|Belfast Media Group|
In a recent post I exposed the claims put forward by the columnist Squinter in the North Belfast News (8 February) about the origin of the notorious phrase that 'every word spoken in Irish is another bullet in the freedom struggle'. Squinter claimed that it was invented by someone in Thiepval barracks, a reference to the British Army, presumably as some sort of black propaganda.
However I was able to point out that in fact one of the first examples of the phrase, if not the first, was in a Sinn Fein publication, produced back in 1982, more than thirty years ago, at the point where Sinn Fein took to using the Irish language as a weapon in its cultural war. It was an official Sinn Fein publication, reporting the proceedings of a Sinn Fein seminar and with an introduction by a young Sinn Fein cultural officer, now Belfast lord mayor, Mairtin O'Muilleoir.
The Belfast Telegraph reprinted my post as a platform piece in the newspaper and it was amusing to see that not a single nationalist or republican came back to rebut what I had reported. Of course they couldn't rebut it or refute it because it was simply the truth. Instead they kept their heads down and hoped it would soon be forgotten. However the information is now accessible on the internet, rather than buried in the Sinn Fein archive or the shelves of a reference library.
I thought that the North Belfast News might have had the honesty to print a correction in the next issue on 15 February but no. Squinter got two pages in the paper but there was no mention of the matter and no correction. Clearly Squinter prefers to stick to the traditional republican line of 'blame the Brits' and ignore the fact that it was Sinn Fein strategists and propagandists who concocted and disseminated that ugly phrase and the equally nasty strategy behind it.
I wondered if it was pressure of space that prevented Squinter owning up and perhaps there might be something the next issue of the North Belfast News. However that issue appeared tonight and there is no correction, no retraction and no apology.
Of course, if Gerry Adams can't remember being in the IRA, then perhaps Sinn Fein have really forgotten that they launched a cultural war with the Irish language as their main weapon!