It is almost hard to believe that Gerry Adams made the comments that he did about breaking unionist b******s with “the Trojan horse of equality” and yet the debate over the Irish language has stayed focused on unionist opposition to a standalone act.
If a unionist leader had said something even vaguely as offensive about “breaking” nationalists in such an underhand way they would have been hounded ever since.
If unionists had declared their intention to use tactics and legislation in such a disgraceful fashion as Mr Adams did, there would be no prospect of any advance thereafter for any of their goals.
But with the Irish language it has been different.
An issue that was barely mentioned a year or two ago has become a red line and a crisis. Meanwhile the great and the good urge compromise, which in effect must entail some movement towards the Sinn Fein red line.
Unionists did not need to hear a recording of Mr Adams’ comments on breaking them to know how Sinn Fein and the IRA have always wanted to use Irish. But it was nonetheless confirmation of an approach that ought to have at least startled non republican supporters of the notion of an Irish language act.
Not a bit of it. All the pressure remains on unionists.
The Orange Order contacted this newspaper after a recent editorial on this page, see link below, in which we said that we would be giving space to opponents of a standalone act (to balance up the badly one-sided nature of the debate over an act).
The institution wanted Edward Stevenson to write a piece on the matter.
His entirely reasonable essay, link below, dispels the idea that unionists or Orangemen are hostile to Irish.
That is not what the mounting concern is about. It is about Sinn Fein’s tactics and intentions, which are crystal clear and which they have done nothing to dispel – as Alan Chambers MLA explains, link also below
If such conduct by republicans is rewarded, then it will recur and lead to a future set of demands and crisis.