16/01/2014

Irish Language Overlooked In NI

The Irish language is not being promoted enough in Northern Ireland due to disagreement within the Assembly and a lack of support for its use in some circles, according to a Council of Europe report.

The report, published today, said authorities in Northern Ireland could be in breach of a charter of rights as a result of delays over requests for bilingual signs.

It also said Irish could be used in Northern Ireland courts and that steps should be taken to meet a demand for primary education in Irish.

There is a "persisting hostile climate" against the language among some groups, it said.

The report also said the British government and Northern Ireland Assembly had demonstrated a lack of progress since the last report in 2009.

Culture Minister Carál Ní Chuilín is currently overseeing a project named Líofa, which seeks to encourage Northern Irish people from all backgrounds to become fluent by 2015.

"I believe that the rich cultural and linguistic heritage on this island is something that we all share and something that we can all embrace and enjoy," she said.

SDLP MLA for Newry and Armagh Dominic Bradley said: "It is extremely embarrassing that the Executive has not yet responded to the committee of experts who are charged with monitoring the implementation of the European Charter for Regional and Minority Languages across the UK.

"There are several outstanding issues in relation to the Irish language arising from The St Andrews Agreement. These include the Irish Language Act, and the Irish language and Ulster Scots strategies. Even though the consultation on the Irish language/Ulster Scots strategies, is long complete, there is no sign of the publication of either of these strategies, not to mention their implementation.

"In the meantime, Irish language organisations in the north are under severe threat from the new funding model, which Foras na Gaeilge is promoting.

"We no longer have a daily or weekly Irish language newspaper. All of these shortcomings are compounded by the failure of the Executive to agree input into the committee of experts report.

"There is an obligation on the Executive to look up to expectations in this respect and to co-operate, not only with the monitoring exercise on the Charter, but with its implementation."

(IT/MH)

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