Both disappointment and anger will follow the Executive’s decision not to accept the proposed Irish Language Act or Strategy yesterday (10/03/16), Irish-language advocacy organisation Conradh na Gaeilge has warned. It has been revealed that DCAL Minister Carál Ní Chuilín brought the Act before the Executive, but Unionist Parties and the Alliance Party all voted against them.
Ciarán Mac Giolla Bhéin, Advocacy Manager with Conradh na Gaeilge, said:
“The Executive had an excellent opportunity to support the wishes of the public by accepting the recommendations of the Act and the development Strategy which were set down before them. Unfortunately, this opportunity has been lost, as has another opportunity to confirm the rights of the Irish language community by implementing a rights-based Act. It has once again been shown that there is widespread support for legislative protection for the Irish language here, and over 13,000 people took part in the consultation process on an Irish language Bill. Almost 95% of those participants were in favour of an Act. On top of that, in the 2011-2015 Programme for Government, the development of an Irish language Strategy is a central part of Priority 4 of the To Create a Strong and Shared Community Programme. It is unacceptable that the executive cannot fulfil its own programme for government.
“In spite of the huge blow to the Irish language Act and Strategy, the lobbying will continue and we call upon the British Government, whom initially made the pledge of an Act in the St. Andrew’s Agreement, to fulfil their promise and international duties.“
Cóilín Ó Cearbhaill, President of Conradh na Gaeilge, said:
“All of the surveys which we and other groups have carried out show that there is widespread support for the Irish language in the north. This support is constantly increasing. It is a shame, therefore, that this good will is not recognised at Executive level. We extend a welcome to any group or party who are against the Act or Strategy to discuss their worries with us but it is essential that the rights of Irish language speakers are assured through legislating a strong rights-based Bill. It is both unjust and out of step with other multilingual countries that the Irish language community in the north is the only group on these islands which does not have legislative protection for their language.
“This is a question of rights and every politician and party has a duty to ratify and consolidate the rights of Irish language speakers in legislation and to give to the community, who played a willing and keen role in the government consultation, the tools to drive forward the development of Irish in coming years. This will achieved through rights-based legislation.”