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Unionist philistines spoil a fine tradition

On May 18, 2011, in a historic visit to Dublin Castle, the Queen, in a magnanimous show of respect for the Irish language, addressed the gathering with: "A Uachtarain agus a chairde."

Five days later, on May 23, in College Green, US President Barack Obama, in addressing thousands of citizens of the state, courteously paid due regard to our native tongue when he said: "Is feidir linn".

It was a pity, but not surprising, that, in 2014, Gregory Campbell MLA aligned himself, not with the considered, all-embracing sentiments of the Queen and President Obama and civilised society generally, but with the bile and bitterness of those who have fomented an anti-Irish agenda over the past number of decades by referring to the Irish language as "toilet paper".

Indeed, the former First Minister and DUP leader, Peter Robinson, disparagingly called the Irish language "Leprechaun speak".

Despite world admiration and acknowledgement of the achievements of Ireland's Protestant artistic, cultural and literary traditions - which gave us, among many others, Berkeley, Swift, Yeats, Tone and the first President of Ireland, Dr Douglas Hyde - it appears the philistines of unionism are still unwilling or unable to cross the tribal divide.

This fine Protestant tradition should not be allowed to be defined by culturally impotent and ignorant unionism.

TOM COOPER

Dublin

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