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Thousands to march in Belfast calling for Irish language legislation on model of Welsh Language Act

21 May 2022 2 minute read
Young people call for an Irish Language Act in 2019. Picture by Sinn Fein.

Thousands will march in Belfast today calling for Irish language legislation on the model of the 1993 Welsh Language Act introduced in Wales.

Language campaign group An Dream Dearg has organised the march from Cultúrlann McAdam Ó Fiaich at 1pm and make their way to Belfast City Hall.

Tensions between Sinn Fein and the DUP over legislating for the Irish Language has in the past been one of the stumbling blocks which have left Northern Ireland without a ruling executive.

The UK Government’s Secretary of State has not ruled intervening on the issue from Westminster if there is no progress locally, as was done on the issue of granting abortions in Northern Ireland in 2020.

Campaigners are calling for legislation on the model of the Welsh Language Act 1993 which would give Irish equal rights with English.

Irish Language rights have long been promised as part of agreements in the province, including the Good Friday Agreement, St Andrews agreement, and the more recent New Decade New Approach deal.

Legislation is however opposed by some Unionists, with 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”.

Padaí Ó Tiarnaigh, an Irish language activist with campaign group An Dream Dearg, however, told Belfast Live that it was time to deliver on the long-promised legislation.

“The British Government themselves have committed time and time again to implementing these language rights and have called short,” he said.

“We have a very direct message for the British Government and indeed for the DUP and others who continue to veto and block language rights – that is we will continue to take to the streets, advocate and organise for our rights.

“Our community is no longer willing to be treated as second class citizens in our own country. It’s time our native and indigenous language was protected in law.”

The DUP last year promised to implement all outstanding aspects of the New Decade, New Approach deal, including Irish language legislation, but are now unwilling to join the executive due to the Northern Irland Protocol between the UK Government and the EU.

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1 year ago

you need permission to speak Irish in Ireland? why do people vote DUP? why do people vote Tory?

1 year ago

Good luck with this Irish cousins. Don’t let the Yoons stop you

Malcolm rj
Malcolm rj
1 year ago

I never knew that the Irish language was treated in the same way that the English treated the Welsh language and not being able to speak your own language in your own country what sort of people are the English. And in 2022 it’s still going on you couldn’t make it up

1 year ago
Reply to  Malcolm rj

I think all the Celtic languages except Manx went through that to a greater or lesser degree. Breton, for instance, got the Welsh Not treatment.

1 year ago

Surely they should be campaigning for legislation equivalent to the Welsh Language Measure 2011 which was voted for unanimously (yes, even the ‘Welsh’ Tories did not dissent) in the National Assembly (as was). The Welsh Language Act 1993 as passed by Westminster, although it repealed the two ‘Acts of Union’ (viz Laws in Wales Acts 1535-1542) did not afford Cymraeg full, legal, official status. Although we are not there yet – and campaigning for a much stronger law to protect and encourage the use of Cymraeg to be passed by y Senedd continues – the 2011 Measure did at least… Read more »

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