionist population in the North did not trust the South to stay out of their affairs. Thus the new Northern Ireland State was in no mood to permit any religious, political or cultural accommodation for its minority Catholic population, that the State deemed to be subversive. A new Education Act in 1923, followed in the 1930s by increasingly more repressive cultural amendments, sought to discourage the use of the Irish language, indeed eliminate it altogether, from the education system. The initial reaction of Irish language activists, to offset the attack being made on the Irish language in the schools, was to themselves provide Irish language instruction. Numerous groups formed in the 1930s and 40s to propagate the Irish language through classes, and a wide variety of Irish cultural activities. Most of these early groups' activities were bilingual. However, in the 1950s some members of this community of activists were influenced by the philosophy of Seosamh MacGrianna who suggested that Irish communities should be created and children should be  175  raised in an all Irish environment as Irish speakers. The first Irish organization to implement MacGrianna's suggestion was the Cluain Ard, when in 1953 a rule was established that only Irish was to be spoken in the Club. This change in policy was not positively received by all the members of the Cluain Ard, but the all-Irish rule remained in effect. In the 1960s a group of young people who frequented the Cluain Ard and who were just settling down after marriage, decided to fully employ MacGrianna's proposal by creating an Irish-speaking community on Shaws Road in West Belfast. This dream of a Gaeltacht in West Belfast came to fruition in 1971 with the building of Northern Ireland's first Irish-medium primary school. As the 1970s progressed, the Irish language activist community became bolder and began to make demands on the State to support the Shaws Road Irish-medium primary school. Until the early 1980s, these demands were not backed up by a large scale campaign, did not unduly challenge the cultural hegemony of the State, and were thus ignored. Although little headway was made during this pre-1980 period in getting any recognition from the State for the rights of Irish-speakers, Irish language activists did manage to put in place a solid foundation for the Irish language revival which would explode in the 1980s.  176  Chapter Five  Irish Language Activism: The Context of Resistance  Throughout the turbulent nineteenth century the Irish language was to become increasingly more politicized. Those involved in promoting the Irish language, Protestants notwithstanding, were considered to be of dubious loyalty. After the 1916 Rebellion, the language became identified with republicanism and as such was perceived by the loyalist population to be a symbol of Catholic nationalism--hence subversive. While Protestants continued to be involved in its revival and promotion, those in positions of power in Northern Ireland who saw the Irish influence as a threat to British cultural hegemony, tried in the early years of the new State to diminish, if not eradicate, the language altogether. To this end, an attempt was made by the semi-independent, unionist Stormont government to institute a British "effective dominant culture" through physical coercion. Emergency measures legislation was enacted to enable the new Stormont government to physically subdue any political expression of Irish nationalism by the Catholic minority.  177  As was proposed in Chapter Four, the Irish language activists' resistance to this domination by force manifested itself in the development of small Irish speaking clubs and organizations that ran Irish language classes and sponsored Irish cultural events, within the relative safety of their own area of Belfast. Protestants interested in the language would attend these classes and events in the nationalist areas, or involve themselves in similar groups that had been established in the city centre area of Belfast. Just before the start of "the troubles," Irish language activists set up a small Irish-speaking village and Irish-medium primary school on Shaws Road in West Belfast--an action indicative of alternative resistance to British linguistic hegemony. Until the late 1970s, Irish language activists neither asked for, nor expected any support or financial assistance from the State. However, with the approach of the 1980s, this alternative Irish language resistance movement did begin to make quite definite demands on the State. The dominant-subordinate interaction during the first sixty years of the Northern Ireland State had a profound effect on the forms of Irish language resistance that emerged after the 1981 hunger strike. This chapter will, investigate the context of Irish language resistance, beginning with the sporadic official and unofficial State violence of the 1920s, and ending with the hunger strike of 1981.  178  I. Prelude to the 1981 Hunger Strike: Terror Warfare as Lived Reality  A. Pre-1969: A Period of Sporadic Official and Sanctioned Unofficial Attacks on the Nationalist Population  Wide ranging emergency measures to help the new state of Northern Ireland restore control physically, were among the first pieces of legislation enacted by the Stormont government. The 1922 Civil Authorities (Special Powers) Act, which became a permanent part of Northern Ireland's legal code in 1928,10 included the following provisions, (Rowthorn and Wayne 1988:35-36):  (1) People suspected of crimes could be arrested and interned--that is, kept in prison without trial--for as long as the government wished. (2) The death penalty applied for some firearms and explosives offences. (3) It was an offence to refuse to answer questions put by a policeman. (4) The government could examine bank accounts and seize money deposited in accounts. (5) Newspapers could be prevented from printing certain reports or could be banned altogether. (6) Houses could be searched without warrant. (7) Named individuals could be confined to particular areas of the province. (8) The authorities did not have to hold inquests on any dead bodies found in Northern Ireland. (9) People who committed offences connected with explosives, firearms, causing fires and blackmail, could be punished by flogging.  The Act also included the following "catch all" clause, seemingly to cover any and all other actions:  179  If any person does any act of such a nature as to be calculated to be prejudicial to the preservation of the peace and maintenance of order in Northern Ireland and not specifically provided for in the Regulations, he shall be deemed guilty of an offence against the regulations.  Under this Act, power was given to "the Minister of Home Affairs to make any measures 'he thinks necessary for the maintenance of order' without consulting parliament, or to delegate the Act's powers to whomever he chooses" (Bambery 1986:51). The restrictions on civil liberties contained in this Act were enforced primarily on the Northern Irish Catholic minority by the newly formed Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), and the B-Specials, a Protestant legalized para-military force (Bambery 1986; Farrell 1983). These groups jointly monitored the activities of the Northern Irish Catholic population. During times that British hegemony over the Northern Ireland State was challenged (for example during the IRA campaigns of 1921-22, 1938-39, and 1956-62), the government would introduce internment under the Special Powers Act. Internment was also employed during this period as a means of suppressing potentially embarrassing political opposition. For example, during the week of the Royal visit to Northern Ireland in 1951, the evocation of the Special Powers Act found many republican politicians in prison for the duration of the visit (Hillyard 1983). The first  180  memories of government oppression among many people I interviewed aged over fifty were of security forces entering their homes to conduct house searches or to intern their older brothers and/or their fathers. Common too, in this pre-civil rights era, were spontaneous riots and incidents which erupted each year mainly during "marching season" (beginning in the month of March and lasting until the Orangemen celebration of the Battle of the Boyne on July 12). One such incident, which occurred in 1923, was described to me by a Catholic woman whose father had been a Protestant and whose brother had been in the British Army at the time. As her story is not unlike several I was told of this period it will be used here to illustrate the sanctioned unofficial sporadic violence that Belfast Catholics experienced before the "troubles" began:  Our house was the only house on the block that had a back kitchen. My mummy, when she was in the kitchen couldn't hear what was going on in the street. I was about five years old at the time. It suddenly dawned on her that there was something different, and she went to the front door and opened it. Then a head came around the wall of the house across the street and my mummy asked "what's wrong?" The man mouthed the words at her, "are you never out" that's Irish for you asked a stupid question. I had followed out behind her with my sister and she lifted me in her arms and the man dashed across the road and snatched me in his arms and grabbed my sister by the hand and ran with us across the street into the other street. As my mummy shouted "what did you do that for?" we heard the noise come around the corner just about two minutes walk away at the  181  Protestant end of the street. She realized what it was and got the rest of the kids and dashed across the street. And she was running across the street when the first shot came from the end of the street. She thought she was shot and stopped dead in the street. A man ran out and grabbed her and then both had to make a run for it. As he ran the shots were coming up the street and the RUC and the British Army never moved a muscle to find out who was doing the shooting. They just didn't do a thing. Now that crowd just came up into our street and saturated the houses with petrol and put matches to them. In our house we had an oven and in the oven they had put our cat Topsy. When mummy found her, Topsy had suffocated in the oven. My daddy died in the house--my daddy died on the 25 of January and we were burned to the ground on Easter Monday.  B. The "Troubles": The Militarization of Northern Ireland  By the mid-1960s, a recognizable change had taken place in the nature of state violence in Northern Ireland. No longer was it just a spontaneous "reaction to perceived or real challenges to [the State's ability to conduct its affairs]" (Lopez 1984:60). ^It had instead become institutionalized as a systematic and purposeful act, aimed at controlling by force that portion of the population regarded as a threat to the status quo. Lopez (1984:61) writes that the second level in the development of state terrorismil can be recognized to have occurred when:  182  . . . ruling elites in societies undergoing increasing pressure for social, economic and political reforms appear to find no way (or consciously choose to find no way) of translating these forces into the development of more effective rule. Rather, the government, whether democratic or autocratic, capitalist or socialist, civilian or military, begins to respond to the changing national environment with a curtailment of civil and human rights, with increased militant policies of coercive controls of collective and individual 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 rights period, the demands for social justice and an end to economic and political discrimination against Catholics were met with repressive legislation and increasing state violence. By the mid-1970s, a "general system of repressive practices and policies designed to maintain power of the incumbents [the British State], and benefits accruing to their allies [the loyalists]" (Lopez 1984:61) was in place. Thus, what Lopez refers to as the final stage in the development of state terrorism had been achieved in Northern Ireland. O'Hearn (1987:97) writes of the escalating violence in the period leading to the first civil rights marches in 1968:  Actually, the main civil rights organization was formed in early 1967 and the several years before 1968 saw quite a bit of violence: almost  183  entirely by Paisleyite mobs against reformist government officials and the Catholic population, and by loyalist death squads against randomly-picked Catholics.  