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Wednesday 17 July 2019

Le pub Irlandais is too Anglais

JEROME REILLY

AN Irish pub is under pressure from the authorities in Canada -- for being too English.

McKibbin's Irish Pub in Montreal is at the centre of the latest language tensions brewing in Quebec.

The owners of the popular pub have been ordered by Quebec's language police to remove antique advertising posters for Guinness.

Inspectors from Office de la langue francaise have ordered McKibbin's to remove advertisements for "Guinness Dublin 1759", "Ireland trademark," "Cudthromach aire," "Eat Palethorpes pork pies fresh today" and "Guinness Extra Stout, draught & bottled St James Gate, Dublin" and "Caffrey's Cream".

French is the first language in Quebec and the language police have also complained that too much English is being spoken among the staff.

"We advise you that the law requires the French language to be predominant in public signs and commercial advertising; if another language is used at the same time, French must be given overall priority, the visual impact of the French text has to be much more important," the notice also read.

McKibbin's could be fined as much as CAD$1,500 (€1,020) for each infraction.

Pub owners Rick Fon and Dean Laderoute, who says he is of Irish-French blood, say the signs were imported from Ireland when they opened the pub 10 years ago, and are decor, not a violation of Quebec's language laws.

"We're not taking any of it down," said Mr Laderoute. "If we cannot have an Irish decor, McKibbin's, as an Irish pub, ceases to exist."

The issue of language has resurfaced in Quebec recent months, beginning with a report in Le Journal de Montreal about the ease of obtaining employment with a limited knowledge of French.

Other controversies included the language of instruction for tots in day-care and the use of English on the automated call-answering systems of Quebec's government departments.

The issue of language is fraught in the province. Some years ago, a woman warned the owner of a Quebec pet store she might get in touch with language authorities because Peekaboo, the parrot she wanted to buy, didn't speak French.

Customers in McKibbin's agree that the ruling is absurd.

"C'est ridicule, plus que ca, c'est stupide," said Stephane Lajoie-Plante, who said he was a Quebec nationalist with some Irish ancestry.

"These signs aren't outside where everyone can see them. They aren't promoting English. If the Office wants to pick a fight with someone, you don't pick a fight with the Irish over something as silly as this."

Michael Kenneally, head of Concordia College Irish studies programme, said the signs were "cultural artifacts that spoke to Irish history".

"They are in no way a commercial proposition, because they are not specifically selling any of these products," he added. McKibbin's will be launching a website on Wednesday -- byebyeolf.com -- to solicit public support.

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