Monday, 24 November 2014

GREGORY AN GABHAIR



ADRIAN RUTHERFORD – 24 NOVEMBER 2014


The DUP's Gregory Campbell has said he will not be 'dictated to or deflected by terrorists' after receiving a death threat following comments he made about the Irish language.

It comes after the DUP MP reiterated comments about the Irish language during his party's annual conference at the weekend.

Mr Campbell sparked fury last month when he mocked Irish during a Stormont debate.

He said: "Curry my yoghurt can coca coalyer" - an apparent reference to the Irish phrase "go raibh maith agat, Ceann Comhairle" - thank you, Mr Speaker.

Police have now warned him of a threat to his life.

Responding, he said he would "not I will not be apologising for, or deviating from doing the right thing".

"This is not the first time that my life has been put under threat by republicans, and the challenge now is whether those who supported the threats in the past will condemn those who do it now. If they do, it is an indication that we have indeed moved on," he said.

"I will not be dictated to or deflected by terrorists. I took the opportunity today at Question Time, to reiterate my determination. Exposing those politicising the Irish language, as well as those making unrealistic political demands at the talks table is the right thing to do. How dare anyone try to suggest that it is something to be ashamed of."

A PSNI spokesman said: "We do not comment on specific threats however if we receive information that an individual may need to review their security we will take steps to inform them immediately."

East Londonderry MP Gregory Campbell jokingly referred to the jibe during a speech at the party conference on Saturday.

He told delegates it was always good to start the day with a healthy breakfast, before producing a tub of yoghurt and saying: "So I got some yoghurt today.

"And I'm looking forward to lunch, because they tell me there's some curry there."

Irish language leader Micheal O Duibh - who addressed the DUP conference - said he was dismayed by a fresh attack on the language from one of the party's MPs.

He said it felt like "one step forward, two steps back" after Gregory Campbell's remarks.


Mr Campbell also said the DUP would treat Sinn Fein's "entire wish list" - which includes calls for an Irish Language Act - like toilet paper. His latest comments have been condemned by Mr O Duibh, who took part in a panel discussion on the first day of the conference.

Mr O Duibh, who is chief executive of Comhairle na Gaelscolaiochta, the body responsible for the promotion of Irish-medium schooling, said his remarks were disrespectful.

"It is very disappointing," he told the Belfast Telegraph.

"When I was speaking at the party conference I was bringing a very positive message and I very much welcomed the invitation.

"It was a first for Irish-medium education and, most likely, a first for anybody from the Irish language background to be invited to a DUP conference.

"I gave a very warm céad míle fáilte to everybody and brought across a very strong, positive message that the Irish language and Irish-medium education is there for any parent who chooses it for their child, regardless of their social, cultural, religious or indeed linguistic background.

"To bring that positive message to the conference, and then the next day to hear the comments from Gregory Campbell felt very much like one step forward and two steps back."

Mr O Duibh said he felt let down by the latest remarks.

"In one way it was positive that I was invited to the conference," he added. "In another way it gives me an understanding of how Gregory feels or what his position is on the language.

"When you hear the party leader talk about a shared future, I wonder how he, as leader, can talk about that shared future when his party colleague feels it is okay to comment on the language in this way."

Mr Campbell appears to have made his yoghurt joke off the cuff, since it was not included in the embargoed copy of his speech released by the party press office on Saturday morning. Afterwards, DUP leader Peter Robinson defended the remarks as comedy.

However, Sinn Fein minister John O'Dowd condemned Mr Campbell and Mr Robinson.

"The insult directed by Gregory Campbell at the Irish language community from the DUP conference is appalling," the Education Minister said. "He was clearly sticking two fingers up to the Irish language community and to authority of the assembly which sanctioned him for his unacceptable behaviour in the chamber.

"I'm dismayed that Peter Robinson, in echoes of his failure to deal promptly with abuse directed at the Muslim community earlier this year, has added insult to injury by suggesting Campbell's mockery was a piece of comedy."



What they said

Micheal O Duibh: "I gave a very warm céad míle fáilte to everybody and brought across a very strong, positive message that the Irish language and Irish medium education is there for any parent who chooses it for their child.

"To bring that positive message to the conference, and then the next day to hear the comments from Gregory Campbell felt very much like one step forward and two steps back."

Peter Robinson: "This is getting tedious. If all that you have out of the whole of the party conference is to question me about that, then there are better things I could be doing.

