An Irish-Language Act in the north now has more support than ever as the Assembly Election approaches on 2 March 2017. A majority of parties – 7 parties in total – support the introduction of protective legislation for the Irish language, and details on each candidate’s stance can be found on Conradh na Gaeilge’s website at www.cnag.ie/gaelvota. Several parties have recently made significant policy changes as regards an Irish-Language Act and now support the case for rights-based legislation for Irish speakers in the north.
Three main Irish-language commitments make up the community-led #GaelVóta campaign in the run-up to this election, with significant emphasis on the commitment to bring in an Irish-Language Act:
- To confirm an Irish-language Act before joining any Executive in the north, and / or to support an Irish-Language Act as a legislative priority;
- To provide the necessary funding as detailed in the Irish-Language Community Investment Plan; and
- To appoint a Communities Minister and an Education Minister that would implement existing legal obligations and support the wishes of the Irish-language community.
Cóilín Ó Cearbhaill, President of Conradh na Gaeilge says:
“The number and range of parties that are supporting this Irish-language legislation clearly demonstrate the growing demand for an Irish-Language Act. But this is only the first step – promises are worthless without implementation. Conradh na Gaeilge is calling on every Assembly candidate to ensure that the commitments they made regarding the language take centre stage in any programme of work that is agreed for the next Assembly.”
Dr Niall Comer, Tánaiste of Conradh na Gaeilge says:
“The issue of Irish-language legislation has now been raised by the Irish Government with the British Government; there is widespread political and public support for an Act in the North; and international committees, from the United Nations to the Council of Europe, are calling on the British Government to implement an Irish-Language Act, as they promised as part of the 2006 St Andrew’s Agreement.”
“There is now an historic, unprecedented opportunity for a long overdue Irish-Language Acht for the Irish-language community due to the widespread support for the legislation coupled with the issue now being at the heart of political discourse. Recent attacks on Irish-medium education and on Irish-language community projects illustrate that there is an urgent need for legislation that will protect the community-led revival.”
The Conradh na Gaeilge Ard-Fheis will convene in Galway this weekend (24 – 26 February 2017), and the Irish-Language Act, alongside the other election commitments, will be to the fore.
Further information on the Irish-language commitments and the representative measures being sought by Conradh na Gaeilge can be found at www.cnag.ie/gaelvota, via email from firstname.lastname@example.org, or via the Twitter hashtag #GaelVóta. The responses of candidates and parties who pledged their support to the main Irish language commitments as part of the #GaelVóta campaign are available at www.cnag.ie/gaelvota.