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Welcome for promotion of Irish Language by DRD Minister Conor Murphy

9 December, 2008

Sinn Fein's Paul Butler has welcomed Conor Murphy's promotion of the Irish language throughout his department by implementing the European Charter on Regional or Miniority Languages. This is clear recognition of the rights of Irish language speakers in the north of Ireland. Unfortunately not all Ministers in the Executive have been as committed to implementing the Charter as Conor Murphy.

Paul Butler said

'All Executive Ministers should look to the example set by Conor Murphy and implement the European Charter on Regional or Minority Languages and give proper recognition to the Irish language. The importance of the Irish language in the North of Ireland is reflected in international human rights legislation, the Good Friday Agreement and in the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages.'

There has been a long history of hostility to Irish speakers and the Irish language in the north. Despite the adoption of the European Charter on Regional or Minority Languages by the British Government some Ministers are still not implementing its provisions for Irish speakers. Rather than view the language as something to be cherished and promoted some Ministers seems to regard all things Irish as alien and to be discouraged and avoided.'

Notes for Editor

Response from Conor Murphy to Assembly Question about European Charter
I have recently reviewed compliance by my Department and its agency, Roads Service, with the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages and implemented the following changes to promote the use of the Irish language:

The translation of all Ministerial forewords to Plans, Reports and Consultation documents into Irish;
The translation of all new or revised information leaflets into Irish;
The launch on 29 September 2008 of a multi-lingual website for the Department;
The publication of significant departmental announcements in an appropriate Irish language newspaper;
The use of bilingual headings in the advertising of all departmental public notices;
The identification of Irish speakers in DRD to help handle telephone calls in Irish ; and
The issue of revised Codes of Courtesy on Irish and Ulster Scots to all staff.
In addition, my Department has prepared a draft policy for the introduction of a range of bilingual road signs in response to the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages.
Translink has recently launched a range of new Irish language passenger materials. This includes:

Bus-shelter timetable and route information;
A Bus Rules for Safety leaflet and poster targeting school children;
A 'See Belfast by Metro' Guide to the city's main landmarks and attractions; and
A Travelling with Translink guide to using public transport in the North of Ireland including bus and railway route maps.
NITHCo/Translink, the Port of Belfast, Derry Port and Harbour Commissioners, Warrenpoint Harbour Authority, and NI Water all fulfil their requirements under the Charter. They allow users of regional or minority languages to submit a request in these languages provide translation or interpretation as may be required, and allow the use or adoption of family names in the regional or minority languages at the request of those concerned.

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