Irish nationalism

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And then there's all those eastern Europeans moving in, diluting the Pure Irish . . .

 

But seriously, you want to preserve your own heritage and not let the Americans, or anyone else, do it for you. We'll just get it wrong. The "Celtic" harp is just one example. The Americans also just love Celtic Woman and think it has something to do with authentic Irish culture. For all I know, the Irish do, too. This seems a shame.

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OK, so myself and the TTer who shall remain anonymous, ok it was Sin, were having a sherbet or two in Ned Kellys tonight and we met a charming couple from Cork.

 

All was well until i was asked by the wench what i thought of the Irish and i replied that all of the Britons, ( As in British Isles ), were basically the same people due to interbreeding etc

 

I said that our humour, view on life and general way we deport ourselves was the same.

 

Seems i was wrong, i was hit by a diatribe that basically said that England was an occupying country, potatoes got mentioned and that despite dilution by bastard English, that the country was still totally different.

 

I disagree totally with this, sure the Irish ARE different and have different views and ways but we are all basically the same aren't we?

 

Educate me.

There are a number of genetic disease assoicated with celtic peoples which have their highest rates in Ireland - haemochromatosis, cystic fibrosis & celiac disease being classic examples. This implies that there is still a certain genetic distinction. QED.

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And then there's all those eastern Europeans moving in, diluting the Pure Irish . . .

There's really very few people with attitudes like that. As European countries go, Ireland has welcomed immigrants from Eastern Europe and elsewhere in a relatively-speaking very welcoming way. There is no far-right party like in practically every other European country, and immigration has yet to register as a serious political issue. Now we've only had immigration for the past 10 years, so it's new to us, and this has been a time of huge economic growth and practically-speaking no unemployment, so maybe this won't hold into the future when economic times get harder. But to be fair to us, up until now, our record is pretty spotless in terms of this kind of stuff :) I speak of actual Irish citizens or whatever. I can't speak for Irish-emmigrants in the US or whatever in times gone by.

 

 

But seriously, you want to preserve your own heritage and not let the Americans, or anyone else, do it for you. We'll just get it wrong. The "Celtic" harp is just one example. The Americans also just love Celtic Woman and think it has something to do with authentic Irish culture. For all I know, the Irish do, too. This seems a shame.

I think Irish people, more than most, do want to preserve their own culture, in the sense of continuing on doing what they actually do. Harp-playing is not a widespread activity. As I said, I've never seen anyone play a harp in all my 20-something years in the country.

 

But there is a difference between preservating an 'existing' culture, and trying to revive a romantic vision of an impression of what Ireland was like in centuries gone by.

 

I'm not trying to say anything bad about harp-playing. I'm sure it's a fun thing to do. Just saying it really doesn't happen much in Ireland. It's not what most people would really see as a very Irish thing. That it is technically our national symbol has no real status other than providing an answer perhaps to trivia questions in table quizes or Trivial Pursuit :)

 

I would say more practical-examples of Irish people going to effort to preserve their culture would be things like the GAA-club here in Munich and the annual St. Patricks Day Parade. This is real-life real Irish culture, and people clearly go to the effort of keeping it going even when they are abroad.

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Here that wasn't Bertie Ahern looking to see who is left in Manchester to borrow/receive money from? Wouldn't surprise me !

lol as long as it's not in dollars! :)

 

Twas Eamon Gilmore, the Labour Party's new leader. I think he meant it in the context of not being afraid of the changing Ireland with lots of new immigrants etc. I also remember him referring to the possibility of Lithuanians learning GAA and introducing it into Lithuania, as one of the positive potential opportunities of the 'new' Ireland.

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I heard my first anti-English remark at a board meeting of a large multi national company in Dublin in 1995, exactly one week after being transferred there from the UK, so the cliche that this anti -English feeling emanates from the lower classes is completely off the mark. There is an intense hatred of England and the English, even from the rugby going fraternity in Lansdowne Road, although I am not quite sure of the reason for this. However, what really riles me is the inability of these people to call a spade, a spade because when confronted with a topic such as the one BD has brought up here, they revert to acting as if they are one of the English crew and just the same as any Englishman; such duplicity is appalling.