This violence intensified when, spurred on by the apparent successes of black civil rights marches in the United States during the 1960s, the Irish in Northern Ireland also began to organize marches to demand equal rights and an end to economic and political discrimination. The government declared the marches illegal and state forces joined loyalist mobs in brutal attacks on the marchers (see O'Hearn 1987:98; Rowthorn and Wayne 1988:40). The marches were followed by a period of intense rioting. In 1970, a clause was added to the legal code to make a six-month sentence mandatory for riotous behaviour (Bambery 1986:52). Nationalists became the prime targets of this new law. Violence continued, and in August 1969 the unionist (loyalist) dominated government of Stormont requested that the troops be brought in to quell the unrest. A young man who had been ten years old in 1969, and who lived in a nationalist area separated from West Belfast by a staunchly loyalist district, describes his memories of the civil rights marches and early 1970s, saying:  I can remember my first recollections . . . standing there and seeing a big double-decker bus blocking off the street, people were collecting pavement stones. The word was out that war was to start. Apparently the Protestants had sent word  184  to "get your women and children out because we are invading." People were running up and down the streets packing their clothes and everything. I was young at the time and I couldn't go running around the streets. I used to stand down at the barricade and look around. There were barricades everywhere. There were guys standing with sticks. I noticed one guy at the bottom of the garden, an old fellow, an ex-British soldier from the war, and a couple of other fellows and they had an old forty-five, one of these old war guns. And he was showing them how to work it. They didn't know how to work it. That was the first time I ever saw a weapon in my life. And I was standing listening to them saying "Look, you do it this way," and there were other guys sitting in the bus with binoculars looking up and down the streets. People were just running around, back and forth everywhere. So what happened in '69, just after Bombay Street is that all women and children, and I was among those, we were all put on double decker buses. A few men tried to sneak on but they were put off because they were not allowed to go. Men had to stay behind to do the fighting. I can remember getting on one bus and there was this man at the back trying to get under the back seat. I mean people were really panicking. Men were crying and everything to get out of the district. They weren't allowed to get out. I mean there were guys standing everywhere and they weren't letting men on those buses. They were told you're staying and you're going to fight and that was all there was to it. There were pensioners on the buses but a lot of older men didn't want to go. We were all herded on these double decker buses and there were these white sheets with red crosses put on them and they were hung up all around the buses. We got right through Belfast up to a school on the Glen Road. We even drove through a loyalist area and we weren't stoned. Anyway we were driving and there was just a mass of barricades and men around them. The troops hadn't even arrived at this stage. I never saw any actual violence. There was a barricade at every single street corner, and in the loyalist areas as well. We stayed there for a period of time and then when the storm had sort of lulled we were brought back on buses again into the area. And when we  185  were driving back I saw the armed troops [British troops came in August 1969] just lining the whole way. They were just standing on either side of the road, ready for action or pulling barbed wire across.^It was just like a battlefield. There were armed soldiers everywhere. There were actually tanks and all sorts of equipment. We all looked at it because it was exciting--we had played soldiers and that type of thing. And when we got back in the area, the level of violence that I saw was really armed soldiers on the street and people running about getting them tea. We started running about their bunkers. Everyone was friendly 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 [the road].^It is all walls now. But they started building that as far back as '69 to keep the two sides apart--that was the excuse they gave. To us kids it was all fun and exciting. We didn't understand the situation. One minute we were running in and out of the huts loving British soldiers and the next we were calling them names and throwing stones at them. I never understood why and never asked questions why. We just naturally started stoning them. I had to sneak out to go to riots. My ma would get paintbombed and everything else looking for me. I mean I would have gotten a bigger kicking in the house than if the Brits had caught me. Army at this time were stationed all around the periphery of an area which meant that the Provos could have walked around the area armed to the teeth as there was no fear of soldiers. They would have avoided being seen by the army post. This was a silly thing for them to be doing because everyone knew what everyone else was doing. Our house was near the line [between the loyalist and nationalist areas] and the peace walls weren't built yet. Every night there were gun battles. We had to sleep on the floor. Even if we were sitting at a meal a bullet would come in through the window. The bullets came from both sides.  186  I remember in the early '70s every house would have this basin of water sitting by the window sill with all these little rags in it. What these were for was that when the rioters got the CS gas thrown at them, they would just go to people's window sills and lift a damp cloth and put it around their mouth and it was able to protect them from the gas. Everyone used to leave their doors open for the rioters.  Often, nationalists would attempt to subvert the terror of their lived experience in the beginning of the "troubles" using humour. One woman from West Belfast constructs her experiences of the early 1970s as a series of humorous episodes:  [Incident 1:] One night there was heavy rioting and over seven hundred canisters of gas had been thrown into Ballymurphy. We like most of the Catholics had gone to the high windows in our places to watch the action. As we watched, a man and a drunk on a motorcycle approached the trouble spot. They were weaving along when suddenly the driver hit the wall of gas fumes. The driver jolted to a stop and the drunk fell off and lay on the ground. The driver grabbed the drunk by the collar and all you could see was the driver running away as fast as he could from the gas, down the road, dragging his drunk friend along behind him by his collar.  [Incident 2:] One night we were watching and spotted a gang from the Shankill approaching Ballymurphy near our home. I rarely use the Lord's name in vain but this night I said "Jesus, we are done for now." My daughter who was in university doing Celtic studies watched calmly as the shouts of the mob got louder. All you could hear were shouts of, "We are the boys from the Shankill. We are the boys from the Shankill." My daughter turned to me and said, totally  187  unconcerned, "You know that is the first time I have heard anyone in Belfast pronounce the Shankill correctly." [Note: "Shankill" is an Irish word meaning "Old Church."] [Incident 3:] During the early troubles there was mostly brick throwing. What would inevitably happen would be that Catholics would be pelted by bricks from their own side. One day my husband and I were walking up the Springfield Road, at a time when we were still living on a Protestant estate. We were intimidated out in 1971 and moved into a house in Ballymurphy. Trouble flared when a patrol went by. Immediately bricks rained down on the patrol and on us. We were on the other side of the patrol. The soldiers waved us on towards their vehicles. So up the Springfield Road we walked, cuddled up to a saracen, as the lads from Ballymurphy stood on the other side heaving bricks. [Incident 4:] In the middle of rioting one time a young lad from our side stood up and started shouting orders out with an English accent. [Incident 5:] I was in a fresh meat shop in Ballymurphy one time in the 1970s when there was this long burst of gunfire. At the time we had just moved into the area and I was shaking. A woman came into the shop and calmly said, "Sounds like they're attacking from the Shankill and two pounds of whitefish, please."  The welcome that the Catholic population had cautiously extended to the British troops, quickly changed when it became apparent that the troops were more interested in rooting out the IRA than protecting nationalists from loyalists. The Falls Curfew in 1970, internment in 1971, and Bloody Sunday in 1972, are some of the more notorious incidents of these early days of the "troubles," that  188  profoundly changed how northern nationalists perceived the British army. One man's recounting of his reaction to Bloody Sunday (when a British paratrooper regiment had opened fire on unarmed civilians, in Derry, during a march commemorating the anniversary of the civil rights marches, killing fourteen and injuring many more), embodies the intense emotional response I found common in nationalist Belfast to incidents involving the security forces:  I distinctly remember Bloody Sunday. I think Bloody Sunday was a big turning point for us as well, because when we saw that happen on the TV screens--I remember coming in and seeing the news and I will always remember this and it scares me even to think about it--I can never get this out of my head even to this very day. That I sat and watched that news and my mother watched and everyone else was sitting around watching it --even the little ones, and I heard this para-man saying "keep firing, keep firing, keep firing," He just kept shouting "keep firing" and the soldiers were standing there firing into the crowd. And I was livid and I was calling at the TV, "bastards, bastards" and all that type of thing. "Fucking animals," "you fucking murdering bastards," that was the way I felt then. So I would say from that day we really started getting militant towards them [the British army]. We really hated after that. We actually did hate them. At that time I would have literally cut their throats myself because I hated them so much. Imagine seeing that on your TV screen at that age [mid-teens]. You know, "keep firing, keep firing."^I will never forget that day.  189  The British military's attitude toward peacekeeping and rule-by-force is best summed up by Robin Evelegh (1978:60-61), Commanding Officer of the Third Battalion of the Royal Green Jackets, based in the Upper Falls area of Belfast in 1972 and 1973. Evelegh writes:  The dilemma facing a democratic society is that the means needed to defeat terrorism and suppress insurrection are the very ones needed to enforce a tyranny. The methods that defeated the Communist terrorists in Malaya are those that sustained the Gulag Archipelago. The methods of the Gestapo and of the Swedish Special Branch, which was reported in 1973 to have operated a secret intelligence group that kept close tabs on left-wing members of the ruling Social Democratic Party and the trade unions, are of the same nature.^Indeed, all the practices of these different internal security services, while of very different intensities and with very different limits, are basically the same because they are the only methods by which a society can protect itself 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 the republican areas . . . was more akin to that in a colony than to that in a self-governing independent state. Ultimately these Catholic areas could only be governed by the British by methods, however mollified, that all occupying nations use to hold down all occupied territories.  Given this line of thinking, military action in Northern Ireland, as Evelegh (1978:61) explains, is based on the belief that:  190  . . . the terrorist there can only be defeated and unwilling subjects kept from rebellion by considerable erosion of the liberties considered normal in a Western democracy. [In addition, the] substantial portion of the Catholic population [of Northern Ireland, which] simply does not wish to be a part of the British state or under British rule [can] in the final analysis only be governed by force of British arms, albeit tempered by political subtlety and material benefits.  