Cross-Party Westminster MPs join the call for Secretary of State to meet October deadline on New Decade New Approach Irish language legislation
MPs from Labour, SNP, Plaid Cymru, Alliance, SLDP and Sinn Féin meet Irish language community at Westminster in support of Irish language legislation deadline
Today, Tuesday 26 October 2021, MPs joined together to show cross-party support for immediate Westminster delivery of the Irish language legislation published in New Decade New Approach.
The New Decade New Approach agreement (January 2020) committed parties and Governments to implementing Irish language legislation within 100 days. By 17 June 2021, the SOS Brandon Lewis gave the Stormont Assembly a final deadline of September 2021 to enact the legislation, otherwise, he committed publicly that Westminster would bring forward the legislation directly by October 2021.
Speaking on 17 June 2021, SOS Brandon Lewis MP confirmed:
“I can confirm that if the Executive has not progressed legislation by the end of September, the UK government will take the legislation through Parliament in Westminster. If that becomes necessary, we will introduce legislation in October 2021.” (Source, The Irish News 17/6/21: https://bit.ly/3Gl8N9a ).
Joining the cross-party photocall today at College Green, Westminster, were (MPs listed L-R as photo):
Colum Eastwood MP, SDLP, Claire Hannah MP, SDLP, Liz Saville-Roverts MP, Louise Haigh MP (Shadow SOS), Labour; Conor McGinn MP (Labour), Carol Monaghan MP, SNP; Plaid Cymru; John Finucane MP, Paul Maskey MP, Sinn Féin and Stephen Farry MP, Alliance;. Joining the MPs were Dr Niall Comer, President, Conradh na Gaeilge, Conchúr Ó Muadaigh, Advocacy Manager, Conradh na Gaeilge and Julian de Spáinn, General Secretary, Conradh na Gaeilge.
Dr Niall Comer, President, Conradh na Gaeilge, said:
“Today’s cross-party MP support for the immediate delivery of the New Decade New Approach Irish language legislation, alongside the June commitment from the SOS Brandon Lewis MP, represents an overwhelming majority in the House of Commons. An Irish language Act is also supported in the Stormont Assembly by a majority of parties and a majority of MLAs. The New Decade New Approach agreement committed the Assembly to enact the legislation within 100 days. That deadline was missed, as was the September deadline set down by the SOS Brandon Lewis. Now, the SOS must deliver on his own agreed deadline, and move Irish language legislation in Westminster by the end of October.”
“That gives the SOS and the British Government only a few short days to fulfill their commitment. It has been 15 years since the British Government initially promised to introduce an Irish language Act at the 2006 St Andrew’s Agreement. Now they find themselves, alongside the Irish Government, as co-guarantor of a new agreement, recommitting them to legislation that will protect and enhance the Irish language. The legislation will create a new Irish language commissioner, a suite of “best-practice standards” for public bodies, and will repeal a 1737 penal law which has banned Irish from courts for centuries. The legislation has been agreed and published. The preparatory work within the Executive Office in Belfast has been ongoing. This is ready to go. There is no further legitimate or reasonable excuse for delay. The issue of Irish language rights remains a continuous immediate litmus test for all.”