 

As for corruption, bribery and fraud, I found it to be innate and not just exclusive to Fianna Fail; there was and still is a brown envelope culture in Ireland, it is all about who you know and not what you know, us Irish as a race just do things differently than the straight laced Englishman (or so stereotypes would have you believe).

 

They call the Famine the great dividing line in Irish history and theoretically it was the potato blight that was the main reason for it, however it was the policy of successive English governments that caused dependency on the potato crop and when that failed the inevitable ensued. Ironically, Irish grain exports to the UK during 1846 could have overcome the deficiency of the failure of the potato crop but the fact was that Ireland was purely a revenue generator for absentee English landlords, which fits my description of a colony. Politically, socially and economically everything was different after the famine because it concentrated in a few brief years what may have taken generations to occur. Off course this resulted in bitterness and resentment towards England, which is still present to this day in some form or another, depending on a multitude of factors.

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But there is a difference between preservating an 'existing' culture, and trying to revive a romantic vision of an impression of what Ireland was like in centuries gone by.

Oh, absolutely. One of my harp teachers in Ireland is the daughter-in-law of WB Yeats, and even she's not pushing for any revival of Celtic Twilight-y stuff.

 

 

I'm not trying to say anything bad about harp-playing. I'm sure it's a fun thing to do. Just saying it really doesn't happen much in Ireland. It's not what most people would really see as a very Irish thing. That it is technically our national symbol has no real status other than providing an answer perhaps to trivia questions in table quizes or Trivial Pursuit

I agree with you in the case of the harp. Even in ancient Ireland, playing harp was a very special thing. The chieftains all had a harper, and after the Flight of the Earls, the harpers were mostly blind and transient. After about 1800, they were pretty much extinct, and since the music was transmitted orally, it was in serious danger of disappearing entirely. Harp is not historically an instrument for traditional Irish music, so unless a certain number of people know about the old classical tradition and bother learning it, it will die out. The fact that it hasn't died out yet is largely thanks to two Minnesotans, Ann Heymann, scholar and player, and David Kortier, who makes replicas of the old harps. But the ancient music isn't very commercial, and the sad thing is that although the public might think it wants authenticity, the newer tunes are a little more accessible, and therefore more popular. People get a skewed view of what Irish music history actually is this way. Turlough O'Carolan and his forbears didn't play Danny Boy, and they didn't play a harp with nylon strings.

 

But I think it would be a shame, for example, to let the language die, since you need more people to speak a language in order to achieve critical mass than you do harp players. I'd say it would be a shame to let the dancing go, too, though as far as I know, that particular art is still popular in a more historically authentic form (if you don't consider big shows like Riverdance.)

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I heard my first anti-English remark at a board meeting of a large multi national company in Dublin in 1995, exactly one week after being transferred there from the UK, so the cliche that this anti -English feeling emanates from the lower classes is completely off the mark. There is an intense hatred of England and the English, even from the rugby going fraternity in Lansdowne Road, although I am not quite sure of the reason for this. However, what really riles me is the inability of these people to call a spade, a spade because when confronted with a topic such as the one BD has brought up here, they revert to acting as if they are one of the English crew and just the same as any Englishman; such duplicity is appalling.

 

As for corruption, bribery and fraud, I found it to be innate and not just exclusive to Fianna Fail; there was and still is a brown envelope culture in Ireland, it is all about who you know and not what you know, us Irish as a race just do things differently than the straight laced Englishman (or so stereotypes would have you believe).

 

They call the Famine the great dividing line in Irish history and theoretically it was the potato blight that was the main reason for it, however it was the policy of successive English governments that caused dependency on the potato crop and when that failed the inevitable ensued. Ironically, Irish grain exports to the UK during 1846 could have overcome the deficiency of the failure of the potato crop but the fact was that Ireland was purely a revenue generator for absentee English landlords, which fits my description of a colony. Politically, socially and economically everything was different after the famine because it concentrated in a few brief years what may have taken generations to occur. Off course this resulted in bitterness and resentment towards England, which is still present to this day in some form or another, depending on a multitude of factors.

There's no denying there's a historical bitterness amongst many people in the population there towards perceived injustices towards Ireland by England in times gone by, generally centred around a perceptions of English-indifference to the potato famine, and the notion that the Irish language and culture was stamped out, brutalities during the war of independence, and also native Irish people being turfed off the land during 'plantations'.