Brigadier Frank Kitson, the proclaimed architect of military strategy in Northern Ireland during the 1970s, emphasized that the gathering and maintaining of up-to-date detailed intelligence files on members of a suspect population was the backbone of any successful counter-insurgency policy (see Kitson 1971:95-101, 126-131, 188-192). A series of techniques--which had been used in colonial emergencies in the past and had been developed and refined by Brigadier Kitson--with the combined aim of collecting as much information as possible on the IRA in particular and the Catholic population in general, were implemented (Hillyard 1983:37). Each soldier was given training in intelligence work and instructed to find out as much as possible about the people in the area in which his unit operated (Ackroyd, et al. 1977:40). Much of the intelligence data on the nationalist population as a whole came from house searches. On July 3, 1970, a curfew was imposed on the Lower Falls area of Belfast, during which a house-to-house search was conducted of every home in the district by more than three  191  thousand British troops. When the curfew was lifted, some thirty-six hours later, five civilians were dead and a further fifteen soldiers and sixty civilians were injured (Farrell 1980:273-274, O'Malley 1983:207). While over three hundred suspects had been arrested, this massive search operation had netted only one hundred firearms, many of which were unusable (Colleary 1985:83-88). House searching escalated, and in 1971, 17,262 homes were searched. This figure doubled in 1972 to over 36,000, and in 1973 (and again in 1974), 75,000 homes were searched. This represents approximately one fifth of all the homes in Northern Ireland (Bonner 1985:96; O'Malley 1983:259). The effect of these massive house searches on the Northern Irish population was profound. A lieutenant in a parachute brigade told The Guardian, "You know when we were in Ballymurphy the people were really fed up with us, terrified really. I understand what the refugees must feel like in Vietnam . . . after every shooting incident we would order 1500 house searches . . . 1500!" (quoted in Ackroyd, et al. 1977:38). Internment also had been used during this period as a way of collecting information on the general Northern Ireland Catholic population. McGuffin (1973:86-87) writes that, "Militarily, the initial internment sweep [August 9, 1971, was] . . . a complete failure. The IRA had known of it for some time and as a result virtually every senior IRA  192  man was billeted away from home." However, the massive arrests at random followed by in-depth interrogation, and for the majority, subsequent release without charge--a pattern introduced during internment and now institutionalized as normal procedure--was of immeasurable success.12 This process provided a means for the screening of, and the building of dossiers on the nationalist population. An offshoot of this policy provided a continuing source of "inside" information, gained from suspects 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; Walsh 1983:33-40).  C. The Carrot and the Stick: A Mid-1970s Shift in British State Policy in Northern Ireland  By the mid-1970s, the State policy of mass arrests, mass house searches and general harassment of the nationalist population as a whole was replaced with a dual strategy of targeting republicans and appealing to more moderate nationalists. Steps were taken by the British government to isolate republicans by offering economic and social inducements to those sections of the nationalist population perceived to be less radical. 6 hAdhmaill (1990a:830) describes this "carrot and stick" policy saying:  193  During the mid-1970s, the British Labour administration had copied many past British administrations in Ireland in adopting a carrot and stick approach to the nationalists. The carrot involved increased employment, social and recreational provision in areas like West Belfast. The stick was increasing security measures, controversial interrogation techniques at places like Castlereagh, and the increasing use of undercover 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 to permanently change the nature of the war in Northern Ireland. Beside the economic inducements offered to the moderate nationalist population in the form of more employment opportunities, better social services (especially in the areas of health and education), and improved community facilities, the policy included, "the new twin strategies of 'criminalizing' the paramilitaries, and 'Ulsterizing' the security forces . . . [so that from March 1, 1976, on] the government [could] present the conflict in the province not as a serious political problem, but solely as a matter of law and order" (Rowthorn and Wayne 1988:45, 47). Ulsterization meant that the primary responsibility for security in Northern Ireland would be passed from the British Army to local forces. These regional groups were to  194  consist of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), and the Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR)--a locally raised contingent of the British Army. Members of the RUC and the UDR were, and continue to be, predominantly Protestant (Rowthorn and Wayne 1988:45). In 1972, Billy McKee, a Belfast man who had been interned in Long Kesh prison, went on a hunger strike to get political status for both internees and sentenced prisoners. McKee's hunger strike was successful and from 1972 through 1976, "political and ethnic origins of the prisoners were given recognition in the Northern Ireland prison system" (Feldman 1991:149). Thus, prisoners, both republican and loyalist, were accorded "Special Category" status and the following accompanying privileges:  (1) The right to wear their own clothing; (2) The right to refrain from prison work; (3) The right of free association (during recreation); (4) The right to organize their own educational and recreational facilities and the right to receive one letter, one visit, and one parcel per week; (5) The right to full remission on good behaviour.  Rowthorn and Wayne (1988:44-45) explain that the granting of Special Category status to the prisoners essentially signified that:  Until the mid-1970s "the troubles" were generally regarded as being political in origin,  195  and therefore needing a political solution. This meant that though the conflict was not actually described in this way, up till then, it was handled as a war over Northern Ireland's political future, which was being waged between a guerrilla army and a regular army.  Internment ended on December 31, 1975 and on March 1, 1976, the British government decreed that any person charged with a "scheduled offence" would in the future be classified as an ordinary criminal. This had the effect of rescinding Special Category status and all the privileges and rights it had accorded. The prisoners protested in the only way they felt 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" (Coogan 1980), which escalated into the 1981 hunger strike, an event that would claim the lives of ten men (Adams 1986; Berresford 1987; O'Malley 1990).  196  II. Irish at the Door: The Blanket Protest and Hunger Strikes A. Irish Language in the Prisons  1. Irish Language in the "Cages"13  Many of the people who joined the Irish Republican Army (IRA) in the early 1970s did so as a reaction to local oppression--a way to fight back against a seemingly unreachable force. These people had no particular revolutionary or cultural ideology in mind, but were motivated by what was happening on their streets and in the nationalist community. One such man, who started as a member of Fianna 8ireann (the junior IRA) at the age of fifteen and eventually went to prison in 1978, told me:  I got involved in 1974 but I wouldn't say I was politically aware. I was never politically aware until I ended up in prison actually. [Did you speak Irish?] In the early 70s, I never even heard of the Irish language.^I don't think that very many of us in the early 70s even knew the Irish had a language. I never understood that Ireland had a language. In primary school we were taught Irish but we didn't know how to speak Irish. We saw it on the curriculum with the other modern languages. But we just didn't choose it.  Another ex-republican prisoner explained that while people are much more politically and culturally aware today than they were in the 1970s, it is still the case that a  197  major force that motivates young people to join the IRA is the State's repressive and violent actions in their own communities. Referring to the 1970s, he commented:  Because of the way the struggle erupted, most of the people who ended up becoming members of the IRA were very young--sixteen, seventeen. They came into the struggle from a gut reaction to the State, but they couldn't articulate what was wrong with it. Their main concern was to fight a war against the British and to ensure that the British didn't catch them while they were fighting the war.  When these young men went to prison, they had a lot of time to think and to search for the reasons that would explain the violence that had disrupted their adolescent years and resulted in their present incarceration. They also wanted to find ways in which they could continue to contribute to the struggle, even though they had "been found out and exposed." A man who had been a sentenced prisoner in Long Kesh prison prior to 1976, explained how these young prisoners went about developing their cultural and political awareness after they had been captured and imprisoned in the "cages":  When we moved into Long Kesh and settled, we started to take more interest in what was actually happening politically and what we could do to help. We set up discussion groups, there were various political lectures. Of course you know about the Gaelic language revival that was taking place. We set up our own study huts. We had three of these different huts in the cages to  198  house prisoners and the other one was used for campaigning, sort of a work area. What we did was we separated the huts themselves and we had one but which was only for the Gaelic language. You knew what type of character the person had really by what but they were living in. In the Gaeltacht but we really tried to put pressure on to get people more interested in politics. The majority of the people in our cage were sentenced and were going to be released within two or three years and some were going to be released in six months. So what we wanted to do was to try and educate ourselves so that when we went back out onto the street again we would be better equipped to fight the British and carry on the struggle.  After the identity of these prisoners had been exposed by their arrest and conviction, it was realized that they would 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 their newly acquired interpretation of what was happening in Northern Ireland to the outside world, both locally and internationally:  We had our own newspaper going, and again because of my artistic talents I was used to produce the graphics in it and design the layout of it. We had other people typing it up. We had people who did the writing. We set up printing contacts with the outside--this was about '74 or '75, and we actually got them to produce a couple of the editions of the newspaper that we had produced in the jail, exactly the same as the Captive Voice now does. We got copies of Republican News at the time and it seemed most of the campaigns on the outside were aimed at highlighting the plight of the prisoners. Every other article was talking about the conditions in Long Kesh, about visiting conditions for relatives, and people being beaten  199  in Long Kesh, about raids in Long Kesh--and we felt what had happened was this was allowing the British to propagate the idea that it [the situation in Northern Ireland] really wasn't to do with the British presence. It [the war] was [being portrayed as] more to do with just social upheaval, two religions. The British presence was very rarely ever mentioned except maybe by top level statements by Sinn Fein or something like that. So we thought that we should try to get away from the prisons issue and start concentrating on British withdrawal. At first, the stuff we started to send out was just ideas--they were not formal articles--we just sent them out to press and said do you think you could use this, and a lot of them were [used]. The people on the outside were dealing with the daily business of keeping the war going and the pressures that brought. They were really concentrating on getting more arms in, and getting more recruits in, and getting some safe houses. Now you had a stronger political machine developing [i.e., Sinn Fein] which was based on people who had time to sort of read the books and educate themselves and discuss and debate the way forward. So a lot of these things we wrote were accepted. We then started to produce several pamphlets.  