Tuesday, 17 October 2017

A great Ulster-Scots soldier from Brookeborough


John Armstrong (1717-1795) was born in the village of Brookeborough,  three hundred years ago, on 13 October 1717.

His parents were James Armstrong (1680-1745) and Jane Campbell (1688-1775), who were married in 1704.  He had Scottish ancestry on both sides of his family.

He married Rebecca Lyon (1719-1797) and they emigrated from Ulster to Pennsylvania around 1740, along with her brother John Lyon.

There he was a surveyor to the Penn family, the proprietary owners of the colony.

He laid out the first plan for the town of Carlisle in Pennsylvania and was one of the first settlers.

Armstrong was also a militia commander in the Seven Years War and a good friend of George Washington.

Battle of Germantown
In the early stages of the Revolutionary War, John Armstrong was a brigadier general in the Pennsylvania militia and was then appointed to the same rank in the Continental Army.  He fought at the Battle of Brandywine and the Battle of Germantown and after the war he returned to Carlisle.

Rev George Duffield
(1732-1790)
John Armstrong was appointed to the Continental Congress as a delegate from Pennsylvania from 1779 to 1780 and he died in Carlisle on 9 March 1795.  

His sister Margaret Armstrong (1737-1817) married Rev George Duffield (1732-1790), the Presbyterian minister in Carlisle, and John Armstrong was an elder in the congregation.  

The Duffields were an Ulster-Scots family and George Duffield's father had emigrated from Ballymena to America.

A later Rev George Duffield (1818-1888), a direct descendant of the first Rev George Duffield, was the author of the well-known hymn Stand up, stand up for Jesus.



Monday, 16 October 2017

A false and flawed argument for an Irish Language Act

Ian Parsley & Paula Bradshaw MLA (Alliance Party)
On Saturday the News Letter published a letter by Ian Parsley in which he  set out the case for an Irish Language Act.

One of the key points was that this would bring Irish Gaelic in Northern Ireland into line with Scottish Gaelic in Scotland and Welsh in Wales.  

It was almost like saying that it is the 'British' thing to do.

However it is a flawed and false argument as I set out in the following letter, which appeared in the News Letter today.


In his letter (14 October) in which he supported ‘comprehensive Irish language legislation’, Ian James Parsley stated that this would ‘bring Northern Ireland largely into line with equivalent jurisdictions, notably Scotland, in providing a legislative basis for promotion of Celtic languages.’  He also said that we should be ‘willing to learn from good practice in the rest of the UK’.

By referring to ‘equivalent jurisdictions’ and ‘the rest of the UK’ he was suggesting that Northern Ireland is somehow out of line with ‘the rest of the UK’.  However that is not the case.  There is no single approach across ‘the rest of the UK’ and so Northern Ireland cannot be out of line with ‘the rest of the UK’.

If we look across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, there are four ‘Celtic languages’ – Cornish in England, Scottish Gaelic in Scotland, Welsh in Wales and Irish Gaelic in Northern Ireland.

There is a Gaelic Language (Scotland) Act in Scotland and a Welsh Language Act in Wales but there is no Cornish Language Act in England, just as there is no Irish Language Act in Northern Ireland.  So Northern Ireland is in line with England, whereas Scotland and Wales are out of line with both England and Northern Ireland.  The ‘out of line’ with ‘the rest of the UK’ argument simply does not stand up to scrutiny and is disingenuous.

Ian Parsley takes a keen interest in minority languages, as does his wife Paula Bradshaw, the Alliance Party MLA for South Belfast.  Indeed she was the person who represented the Alliance Party at a Conradh na Gaelige photoshoot on 30 August in support of a standalone Irish Language Act. 

Both Ian and Paula have used this ‘rest of the UK’ argument in support of an Irish Language Act.  Are they not aware of the situation in England?

The Alliance Party is entitled to argue for an Irish Language Act but then others are entitled to point out that this argument is fundamentally flawed and thoroughly disingenuous.


Nelson McCausland

Friday, 13 October 2017

Another 'Nelson's View'


This blog is named Nelson's View but it is not the only Nelson's View.

I have just discovered that Nelson's View is also the name of a holiday cabin in Maggie Valley in North Carolina, just to the east of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  I own this Nelson's View but am disappointed now that I don't own the other Nelson's View!

Then there is a website called Nelson's View, which belongs to a professional photographer named Nelson Rodriguez, who lives in Florida.

So I look out at the rain and think about North Carolina and Florida .....


Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Londonderry Burns Club

Robert Burns window in the Linen Hall Library
Last Friday I visited the Robert Burns cottage in Alloway, the place where he was born.  

Since then I have been thinking about the number of Burns Clubs in Ulster and one in particular has taken my attention, the Burns Club in Londonderry.

For more than fifty years there was a Burns Club in the Maiden City. It seems to have been formed in 1907 as the Londonderry Burns Club and Caledonian Society. and there are regular newspaper reports of Burns Suppers and other social and cultural events through until at least 1957.

There was also a charitable side to the Londonderry Burns Club and in 1928 the members presented a 'memorial cot' to the Londonderry City and County Infirmary.

