[lg policy] Belfast: Thousands march in Belfast for Irish language act

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at gmail.com
Mon May 22 11:15:04 EDT 2017


 Thousands march in Belfast for Irish language act [image: Thousands march
in Belfast for Irish language act] Youth groups, schoolchildren and
politicians from across Ireland joined in the rally. Picture by Mal McCann

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Andrew Madden
22 May, 2017 01:00
Topics
[image: Thousands march in Belfast for Irish language act]
<http://www.irishnews.com/picturesarchive/irishnews/irishnews/2017/05/21/175109734-029c1bad-a949-47a9-bfad-69f55639647f.jpg>
'An Lá Dearg' (the red day) was organised by An Dream Dearg, an Irish
language campaign group. Picture by Mal McCann

THOUSANDS of people have marched in Belfast to demand an Irish language act.

'An Lá Dearg' (the red day) saw activists and supporters from across
Ireland march on the city hall from the Falls Road on Saturday.

Schoolchildren, youth groups and politicians donned red t-shirts emblazoned
with a white circle - which has become the symbol for Irish language rights
- as they joined in chants for legislation protecting speakers.

An Irish language act has been one the main stumbling blocks in political
talks to restore power-sharing at Stormont.

In the run-up to March’s assembly election, DUP leader Arlene Foster said
she would never agree to an act and likened Sinn Féin to a "crocodile" over
its demands.

Thousands of Irish language activists call for an Irish language act
Picture Mal McCann.

However, the former first minister has since met several Irish language
groups and hinted at the possibility of legislation which also encompasses
Ulster Scots and Orange culture.

Saturday's rally was organised by campaign group An Dream Dearg, and was
attended by Sinn Féin northern leader Michelle O'Neill.

Among those who took to a specially erected stage at City Hall to address
the large crowd was Caitlín Ní Chathail, who is raising her child through
Irish.

"As a parent who is raising my family as Irish speakers, all I ask is that
the state recognises Irish as our language of choice - to live my life
through the medium of Irish," she said.

"I’m not asking for a special privilege or concession from those in power,
just simply that they recognise my language rights and the language rights
of my children."

Ciarán Mac Giolla Bhéin, spokesman for An Dream Dearg, said the future of
Stormont depends on agreement on the Irish language.

Thousands of Irish language activists call for an Irish language act
Picture Mal McCann.

"There is no doubt that the Irish language is now at the very centre of the
current political crisis in the north and An Dream Dearg are stating
clearly that no political institutions or future political arrangement are
tenable in the absence of a rights-based Irish language act," he said.

"Extensive public support for an Irish language act has been endorsed by
the overwhelming majority across the community in successive public
consultations; a clear majority of newly elected MLAs in the assembly
support our demand, as does the United Nations and the Council of Europe."

Linda Ervine, an east Belfast Irish language activist and sister-in-law of
the late PUP leader David Ervine, said she attended to show the diversity
in the Irish language community.

"I don't see it that it needs to be de-politicised, I think it needs to be
multi-politicised. I would like to see all parties embracing the language
and saying Irish belongs to it all, because it does," she said.

South Belfast Alliance councillor Emmet McDonough-Brown said his party has
also supported an Irish language officer for Belfast City Council and a
language policy for the city.

"Irish belongs to everybody, threatens nobody, and is a language of art,
poetry, music and much more. I look forward to the next asssembly passing
an act," he said.
Thousands of Irish language activists call for an Irish language act
Picture Mal McCann.

Thousands of Irish language activists call for an Irish language act
Picture Mal McCann.

Thousands of Irish language activists call for an Irish language act
Picture Mal McCann.

Thousands of Irish language activists call for an Irish language act
Picture Mal McCann.

Thousands of Irish language activists call for an Irish language act
Picture Mal McCann.

Thousands of Irish language activists call for an Irish language act
Picture Mal McCann.

Thousands of Irish language activists call for an Irish language act
Picture Mal McCann.

Thousands of Irish language activists call for an Irish language act
Picture Mal McCann.


http://www.irishnews.com/news/northernirelandnews/2017/05/22/news/thousands-march-in-belfast-for-irish-language-act-1032293/
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