While conditions in the "cages" had been harsh, especially in the early years of internment, they began to ease somewhat by 1974-75. This more liberal trend, coupled with the Special Category status granted to these prisoners, enabled them to create, within their section of Long Kesh, a nationalist ethos in which to educate themselves both politically and culturally:  There was a relaxation on conditions in the period this was happening. [When the prisoners were producing their pamphlets and articles.] It was 1974, the IRA called a truce in late '74 and conditions in Long Kesh were quite reasonable.  200  I think taking your freedom away from you is the worst thing people can do. Those in under internment were under a lot of psychological pressure in that they were being held with no release date. They didn't know when they were going to be released. People like us in the sentenced pen, while we were serving eight years and we knew that in 1978 we were going to be released, or 1979, so we had two or three years to pass in the wee pen before going back into the streets again. The conditions had relaxed to a certain degree in that they had started to supply us with beautiful cages after we had burned the place in 1974. And the conditions they supplied us with afterwards were actually more superior than what we had prior to that. And also with a bit of ingenuity from the people in the jail who knew a bit of electronics and things, we started to renovate inside the huts and everything. We acquired a typewriter machine and people sent things in from outside--wee bits and pieces, we formed a library. We asked all our relatives to start leaving a pound or two pound each week--each person in the cages was asked to do this--and everyone agreed, we had a big meeting and everyone thought it was a good idea. Our relatives couldn't afford to buy us the books that we wanted so we asked each relative to pay two pounds and we got in all the book lists--all different sorts of publishers who dealt with political books, and we used to do this every week and we used to select three or four new books. The money would all be pooled into one. We set up a library with maybe two or three hundred books, political classics, which up until then wouldn't even be allowed in Long Kesh and shortly afterwards were banned again. For example we had [previously] banned books by James Connolly, and international books [Marx, etc]. When we got the books then, the political discussion took another form and sort of charged forward. You find that people were just sort of sitting reading each day. There would probably be two or three lectures a day that you could actually join. Whereas before that everyone was busting to go to a single nationalist lecture--which we all had a certain incentive to do. Now you sort of sat down in groups and people told you about what they had read and that sort of thing.^It was an electrifying sort of a period.  201  Special Category status also meant the prisoners were granted a number of cultural privileges, including the right to: play Gaelic football; wear An Fainne (the badge of the Irish speaker); and organize their own Irish language education. When the Normalization Policy took effect, these rights were denied to all republican prisoners charged after March 1, 1976.  2. Irish Language in the H-Blocks  On September 14, 1976, Ciaren Nugent, who had been the first person sentenced for a "scheduled offense" after the March 1 deadline, also became the first prisoner to refuse the wearing of prison clothes, proclaiming, "If they want me to wear a convict's uniform, they'll have to nail it to my back" (Adams 1986:73). This reaction to the new criminalization policy of the British government initiated the "blanket protest" which progressed to the "dirty protest" when prisoners, prevented from "slopping out" their waste buckets, decorated cell walls with the sordid contents. These actions culminated in 1981 with a hunger strike, which saw ten men eventually starve themselves to death. For men who had lost all privileges, who had been treated in a way perceived as unfair and unjust, who were facing an unreachable and oppressive captor, the Irish  202  language itself became a key to survival. This weapon of resistance would be used by prisoners to assert and affirm cultural and political difference, and hence a small degree of control, over their jailers. Coogan's (1980) account of the blanket and dirty protests, details "life on the blanket." The men were locked up for twenty-four hours a day, with no exercise or fresh air. They were frequently subjected to beatings, as well as verbal and psychological abuse. Under these conditions the Irish language became a way of shutting out the brutal world in which the "blanket-men" lived. As one such man, quoted by Coogan (1980:5), put it, "Gaelic was a Godsend. Only for it, we would have been climbing the walls." An ex-prisoner, whose prison term began at the start of the blanket protest and continued throughout the hunger strike, explained to me just how the Irish language had helped 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 went to the H-Block in Long Kesh. I was . . . one of the first prisoners to be denied political status. During the blanket protest we had nothing whatsoever with respect to books to read, except the Bible given to us by the chaplain. There were two men there at the time. One was Bobby Sands who had been in the cages and was in for a second term in prison. Those two were fluent Irish speakers and they started teaching Irish at the doors. At that time education was a privilege but because we were on blanket protest we had lost all  203  privileges--visits, letters, and we were in the cells twenty-four hours. We got pens from our friends and sympathetic screws [prison guards], which we often lost during the many cells searches. There were no Irish speakers on our wing, so they would shout it over to me. We wrote the Irish on toilet paper, anything. If we were caught, their attitude was to charge him with defacing prison property. A pen was a prohibited article. Screws were hard on anything that was different from them: religion, culture, language. The official policy was to "give them nothing," baths once a week, one to a cell. Individual screws could take any action they wanted. Culture to us--the Irish language--was very important. The most obvious reason was that it's our culture, it's our language. We are in prison for being Irish. We therefore felt it was our obligation to learn Irish. We never got the opportunity in school to learn Irish. So now we were in jail, we decided that we should learn Irish. It had been offered in school but the brother who taught it didn't wind up teaching it, and besides, we were caught up in what was happening outside. The first reason we learned it [Irish] was the obligation, and the second reason was we were living in a totally hostile environment. For the blanket-men in '78 and '79, the beatings became common. It was a way of communicating with each other that the screws wouldn't understand. We could build a defensive wall around ourselves. We spoke Irish, they spoke English.^I could speak to someone across the wing and have a private conversation. This was a conversation that prisoners could hear--screws could hear it as well but they couldn't understand it. This gave us a comradeship. When you are talking about personal things and you're asking about how your mother is or how your wife is doing, there was always some screw on the wing listening and trying to pick up on it. We spoke in Irish--that was the difference between us and them. It was something they couldn't penetrate. They could take us out of the Block, they could bend us over a mirror and search us, they could beat us, but at least we could talk and they couldn't respond.  204  Unlike the formal Irish classes previously held in the cages, an entirely new education system had to be developed by the prisoners and adapted to the adverse conditions in the H-Block. A prisoner who was on the blanket protest, describes this new system:  The way we learned it was that a fellow got up and shouted the lesson out the door, the spelling of the words. It was just a methodical thing. You had a set of rosary beads, a screw, or a nail, and you scratched the lesson on the walls, which were whitewashed. The beginner's class was Monday, Wednesday, Friday between twelve and one p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays from about three to five you had advanced classes, and on a Sunday from twelve to two p.m. you had the class for the teachers, where the teachers all got together and improved each other's Gaelic. At the end of the week you would set aside a day of story telling, and then I done the history, Irish history all done in Gaelic from the head. The Gaelic was part of a whole education programme that Bobby Sands initiated, and it was all done from the head and by shouting out the doors. Some of us had been trained in the Cages for this. Bobby was the main advocate of cultural separatism. That was the message that came from inside the jails out to the whole community now. Bobby told us that the proof of the pudding was in the eating. The jails proved that when you become culturally separate it breaks the enemy, that it builds walls they can't cross, and people within those walls (quoted in Feldman 1991:212-213).  It was this image of naked men who were living in filthy cells and being beaten regularly, standing at the door of their cells learning Irish that was being projected to the local community and around the world. One mother of a prisoner described her horror, which was not unlike the  205  horror of many I spoke with, at what was happening in the H-Block:  That fellow who came in a little while ago with the blond hair, that was the guy that was in the H-Blocks. I used to go and see him, his hair was jet black and was down to there [shoulder length]. The lice used to be crawling up and down the side of his face. They never saw each other so they never knew how bad they were and you had to sit there with this fixed smile on your face because you were absolutely shocked out of existence, looking at them. But you couldn't let them see how bad they were. You know I was watching my son, they allowed visits 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 your son growing like an old man. They were never out of the cell. They never saw daylight. Stark naked. 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, and they had to use their cells for a toilet and all. They started to use excrement on the walls to write and teach each other Irish. They developed this whole kind a system of teaching.  The prisoners had transformed their cells into "a pedagogical space" where they "scratched their accumulated learning alongside the fecal matter on the walls" (Feldman 1991:217), and in doing so triumphed over the repressive State that wanted to brand them as criminals. Their victory became an inspiration for the nationalist population outside the prison walls and sparked the Irish language revival that exploded in West Belfast in the 1980s.  206  B. Impact of the Hunger Strike on the Nationalist Community in Belfast  The State had hoped that the new normalization policy would erode support for the IRA and that once deprived of its "oxygen," the IRA would "wither away, and things would gradually return to normal," thus negating the need for any major political or structural change in Northern Ireland (Rowthorn and Wayne 1988:47). However, the State was unprepared for the bitterness the hunger strike generated in the nationalist--even the moderate nationalist--community. The extent of this bitterness became clear during an interview with a nationalist woman, who told me:  Maybe other people can do it but I can't and will never forgive the English, the Catholic Church, the Protestant Church, and the Irish government and the professionals and people in this country for allowing those men to die.