Sunday, 28 April 2013

East of Eden

The BBC has an interesting story on the experiences of Linda Ervine, wife of former PUP chief Brian Ervine and sister-in-law of its late and sorely missed leader David (cheekily called "Shakespeare" by some, and by one former colleague of the Blether Region referred to with only a half-portion of irony as "the Walrus of Love"). For the past few months Linda has been the Irish-language officer at East Belfast Mission.

Loyalists have of course been linked to Irish before. Gusty Spence, founder of the modern UVF, was at one time learning the language (some reports even had him down, wrongly, as a teacher). Part of the attraction for impish journalists may be that the paradox of East Belfast Gaeilgeoirí makes for a good story. It may, of course, on occasion also be the case that those steeped in the political culture of Loyalism feel more confident about sticking their heads above the parapet and exploring Irish culture. No one can accuse them of being soft on the national question, after all.

If so, then they are demonstrating an important truth. Language need have nothing to do with politics. While religions, and sects, may deny each other's legitimacy, the more languages you know, the easier it gets to learn another — and the more the links that bind become apparent.

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