 

A lot of these views are half-grounded-in-fact and half-very-biased-views of history.

 

But the vast vast bulk of people, even if they are of this opinion, don't blame current English people for what happened centuries ago, a lot of which was under unelected monarchs.

 

e.g. universal male suffrage didn't even exist in the UK until after the famine in 1867. Interestingly, from what I understand, the reason why the UK government at the time didn't do anything to intervene in the Irish famine was a perception of the primacy of 'free-markets' and desirability in not intervening in their operation, which sounds scarily similar to some of the dominant political attitudes of the present day. both in Ireland and elsewhere.

 

Amongst the younger generations anti-English sentiment (outside of sporting occasions - which is more rivalry than anything else) is the preserve of all but a small minority.

 

It should also be noted that anti-Irish sentiment was also quite prevalent in England in previous decades, with very significant discrimination against Irish emmigrants in London and elsewhere when they moved there. This is often typified in signs like "No Irish need apply" etc. So it has worked both ways.

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I do play the National Instrument and was trained on it (in Ireland and Germany) by some of the most prominent players in Ireland today.

I too was also trained on the National Instrument (in England) by a friend from Tallagh from the age of 16 to 21. Said friend's daughter ended up as my sister-in-law. Blame was put on gallons of the National Instrument at a party one night.

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But I think it would be a shame, for example, to let the language die, since you need more people to speak a language in order to achieve critical mass than you do harp players. I'd say it would be a shame to let the dancing go, too, though as far as I know, that particular art is still popular in a more historically authentic form (if you don't consider big shows like Riverdance.)

Most Irish people do think it would be a shame to let the Irish language die, but at the same time most of them don't make any effort to speak it, and basically thrust the responsibility on schoolkids by forcing them all to learn in school. But the kids largely have no interest in learning a language which nobody actually speaks and don't really bother. It's kinda like trying to teach the kids to be fluent in Latin, when there's no modern culture where people actually speak Latin, only books from olden times, and not very much actual modern culture in the medium.

 

What makes the language particularly controversial is a lot of the policies to keep Irish going operation through forcing both kids and adults to learn Irish against their will, at school or so as to get certain jobs even though the jobs actually never require the person to use the language. e.g. until recently, to become any kind of teacher or policeman you needed to learn Irish. Until the 70s to work in any kind of state-job you were officially required to have Irish, so a large block of the population couldn't get state jobs. Currently, only about 0.5% of the population speak it natively, only a few % are fluent, and only about 30% of the population claim to be able to speak it to any conversational-degree, and most of them probably even can't. So lots of people resent being discriminated against as Irish citizens compared to another Irish citizen, when jobs in practice didn't require knowledge of the language.

 

But the obligation to study it for 13 years in school remains law, and the population seem approximately 50%-50% split on whether that law should continue.

 

The language occupies a relatively large amount (maybe 1/5th - a large opportunity cost in itself) of a total Irish child's primary and secondary education. It is obligatory in school until a child goes to university, and there's various incentives awarded to people for doing exams in Irish. Despite this, most kids at the end of it all, cant hold even a basic conversation in it.

 

Truth is the language is pretty dead and has been since the mid 19th century. There's only about 50,000 native speakers who are primarily concentrated in small pockets of the country, and first-language-speakers are primarily elderly. The government spends a lot of money to pay people to speak it, and runs an Irish-language TV channel etc., but truth is people en mass just don't speak it. Government subsidies and policies maintain a pretence that any a significant amount of people speak the language, but they just don't.

 

That Irish is in anyways actively-spoken by large numbers of people is one of the great Irish myths, and politicians lose votes by challenging this myth, so they largely don't.

 

So the question isn't so much one of preserving a language so much as it is one of reviving it. And most people seem happy to speak English and be able to communicate with 300-400 million native speakers, and 1.5+ billion speakers in total worldwide, rather than try and speak a language which only 50,000 do. There are some trends in recent years against this, however, such as a growing number of parents opting to send their kids to Irish-only schools. But the overall trends are the language is continuing to decline, despite the very large sums of money being spent on it by successive Irish governments.

