Mary Kelly: What it is about the native language that so scares some unionists?

The wilful blindness of comparing the language that is part of the very geography of the country, with the languages of migrant workers is hard to swallow

Irish language activists put their message across at Stormont this week. Picture by Mal McCann
Mary Kelly

SO will the Executive collapse because of unionist opposition to Irish language legislation?

Probably the only thing preventing that is the fear of an imminent election - certainly as far as the DUP is concerned. They're hardly campaign ready, however much Pootsy insists he's leading a united party.

I've often wondered what it is about the native language that so scares some unionists.

There is the persistent view, once mentioned by the newly liberal Arlene Foster, among others, that other "minority" languages spoken here, including Polish, could also demand support and hey, everyone understands English.

The wilful blindness of comparing the language that is part of the very geography of the country, with the languages of migrant workers is hard to swallow.

It's notable too that Doug Beattie, who has brought an undoubted bounce to the UUP, is also opposed to an Irish Language Act.

Linda Ervine says her love of the language has not lessened her sense of Britishness and she's not alone, as the numbers at her east Belfast classes would suggest.

Maybe eventually a British identity will not seem such a fragile flower.

Maybe even those opposed to the NI protocol might also see there's scope for it to become "potentially attractive" to inward investors as it gives us joint GB and EU dual access.

That's part of the Department for the Economy's current trade and investment strategy. The DUP's economy minister just isn't listening.


LET'S be nice and wish the new Mrs Johnson the very best of luck. And given her husband's history, she will need plenty of it.

The secretly arranged nuptials last weekend surprised many - particularly Catholics whose eyebrows were raised to their hairlines to discover that twice-divorced Johnson was wed in a Catholic cathedral, no less.

It also emerged that the PM took a pick 'n' mix attitude to religion.

Baptised a Catholic, he was later confirmed as an Anglican while at Eton. But it was his new wife's Catholicism that was key.

She had never been married before, and conveniently, even if he counted as 'once a Catholic, always a Catholic', his previous two marriages had not been conducted in a Catholic Church, so were apparently considered invalid. So that's alright then.

It does seem to many of us non-theologians that to consider a 27-year union (his second) which produced four children, as an event that didn't really happen, defies justice, if not common sense.

But what really hit home was the anguished outcry on social media from so many people who had been denied a Church wedding because their new partner was divorced.

It seemed that it was down to the "discretion" of the particular parish priest you happened to get. And if you got a canon law hardliner, tough.

One canon law for the rich and famous and another for the rest is hard to dispute, however canonically sound.

If Henry VIII had only thought it through and not married Catherine of Aragon in church, it could have all been so different.

After the modest, Covid- compliant reception in the Downing Street rose garden, the couple are planning a bigger do next summer when they're not limited to just 30 guests. Maybe Jennifer Arcuri will get an invitation?


I HAD been so looking forward to my first post-lockdown visit to the cinema on Friday night that I was ready for the long queues to get through temperature checks, pre-booking apps etc.

What I hadn't allowed for was a gaggle of loud-mouthed teenage girls who were just out for the night, with zero interest in watching the movie, or indeed letting anyone else watch it.

I started off seething silently, shushing them every so often. Then it escalated into "Shut up or get out". And when none of that worked, I stalked off to find a staff member.

Oh for the days when burgundy-suited managers patrolled the aisles with a powerful torch to shine in the eyes of miscreants.

I eventually found a young member of staff who came back to Screen 9 and told them off.

They quietened down for the time it took him to leave, then resumed their loud conversations and giggling. I began to fantasise about having a machine-gun.

Fortunately he returned 10 minutes later and marched them out. The complimentary ticket was welcome but I would have preferred a more regular presence to prevent this silly behaviour.


I used to think Ed Miliband was hard done by when he was cruelly photographed mid-bite, eating a bacon sandwich.

I mean, nobody looks good when they're eating. But then I read an excerpt from his biography where he said he hadn't learnt to ride a bike properly until he was 49.

Worse, he said he'd considered getting an adult tricycle but was persuaded the pictures would be unforgiving. Once a dork...

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