Yn Commeeys Celtiagh
Mannin (the Isle of Man) claims over 1,000 years of self-government but the history shows that the independence has been barely visible at times. The post war governments have concentrated on creating an English tax anomaly based on English / British immigration with the result that the native Manx are severely minoritised both numerically and economically.
Although the last native speaker died in 1974 the Manx language never actually died out as a new generation learned from the last native speakers.
Manx is more visible now with bilingual street names and signage on government vehicles. Manx is available on an optional basis at primary level and there are five nursery groups and a Manx medium primary school. The language can be studied at second level and a third level degree course can be undertaken. For the first time in many years some children are growing up speaking the language.
The Isle of Man is notionally self-governing and is neither part of the United Kingdom nor of the European Union. Uniquely, then, it the only National Celtic territory that is ‘independent’, although independent status is compromised by the role it allows the United Kingdom to play in Manx affairs via the link to the British Crown.
Wrongly the British Queen is thought to have the same status in Mann, however, this is incorrect as her title is simply Lord of Man and it has no relationship to historical longevity, but simply came about via a property transfer between the previous Lordship of Man and the English Queen.
The Manx Nationalist Party, Mec Vannin, with whom the Mannin branch work extremely closely is a Republican Party and campaigns forcefully for an end to the link with the Crown. The Celtic League Mannin Branch complements this goal. Both Mec Vannin and the Celtic League Mannin have concentrated in the past three decades in ensuring the Lord of Man’s representative on the Island (the Lt. Governor) is stripped of his powers to interfere politically and that campaign has been broadly successful, although the malign influence of the Crown still remains in the background.
BRANCH ROLE IN THE BROADER CELTIC LEAGUE
The branch plays an active role in the broader league and several campaigns it has initiated have been successfully pursued by the League.
Branch Officers have undertaken roles on the General Council and Bernard Moffatt has occupied the positions of Assistant General Secretary, General Secretary and Director of Information. Mark Kermode, the current branch Convenor, was for many years Assistant General Secretary and in this role attended many conferences overseas on behalf of the League, not least the conferences which led up to the adoption of the Universal Declaration on Linguistic Rights. Another current branch member, Paul Kelly, has been overall Treasurer of the Celtic League for several years.
The current branch officers are:
Convenor: Mark Kermode
Secretary: Roy Kennaugh
Treasurer: Cristl Jerry (also formerly a branch secretary)
In addition, at the 2014 AGM two ex-officio branch officer positions were adopted:
Minute Sec: Bernard Moffatt
Environment Officer: Bill Henderson (Member of the House of Keys)
Over the years the branch has been an enthusiastic participant in all the campaign work of the League, however, at branch level they have focused on several key (successful) campaigns:
- Campaign against the extension of the NATO Jury Sea Bombing Range (highly successful);
- Campaign to have the Calf of Man returned to Manx ownership from the UK National Trust – in conjunction with London branch (successful);
- Campaigns over decades on various aspects of the Manx Language (successful)
- Campaign against the Islands offshore status (vigorous and ongoing);
- Campaign against military use of the Isle of Man by the British Army for training (successful);
- Annual Illiam Dhone Commemoration – held in conjunction with Mec Vannin (highly successful);
- Campaign against the use of the Isle of Man to evade sanctions against South Africa (successful);
- Campaign against the use of the Isle of Man for arms trading (vigorous and ongoing);
- Campaign against Sellafield and Irish Sea nuclear installations (vigorous and ongoing);
- Campaign for Commemoration of National Figures (just initiated);
- Campaign for extension of territorial sea – and sea-bed (ongoing).
FUNCTIONING AND GENERAL ADMINISTRATION
The branch holds regular monthly meetings and an annual AGM. It sends delegates to Inter-Celtic AGMs and has hosted several of these (in rotation) over the years.
The branch also organises one of our regular events, the Annual Illiam Dhone Commeroration, attracting speakers and organisers (working in conjunction with Mec Vannin). It also (again due to the generous support of Mec Vannin) has a presence at the Annual Tynwald Ceremony.
The branch has organised protests over the years, for example, against the Finance Sector and against the failure of a Manx Bank to accept cheques tendered in the Manx language.
The branch also held a protest some years ago on behalf of Breton political prisoners by picketing a visiting French warship.
For several years the branch organised a (Xmas) lecture on Manx culture and politics (in both Manx and English).
MANNIN BRANCH LINKS
Listen to the audio below to hear Bernard Moffatt and Roger Watterson highlight the past, present and future aims of The Celtic League on Manx Radio’s Sunday Opinion (recorded 19/04/2015):