At last, a daily paper to call our own

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The Celts were right. No, I am not referring to Martin O’Neill’s bhoys (although I must say I breathed a sigh of relief when they sweetened the cake enough to get big Balde to say yes for another four and a half year. ) I meant the Celts. Our noble ancestors.
We got it right, and if you want the proof get up early tomorrow morning and take a dander around the grounds of Belfast Castle. Or up to the Cave Hill. Spring is in the air.
The Brits, for some reason, prefer to keep Winter scowling around until almost the end of March. That’s because our eastern neighbours are a sorry bunch who never knew nathin’. But the Irish always knew that Spring starts on the first day of February. Lá Fhéile Bríde.
It wasn’t always Saint Brigid’s day. Before Brigid was ever a saint she was an Irish Goddess, a celestial Celt from former times (and no, sorry, I am not referring to the late lamented Henrik Larsson. I told you, it’s nothing to do with football.) A symbol of fertility, renewal and reawakening. Sex, basically.
In fact, in this country the first day of February used to be the first day of the year. Same in all the Celtic countries.
And when I become appointed as Minister for Festivals and Holidays in the forthcoming All-Ireland government, I think I will change it back.
In the meantime, however, the first of February remains the first day of Spring and if you don’t believe me just go out for a walk tonight and breathe the fresh air, and feel the new life force. Experience spring.
And what a day our revered publisher picked to launch the new daily newspaper, Daily Ireland. Have you seen the Daily Ireland? Have you read the Daily Ireland?
I know it’s only the start. As I write this, the third edition is still making its way to the presses up in Andytown. But already I can feel it, I can FEEL it. At last, a daily paper to call our own.
No bullshit. No claptrap. No toadying up to the British, or the Irish government, or the Catholic Church.
No more assuming from the start that the people are always wrong and the authorities always right. No automatically supporting the police, just because they are the police...
I was delighted to see that in their presentations the Daily Ireland people admitted that they learned a lot about publishing on a daily basis from their experience with Lá, the Irish language daily paper.
Lá has been going 20 years, Daily Ireland is now into its fourth day. Fad saoil orthu beirt – long may they both prosper.
Yes, it’s Springtime and the first congratulations of the new Celtic year goes to the Daily Ireland. The second goes to young Pádraig Ó Mearáin who featured on the front page of edition number two.
Pádraig is a pupil at Meánscoil Feirste and he was treated like a master criminal or an international terrorist suspect by a mob of PSNI bullyboys.
He was forced to strip, made to don some kind of a boiler suit, had his clothes taken away for forensic tests and then had to undergo the ordeal of providing Hugh Orde’s henchmen with a DNA sample, before being dumped out of Grosvenor Road barracks to await charging.
And his alleged crime? Well, he wrote on the perimeter wall of the derelict building that used to be Andersonstown Police Station.
The PSNI had already vacated the premises, leaving the building to be demolished by bulldozer in the coming weeks.
But seven vehicle loads of uniformed and well-armed roughnecks chased three kids, and I’m talking schoolchildren here – and arrested one following hot pursuit. ‘Fágaigí an bealach ag Slóite na bhFiann,’ was the offending piece of graffiti – it means, basically, Get the Hell Out of Here (roughly translated) – and Pádraig can thank his lucky stars he didn’t end up in Guantanamo Bay.
So comhghairdeas a Phádraig! Congratulation Pádraig Ó Mearáin, and your two comrades who helped with the handywork but who managed to hoof it with more success than yourself.
What the PSNI put this lad through was a disgrace and in a normal society heads would roll. Here, he’s probably just going to have to get used to it. For the present, anyway.
Instead of being charged, Pádraig Ó Mearáin should be given a grant from the Arts Council because his painting is one of the most effective pieces of community art we have seen in a long time.
It almost brought tears of joy to my tired eyes when I saw some young Irish speakers had decided to make a public statement in their own language. And that statement was apt, timely, succinct, and perfectly spelt! Poetry.
The right sort of writing on the wall, and I am delighted to announce here and now that Pádraig and his comrades get my nomination for this year’s Aisling Awards for Irish language, for the Arts, for Community Service and for being a credit.
Reminds me of a certain Irish teacher, many moons ago, many, many moons ago, who got stopped by the UDR in Andersonstown and refused to speak in English.
He was happy to answer all their questions, but only in the native tongue.
The national language. Irish. Cost him a weekend in jail and a hefty fine, but he never spoke a word of English.
Come to think of it, Breandán Ó Fiaich is teaching up in the Meánscoil. By God, we’re not beat yet, not by a long chalk.


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