Thursday, 23 June 2011

Ogling Erin

Last summer the Blether Region was in Armagh City enjoying the sights of Ireland's attractively bijou ecclesiastical capital. In the shadow of its understated grandeur, it was clear that all was not well politically, with fly posters promoting the interests of Republican dissidents and, on a telegraph pole just behind the Anglican cathedral, the letters ONH in the colours of the tricolour.

Now, as most of you will know, ONH stands for Óglaigh na hÉireann or 'Warriors of Ireland' — the official title of the Republic's army and a name that various paramilitary groups have arrogated to themselves over the years. Nowadays the tag is somewhat generously attached to one of the many dissident splinter groups.

Earlier this year there was a flurry of reports about just that group, more than a few of which misspelt said Óglaigh na hÉireann. Of course, Irish-speakers are well used to having their names misspelt in the press, most commonly when pesky accents are dropped or changed into apostrophes as they are in equivalent English versions, or when letters representing mutations at the beginning of proper names are incorrectly capitalised. But that doesn't mean that such thoroughgoing thoughtlessness should not be challenged, and in one major UK newspaper (admittedly with something of a reputation for spelling errors) Óglaigh na hÉireann was given an extra letter. Over and over again.

So it was that the Blether Region sent two e-mails complaining about the incorrect Irish, openly and from a public e-mail address. Eventually the spelling was rectified, but the newspaper didn't see fit to respond to the original e-mails. Although one can speculate as to the reason why, one explanation, probably the most plausible, is that it assumed the Blether Region was a supporter of anti-Agreement Republicans.

That is hardly the case. In fact, this blog shares the view of 99% of the Northern Ireland population that such dissidents should decommission and disappear.

But why should an ostensibly liberal newspaper assume a link between Irish and terror where none exists?

Postscript, 4 July 2011:

It seems as if the Blether Region may have exhibited premature optimism regarding the newspaper's ability to take advice as well as answer e-mails, since the risible "Oghlaigh naEireann" of the linked article demonstrates, if anything, regression.

But I suppose it was the Grauniad ...

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