 

e.g. the Irish government spends more money on the Irish language than they do on defence, which is an interesting statistic, particularly for US persons I think who are used to a norm of very significant defence spending. Irish defence spending is nowhere near as significant, but it's an interesting statistic nonetheless.

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When it comes to Irish language movies, thank god for subtitles.

 

 

 

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There's no denying there's a historical bitterness amongst many people in the population there towards perceived injustices towards Ireland by England in times gone by, generally centred around a perceptions of English-indifference to the potato famine, and the notion that the Irish language and culture was stamped out, brutalities during the war of independence, and also native Irish people being turfed off the land during 'plantations'.

 

A lot of these views are half-grounded-in-fact and half-very-biased-views of history.

 

But the vast vast bulk of people, even if they are of this opinion, don't blame current English people for what happened centuries ago, a lot of which was under unelected monarchs.

 

e.g. universal male suffrage didn't even exist in the UK until after the famine in 1867. Interestingly, from what I understand, the reason why the UK government at the time didn't do anything to intervene in the Irish famine was a perception of the primacy of 'free-markets' and desirability in not intervening in their operation, which sounds scarily similar to some of the dominant political attitudes of the present day. both in Ireland and elsewhere.

 

Amongst the younger generations anti-English sentiment (outside of sporting occasions - which is more rivalry than anything else) is the preserve of all but a small minority.

 

It should also be noted that anti-Irish sentiment was also quite prevalent in England in previous decades, with very significant discrimination against Irish emmigrants in London and elsewhere when they moved there. This is often typified in signs like "No Irish need apply" etc. So it has worked both ways.

My problem as I said earlier is the duplicity of someone Irish saying there is no bitterness towards English people. If people want to be bitter and resentful about things that happened in the 1840's or 1916 or even the centuries prior to that, that is entirely up to them. Irish neutrality during the war, although ambivalent, is another case in point.

 

If you read up on a little Irish history, you will see that it was the British parliament that dictated government policy towards Ireland and it had nothing to do with the monarchy, which catapulted Ireland to the status of a "potato state" while the rest of Europe in comparison was booming and experiencing high levels of economic growth. This is simply fact and acknowledged by the majority of historians, Cullen et al, and is not based on any bias. The idea of free markets is laughable when the sole product of Irish agriculture for the masses was the potato while all the grain was exported to the UK and English merchants and traders ensured that the government restricted any form of trade that would be profitable to the Irish themselves. Note the reason for the potato was because most holdings were no larger than an acre and could only support the potato as a means of subsistence and livelihood for the tenant.

 

As you say most of this does not impeach on our day to day dealings with anyone, but I have come across on many occasions both in young and old, rich and poor, an anti-English sentiment in Ireland, that defies any historical occurrence and to deny that this exists is extremely short sighted or else you are just trying to seem impartial and not like this minority that you talk about. Why do you think the Queen has never visited Southern Ireland? The Irish Civil War was not about Northern Ireland but the fact that the Anglo Irish agreement would have necessitated an oath of allegiance to the UK monarch which was unacceptable to many Irish nationalists. The roots of ill feeling are there and I would rather say that it exists than try and live behind a mask of propriety.

 

Edit: I am feeling the effects of red wine that is more potent than any potato so i will gracefully depart while I can still walk

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If you read up on a little Irish history, you will see that it was the British parliament that dictated government policy towards Ireland and it had nothing to do with the monarchy, which catapulted Ireland to the status of a "potato state" while the rest of Europe in comparison was booming and experiencing high levels of economic growth. This is simply fact and acknowledged by the majority of historians, Cullen et al, and is not based on any bias. The idea of free markets is laughable when the sole product of Irish agriculture for the masses was the potato while all the grain was exported to the UK and English merchants and traders ensured that the government any form of trade that would be profitable to the Irish themselves. Note the reason for the potato was because most holdings were large than an acre and could only support the potato as a means of subsistence and livelihood for the tenant.

It may have been decided by parliament, but only males with land above a certain holding were entiteled to vote i.e. 1/7th of all males, 7% of the total population and basically exclusively the upper class. Although I have to admit, this point wasn't raised in my history books in school, and probably could do with being mentioned more often.

