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Disappointment at DHSSPS's treatment of Irish language

13 November, 2008 - by John O'Dowd

Sinn Féin Upper Bann MLA and the party's Assembly Group Leader, John O'Dowd has expressed his disappointment at the current refusal by the Department of Health to issue names on medical cards in the Irish language.

Speaking on the issue Mr O'Dowd said,

"I am extremely disappointed that the DHSSPS is currently disregarding the Good Friday Agreement as well as the European Charter for Regional and Minority Languages and not issuing medical cards with the correct Irish spelling of children's names, as they appear on their birth certificates.

"On the 17th of September I submitted a question asking why this was the case and was shocked to discover that not only does it apply to the Gaelic fada but that the current system cannot include accents for other languages such as the French acute, grave or circumflex, the Spanish tilda or the German umlaut.

"When I then submitted a question on the 7th of November seeking clarification on what action the Minister of Health is taking to rectify this situation he was unable to provide an answer at this time and will provide one a later date.

"This simply is not good enough and actively discriminates against those people who wish to use the correct spelling of their child's name. The Good Friday Agreement as well as the European Charter secures these basic entitlements for those EU citizens using their native languages. I am calling on the Minister to pro-actively secure the rights and entitlements of these citizens and rectify the current system which in actual fact discriminates against a large proportion of people." CRÍOCH

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