09/12/2009

Gaelic Commitment Welcomed

The SDLP's party spokesperson on the Irish language, Dominic Bradley, has welcomed the commitment to Irish language legislation across Northern Ireland contained in the Irish Republic's 20 Year Strategy for the language.

The SDLP MLA for Newry and Armagh said that he has forwarded it to the Stormont Culture, Arts and Leisure Minister Nelson McCausland.

Commenting on this aspect of the strategy, Mr Bradley said: "The SDLP very much welcomes the Irish government's continuing commitment to the full implementation of the Good Friday Agreement and support for Foras na Gaeilge, the North/South implementation body charged with promoting the language on an all-island basis, to ensure its continued effective operation.

"I very much hope that the strategy will have a beneficial impact on speakers of the Irish language in Northern Ireland.

"I welcome the fact that the Irish government will also continue to press for the full implementation of commitments relating to the Irish language, which fall to the British government and the Northern Ireland Executive, including the introduction of an Irish Language Act and the enhancement protection and development of the Irish language in Northern Ireland," he said today.

Noting an absence of Irish language legislation from the NI Executive or the British government he said: "I have drafted a bill - 'The Official Languages Bill' - which I hope to bring before the Assembly in the new year.

"My Bill will fulfil the rights of Irish speakers and enable them to use the language in every aspect of life on which the Assembly has the power to legislate.

"The St Andrew's Agreement promised Irish language legislation and a strategy for indigenous languages, neither of which has been delivered.

"We are now into a third DUP Culture Arts and Leisure Minister and the present incumbent Nelson Mc Causland continues to dither and has not even produced a draft strategy to date," he claimed.

"I have sent him a copy of the Irish government's strategy for the Irish language in the hope that it will move him to action."

The 20 year strategy covers all major areas of education, the Gaeltacht, family transmission of the language and early intervention, administration, services and community, media and technology, dictionaries, legislation, economic life, along with cross-cutting initiatives.

Meanwhile, the NI-based Ulster-Scots Agency is facing reform because of government unhappiness with its performance.

NI Culture Minister, Nelson McCausland, is said to be "livid" at some of the agency's spending at a time when public money is scarce.

The agency has recently moved offices and is spending four times as much on rent as it did two years ago.

The Ulster-Scots Agency is a north-south body set up following the Good Friday Agreement and is responsible for promoting Ulster-Scots history, language and culture.

(BMcC/KMcA)

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