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Lengthy re-engagement is a Dunne deal

TELEVISION We face an endless campaign to inspire us to re-engage with Irish, says Declan Lynch

Bernard Dunne's Brod Club RTE1

Six One News RTE1

They're not going to stop this, are they? Watching Bernard Dunne on the Saturday Night Show talking about his new RTE series promoting the Irish language, I realised that this campaign will probably go on for ever.

Because when Bernard's series Brod Club is finished, no matter how well it works -- and these things usually work so well don't they? -- and no matter how much everyone enjoys themselves, as they always do when they're learning Irish, there's still a daunting task ahead.

That is the native genius of this industry. It has endless potential. And apparently there are endless chunks of public money to be spent in pursuit of the dream.

Not that the Brod crew can be accused of just being crazy dreamers here. They have put a number on it. They want to inspire 100,000 people to re-engage with the language. Nice one, there.

I note that the campaign will use "a combination of guerrilla tactics, publicity stunts, and local advocacy to motivate people to use whatever Irish they have" -- looking forward to that.

And Bernard Dunne being a likeable fellow, in a certain sense you could actually see him accomplishing part of his mission, by inspiring at least a few people to re-engage with the language. But not exactly in the way that is intended.

He may inspire them to re-engage, but that doesn't necessarily mean that they will re-engage. Being inspired to do something and actually doing it, are not necessarily the same thing. After all, people are always saying that Nelson Mandela inspires them, but that doesn't mean they'd be prepared to go to jail for 27 years.

And I'd like a definition of "re-engage". At first glance it seems quite strong, yet the word "speak" would be even stronger. And I don't see it here.

But then all this is perfectly understandable. If I was running a TV production company, given the ridiculous percentage of resources which go to RTE's Irish language services and to TG4 and so on, I would already be calling myself Deaglan O Loinsigh and I would have turned my back on English for good -- frankly I would have little choice.

And if I had this brainwave of making a programme in the Irish language, about the Irish language, I would be feeling quite proud of myself -- I would be "brod", if you like.

See how it works?

As I have pointed out in this column, to universal approval, the official language of the State is bullshit, and the official language of bullshit is Irish. So we'll be getting a lot of it, now that another referendum is here.

Not only do we tend to vote on these things twice, we receive all the information twice -- in English, and then in Irish for those who might not understand the English. I wonder is there a connection there?

Ah, but it would do your heart good to see the effect that the referendum has already had on the whole body politic, not least the reporters. It has electrified them.

There they were, no election in sight for a few years at least, not even a Cabinet re-shuffle to get them going, and then all of a sudden there's a major announcement in the Dail, and the next day the Deputy Leader of the Opposition is on the Six One News, explaining in grave tones why he is no longer the Deputy Leader of the Opposition -- and all this with a Fianna Fail Ard Fheis at the weekend?


For the layman, there was perhaps a minor note of disappointment that referendum fever had distracted them somewhat from the disgrace of Aengus O Snodaigh, who was still able to appear on television to defend himself. I suppose when you consider what those boys have defended in the past, explaining the whereabouts of 50 grand's worth of printing materials was a relatively quiet day at the office.

But the reporters were loving this one too. A frisky David Davin-Power flashed a rogue-ish grin as he left us with a zinger, the suggestion made by a Leinster House "wag" that perhaps O Snodaigh should tender for the printing contract for the "No" campaign.

Like most of the jokes of our old friends the "wags", that one isn't actually funny. But in there, it didn't have to be.

It was just good to be alive last week, for any RTE political reporter, with David McCullough adorning one of his performances with an amusing mention of Donald Rumsfeld's "unknown unknowns".

Dear God, they love that one. In no time at all, Rumsfeld's "known unknowns", and his "unknown unknowns", and various garbled variations thereof, have entered the pol corrs' all-time Top Five.

And trust me, they will be there for some time.

Sunday Indo Living