^I'll never forgive them and God will judge them because in retrospect they will find out that the year of the hunger strike was a year when I believe everything changed in Ireland. Although it's difficult to say it when you are in the middle of it, 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 hoped that the Dublin politicians, these so called people who call themselves nationalists, these people who stand around our tricolour and speak our language and sort of call themselves Irish citizens, but you sort of hoped that they would stand up to the British. You sort of hoped that somewhere among the church leaders that there was somebody with enough guts to sort of say what's happened to these guys as a result of brutality over a long period in prison, the dehumanization, the brutality, and they had no other redress but to embark on this protest and the culmination,  207  which is the hunger strike; you hoped that this sort of Christian charity which people and the church are always telling you about would have come across somewhere, but it didn't. Not by any in the South. Ordinary people came out by the hundreds of thousands and we had this march in Dublin. The Gardi beat the living daylights out of them. You get more punishment from the Irish police than the RUC. You know, the Catholic Church, the Protestant Church, the British government, the Irish government, the professional people, the business people, all lined up clearly against the dying bodies of ten young men. It was so clear the way they were doing it.  The State also had not anticipated the way these deep negative feelings were to be expressed in the broader political arena. O'Malley (1990:211) writes that politically, "Sinn Fein and the IRA were seen as indisputable winners" in the aftermath of the hunger strike. During the hunger strike, Bobby Sands had been elected to Westminster and when he died, Owen Carron, Sands' election manager, was chosen to replace him. As well, two hunger strikers had been elected to the Dublin Parliament. In the elections that followed the hunger strike, Sinn Fein proved that it and indirectly the IRA, had the support of a far greater portion of the nationalist population than the establishment had ever imagined. Thirty percent of the Catholic vote was given to Sinn Fein in the local Assembly elections in the fall of 1982. ^In the general election of 1983, Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams was elected as the Westminster MP for West Belfast, and the party's percentage of the Catholic vote increased to forty-three. These Sinn  208  Fein victories at the polls, O'Malley (1990:213) adds, "sent shivers of apprehension through the . . . [British] political establishment."  III. Chapter Summary  During the early years of the new Northern Ireland state, the Stormont government tried to eliminate all "meanings and practices," it felt opposed those of the "effective dominant culture" which was narrowly defined by those in power to mean British culture. Emergency legislation was passed that gave the local Protestant security forces practically unlimited powers to suppress any political opposition and to censor any ideological or cultural material that conflicted with the views of the State. Official and unofficial violence during the first forty years of the State was sporadic. In the wake of the civil rights marches of 1968-69, when Catholics (and a considerable number of working class Protestants) demanded an end to political and economic discrimination, State violence in Northern Ireland became systematic and institutionalized and was directed primarily against the general Catholic population. This resulted in a period of intense rioting and the re-organization of the Irish Republican Army.  209  IRA recruits in the 1970s joined the struggle primarily as a "gut-reaction" to the State violence occurring in the nationalist communities. After a hunger strike in 1972, republican and loyalist prisoners were given Special Category status, which in essence gave political legitimacy to the war that was being fought. During this period, republican prisoners used their time in jail to study the conditions that led to their imprisonment, while concentrating on their political and cultural development.  On March 1, 1976, the British state changed its political and military strategy in Northern Ireland. A three pronged "Normalization Policy" was instituted which criminalized the republican struggle for self-determination; "Ulsterized" the security forces; and attempted to isolate the more radical elements of the nationalist population by offering economic and social inducements to the more moderate portion of the Catholic minority. The response of the republican prisoners was to begin a blanket protest. During the blanket protest and the subsequent dirty protest, republican prisoners refused to wear prison uniforms which to them symbolically represented the State's refusal to recognize the political nature of the armed struggle. To these men who had nothing but their bodies to use as a weapon of protest, the Irish language became a salvation, as it legitimized their cultural distinctiveness, and in so  210  doing gave them the strength to continue their protest. The Irish language also was a method of communication incomprehensible to English-speaking jailers. This enabled prisoners to create a bond of solidarity that the authorities could not penetrate. When the State showed no sign of changing its policy, a hunger strike began. As the world and the local nationalist community watched the ten hunger strikers die, the worst rioting erupted since the early 1970s.  After the hunger strike ended, rather than diminishing public support for the republican struggle, a significant portion of the Catholic electorate began casting their votes for Sinn Fein candidates in local assembly and Westminster elections. What had, prior to the hunger strikes, primarily been an armed struggle, was now a struggle that had been given a strong political voice--one which could no longer be silenced by State repression.  Seeing television images, reading newspaper accounts and hearing personal stories of republican prisoners, who during the blanket and dirty protests and the ensuing hunger strikes were living in Draconian conditions, yet teaching themselves to become fluent Irish speakers, was to permanently change the form of Irish language activism in Belfast.  211  Prior to 1980, alternative Irish language activists, had made no demands on the State, instead choosing to satisfy their cultural needs within the safe confines of the nationalist community. After 1980, the State was faced with both a resurgence of oppositional Irish language activism--in the prisons and from the politically victorious Sinn Fein—as well as much more vocal and organized alternative Irish language activism which now demanded not only that the State recognize Irish language rights but that it support and fund the Irish language.  212  Chapter Six  The Aftermath: Sinn Fein Rises to Political and Cultural Prominence in Nationalist Belfast  The struggle for the restoration of Irish language rights at least to the level previously granted to republican prisoners in the "cages," did not end with the hunger strike. This investigation into the nature of oppositional Irish language resistance, therefore, will begin where it started--in the prison system--with an examination of the fight for cultural freedom both from inside and outside prison walls. Embodied in the following comments by two former republican prisoners, who heralded the hunger strike as both a military and a political success, is the indication that the Republican Movement did not believe that the ten hunger strikers died in vain, even though the settlement of the strike fell short of restoring political status to the prisoners:  (1) The effect of the hunger strike was just total polarization in our society. Sinn Fein was coming on great guns. The IRA had more recruits than it could handle after the hunger strike. All sorts of support was coming in.  213  (2) The blanket protest marked a turning point in the struggle. . . . The IRA had to stop because of the hunger strike. Sinn Fein didn't want the hunger strike. But politically and militarily it was good. Politically Sinn Fein would not have been taken seriously without it. Connolly's political position was taken seriously because he stood outside the G.P.O.,1 4 in my opinion. This didn't hurt the cause of republicanism any. If we had had a strong political side from 1975, we might not have wound up where we are today. You need politics.  The significant role the Irish language played in this political and military success did not go unnoticed by Sinn Fein. Even before the end of the hunger strike, Sinn Fein was developing a new political platform that would better reflect its elevated political status. Since the platform was to include a dynamic cultural programme, in 1982 the Sinn Fein Cultural Department was established. 6 hAdhmaill (1985:6) writes that:  Prior to 1982 Sinn Fein paid lip service to the Irish language but was not closely identified with the cultural movement. However in 1982, the Sinn Fein Roinn Cultuir or Cultural Department was set up.  6 hAdhmaill (1985:6) suggests several reasons for this development. One was the role the Irish language had played in the prisons, both to create solidarity among the prisoners, and as a weapon of resistance which could be used against monolingual jailers. Sinn Fein had recognized that the hunger strike demonstrated that there was a link between  214  the "cultural struggle" and the "national struggle," and . . they felt that many in West Belfast agreed with this assessment." As well, a number of Irish speakers, inspired by the bilingual writing of Bobby Sands, had become involved in the hunger strike protests. As a result of these reasons, coupled with the effect of the influx of additional members into Sinn Fein, 6 hAdhmaill concludes, "Sinn Fein leaders began to stress the importance of the language more. This examination of Sinn Fein's construction of oppositional Irish language activism will begin by looking at the relationship between Sinn Fein and the nationalist community in Belfast. Many community action groups developed during the early 1970s when the state, preoccupied with the "troubles," all but abandoned the administration of community protection, housing, and similar social services. Sinn Fein's assessment of its role both in community action groups, and in the nationalist community generally, provides an insight into its perceived role in Irish language activism. Sinn Fein's appraisal of its role in the Irish language movement will be investigated initially by probing how the Irish language fits into the overall revolutionary ideology of the Republican Movement. Then, Sinn Fein's assessment of its contributions to the Irish language revival which took place after the 1981 hunger strike, will be analyzed.  215  Sinn Fein's high profile in the Irish language movement has elicited the accusation from the State that Sinn Fein has "hijacked the Irish language." This charge will be probed first by examining how Sinn Fein has responded to it and then by examining how cultural or alternative Irish language activists view the State's claim. The concluding section will attempt to put in perspective the actual inter-relationship between oppositional Irish language activism and that of the alternative Irish language activist community.  