Conradh na Gaeilge welcome open debate around legislation as UUP continue to oppose Irish Language Act despite "protections being needed" for language

Doug Beattie MLA & Robin Swann MLA with members of the Conradh na Gaeilge delegationConradh na Gaeilge meet with Robin Swann and UUP at Stormont to discuss Irish Language Act for first time today

A delegation from Conradh na Gaeilge met with UUP leader Robin Swann at Stormont today (10 August 2017).

The Conradh na Gaeilge delegation included Ciarán Mac Giolla Bhéin, Advocacy Manager; and Pádraig Ó Tiarnaigh, Language Protection and Communications Executive. Robin Swann, Party Leader; Doug Beattie MLA; and Stephen Barr, Policy Officer, were present on behalf of the UUP.

This is the first time the UUP have accepted the invitation to meet with Conradh na Gaeilge to discuss the proposed Irish-language Act. Philip Smith, former party Deputy Leader, had previously attended a Conradh na Gaeilge lobbying event in October of 2016 at the Stormont house Hotel. Conradh na Gaeilge has to date already met with the leadership of each of DUP, Sinn Féin, SDLP, Alliance, PBP and the Green Party regarding rights based, stand-alone legislation for an Irish-language Act.

Ciarán Mac Giolla Bhéin, Advocacy Manager, Conradh na Gaeilge, says:

“Conradh na Gaeilge was happy that the UUP accepted our invitation to sit down and discuss legislative provision for the Irish language today. To date, we have had a long line of meetings with almost every other party, five of which now support the community call for a rights-based, stand-alone Irish-Language Act including Alliance, the Green Party, People Before Profit, the SDLP, and Sinn Féin. That support translates into 50 out of 90 MLAs and a majority support within the Assembly for the first time.

“Today’s meeting with the UUP – alongside all of the local and international support – is evidence of the strength of this remarkable community-led campaign for respect, rights and recognition for the Irish language.

“Although the party outlined their respect for the language and its speakers, recognising that it is key part of our identity here, and importantly that protections are needed for the language, the UUP are not currently supporting an Irish-Language Act.

“The Irish-language community have been waiting too long for the state to bring in legislation to protect these language-related human rights; now is the time for action. We are now calling on the UUP and all parties to come together and support these proposals, and to implement Irish-language legislation as recently recommended by the Council of Europe and the United Nations, as supported by the NI Human Rights Commission, and as promised over ten years ago in the St Andrew’s Agreement.”

Conradh na Gaeilge’s discussion document on an Irish-Language Act can also be downloaded here.

Associated Organisations of Conradh na Gaeilge