From Socialist Voice, December 2005

Fine Gael using Travellers as whipping-boys

Recent events in Co. Mayo in relation to the conviction of Pádraig Nally for the manslaughter on his property of a Traveller, John Ward, have been used by Fine Gael and elements in the mass media to stir up anti-Traveller feelings.
    In particular, the activity of Fine Gael in supporting the march that was planned to call for the release of Nally was dangerously cynical political manipulation of what is clearly a very sensitive issue in many isolated rural communities, which have been subject to many violent attacks from both settled and Traveller thugs and criminal gangs.
    Fine Gael in Co. Mayo are using these tragic events to regain some of the political support they lost in that area over the Rossport Five struggle. The IFA and the GAA were remarkably silent on the jailing of five innocent men for more than ninety days for a feudal concept of “contempt of court.”
    The leader of Fine Gael, Enda Kenny—who wants to be Taoiseach—could quite well lose his seat as a result of the role played by Fine Gael in that dispute. So whipping up anti-Traveller feeling, not just in Co. Mayo but right across the country, is their way to rebuild their vote and to attack the PDs and the Minister for Justice.
    Another plank in building their path back to government is the launching of an opportunist attack on the Irish language, which appeals in particular to the West Brits and middle classes as well as to those who have felt hard done by in the poor teaching methods that the current “murder machine” of an educational system imposes on the teaching of the language.
    Fine Gael wants to “encourage” a debate on the obligatory study of Irish up to Leaving Cert. To gain entry to third level at least a pass in Leaving Cert Irish is required. The teaching methods applied by the murder machine actively discourage and hinder learning. And how can one teacher teach Irish to an average class of thirty pupils in primary and second-level schools, never mind any other language?
    Irish language and culture need more support, not less. We live in a world that is dominated by Anglo-American culture. Diversity in all its forms, particularly language and culture, like bio-diversity in the natural world, is under severe threat. This needs to be resisted; this is a democratic and anti-imperialist issue. Language and cultural diversity are battlegrounds in the struggle against domination by cultural imperialism. If Fine Gael get their way (and the Labour Party—potential coalition partners—have remained very quiet) we will have only one compulsory language in our schools: English.
    The old political chestnuts of language, national sentiment and law and order will be central planks in Fine Gael’s bid to return to government.

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