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O’Dowd once again calls on Health Minister to respect the rights of Irish speakers

6 January, 2009 - by John O'Dowd

Sinn Féin Upper Bann MLA and the party's Assembly Group Leader, John O'Dowd has called on the Minister of Health to ratify his department's obligations under the European Convention on Minority Languages and the Good Friday Agreement or explain as to why he is refusing to do so.

Mr O' Dowd's call comes after repeatedly asking the Health Minister, Mr Michael Mc Gimpsey as to why the DHSSPS was 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, including fadas, as they appear on their Birth certificates. The failure of the Central services agency to do so means all medical records and documents are then recorded with the incorrect spelling of Irish names.

Mr O Dowd said

"I First raised this matter with the Minister on the 17/9/O8 and I submitted a second question on the 7th of November seeking clarification as to what action the Minister of Health is taking to rectify this situation. The Minister informed me he was unable to provide an answer at this time and will provide one a later date.

"I again sought an answer through Assembly procedures on the 15th December only to be told on the 22nd of December that an answer would be available when the information requested was available.

"This simply is not good enough. The current situation actively discriminates against those people who wish to use the correct spelling of their child's name in all aspects of their child's life as other parents have the right to do so.

"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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