I. Irish Culture Behind Bars: The Prison Struggle for Irish Language Rights  Prior to the implementation of the 1976 criminalization policy, republican prisoners had had a number of cultural rights granted to them at the time they were given "Special Category" status. These rights included the right: to play Gaelic football; to organize Irish language education; to wear 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 rescinded for all prisoners sentenced after March 1, 1976. The policy of the authorities concerning the denial of cultural rights was, however, inconsistently applied to republican prisoners. For example, while all internees had  216  been released by the end of 1975, the sentenced prisoners in the "cages," whose release date--if they had one--was beyond the March 1 deadline, continued to exercise the cultural rights granted to them prior to 1976. Republican women prisoners, convicted after March 1, 1976 had not been denied the right to wear their own clothes and while they did not go on the blanket protest, they did join the dirty protest in support of their male counterparts in Long Kesh. Four of these women prisoners also had participated in the first hunger strike in 1980. These women republican prisoners were not denied the cultural rights taken away from the men in Long Kesh. As a result, they were allowed to organize their own Irish classes, to wear Fiiinnes and to receive Irish language books and papers15 ^(6 Neill 1984:1). The months following the end of the hunger strike in October 1981 saw the granting of most of the five demands that had been made by the blanket, dirty and hunger strike protesters. However, the authorities steadfastly refused to re-institute pre-1976 cultural rights for the republican prisoners in the H-Blocks of Long Kesh, taking the position that to do so would pose a security risk. Gaelic football was now deemed to be a security risk because, unlike soccer (an authorized prison activity), it involved eight more players. The Fainne was declared to be a political emblem and as such offensive, and likely to cause a breach of the peace. All Irish language publications were banned from the  217  prison, except books used in authorized "Irish classes for '0' and 'A' levels [which had been made available to] a limited number of prisoners" (MacSiacais 1983:7). Security was also cited as the reason for terminating visits if the Irish language was used. For the same reason, letters containing Irish words or names could neither be sent nor received by the prisoners. The government's intransigent position on this issue brought a storm of protest from a number of cultural groups who, like Sinn Fein, condemned the authorities for denying the prisoners their cultural rights. 6 Neill (1984:1) reports that:  The British Government is coming under increasing pressure to give full recognition to the Irish Language and Gaelic games in the North's prisons. Both the S.D.L.P. and Sinn Fein this week expressed strong support for a demand from Conradh na Gaeilge (Gaelic League) that prison authorities provide facilities for any prisoner who wishes to learn or use the Irish language. And the G.A.A. [Gaelic Athletic Association, a national sports league] has also condemned the ban on Irish culture in the prisons describing it as "a denial of basic rights." The latest initiative to bring pressure on the British is being organised by the Roddy McCorley Club. A full page advertisement which appeared in last week's Irish News, detailing "the suppression of the Irish culture in the prisons" was sponsored by many cultural and sporting groups and attracted widespread attention. Letters detailing the suppression of Irish in the 6 Counties have been sent to Pope John Paul II, President Reagan, Cardinal 6 Fiaich, Geraldine Ferraro, Tip O'Neill, Edward Kennedy and other public figures world-wide.  218  The Northern Ireland Office (NIO), the governing body set up in Northern Ireland and controlled by Westminster after direct rule was implemented in 1972, took a defensive position in response to the accusations of cultural discrimination being made against it from many local, national and international groups, individuals, and Celtic organizations:  An NIO spokesman denied however, that there is a policy of cultural discrimination. "Any restrictions are purely of a security nature, and are not intended to suppress Irish cultural identity. It is not practical to check material in Irish but letters with a word or two in Irish should get through all right" [a claim refuted by the prisoners]. He was not aware of any plans to introduce censors with a knowledge of Irish, he said (6 Neill 1984:1).  While the campaign outside of the prisons in support of prisoners' cultural rights was building momentum, the prisoners themselves were waging a vigorous campaign from inside the prisons, in an effort to regain their lost cultural privileges. The State was equally as adamant that the prisoners would not have these cultural rights, defending their position on grounds of good order and security. As one ex-prisoner told me, "You can't argue with security." Using newspaper accounts of legal challenges and the narratives of ex-prisoners involved in this fight, the remainder of this section will attempt to derive the hidden  219  transcripts of both the prisoners and the State in this battle over Irish language and cultural rights. That the Irish language was a weapon of resistance had been 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 following six-point programme:  (1) The right to receive and send letters in Irish; (2) The right to speak Irish during visits; (3) The right to play Gaelic games; (4) An improvement in the lengthy delays in censoring Irish language books or papers, or for the system to be organised on the same basis as English language publications; (5) The right to wear the Fainne; (6) The right to use the Irish form of their proper names (An Phoblacht/Republican News 1989:12).  However, as the majority of these cultural rights only became security risks after the criminalization policy went into effect, the reasons behind the State's refusal to reinstate them seems less obvious. The use of the Irish language appeared to be allowed by the prison authorities as a privilege, thus forcing prisoner compliance in other areas. I was informed that:  In 1981 we got the right to education. Part of the settlement of the hunger strike was that prison work would still continue. But we wouldn't do prison work so we still lost privileges, although we got some privileges back.  220  The privilege of education was still withheld from us [the protesting prisoners]. Cardinal 6 Fiaich had got an agreement from them [the government] during his talks before 1980 that he would be allowed to present us with Irish Bibles. He had just put together the Bible in Irish and it was a good achievement at the time. They said, "Yes they can have the Bibles as soon as they come off protest." One of the rights you are 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 in Irish but it will be a privilege Bible because it is in a foreign language (emphasis added). Irish was indeed considered part of the education curriculum, but Irish language material was restricted to government approved textbooks, written for "A" and "0" Level Irish language courses. All other Irish language material was viewed as a potential security risk prior to its translation. Yet the government made no attempt, until 1987, to appoint an Irish language censor (Andersonstown News 1987a:21). The following accounts related to me by two ex-prisoners, detail the extent of censorship in the prisons and outline the long and continuing battle being waged against it by the prisoners:  [Ex-prisoner 1:]^So the first experience with written Irish was the Bible. Even so the Bible is not the most enjoyable reading. We were not allowed dictionaries even in English. We were allowed novels. We were not allowed any book at all that was political or of a factual nature. ^It had to be of a fictional nature, novels. No Sinn Fein publications were allow in. No Irish publications were allowed in. The Andersonstown News was banned. Republican News was banned. In fact the ban from the Republican News was only lifted last year [1990].^It was 1985 that the ban  221  was lifted on the Andersonstown News and La [a local Irish language newspaper]. They were under obligation by the European court to provide so many newspapers a day to each wing. Even then they [the newspapers] are subject to scrutiny and if they see something they don't like they cut it out. I was sent La for years and they all went to the NIO [Northern Ireland Office] and I reckon the NIO still have them. No books written in Irish were allowed in. We protested. Then the attitude they took was that Irish, like German, French, and Spanish, is an educational subject, if you want to do this subject in foreign languages, we will do the classes. So those were the basic Irish books that we were allowed to get. We were not allowed contact with Irish speakers. For a large number of prisoners speaking Irish,16 you have to have that flow, that sort of living contact with the language if you want it to survive. We weren't allowed that. In the middle of '87 they agreed to allow us to get [Irish] books in. They didn't agree because they wanted to. They were getting accused of cultural oppression--an accusation that they didn't like. They decided to show themselves as liberals and show that they are not doing this. Officially they decided to not support the language but not to suppress it either. However visits could be stopped for speaking Irish. Our letters were never sent out if they were written in Irish. Even if the person you wrote to just had an Irish name--a screw could stop that, saying that Irish is not allowed, and the government would back up the screw's decision. In '87 they said they would allow us to get in Irish books. A Christian Brother sent me up some books. Now at this time we were allowed uncensored books--we were allowed uncensored publications. We were allowed almost everything. These books, [from the Christian Brother] which were story books in Irish that the kids would have in school [and] were left up for me in Christmas '87, and when I was transferred from the maze prison to Maghaberry prison work out scheme in [1990] . . . these books were given to me coming out the door. They were accepted in the prison and sat with the Northern Ireland censor for over three years. What they are saying is "Of course we will let them in, there is a slight delay, any prisoner knows that." But the delays are three to four years.  222  [Ex-prisoner 2:]^It was a running battle for years and years over anything Irish. I mean if the Irish News printed an article in Irish--I mean you are talking about national newspapers, you are talking about the Irish Times which is the equivalent of the London Times--but that type of paper, if it carried Irish it would be censored. It wouldn't be allowed in. What they were saying was that they didn't have the facilities. But what they didn't have was the political will. You are not allowed to send or receive letters in Irish. Up until the courtcase you weren't allowed to sent or receive Irish publications. I mean you have an Irish language newspaper called La, and that was coming into the prison and then they were saying, "Oh, this has to be sent away to be censored in case that it is subversive." So this daily newspaper was coming in and being sent to the censors in the jail, who were then passing the buck up and sending it to the Northern Ireland Office. At the end of the day it was just vindictiveness. The irony of it was that if you look at the whole Irish Celtic revival at lot of the people who were involved especially at the turn of the century in and around Belfast, the Irish language groups that sprung up at that time would have been Presbyterian. So they were actually denying part of their own heritage.  The campaigns by the prisoners for permission to wear the Fainne, and to be allowed to play Gaelic games, was another long struggle, although one that had more successful results than the fight against censorship of Irish language material:  [Ex-prisoner 2:]^Most of us learned the language on the blanket. Once the protest was over we all would have been fluent Irish speakers. The next stage was to sort of concretize that by just doing the exams. You know you have the silver Fainne and the gold Fainne. So we all put in for a gold Fainne. And after a whole lot of debating and arguing with the NIO they decided to let an instructor come in to take us for the exam.  223  There was no problem of us passing it. Then we entered into the next struggle of being actually able to wear your gold Fainne in the prison. We applied to have those sent in. We didn't even ask the administration to buy them. We said we would get our own relatives to send them in. And they said "No," that that was a political emblem. They talked about good order and discipline within the prison. This is a direct quote that they were using: That if we were to wear the Fginne, this could be considered offensive by the other prisoners or prison staff and therefore it wasn't to be allowed. [So even though republican and loyalist prisoners were segregated, the wearing of the Fainne was still offensive?] Yes. [Was this because the Fginne was offensive to loyalist prisoners?] No, because they wouldn't have seen you. It was just sticking it in their gut really. And you are back to that innate sectarianism within the prison establishment. Ninety-five percent of the prison establishment is loyalist so therefore the prevailing ideology within the prison, and that goes from ground level to top management, right through all the different layers, within the prison would be by and large loyalist. And those Catholics who would take on the job, would be your token taigs, in one sense. They had to prove themselves, so they had to be twice the bastard that an ordinary loyalist would be. [Were you ever allowed to play Gaelic games?] No. They said we haven't got the facilities. We used to go down once a week to the football pitch. And soccer was no problem. But in terms of playing Gaelic football there was just a blank. They say they could not provide the facilities for Gaelic football or hurling. The point that they made about hurling was that you could use it as an offensive weapon. You got to give them a point there. But it is still the same football. Then they say it's a matter of security again. There  224  is fifteen a side for Gaelic football and it is only eleven a side for soccer. They said fifteen plus fifteen would be thirty, as opposed to twenty-two going down, therefore that would be a greater security risk. But basically they were just meaningless arguments. When you got a screw on his own or you got the governor on his own away from sort of taking the mass sort of line, he would say, "Look, you are just not getting it," and that was it. "The bottom line is we are in no way going to try to encourage you in your culture or in your belief as being nationalist. You are here to be punished because you are a republican."  