Sinn Féin Councillor Máirtín Ó Muilleoir has written to DSD Minister Nelson McCausland to ask that the "central role" of culture, arts and language is recognised by the DSD in its proposed policy framework for urban regeneration — which is currently out for consultation. The role of culture, arts and language as drivers of regeneration is not explored in the Policy Framework.
"This week, I have been contacted by the the pioneering Irish language umbrella body Pobal which fears that DSD officials are gearing up to cut its funding because they do not recognise language development as community development. This attitude is hardly surprising when the DSD is promoting a document which ignores the rich resource for regeneration afforded by culture, arts and language.
In his letter to the Minister, the South Belfast councillor who is Deputy Chair of the Development Committee in City Hall writes: "There are countless examples of how arts, culture and language development has contributed positively to the success of cities and regions.
"Among the most celebrated in language terms are Sabhal Mór Ostaig on the Isle of Skye, Oideas Gael in Gleann Colm Cille in southwest Donegal, and, of course, the Cultúrlann projects in Belfast and Donegal. In terms of arts and culture, we can start with the Guggenheim in Bilbao (where the language also plays a vital role) and work our way across Europe.
"The DSD should recognise language development as community development. The benefits to Belfast from the last 40 years of vibrant Irish language renaissance are manifold and well-documented but there is no doubt that the community confidence and self-belief which underpins the success of communities in areas such as West Belfast is linked to the transformational language revival. Promotion of language, like promotion of arts and culture, aids and complements urban regeneration. It should be recognised as such and, therefore, supported by DSD."