This was one of a number of Burns Clubs in Ulster, where there was a particular affection for the poetry of Robert Burns and there were also clubs in Belfast and Larne.  The first to be formed in Ulster was the club in Belfast and the Belfast Burns Association still meets but the Londonderry and Larne clubs ceased to function some years ago.

At one time it was said that in many homes in Ulster there were but two books, the Bible and Burns.

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

A worldwide web of the wealthy and powerful

Image result for jeremy shapiro and obama
Jeremy Shapiro 
A number of British newspapers have reported comments made by Jeremy Shapiro at the Cheltenham Literature Festival about the 'special relationship' between the USA and the United Kingdom.

Shapiro, who worked as an adviser to Barack Obama, said that the relationship was unrequited and that US officials would make jokes about it behind the scenes.

I could well believe that Barack Obama's administration took that view and I am sure we all remember how Obama turned up to support David Cameron's failed campaign to win the referendum to stay in the European Union.  That US president wanted to deny us OUR 'independence day'.

But what about the man making the claim?  The newspaper report state that Jeremy Shapiro worked as an adviser in the US State Department under Obama and now works as research director at the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR).

Image result for european council on foreign relationsI must admit that I had never heard of Jeremy Shapiro or the European Council on Foreign Relations so I decided to browse aroudn on the internet for some background information.

The ECFR is a private pan-European think-tank, which I would describe as internationalist liberal elite.  It is funded by private donations; so who is it that 'pays the piper', because very often whoever 'pays the piper, calls the tunes'?

It seems that the ECFR was established with the support of Open Society Foundations, Communitas Foundation and Fundacion Para las Relaciones Internacionales y el Dialogo Exterior (FRIDE).

George Soros - Festival Economia 2012 02.JPG
George Soros - multi-billionaire
Its partners and funders are foundations, corporations, governments and individuals.

FRIDE closed down in 2015 for financial reasons but Open Society Foundations is still very much alive and active.  It was founded in 1993 by the culturally-subversive George Soros and may be the largest 'philanthropic' organisation ever established, with branches in 37 countries.

Soros was educated at the London School of Economics where he was a student of the Marxist Karl Popper and today he is a business magnate worth more than $25 billion.  He is a multi-billionaire and uses his wealth to influence politics in many countries.  He advocates a federal Europe, opposes Israel,  backs euthanasia and has supported more liberal drug laws in America.

This is just a small insight into the worldwide-web of the wealthy and powerful and the organisations and institutions they use to promote their worldview.  It is a world about which most of us know very little and I suppose that is the way they want it.


Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Eamonn McCann's view of the Orange Order


I came across this old quote from Eamonn McCann in the Andersonstown News (4 January 1997).  According to the newspaper it was a statement he had made in October 1996 and it was reprinted as part of the Andersonstown News review of the previous year.

Eamonn McCann said: 'There is a direct line of connection between marching in an Orange parade and putting a foot through the window of somebody who has married a Catholic.'

As someone who has been a member of the Orange Order for just over forty years, I can honestly say that I have never put a foot through anyone's window.  Such demonisation and misrepresentation of the Orange Order is utterly appalling.

For many years there has been widespread demonisation of the Orange Order and such demonisation helped to create the 'authorising environment' in which so many republicans felt it perfectly in order to break the windows in Orange halls and even burn them down.

A look at the Gaelic Language Act in Scotland

The demand for a 'muscular' standalone Irish Language Act continues to be made and so it is interesting to look across to Scotland to see the outworking of the Gaelic Language (Scotland) Act 2005.  The Act was passed more than a decade ago so we can look back over that decade to see something of that outworking.

One of the more recent examples is the five year Gaelic Language Plan for Police Scotland, which was published on 29 December 2016 and runs to 50 pages.  Here are just a few commitments from the 50-page document:

  • Use of bilingual corporate logo on all branded material including letterheads, business cards, and compliments slips - this would become standard across Scotland
  • Police Scotland uniforms to have Bilingual markings with agreed brand of Poileas Alba on a replacement basis.
  • Encourage staff to use the bi-lingual e-mail signature
  • Increase the visibility of Gaelic in marketing materials
  • Police Scotland Vehicles to have bilingual markings on a replacement basis
  • Of course this involves the creation of new Gaelic terminology for technical terms

The intention is that every police officer will have the bilingual logo on their business cards and that every police vehicle will have bilingual markings and that will be across every part of Scotland.

As regards the cost it is rather evasive: 'No new budget allocations are presumed to deliver the elements of this partnership activity and the use of staff time. Police Scotland have accessed external funding and will continue to explore opportunities to add value to the delivery of this plan.'  However it does not detail the source or level of external funding and neither does it cost the use of staff time.

That is what is proposed for the next five years and you can imagine what the next plan will produce for the subsequent five years.  This time the business card has a bilingual logo - the next logical step would be a fully bilingual card with Gaelic on one side and English on the other.

So is everyone in Scotland happy with these developments?  Clearly not as this newspaper article from Dundee demonstrates.

Most Scots will already be familiar with the Scots word 'polis' which is the Scots translation of police but the Gaelic 'poileas' will be unfamiliar to most folk.

And of course since Scotland has three languages, English, Scots and Scottish Gaelic, it seems that Scots is being overlooked once again.