18/12/2002

Sinn Fein confident of rise in Irish speakers

Speaking ahead of the publication of the 2001 Northern Ireland census, Sinn Féin West Tyrone MLA Barry McElduff has said that he expects the census to show a big rise in the use of the Irish language.

The results from the long-anticipated population count are expected to be published tomorrow.

Mr McElduff said: "I expect the census figure that are due to be announced this week to show a big growth in the use of Irish. This is to be expected given the growth in both demand and places for Irish medium education. Former education Minster Martin McGuinness has been central to assisting that growth and Irish medium education is set continue growing at over 5 per cent a year. Its non-denominational ethos, excellent results and parent orientated approach will continue to find increasing favour among both parents and young people.”

Mr McElduff said it was important now to see a positive response from the British government on minority languages and issues such as support for Irish language programming.

He added: “I would also like to see an All-Ireland language bill brought forward by both the Dublin and London governments, possibly similar to the Welsh model that could capitalise on the huge energy and enthusiasm that has been unleashed by the growth of Irish language in the north.”

Meanwhile, a civic council in the Irish Republic is to take a pro-active stance in promoting the Irish language.

Galway County Council has given the go-ahead to restrict the granting of planning permission to people who speak the Irish language. This move will apply in the Connemara Gaeltacht, where the Gaelic language is promoted.

The five-year plan which may become law next year declares that the ability to converse in Irish will be a basic requirement for all Gaeltacht planning permissions and that only Irish speakers will able to build homes in the area.

(AMcE)

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