Irish Republican News · April 9, 2016
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Gaelic League takes Sinn Fein minister to court


Caral Ni Chuilin, Sinn Fein’s Minister for Culture in the Six Counties, is to be sued over her administration’s failure to introduce laws to promote the Irish language.

Campaigners at Conradh na Gaeilge [the Gaelic League] said they were taking the Stormont Executive to court after it failed to put a 20-year strategy for Irish on a legal footing.

Conradh na Gaeilge said that a “close partnership” has been fostered between Stormont’s Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure and the Irish language, but it had not carried out its obligations. Uniquely, it failed to bring any legislation to the assembly since it came under Sinn Fein control in 2011.

Conradh president Coilin O Cearbhaill said Irish speakers must be given the support they deserve. He pointed to the binding commitment for a language strategy in the 2006 St Andrews Agreement.

“Conradh na Gaeilge therefore finds it unsatisfactory that the strategy has not yet been accepted by the Executive,” Mr O Cearbhaill said.

They want to see Stormont enshrine proposals to allow for bilingual Assembly and court business as well as official recognition of Gaeltacht areas and the right to Irish medium education.

Ciaran Mac Giolla Bhein, Conradh’s advocacy manager, said a lawsuit was needed to force action on Irish.

Last year, Stormont lost an almost identical case over its failure to produce an anti-poverty strategy, as required by the legislation enacting the Good Friday Agreement.

“The Irish-language community here is hugely disappointed and frustrated that the Executive hasn’t adapted the Irish language strategy to promote and to protect our language,” he said.

The proposed Irish Language Act includes provisions for place names to be identified in Irish as well as the appointment of an Irish language commissioner and Irish to be used by public bodies.

The DUP has long opposed the measures. The party also pledged this week to stop “squandering money” on Irish language schools. In its assembly election manifesto, the DUP promised to deliver “equality for all sectors”. This would involve “tackling the preferential treatment of Irish”, it said.

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