In 1989 two Long Kesh prisoners took legal action to force the government to defend its refusal of the six cultural demands listed above. The Belfast County Court ruled against the claims of cultural oppression by the two men, and they subsequently appealed their case in the High Court (Andersonstown News 1990b:15). Before the decision of the High Court was rendered the NIO indicated that the wearing of the Fainne no longer posed a security risk and that the authorities were studying whether it might be possible to allow Gaelic football. (Before the end of the High Court case, Gaelic football received NIO approval.) o Neill believes these actions by the government were prompted by the possible embarrassment that the High Court verdict may have brought: During the High Court case . . . prison chiefs admitted that their ban on the Fainne, defended for years on grounds of "security" had been lifted within the past month. And the provision of Gaelic football and handball, previously regarded as "impracticable" is now being seriously considered.  225  A senior prison official told the Court that the prison authorities had met GAA officials within the last three weeks and that they now foresaw no long term problems about the provision of Gaelic football. The news of the u-turn by the NIO was being greeted with caution by prisoners but it was clear that they had scored a major success in forcing Long Kesh officials to concede that there are no security or other reasons for refusing to allow Gaelic football or the wearing of the Fainne, contrary to what they had argued for fourteen years. . . . Judgment has been reserved in the case which ended yesterday, but it became evident during the hearing that the prison authorities have eased their ban on Irish within the last few months in a deliberate attempt to avoid an embarrassing verdict in court (o Neill 1990:2).  The official reasons given by the NIO for this apparent change of heart with respect to the Fainne and Gaelic games, and why the other demands could not be granted, were provided by:  The principal of the Regimes Development Branch responsible for Irish cultural matters, [who] said that a recent decision meant that prisoners are now allowed to wear the Fainne, because it was achieved as a result of the educational programme. Prisoners' conversing and writing in Irish was forbidden because it could be detrimental to good order and discipline as well as prison security. Prisoners were not allowed to change their names because it would lead to confusion in identification. He said discussions had taken place with the GAA to see if the all-weather pitches at the Maze could be adapted for the safe playing of Gaelic football (Irish News 1990d:3).  226  The Gaelic Athletic Association (CAA) and the Irish language group Conradh na Gaeilge, both cultural Irish language organizations, demonstrated their support for the prisoners demands by giving evidence on their behalf in the High Court. When the ruling was announced, it was against the claims made by the prisoners that the NIO practiced a policy of cultural discrimination. But while the ruling was in favour of the State, in his final summation, Justice Carswell made it clear that the court wasn't giving its approval to the Irish language ban in the prisons. Justice Carswell stated:  I am well aware that in some instances one may find a multitude of complaints about matters which can be justified individually, but which, when taken together, provide more convincing evidence of a discriminatory intention. I have considered the evidence as a whole with care in order to determine whether the restrictions when taken together demonstrate such an intention in the present case, taking into account the plaintiffs' complaint that they consistently operate to the disadvantage of Irish Nationalist prisoners. I have concluded that they do not. That is not to say that I am expressing judicial approval of each and every restriction or the way in which each has been handled (Andersonstown News 1991b:15).  The reaction of the prisoners was defiance, and a determination that they would continue the fight in the European Court of Human Rights:  227  [Ex-prisoner 2:]^We said that we are not going to be treated as ordinary criminals. We had ten of our men die in there for the five demands [see Chapter Five]. And that struggle did not end when the hunger strike ended. We have kept on chipping away at them. We can operate as a body of men in prison who wanted to educate themselves--to get a political education, a cultural education, or whatever. [Ex-prisoner 1:]^Because the court case has been refused twice, we are now taking the case to Europe, to establish the same rights for Irish speakers as English speakers have. To get free access to books, written material, newspapers. Freedom to speak Irish on visits. The right to play all Irish games. Just total rights for an Irish speaker, the same for the Irish culture as for the Protestant culture or whatever you want to call it. As a result of that you are now allowed to wear a Fainne. You are allowed to play hand ball, Gaelic football. La newspaper is allowed in. As far as the procedure for censoring material, it has been speeded up somewhat. It still goes to the NIO first, and there is a person in the NIO who did Irish at school who acts as censor. It's a girl who has her own duties as a civil servant. She wouldn't have the sort of Irish that you would need to read it. It would be sort of like beginner's Irish. Probably she would have her low level Irish which wouldn't match a book written by a fluent Irish speaker. So as far as I know that is speeded up but I don't know to what speed.  The prisoners and former prisoners are now using the Irish language rights they have gained to provide present republican prisoners with a cultural education within the prisons:  [Ex-prisoner 1:]^As for ourselves, what we have done is because most of the Irish speakers were those of us on the blanket and we were out now, we had noticed that the Irish language had run down a  228  lot. So we done our own course. When we were in we were getting outside courses in Irish in.^If you have been in for eight years and you have another eight years to go, the vocabulary of outside the prisons is alien to you because you are living in a different world. So we wrote our own course that deals with life in prison. It addresses the surroundings around you. It's a good basic course. So what we did last year about May [1990], we put this course into the prison. Part of the security is that you can be moved to a different block at any time. Some are moved everyday. That's very destructive for an individual especially if you are studying there, even just to settling down to prison life. So what we done was, we got this course printed, and got it photocopied in the [Sinn Fein] education department and had a copy of it put in each of the blocks. Then what we said was it was now compulsory for everyone to do this course. We didn't really say it was compulsory but we said we would like everyone to do it. So that leaves it to their own initiative because I think it is a good thing for everybody to do. If everybody starts doing the course and say I got moved from H3 to H4 everybody in H4 would be at the same stage as I was in H3 because we have it all boxed off. This is what you do in week one, this is what you do in week two. So even if you were moved you weren't disrupted, you just carried on. That culminated in August [1990] with the fun run [in support of the Irish language nurseries and primary schools]. That catches all the new blood that was coming in. That heightens the awareness of Irish. Even those that are just taking the basic course will have enough to converse and progress. We have a number of books and we have dictionaries. I think we will have an advanced level course. But even if people come through the first level they will then have the confidence to go on in their own way and their own classes. The course is ten to twelve weeks. You will be in an Irish speaking atmosphere.  The public transcript of the prisoners is similar to the hidden one articulated above: the republican prisoners want to be able to express their distinct  229  linguistic/cultural identity within an Irish-speaking environment they themselves have created in the H-Blocks. Even after losing their major court case against cultural discrimination, they proceeded, using the gains their struggle had produced, to set up their own Irish language education system in order to Gaelicize current republican prisoners. The public transcript of the State was that the demands of the republican prisoners, if permitted, would jeopardize the "good order and security" within the prisons. However, when the actions of the State are examined the hidden transcript bears a similarity to the attitude expressed by the Stormont government in the 1920s toward anything Irish (see Chapter Four). The Irish language was treated as a foreign language, to be sanctioned only as an educational subject. All Irish language publications were treated as suspect and banned--including Irish language articles written in well respected newspapers such as the Irish  Times. No effort was made, until 1987, to appoint a person to censor incoming and outgoing Irish material, and even then, delays of nine months to several years were common before the sender or receiver actually got the material. The security argument also seems tenuous at best with regard to other expressions of Irishness. The wearing of the Fainne and the playing of Gaelic football were seen as security risks. (Hurling could legitimately be seen as a  230  security risk as it is played with a hockey-like stick.) However, the republican prisoners in the "cages" were allowed to continue to play Gaelic football and both they and women republican prisoners, were allowed to wear Fainnes. In 1990, prior to a decision on a case of cultural  discrimination in the prisons against the NIO, the authorities decided that the wearing of the F6inne and the playing of Gaelic football no longer posed threats to either good 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 and more to do with the State's perception that the prisoner's oppositional language activism posed an intolerable threat to British linguistic hegemony.  