 

 

As you say most of this does not impeach on our day to day dealings with anyone, but I have come across on many occasions both in young and old, rich and poor, an anti-English sentiment in Ireland, that defies any historical occurrence and to deny that this exists is extremely short sighted or else you are just trying to seem impartial and not like this minority that you talk about. Why do you think the Queen has never visited Southern Ireland? The Irish Civil War was not about Northern Ireland but the fact that the Anglo Irish agreement would have necessitated an oath of allegiance to the UK monarch which was unacceptable to many Irish nationalists. The roots of ill feeling are there and I would rather say that it exists than try and live behind a mask of propriety.

The younger generations are very different. My experience is that the vast vast bulk of them harbour no biterness towards England.

 

History used to be thought in school from a very Irish nationalistic perspective, and nationalism was a dominant feature of Irish politics. For the past 20 years, this has been reversed. e.g. After primary school, there's almost no Irish history on the entire cirriculum nowadays, and where it does exist it's far more objective and matter-of-fact.

 

Sure there was biterness in the past, not to mention nationalist-terrorism etc. The Queen has yet to visit, although there's talk of it happening soon. Prince Charles has, however (about 10 years ago or so).

 

2.7% of the population living in the Republic of Ireland are UK citizens, the bulk of whom have migrated to Ireland over the past 10 years. If anti-English feeling was anywhere near as intense as I think you might be suggesting, I'm sure this wouldn't be the case.

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Well, in the schools I attended taught History from a very balanced and objective perspective whether it was Irish history or not. You could debate and counter debate as long as you could provide historical data to back up your arguments. And since NI is part of the UK I could not have said that the English did this or that without backing it up with historical fact. I was born in the North, lived a sizable part of my adult life in the UK and in Southern Ireland.

 

My personal opinion from experience is that there is an undercurrent of anti-English feeling in all echelons of life in the Republic. Even in the North I did not find it so vehement but that is possibly because we were too busy fighting with each other up until recently. I would say the same type of ill feeling between "rivals" even exudes from parish to parish and town to town and it is something particularly Irish of which I am not proud. I have not come across it in any other culture.

 

I am saying this dislike is latent, it is present but not always visible and it is often in instances as Dave described yesterday evening that it rises to the surface and I for one prefer to say things to a person's face than behind their back. To pretend it does not exist is to take a very uncritical and trusting view of the world. I hope it is changing as you say, but you would not be the first to say something in public and a different thing in private. Irish politicians are past masters of this based from what i read on these boards.

 

And now it really is goodnight...

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I don't really know a great deal about Irish history. Sure, I know spatterings. But, on the whole it's one of those areas I stayed away from. I was born and grew up in South London, Wales (my wannabe farmer step-father could only afford a farm in West Wales) and near Oxford. Especially in London, and especially later in my teens and early twenties I was mixing in musical circles that included a lot of Irish kids, and many of them what we'd now call 'London Irish'. I wasn't close to him or a friend of his or anything, but I can remember Shane McGowan in his pre-Nipple days pogoing in a Union Jack 3-piece suit. There was all kinds of shit raging overhead (Bloody Sunday/Guildford/Birmingham), and yet down in the underworld we just ignored it, got on with our existences and mucked in together because it was a total non-issue for us. A few years later I met my mate Mick down the pub (he's the one from Tallaght) and he, being a bit older than me, was a good source of inspiration and clarity over beers. It was his daughter that married one of my younger brothers.

 

My first experience of Ireland was also Tallaght, 1982. It was *cough* very interesting and very scary at times. My future relative Colm was like a brother (still is a bit) and guided me on the art of staying out of the shit for my few days there. My biggest experience of Ireland and the Irish involved the beast that broke my heart: A Kerry girl. Bless her. Now she was interesting. She was fluent in Gaelic like English was her second tongue. She'd confront Irish men in bars with a lashing of Gaelic and when they couldn't answer in "Yer own feckin' language fer Christ's sake" (her words) she would then call into question if said Irishman was Irish at all. In fact, give this angel alcohol and she'd pretty much have a go at anybody, with a depth of spite and malice that you could but only admire. Sober mind, she was a goddess. Ireland's answer to a gremlin. I eventually dumped her because I couldn't take the pain anymore. Things pretty much came to a head when her parents came for a week to Munich and I had to 'disappear'. "But...?" I pleaded. "Listen!" she explained, "My father is Garda and my mother would die if I told her I had been with an Englishman." Sure, I was very hurt.

