Irish Republican News · May 21, 2007
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
DUP may veto Irish Language Act

The DUP’s Gregory Campbell has said his party will veto an Irish Language Act for the North of Ireland.

The act is a key demand from Irish language advocates who feel it deserves the protection granted to other minority languages across Europe.

The issue has been used as a bargaining chip in peace process negotiations, with the British government reneging on a commitment to implement the legislation.

Under power-sharing, hardline unionist Edwin Poots is now the North’s new culture minister and will decide on any future legislation once a consultation exercise is complete this summer.

Party colleague Gregory Campbell said the issue was “about cultural equality”. He said that since the Ulster-Scots dialect of English -- identified with the Protestant community -- received less funding than Irish, no more funds could be allocated to Irish.

“As things stand at the minute, Ulster-Scots is under-funded in comparison to the Irish language,” he said. “It is about making up (the funding gap) for Ulster-Scots rather than extending the Irish language.”

Draft plans issued by the British government in March envisage the appointment of an Irish language commissioner and the establishment of Irish language schemes for public bodies.

Responding to Campbell’s remarks, Sinn Féin’s culture spokesperson Barry McElduff said the demand for an Irish Language Act “is based upon the need to deliver on the rights of Irish speakers”.

Mr McElduff reminded the East Derry MP that Sinn Féin could also veto DUP proposals.

“We all have vetoes which we can choose to use,” he said. “This however will not bring about the sort of new future we all desire.

“Sinn Féin want to work with all of the parties in the Assembly but for that approach to succeed then people like Gregory Campbell will have to come to terms with equality and respect for others rights and entitlements.”

Meanwhile, Sinn Féin has called for the establishment of a new 10-year development plan to preserve and advance the Irish language in the 26 Counties.

Outlining the party’s Irish language policy in Dublin, Bairbre de Brun MEP said Sinn Féin was also seeking a monitoring programme for the Gaeltacht and a mechanism to officially recognise “Breac-Ghaeltachtai” - areas where both Irish and English are widely spoken.

She said the party was pushing for increased use of Irish in the Dublin parliament and the retention of the language as a core subject at post primary level.

In its manifesto, the party has sought funding for Irish language pre-schooling and the adoption of an Irish language stream in English language pre-schools.

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© 2007 Irish Republican News