Pog Mo Thoin! That’s my blunt message to many folk from the pro-Union community who are bitterly opposed to an Irish Language Act as they have fallen headlong into Sinn Fein’s trap.
In recent years, we’ve heard many’s a speech and read many’s a statement urging the Protestant Unionist Loyalist community to give the Irish language a ‘wide bearth’ culturally as the speaking of traditional Gaelic has been portrayed as some form of increasing ‘republicanisation’ of Northern Ireland.
In making and using the Irish language a cultural weapon, Sinn Fein has completely airbrushed the vital role which one of the island’s largest Protestant denominations has made to the development of the language - and indeed, saving it from cultural oblivion in earlier centuries.
Even at times, the exclusively Protestant Orange Order has warned Unionists against learning the Irish language - even though the institution once hosted a traditional large banner with Gaelic emblazoned on it.
In such cases, the Orange Order’s anti-Gaelic rant really does make its leadership look like a headless chicken in terms of responsible political guidance for the loyalist community.
Maybe the current memory is slipping of Grand Lodge of Ireland - the Order’s ruling body, but does it remember a Belfast lodge known as Ireland’s Heritage which existed in the 1970s?
Or perhaps Grand Lodge has forgotten the role played by one of Ireland’s largest Protestant denominations, the Presbyterians, in speaking and protecting the language when English colonists wanted it eradicated during the 18th century?
One point I will concede to Grand Lodge; Sinn Fein has used the Irish language as a political weapon against Unionists in the same way Sinn Féin has tried to hijack our island’s patron saint, Patrick.
Sinn Fein needs to remember that St Patrick brought Christianity – not militant republican socialism – to Ireland.
Unionists must stop making fools of themselves in combatting Sinn Féin’s grip on the Irish language by trying to promote a broad County Antrim accent and north Antrim dialect as the Ulster Scots language.
Ulster Scots campaigners may have succeeded in getting the European Union pre-Brexit to recognise this dialect as a minority language in Europe.
I grew up in north Antrim; I spoke the Ulster Scots accent through primary and secondary school until it vanished after a good dose of expensive elocution lessons.
As a former member of the Orange and Black orders, who donned the sashes for more than two decades, I am proud to say – as a Protestant of Unionist and Presbyterian descent – that I am learning Irish.
I am an unrepentant Radical Right-wing Unionist, but my love of the Irish language does not make me want to vote Sinn Féin in the slightest bit.
Republicans would speak Irish in my presence, knowing I was a Unionist, but thinking this was their way of making fun of me. They shut up when I answered them in Irish!
Imagine how republicans must laugh hysterically at Unionists who talk away in that Ulster Scots lingo. Unionists must adopt the maxim – if you can’t beat them, join them!
Sinn Féin has even out-gunned the moderate nationalist Social Democratic and Labour Party as the nationalist champion of the Irish language.
You don't hear of many republicans queuing to join Ulster Scots ‘language’ classes. The Orange Order leadership is correct when he talks about a republican agenda.
Sinn Féin has cleverly mastered the art of hood-winking Unionists into thinking that if republicans promote it, then it must be bad for Protestants.
Presbyterians were speaking Irish as their mother tongue generations before Sinn Féin emerged in 1905.
The solution is for the various elements which comprise Irish Presbyterianism - mainstream, Non-Sub-Scribing, Evangelical, Reformed, and even the church formed by the late former Stormont First Minister, the fundamentalist Free Presbyterian, to organise Irish language classes for their flocks.
Once the republican movement sees Presbyterianism - and the other two dozen and more Protestant denominations and the many independent Christian fellowships - embrace the Irish language, Sinn Fein will drop demands for such an act like a very hot potato.
If Presbyterianism adopted its cultural history and rich links with the Irish language, Sinn Fein would no longer be able to use Gaelic as a political ‘red line’ to guarantee the continuation of power-sharing devolution at Stormont.
Perhaps I will see my dream become a reality one day – a senior Orangeman give the traditional 12 July speech, known as the Twelfth, from the platform in Irish.
In the meantime, I’m off to class. Care to join me the PUL community?
Follow Dr John Coulter on Twitter @JohnAHCoulter
Listen to commentator Dr John Coulter’s programme, Call In Coulter, every Saturday morning around 10.15 am on Belfast’s Christian radio station, Sunshine 1049 FM. Listen online.