"Lighten up will you? It's a party conference and it was a bit of comedy in the middle of it, let's get on with some real business."

Dominic Bradley, SDLP: "Mr Campbell may think that he is targeting Sinn Fein with these slurs but the Irish language community is much wider and deeper than the membership of any one political party.

"Irish language speakers, those who aspire to speak Irish and all right-minded people who respect the languages of others will be insulted and disappointed by Gregory Campbell's antics."

John O'Dowd, SF: "The insult directed by Gregory Campbell at the Irish language community from the DUP conference is appalling.

"He was clearly sticking two fingers up to the Irish language community."



Background

Dr Micheal O Duibh is the chief executive of Comhairle na Gaelscolaiochta, the body responsible for the promotion of Irish-medium schooling. He was invited to take part in a panel discussion on the future of education on the first day of the DUP conference.

The organisation described it as "a significant and historical occasion".



THE WHITE GOAT

I

By

SEUMAS O'KELLY

The white goat stood in a little clearing closed in by a ring of whins on the hillside. Her head swayed from side to side like the slow motion of the pendulum of a great clock. The legs were a little spread, the knees bent, the sides slack, the snout grey and dry, the udder limp.
The Herd knew the white goat was in great agony. She had refused the share of bran he had brought her, had turned away from the armful of fresh ivy leaves his little daughter held out to her. He had desisted from the milking, she had moaned so continuously.
Some days before the Herd had found the animal injured on the hill; the previous night he had heard the labourers making a noise, shouting and singing, as they crossed from the tillage fields. He knew what had happened when he had seen the marks of their hob-nailed boots on her body. She was always a sensitive brute, of a breed that came from the lowlands. The sombre eyes of the Herd glowed in a smouldering passion as he stood helplessly by while the white goat swung her head from side to side.
He gathered some dry bracken and spread a bed of it near the white goat. It would be unkind to allow her to lie on the wet grass when the time came that she could no longer stand. He looked up at the sky and marked the direction of the wind. It had gone round to the west. Clouds were beginning to move across the sky. There was a vivid light behind the mountains. The air was still. It would rain in the night. He had thought for the white goat standing there in the darkness, swaying her head in agony, the bracken growing sodden at her feet, the rain beating into her eyes. It was a cold place and wind-swept. Whenever the white goat had broken her tether she had flown from it to the lowlands. He remembered how, while leading her across a field once, she had drawn back in some terror when they had come to a pool of water.
The Herd looked at his little daughter. The child had drawn some distance away, the ivy leaves fallen from her bare arms. He was conscious that some fear had made her eyes round and bright. What was it that the child feared? He guessed, and marvelled that a child should understand the strange thing that was about to happen up there on the hill. The knowledge of Death was shining instinctively in the child's eyes. She was part of the stillness and greyness that was creeping over the hillside.
"We will take the white goat to the shelter of the stable," the Herd said.
The child nodded, the fear still lingering in her eyes. He untied the tether and laid his hand on the horn of the goat. She answered to the touch, walking patiently but unsteadily beside him.
After a while the child followed, taking the other horn, gently, like her father, for she had all his understanding of and nearness to the dumb animals of the fields. They came slowly and silently. The light failed rapidly as they came down the hill. Everything was merged in a shadowy vagueness, the colour of the white goat between the two dim figures alone proclaiming itself. A kid bleated somewhere in the distance. It was the cry of a young thing for its suckle, and the Herd saw that for a moment the white goat raised her head, the instinct of her nature moving her. Then she tottered down the hill in the darkness.
When they reached the front of the stable the white goat backed painfully from the place. The Herd was puzzled for a moment. Then he saw the little pool of water in a faint glimmer before their feet. He brought the animal to one side, avoiding it, and she followed the pressure of his directing hand.
He took down a lantern that swung from the rafters of the stable and lighted it. In a corner he made a bed of fresh straw. The animal leaned over a little against the wall, and they knew she was grateful for the shelter and the support. Then the head began to sway in a weary rhythm from side to side as if the pain drove it on. Her breath quickened, broke into little pants. He noted the thin vapour that steamed from about her body. The Herd laid his hand on her snout. It was dry and red hot. He turned away leading the child by the hand, the lantern swinging from the other, throwing long yellow streaks of light about the gloom of the stable. He closed the door softly behind him.