 

The Irish do things. Strange, inexplicable things. There's an old saying that if you're new in a town and need to get hold of *cough* something. Go talk to an Irishman. He'll know. Ah! The Irish and their sayings. Very subtle and very wise. The first time I was ever in Gunther Murphys I was drinking with a lad called Jonno from South Dublin. I'd been in Munich all of a couple of weeks and I was feeling unsure that I would stay. So I asked him, "What are the people like in this town?" and he replied, "A man walks into a new town. On a wall sits a man. 'Excuse me' says the traveller, 'What are the people like in this town? Are they friendly?' 'Were they friendly in the last town?' asks yer man". I decided to stay.

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Well, in the schools I attended taught History from a very balanced and objective perspective whether it was Irish history or not. You could debate and counter debate as long as you could provide historical data to back up your arguments. And since NI is part of the UK I could not have said that the English did this or that without backing it up with historical fact. I was born in the North, lived a sizable part of my adult life in the UK and in Southern Ireland.

 

My personal opinion from experience is that there is an undercurrent of anti-English feeling in all echelons of life in the Republic. Even in the North I did not find it so vehement but that is possibly because we were too busy fighting with each other up until recently. I would say the same type of ill feeling between "rivals" even exudes from parish to parish and town to town and it is something particularly Irish of which I am not proud. I have not come across it in any other culture.

 

I am saying this dislike is latent, it is present but not always visible and it is often in instances as Dave described yesterday evening that it rises to the surface and I for one prefer to say things to a person's face than behind their back. To pretend it does not exist is to take a very uncritical and trusting view of the world. I hope it is changing as you say, but you would not be the first to say something in public and a different thing in private. Irish politicians are past masters of this based from what i read on these boards.

 

And now it really is goodnight...

Good night topcat :)

 

I'm not trying to deny anything. Just trying to be objective. The current generation of 25 and younger only know a prosperous Ireland with a peace process, no IRA terrorism, friendly relations between Ireland and the UK and a popular culture utterly dominated by UK and US television shows, musical acts etc. Their culture is far more Big Brother than Tiochfaidh ár Lá.

 

They haven't had nationalism drilled into them in school e.g. my dad used to get caned in school if he was seen playing 'soccer' at the weekends by his teachers because it was a British game; today you will stand out if you DON'T have the very latest and greatest Manchester United or Liverpool team shirt. These generations have no reason to be nationalist unless they happen to have parents who had particularly strong views on the subject.

 

Is there latent bitterness over the past? Amongst some, or even many, in older generations maybe there is some sort of latent feeling of bitterness. I don't know about 'latency'.

 

But is there any sort of serious anti-English sentiment amongst younger generations, I would have to say no. There are a small minority of hard-core nationalists who may hold anti-English views. But the vast bulk of people harbour no ill-will, and as I said this is reflected in the reality that 2.7% of the population are (non-Irish) UK citizens freely choosing to live in and migrate to the country - and the UK is a prosperous place, it's not like they don't have a choice in the matter.

 

I do agree with you about the overtness of the corruption. There is corruption in many developed countries, Ireland is not unique in having it. But what is striking about it in Ireland is how accepted it is as a normal way to do business, and the apparent high tolerance the people of corrupt policians - what prompts instant resignations in other countries, often doesn't even have ANY impact in Ireland.

 

In fact what amazed me in particularly was how the popularity of our current Prime Minister actually WENT UP when his own corruption first came into the public limelight, as there seemed to be a perception that the opposition were being 'too hard' on him. He was subsequently was relected some months later after pretty compelling evidence was put forward of him being on the take, dodging tax, trying to cover it up, and lying through his teeth. It really beggars belief, even the fact that he claimed as Minister of Finance in the early 1990s he didn't have a bank account, and that's why he was accepting all these large sums of money in cash. I mean a Minister of Finance, who apparently was an accountant before going into politics, with NO BANK ACCOUNT! Wtf!

