Northern Ireland: Paisley to block Irish Language Act

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at
Thu Aug 16 15:19:38 UTC 2007

Paisley to block Irish Language Act
Wed, Aug 15, 2007

The Democratic Unionist Party is to block any bid to have an Irish
Language Act passed in the Northern Ireland Assembly, according to a
letter signed by party leader the Rev Ian Paisley. In the two-page
letter, written to mark the first 100 days of the Stormont executive,
the First Minister assures party members that the DUP will oppose any
legislation that was would enshrine the rights of Irish language
speakers. A language act is a key demand from Irish language advocates
who say it deserves the protection granted to other minority languages
across Europe.

"Under DUP stewardship, unionists are now confident that the Union is
secure," the North Antrim MP said. "We have transformed the political
landscape despite many of our opponents saying it was impossible. Some
even attempt to rubbish the significant gains we have made but we have
defeated terrorist objectives and safeguarded unionist interests." He
added: "The DUP will not support the creation of any such legislation.

"This was a proposal made by the two Governments (British and Irish at
the St Andrews talks) and was never agreed to or even discussed with
us. "As a result of the changes we secured on the decision-making
process in the Assembly, the Irish language legislation would require
unionist support in the Executive." Earlier this year, the Council of
Europe called on the British government to develop a comprehensive
Irish language policy, including measures to meet the increasing
demand for Irish-medium education "as a matter of priority".

The Strasbourg-based Committee of Ministers backed the findings of an
86-page report from a Council of Europe watchdog monitoring the
European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, which came into
force in the UK in July 2001. The Charter commits the British
government to safeguard and promote Welsh, Scottish Gaelic, Irish,
Scots, Ulster-Scots, Cornish and Manx Gaelic. In  the North, where
demands for an Irish Language Act similar to the south's Official
Languages Act, the Democratic Unionist Party has branded the proposal
for an language act as divisive and discriminatory and "sponsored by
Sinn Féin".

(c) 2007 ireland.com

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