II

It was late that night when the Herd got back from his rounds of the pastures. His boots soaked in the wet ground and the clothes clung to his limbs, for the rain had come down heavily. A rumble of thunder sounded over the hills as he raised the latch of his door. He felt glad he had not left the white goat tethered in the whins on the hill.
His little daughter had gone to sleep. His wife told him the child on being put to bed had wept bitterly, but refused to confess the cause of her grief. The Herd said nothing, but he knew the child had wept for the white goat. The thought of the child's emotion moved him, and he turned out of the house again, standing in the darkness and the rain. Why had they attacked the poor brute? He asked the question over and over again, but only the rain beat in his face and around him was darkness, mystery. Then he heard the voices higher up on the side of the hill, first a laugh, then some shouts and cries. A thick voice raised the refrain of a song, and it came booming through the murky atmosphere. The Herd could hear the words:
Where are the legs with which you run?
Hurroo! Hurroo!
Where are the legs with which you run?
Hurroo! Hurroo!
Where are the legs with which you run
When first you went to carry a gun?
Indeed, your dancing days are done!
Och, Johnny, I hardly knew ye!
And then came the chorus like a roar down the hills:
With drums and guns, and, guns and drum
The enemy nearly slew ye;
My darling dear, you look so queer,
Och, Johnny, I hardly knew ye!
The voices of the labourers passing from the tillage fields died away, and the rumble of thunder came down more frequently from the hills. The Herd crossed his garden, his boots sinking in the soft ground. Half way across he paused, for a loud cry had dominated the fury of the breaking storm. His ears were quick for the cries of animals in distress. He went on rapidly toward the stable.
The ground grew more sloppy and a thin stream of water came from the rim of his soft black hat, streaming down his face. He noted the flashes of lightning overhead. Through it all the cry of the white goat sounded, with that weird, vibrating "mag-gag" that was the traditional note of her race. It had a powerful appeal for the Herd. It stirred a feeling of passion within him as he hurried through the rain.
How they must have lacerated her, a poor brute chained to the sod, at the mercy of their abuse! The red row of marks along her gams, raw and terrible, sprang to his sight out of the darkness. Vengeance, vengeance! He gripped his powerful hands, opening and closing the fists. Then he was conscious of something in the storm and the darkness that robbed him of his craving for personal vengeance. All that belonged to the primitive man welled up in him. He knew that in the heart of the future there lurked a reckoning—something, somebody—that would count the tally at the appointed time. Then he had turned round the gable of the stable. He saw the ghostly white thing, shadowy in the blackness, lying prostrate before the door. He stood still, his breath drawn inward.
There was a movement in the white shape. He could discern the blurred outline of the head of the animal as she raised it up a little. There was a low moan followed by a great cry. The Herd stood still, terror in his heart. For he interpreted that cry in all the terrible inarticulate consciousness of his own being. That cry sounded in his ears like an appeal to all the generations of wronged dumb things that had ever come under the lash of the tyranny of men. It was the protest of the brute creation against humanity, and to the Herd it was a judgment. Then his eyes caught a murky gleam beside the fallen white shape, and the physical sense of things jumped back to his mind.
He remembered that in wet weather a pool of water always gathered before the stable door. He remembered that there was a glimmer of it there when he had led the white goat into the stable. He remembered how she had shown fear of it.
He stooped down over the white goat where she lay. Thin wisps of her hair floated about looking like dim wraiths against the blackness of the pool. He caught a look of the brown eyes and was aware that the udder and teats bulged up from the water. He sank down beside her, the water making a splash as his knees dropped into the place. The animal raised her head a little and with pain, for the horns seemed to weigh like lead. But it was an acknowledgment that she was conscious of his presence; then the head fell back, a gurgle sounding over one of the ears.
The Herd knew what had happened, and it was all very tragical to his mind. His wife had come out to the stable for something, and had left the door open behind her. The white goat, goaded by the growing pain, had staggered out the door, perhaps feeling some desire for the open fields in her agony. Then she had seen before the threshold of the door that which had always been a horror to her—a pool of water. The Herd could see her tottering and swaying and then falling into it with a cry, fulfilling her destiny. He wondered if he himself had the same instinct for the things that would prove fatal to him? Why was he always so nervous when he stooped to or lay upon the ground? Why did it always give him a feeling that he would be trampled under the hooves of stampeding cattle rounded up for treatment for the warble fly? He trembled as he heard the beat of hooves on the ground behind him. He peered about and for a while did not recognise the shape that moved restlessly about in the darkness. He heard the neigh of the brood mare. He knew then she had been hovering about the stable afraid to go in out of the storm. She was afraid to go in because of the thing that lay before the stable door. He heard the answering call of the young foal in the stable, and he knew that it, too, was afraid to come out even at the call of its dam. Death was about in that night of storm, and all things seemed conscious of it.
