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Doherty calls for more use of Irish in Houses of the Oireachtas

19 October, 2007

Sinn Féin Senator Pearse Doherty has called on elected members of the Oireachtas to use more Irish in debates. Supporting calls for an Irish Language Act in the Six Counties, Senator Doherty said in a debate in the Assembly last week Unionist MLAs referred to the amount of Irish used in the Houses of the Oireachtas as an argument against the need for an Irish Language Act.

Speaking in the Seanad this week the Donegal Senator said, "I support the calls regarding the Irish language Act in the Six Counties. It is disappointing that the minister has refused to enact this. However, it is part of the St. Andrews Agreement and, hopefully, this issue will be resolved at executive level. I was glad to be part of the team that negotiated the implementation of an Irish language Act at St. Andrews.

"It is important that ministers do not shy away from that commitment to which they signed up at St. Andrews. However, I observed a debate in Stormont during which the Ulster Unionist Party and the DUP came together to ensure the use of the Irish language would not be allowed within the chambers of Stormont, at the committees or in correspondence with Ministers. I thank God the motion was defeated. This happened because of the checks and balances negotiated in the Good Friday Agreement, which were acted on by the Sinn Féin and SDLP to ensure the motion was defeated.

"However, in proposing the motion the MLAs referred to the amount of Irish spoken in the Houses of the Oireachtas, including when presenting legislation. According to this argument, they said there should not be an Irish language Act in the Six Counties or provision for Irish to be used in the Assembly should not be made.

"I reiterate the call of An Coimisinéir Teanga on us to use more Irish in the Chamber. Perhaps a presentation is needed as to how the translation system work for those who would like to speak in the first language so that we do not have to translate what we are saying into English.

"A further debate is needed on the presentation of legislation. It should be presented in Gaelic as well as Béarla and we should be allowed to make amendments to the legislation in Gaelic as well as Béarla.

"Great work has been done in the promotion of the Irish language but we need to go a number of steps further." ENDS

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