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Irish becomes official language in Northern Ireland for the first time

09 Dec 2022 2 minute read
Protesters at the Irish language rights demonstration in Belfast city centre in May.

Irish has become an official language in Northern Ireland for the first time.

The UK Government said last year that if the devolved parliament at Stormont could not or would not progress the legislation it would intervene and implement it from Westminster.

That has now happened as the Identity and Language (Northern Ireland) Bill, which passed through the Commons and Lords in October, received royal assent from King Charles.

The Irish language legislation was based on the model of the 1993 Welsh Language Act introduced in Wales.

The legislation includes a commitment to:

  • Provide official recognition of the status of the Irish language
  • Establish the office of an Irish language commissioner and an Ulster Scots commissioner
  • Repeal the Penal Law-era Administration of Justice (Language) Act 1737 which forbade the use of Irish in the courts.

Thousands of protesters marched through Belfast in May calling for the introduction of the legislation.

Legislative protections for the Irish language in Northern Ireland were a key plank of the New Decade, New Approach agreement that restored powersharing in January 2020 after a three-year stalemate.

The legislation had however opposed by some Unionists, with the TUV saying that an Irish Language Act would “open up employment opportunities exclusively to people who speak Irish, meaning that non-Irish speakers will be disadvantaged”.

But Paula Melvin, president of Conradh na Gaeilge, welcomed the move as “historic” and called for the new law to be “fully enacted and implemented in practice”.

“This bill, however, is not our final destination,” she told the Irish Times. “But let’s be clear, we now immediately enter the implementation phase of this legislation. Painful experience with the British Government has taught us to take nothing for granted.”


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Fi yn unig
Fi yn unig
1 month ago

I would guess that the TUV would demand the ability to speak English to get a job but even this didn’t work when ‘Catholics need not apply’ was the norm. Don’t talk to me about disadvantage.

Owain Morgan
Owain Morgan
1 month ago
Reply to  Fi yn unig

I wonder if he’s commented on Ulster Scots becoming an official language, but I doubt it 🙄

Harry Williamson
Harry Williamson
1 month ago

It’s political correctness gone mad

Owain Morgan
Owain Morgan
1 month ago

Allowing people to speak their own language is ‘political correctness gone mad’?! Where? Nazi Germany 🙄😒

Richard
Richard
1 month ago

The irish lamguage like its sister language in Scotland has had not only 500 years of subjication by the Vikings, Normans, English and some of Ulster Scots heritage but since 1921, some within their own leaderships who only talk it up at Election time. The amazing thing is that it has continued till this day .

Dail y Goeden
Dail y Goeden
1 month ago

“Political correctness… ” and “gone mad..”. Those two brief phrases sound to me rather “blanket”. Could we please ask you to expand a little: to be more specific on what your concern is? (Otherwise, and as your comment stands, I don’t understand it enough to understand your meaning…)

Cynan again
Cynan again
1 month ago

Dear Northern Ireland. Prepare for a neverending salvo of abuse form the Daily Torygraph

Owain Morgan
Owain Morgan
1 month ago
Reply to  Cynan again

And the Daily Fail and Daily Excess 🙄

Riki
Riki
1 month ago
Reply to  Cynan again

Don’t think it will happen! They are not Native to the British mainland and there for are not in need of Replacement or absorption. Something you can’t carry out if their population speaks a 4000 year old language that reminds everyone they aren’t English! This is real reason why they want the language gone, not for our Benefit, but to finish a 1000 year job to finish us off as a People.

Owain Morgan
Owain Morgan
1 month ago

Better late than never 🙂

Riki
Riki
1 month ago

Meanwhile we are overrun With Saboteurs! Some are even in Government.

I.Humphrys
I.Humphrys
1 month ago

Reaching the light, congratulations!!

Leigh Richards
Leigh Richards
1 month ago

“Irish becomes official language in the North of Ireland for the first time”….there…corrected it for you.

Richard Thomas
Richard Thomas
1 month ago
Reply to  Leigh Richards

It already was an official language in the North of Ireland, namely Donegal. Pretending Northern Ireland doesn’t exist because you don’t like it makes no difference to it actually existing. I can’t speak for the future, that’s for the people of Ireland to decide, not us. I don’t care what they choose.

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
1 month ago

The DUP are democracy dinosaurs and need a kick up their backsides. But don’t think for one moment the Tories are doing this because they love the Gaelic language or have a soft spot for Sinn Fein . Yes, Irish now has official status in Northern Ireland but this doesn’t mean it’s regarded as equal to English in Northern Ireland or the rest of the UK. Try speaking Gaelic or Cymraeg in the House of Commons. See how far you get before being manhandled out of the Palace of Westminster.

Riki
Riki
1 month ago
Reply to  Y Cymro

Well to fair, Westminster is a Foreign Parliament. The Problem isn’t the fact that Welsh isn’t allowed to be spoken there. The problem is too many Welsh people do not see that Parliament as Foreign! When it is and always has been. It’s as Foreign as Japans!

Frank
Frank
1 month ago

Urdu to become official language of England soon.

Rob
Rob
1 month ago

First of all as much as I vehemently disagree with the UK government imposing laws in devolved matters, I have no sympathy with the Unionist parties on this occasion whatsoever. The NI Protocol means that businesses in Northern Ireland have the privilege of access to both the UK Internal market and the European Single Market. But the likes of the DUP, and the TUV don’t see it that way. For them they are exclusively British and are quite prepared to hold the NI economy back, just so that they can waive their Union jacks. For them to refuse to take… Read more »

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