 

But Irish politics is strange altogether and quite anomalous. I think we must be the only western European nation to not have its political activity primarily centred around a centre-left versus centre-right division. In Ireland it's two pretty identicial centre-right parties whose policies are fairly identical, have no identifiable ideologies, and consequently no identifiable ideological differences -and whose trenchant opposition to each other is primarily based on having being on different sides of a civil war in the 1920s.

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In fact what amazed me in particularly was how the popularity of our current Prime Minister actually WENT UP when his own corruption came into the public limelight, as their seemed to be a perception that the opposition were being 'too hard' on him, and how he was relected some months later after pretty compelling evidence was put forward of him being on the take, dodging tax, trying to cover it up, and lying through his teeth.

I think this is the He's-just-like-me factor. You know, like Ze Germans hate anybody who diddles the FA, but the English I know, and the Irish, if you were to cheat the taxman and win, would be congratulatory and asking advice on how you did it. This makes the English and the Irish the same on one score. I put it down to that Norse will of individual freedom... and a smidging of The Pirate in us.

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Thanks, eof, for the extensive explanation of the views of the Irish people today towards their native language.

 

I know what you mean about people not being willing to put the effort into learning a language they think won't be useful in the end. My daughter will be required to "be able to communicate in at least two languages" if she graduates from the school district in which we currently live, under the current policy. The district has thrown their support behind Spanish as a second language for students who are already native English speakers. Now, Spanish is a language which is very much alive, but I'm not convinced it holds promise for my daughter's future prospects. If she wants to learn German, for example, because she was born there, she would be required to learn both Spanish and German.

 

On the other hand, I do think it's a good idea for all children to learn a foreign language, even if they are native English speakers, for the same reason that they need to learn the basic multiplication tables, even though they will probably never need to be without a calculator. It teaches a certain way of thinking. So I'm not sure that "forcing" children in Ireland to learn Irish, whether or not they will ever use it, is such a bad policy.

 

Obviously, the policies about adults not being able to hold some public posts if they don't speak Irish is misguided.

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I think this is the He's-just-like-me factor. You know, like Ze Germans hate anybody who diddles the FA, but the English I know, and the Irish, if you were to cheat the taxman and win, would be congratulatory and asking advice on how you did it. This makes the English and the Irish the same on one score. I put it down to that Norse will of individual freedom... and a smidging of The Pirate in us.

Well if it comes from Norse will, well the Scandinavians have certainly copped on since.

 

They have some of the lowest corruption rates in the world precisely because they don't tolerate corruption, and demand transparency and accountability from their elected officials.

 

Around about the same time this guy's corruption first came to light [which incidentally was just after I had moved to Germany], two Swedish ministers resigned from office because it emerged they hadn't paid their TV licenses. lol. I found that very funny at the time, the contrast between the two countries attitudes between Ireland and Sweden.

 

In England if a minister, let alone prime minister was found to have done a fraction of what Ahern admitted to, they'd be fired on the spot. There's lots of precadent for firings for much lesser sins e.g. Blunkett, Mandelson (although I guess maybe he's a bad example).

 

Ahern actually went on TV and defended the fact he appointed some of the people who had given him cash (not as political donations, pure and straightforward personal bribes) to head up state-companies because he appointed to state boards instead because they were 'his friends'. lol. wtf? They taught me at school that this stuff is called nepotism. But yet his popularity went up.

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Around about the same time this guy's corruption first came to light [which incidentally was just after I had moved to Germany], two Swedish ministers resigned from office because it emerged they hadn't paid their TV licenses. lol. I found that very funny at the time, the contrast between the two countries attitudes between Ireland and Sweden.

 

In England if a minister, let alone prime minister was found to have done a fraction of what Ahern admitted to, they'd be fired on the spot. There's lots of precadent for firings for much lesser sins e.g. Blunkett, Mandelson (although I guess maybe he's a bad example).

 

Ahern actually went on TV and defended the fact he appointed some of the people who had given him cash (not as political donations, pure and straightforward personal bribes) to head up state-companies because he appointed to state boards instead because they were 'his friends'. lol. wtf? They taught me at school that stuff is called nepotism. But yet his popularity went up.

This is one side of Irish culture that I am certainly not proud of. :(

It's not funny at all.

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