Gaels (Irish) - Sociopolitical Organization



Social Organization. Gaelic villages are usually acephalous entities with a tendency toward exogamy.

Political Organization. Ireland is a sovereign, independent, democratic republic. At the national level is an elected president (An Uachtarán), a partially elected senate (Śeanad Éireann), and the Assembly (the Dáil Éireann) in Dublin, which has 166 representatives ( teachta dala ) elected by universal adult suffrage and proportional representation; in the Assembly the Gaeltachts are represented through their Several parliamentary constituencies. Of the two major parties, Fianna Fail draws most support in the Gaeltachts because of its pro-Gaelic policies, and it forms the current government. At the local level are twenty-seven county councils in the Republic, made up of elected members.

Social Control. The formal authorities in Irish villages are police constables ( gardai ). Gaeltacht villages do not have elected mayors, and the moral leader of a community is likely to be the parish priest. His threat of supernatural sanctions for wrongdoing is taken very seriously. Gossip and public opprobrium are also strong forces of social control. Not long ago, another powerful deterrent was the fear of what the fairies might do to one at night. Even now, one of the worst things one can ever say about a neighbor is to hint that he or she is in league with the Devil and thus is an agent of evil powers.

Conflict. Incidence of crime in the Gaeltachts is generally very low, rarely involving more than occasional petty theft or drunk and disorderly behavior. The people of the Gaeltachts are not directly involved with the current strife in Northern Ireland.


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