He stooped down over the white goat and worked his hands under her shoulders. He lifted her up and felt the strain all over his frame, the muscles springing tense on his arms. She was a dead weight, and he had always prided on her size. His knees dug into the puddle in the bottom of the pool as he felt the pressure on his haunches. He strained hard as he got one of his feet under him. With a quick effort he got the other foot into position and rose slowly, lifting the white form out of the pool. The shaggy hair hung from the white goat, limp and reeking, numerous thin streams of water making a little ripple as they fell. The limbs of the Herd quivered under the weight, he staggered back, his heavy boots grinding in the gravel; then he set his teeth, the limbs steadied themselves, he swayed uncertainly for a moment, then staggered across the stable door, conscious of the hammer strokes of the heart of the white goat beating against his own heart. He laid her down in the bed of straw and heard the young foal bounding out of the stable in terror. The Herd stood in the place, the sweat breaking out on his forehead, then dropping in great beads.
The white goat began to moan. The Herd was aware from the rustling of the straw that her limbs were working convulsively. He knew from the nature of her wounds that her death would be prolonged, her agonies extreme. What if he put her out of pain? It would be all over in a moment. His hand went to his pocket, feeling it on the outside. He made out the shape of the knife, but hesitated.
One of the hooves of the white goat struck him on the ankle as her limbs worked convulsively. His hand went into his pocket and closed around the weapon. He would need to be quick and sure, to have a steady hand, to make a swift movement. He allowed himself some moments to decide. Then the blade of the knife shot back with a snap.
The sound seemed to reach the white goat in all its grim significance. She struggled to her feet, moaning more loudly. The Herd began to breathe hard. He was afraid she would cry out even as she had cried out as she lay in the pool before the stable door. The terror of the things that made up that cry broke in upon the Herd. He shook with fear of it. Then he stooped swiftly, his fingers nervously feeling over the delicate course of the throat of the white goat. His hands moved a little backwards and forwards in the darkness. He felt the hot stream on his hands, then the animal fell without a sound, her horns striking against the wall. He stood over her for a moment and was conscious that his hands were wet. Then he remembered with a shudder that the whole tragedy of the night had been one of rains and pools and water and clinging damp things, of puddles and sweats and blood. Even now the knife he held in his fingers was dripping. He let it fall. It fell with a queer thud, sounding of flesh, of a dead body. It had fallen on the dead body of the white goat. He turned with a groan and made his way uncertainly for the stable door.
At the door he stood, thoughts crowding in upon him, questions beating upon his brain and giving no time for answer. Around him was darkness, mystery, Death. What right had he to thrust his hand blindly into the heart of this mystery? Who had given him the power to hasten the end, to summon Death before its time? Had not Nature her own way for counting out the hours and the minutes? Had not she, or some other power, appointed an hour for the white goat to die? She would live, even in agony, until they could bear her up no longer; and having died Nature would pass her through whatever channel her laws had ordained. Had not the white goat made her last protest against his interference when she had risen to her feet in her death agony? And if the white goat, dumb beast that she was, had suffered wrong at the hands of man, then there was, the Herd now knew, a Power deliberate and inexorable, scrupulous in its delicate adjustment of right and wrong, that would balance the account at the appointed audit.
He had an inarticulate understanding of these things as he moved from the stable door. He tripped over a barrow unseen in the darkness and fell forward on his face into the field. As he lay there he heard the thudding of hooves on the ground. He rose, dizzy and unnerved, to see the dim shapes of some cattle that had gathered down about the place from the upland. He felt the rain beating upon his face, the clothes hung dank and clammy to his limbs. His boots soaked and slopped when he stepped. A boom of thunder sounded overhead and a vivid flash of lightning lit up for an instant a great elm tree. He saw all its branches shining with water, drops glistening along a thousand stray twigs. Then the voices of the labourers returning over the hills broke in upon his ears. He heard their shouts, the snatches of their songs, their noise, all the ribaldry of men merry in their drink.
The Herd groped through the darkness for his house like a half-blind man, his arms out before him, and a sudden gust of wind that swept the hillside shrieked about the blood of the white goat that was still wet upon his hands.

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