13/02/2018

There Will Be No Stand-Alone Irish Language Act - Foster

The leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) has insisted that her party would not sign off on a stand-alone Irish Language Act, a key Sinn Féin demand throughout the 13-month impasse.

She also rubbished speculation about the shape of Irish language laws which may emerge from Stormont's power-sharing negotiations.

In an interview with the Press Association, she ruled out any laws that would require bilingual road signs in Northern Ireland, compulsory teaching of Irish in schools or quotas of Irish language speakers within the civil service.

She said: "I am hopeful that we will move toward devolution again.
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"Whether it is this week, whether it is in a couple of weeks or whether it's in a couple of months what I must ensure is that we have an accommodation that everybody feels content with."

However, Sinn Féin MLA Conor Murphy said that an Irish Language Act was essential to any deal to restore the political institutions.

He said: "The talks are at a critical stage and Sinn Féin’s focus remains on achieving a deal to restore the political institutions.

"However they want to describe it the DUP know that agreement requires an Acht Gaeilge.

"The DUP need to make up their mind up about whether they up for a deal or not.

"This is a time for leadership and calm heads and there is a responsibility on all involved not to react to some of the noise from people who simply don’t want an agreement."

Northern Ireland has been without an Executive since January 2017.

(CD/MH)

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