II. Sinn Fein and the Nationalist Community  A. The Development of Community Action Groups in Belfast  During the course of the last twenty or more turbulent years in Belfast, little has been written on the local level organization of the city's community action groups. To a large extent, the material presented here will be drawn from  231  Griffiths' (1978) examination of the growth of community action groups during the years 1969 to 1975, and on information imparted to me personally by nationalists involved in some of these organizations. It should be noted that Griffiths' article concentrates on the development of loyalist community action groups, however he does provide some useful information on similar organizations in the nationalist areas. Using religion and socio-economic class to divide the Northern Irish population, Griffiths (1978) argues that while Protestant and Catholic attitudes toward statutory institutions were different prior to 1969, neither community had a "real tradition of community action nor even community consciousness, except in relation to the political-religious divide." Protestants (working, middle and upper classes), Griffiths claimed, were encouraged to believe that their right to exist and their livelihood depended on the continued existence of the Stormont Parliament, the Unionist Party, and the Orange Order. It was the perception of the Protestant community that any expression of "discontent or grievance" on its part would undermine the State and thus jeopardize its privileged position. On the other hand, the Catholic working class, according to Griffiths, had been pacified by the political rhetoric of the Irish government into believing Ireland would eventually be united once  232  again. This group, while "more militant in its interaction with statutory agencies," tended to allow the Catholic Church to control all social organization. The tradition of republicanism with its "Sinn Fein tradition of self-reliance" was alive during the 1960s but other than nurturing a low level community agitation against prevailing discriminatory political and economic condition (see Adams 1986:6-17), and producing a growing number of republican clubs, this tradition was still in a nascent stage of development with respect to generating any organized community action. In the violent wake of the 1969 civil rights marches, the Northern Ireland political system faltered and the nationalist and loyalist communities began to organize action groups to take over functions that statutory agencies, such as the Housing Executive, no longer provided. With the creation of a "network of no-go areas, where the civil writ no longer ran" (Griffiths 1978:175), communities were left undefended. Local residents formed paramilitary and vigilante groups to protect their communities, usurping the responsibility for local security from the government. As the violence escalated in the wake of civil rights marches, there was a massive displacement of population as families left or were intimidated out of the mixed areas and forced to seek refuge in more religiously and politically homogeneous sectors of Belfast. As Catholics continued to  233  pour into the nationalist ghettos and departing loyalists burned their former homes, the housing shortage in the area became acute. In the early 1970s, and particularly in later years, the only way to obtain a house was, in the local parlance, "to go and take a house." As Griffiths (1978:175) writes, "When pressed by a relief worker, the best advice that an official of the Housing Executive could give a family turned out of their home was to go ahead and squat." The Housing Executive lost all hope of controlling the allocation of houses and along with it, its credibility in the community. It was out of this situation that the first tenant's groups were formed, to perform the duties that the Housing Executive had abandoned. As the leadership of these groups matured and skill was gained in handling issues of housing and security, their attention was directed to other needs of the community, such as the provision of social facilities and amenities. While this served to increase local confidence in and support for the community action groups, it also created a dilemma for the groups:  Although they [could] . . . themselves undertake certain responsibilities for the provision of services and amenities to their own communities on a self-help basis, at the end of the day they must turn to the major institutions of society, not only for services, but even for the support which they need to do what they [could] . . . for themselves^(Griffiths 1978:190-191).  234  With the advent of Direct Rule in 1972, came the forced relinquishing of political control by the Stormont Parliament. The resulting control exercised by London over Northern Ireland, served to further alienate the political system from local communities (O'Malley 1983:243-244). The political system now faced a dilemma similar to that of the community groups, which were unable to operate effectively without the support of the government:  How can it [the political system] effectively continue to operate as a form of representative government if its representativeness is continually challenged and its actions discredited and brought into disrepute by articulate and well-informed criticism and opposition? (Griffiths 1978:191).  As the process of politicization continued in the nationalist community, the pre-1969 style of government became less and less viable. The community action groups knew the needs of the community and how best to fill those needs--they also had the support of the local residents. But the statutory institutions, regarded by the community with militant distrust, controlled the resources necessary to satisfy these community needs. It was into this gap that Sinn Fein stepped as an answer to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's challenge to enter the political arena in the 1980s.  235  B. Sinn Fein assumes an "Encouraging" and "Supportive" Role in the Nationalist Community  When questioned as to the general role that Sinn Fein perceived itself to have assumed in the nationalist community, a Sinn Fein spokesperson answered:  Sinn Fein within the community sees itself as providing a service, and that service is more often than not a multi-faceted service. One is to help people to deal with the various statutory agencies that they come into contact with, many of whom are totally hostile to the needs of the nationalist community--completely hostile. Another--and it is a very important one, and it is one that takes up a huge amount of time--is adjudicating or negotiating between two sets of individuals. Two sets of families or two sets of residents on a street. To adjudicate and to negotiate a way out of the difficulties that are presented. We have more advice centres in Belfast than all other political parties collectively have in the six counties. So we have a whole host of advice centres and they are community based advice centres. They provide the role we have mentioned, and that's to say we assist the community in a number of problem areas--welfare rights is one example of that, harassment by the British forces. These centres also provide another important focus, and that's they allow people to come to us and to complain about us--which happens occasionally. Now that method and mechanism of feeling confident that you can complain about what Sinn Fein did or didn't do or in fact, what the IRA did or didn't do guarantees a steady flow of understanding between the various sections of the community and of course ourselves who are a part of that community.  When asked about Sinn Fein's involvement in the local community-based groups, I was told:  236  We support and encourage other schemes and community groups that are certainly not organized by us but have our support. For example, there are a number of drop-in centres which are organized by small fairly hard working community groups who simply provide a drop-in centre for their immediate area. We would be in support of those projects. The difficulty for us and indeed for them [community action groups] is that there is a continual attempt by the British propagandists to convince people that Sinn Fein for instance, despite our obviously large representation, that Sinn Fein somehow survives within the nationalist area by threat. Now what they have attempted to do to any community group or any individual who will not toe the line, that is, who challenges the British government's interpretation or propaganda line, they themselves are penalized. Their grants are removed, their buildings are allowed to run down, until it becomes impossible to have any kind of a drop-in centre or a community service. We are very conscious that those people--it would be really a disservice by us to them if those groups would be labeled as a Sinn Fein front. They are not a front. I mean they are people who have their own views, their own way of doing things. We support them. We don't always agree with them but we are in support of them.  Another Sinn Fein spokesperson, in reply to my question concerning the interaction between Sinn Fein and community-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 our mistakes because we've done it. There was a very small tenant's association and our people--because the area was so small--ended up controlling it and it ended up a disaster. People saw it as the Republican Movement coming in and taking over their tenant's association, and they pulled back from it and we learned very, very, quickly by that mistake.  237  III. Sinn Fein and the Irish Language Movement  A. The Irish Language as Part of the Republican Ethos  Current revolutionary ideology of the Irish Republican Movement considers the restoration of the Irish language as an integral part of the struggle for self-determination. This ideology draws its authenticity and legitimacy (see Chapter One) from the legacy of the United Irishmen (1798), Thomas Davis (1840), Pddraig Pearse (1916), and other revolutionary heroes, who proclaimed economic and political freedom could only be achieved in a culturally and linguistically distinct Ireland (see Chapter Three). Therefore, as in the past, Sinn Fein today believes that cultural liberation is inseparable from political and economic freedom. 6 Muilleoir (1986:20-21, 23) articulates the linkage between present republican cultural thinking with 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. Pearse said "chan amhain saor ach Gaelach chomh maith, chan amhain Gaelach ach saor chomh maith," i.e., not free merely but Irish as well, not Irish merely but free as well. Mellows [the leader of the Galway Volunteers in 1916] spoke of the fight to maintain our Irishness as the intellectual part of the Irish revolution when he said:  238  The revolution going on in Ireland, has a threefold aspect, it is intellectual, it is political, it is economic. Of the intellectual aspect it is sufficient to say that Ireland to be free, must be Irish, must be free from the domination of alien thought as from alien armies. Sinn F6in accepts both the above statements and understands the necessity for urgent action to redress the neglect of culture and defeat cultural oppression. We realise we are oppressed not only economically and physically but that the oppressor also exercises a cultural and social control over our people.^It is only natural then that resistance to the oppressor must take place on all these fronts. We must replace the ideology of the oppressor with a republican ideology rooted in our own history and experiences. . . . Imperialism has been described as a situation where "The centre of gravity of a nation, i.e., it's crucial decision making, is no longer in that nation but in some other." It is clear that while the cultural domination of Ireland continues, our " centre of gravity" will not be in our own country. It is essential therefore that our struggle against economic and political oppression is united with cultural resistance.  Cultural resistance in republican ideology is based on the belief that to be a sovereign people the Irish must first regain control of their own destiny. The Irish language is seen as an essential element in restoring to the demoralized nationalist population a sense of this control, and as a step toward re-establishing their self-esteem and self-worth as a people. The belief that the success of the liberation struggle lies in building a stable, self-reliant people is put into practice by encouraging members of  239  the nationalist community to speak out and demand their civil and human rights. A Sinn Fein spokesperson explained:  From our point of view, we don't administer to the community. We don't simply provide a service to the community. We don't simply look after the needs of the community. That would be totally counter-productive. We see our role as being a vehicle through which community grievances can be heard. For example, if there is a problem with an individual housing estate, that has to be taken up with the Housing Authority, it's not Sinn Fein's role to go on behalf of the residents to raise that issue.^It is Sinn Fein's role to go with the residents to raise the issue . . . if you like it is almost psychological, like training someone to be involved in athletics. If they can look after and stand up for their own rights on any given issue, they will stand up for themselves on every given issue. I mean that's where we differ [from Southern and other Irish politi