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‘Culture Minister must fulfil his responsibilities’ - Adams

8 January, 2008

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams MP MLA has said that the Culture Minister Edwin Poots must do more to safeguard the future status of Irish language broadcasting in the six counties once the current allocation of funding ends.

Mr. Adams comments follow a response from the DCAL Minister to a question Mr. Adams asked in respect of future funding for Irish Language Broadcasting.

Mr Adams said,

"Edwin Poots unhelpful approach to the introduction of an Irish Language Act also now appears to be dictating his approach to the Irish Language Broadcast fund.

"This fund was established by the British government in 2004 arising out of a commitment in the Good Friday Agreement to seek more effective ways to encourage and provide financial support for Irish language film and television production in the north.

"The fund was given £12 million for a four year period and its aim was to deliver at least 75 additional hours of Irish language broadcasting per annum to a weekly audience of 25,000 people across the six counties and throughout the island of Ireland,

"The Irish language Broadcast Fund has been enormously successful and has fostered close links with broadcasters throughout Ireland. It has delivered effectively in providing quality Irish language programming.

"Ní bheidh scíste ag Sinn Féin go dtí go mbunófar todhchaí slán don theanga.

"Mr. Poots claim that he was unable to secure further funding in the draft budget stands in stark contrast to his department s £10 million underspend in the last financial year.

"Quite clearly the DCAL Minister has the resources available now to meet the needs of the Irish Language Broadcast Fund.

"However, notwithstanding this fact it is Sinn Féin's intention to vigorously pursue this issue in the time ahead.

"Minister Poots has a moral and political responsibility to the many thousands of Irish Language speakers to provide for their linguistic needs." ENDS

Note to editor

Below is the text of a written answer received by Gerry Adams MP MLA from Culture Minister Edwin Poots

Irish language Broadcasting

Mr G Adams asked the Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure to clarify the position on the future status of Irish language broadcasting in Northern Ireland once the current allocation of funding ends. (AQW 2248/08)

Mr E Poots: £12 million was made available to the Irish Language Broadcast Fund over a four year period commencing in 2005. This funding is due to end in March 2009. As you are aware, I was unable to secure further funding for the Fund in the draft budget agreed by the Executive.

I am considering what options are available to me to promote Irish language broadcasting within the wider promotion of the Irish language, Government's commitments under the Council of Europe Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, and my anticipated budget. I intend then to bring forward any proposals to this House and the CAL Committee in due course.

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