So Assistant Chief Constable Judith Gillespie got her silver fáinne. Big deal. I got one of those earlier this year and Caral Ni Chuilin didn’t tell ME I’d done something very, very significant. Anyway, I bet they let Judith Gillespie see the questions before she sat the exam. Imagine the row if the Belfast Telegraph headline had been “Top Cop Flunks Leprechaun Language Test”.
Besides, what about motivation? It’s not what you do so much as the reason for your actions that counts. I got my silver fáinne because of my sensitive appreciation for as well as startlingly-fluent mastery of our native teanga (see what I mean?). Judith Gillespie got hers so she can listen in on what the Shinners are saying about her hair at Policing Board meetings.
Ah, God be with the old days, when republicans could shout encouragement and instructions from cell to cell, without fear that the authorities would understand a word. All gone, lost forever. The cops will know every syllable we fluent speakers utter. Come back Rule 21, I say, or whatever it was that stopped the Trevors playing Gaelic games, and while you’re at it, put in a new one blocking them from having further access to our personal conversations as Gaeilge (need I say more?). Brendan Behan got it right, and it’s as true of the verbal world as of the physical: there is no situation so bad that the arrival of a policeman (or policeperson) won’t make it worse.