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Progress on Irish Language - Adams

15 February, 2010 - by Pat Sheehan


Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams in his Blog ‘leargas’ on the Belfast Media Group site (www.leargas.blogsport.com) has revealed that the Minister for Culture, Arts and Leisure,’ Nelson McCausland, has committed to bringing forward a draft strategy on minority languages to the Executive by the end of March, one element of which will be “to enhance and protect the development of the Irish language as set out in Section 28D of the Northern Ireland (St. Andrews) Act 2006.”

The Sinn Féin leader has also revealed that following discussions with the British Prime Minister on the need to continue resources for building the Irish language infrastructure and the arts, Mr. Brown has “committed the British government to carry on funding the Irish Language Broadcasting Fund for a further four years after 2011, and will provide resource to continue the development of Irish language infrastructure. The resource, including the extended funding for the Broadcast Fund will amount to £20 million.

Given that this is not coming out of the Executive budget this is a welcome development.”

Writing about the Irish Language in his Blog Mr. Adams said:

“Martin McGuinness and other republican Ministers on the Executive have engaged at the British-Irish conference on this issue and with the Scottish Executive. I have engaged with Paul Murphy, the Welsh Secretary of State and Martin and I have talked at length with Gordon Brown on Irish language issues. We will continue all these discussions with the two governments and the Welsh and Scottish Assemblies. Bairbre de Brún MEP will also continue with her work in the European Parliament.

Our position in relation to the British government is straight forward.

The 1737 Act must go. (The 1737 Administration of Justice Act bans the use of Irish in the courts)

The British government, as part of the agreement at St. Andrews, undertook to introduce an Irish Language Act reflecting on the experience of Wales and Ireland and to work with the incoming Executive to enhance and protect the development of the Irish language. Sinn Féin has continued to hold the British government to that commitment.

It was our negotiating team which won this in the first instance and we have no intention of giving up on it.

At Hillsborough we agreed with the DUP to set up a working group to deal with outstanding elements of the St. Andrews agreement. The First and Deputy First Minister will provide a report to the Executive by the end of February detailing the level of progress made on each outstanding matter. This includes the Irish language.

They will also seek Executive approval to set up a Working Group to recommend on how progress could be made on those matters which have not been acted upon. Within four weeks of the Working Group’s initial report the First and Deputy First Minister will agree a programme to effect completion of the agreed conclusions of the Working Group.

Martin McGuinness has also raised Irish language issues directly with Peter Robinson.

In the meantime Sinn Féin Ministers will continue to support and introduce gaeilge-friendly policies in their departments, including bi-lingual services and signage, and the DUP is in no doubt about the need also for the Executive to deliver for everyone, including gaeilgeoirí.

The Minister of Education Caitriona Ruane is doing pioneering work in respect of Irish medium education. An Gaelscolaíocht has been put on a more secure footing across the north as it continues to expand and develop. At a time of falling enrolments and school closures across the education sector parents in increasing numbers are choosing Irish language schooling for their children. There are now 23 freestanding schools, 12 units and plans to develop more schools and nurseries over the next 18 months. Millions of pounds of funding and capital investment has been secured for the sector.

Our activists will continue with the work of winning support for the gaelicisation of communities, including An Ceathrú Gaeltacht in Belfast.
The work of our Irish language Cumainn will get support from the party leadership, as will initiatives like – Glór na Poblachta - our own Irish language magazine available from Sinn Féin shops and an Ceathrú Póilí. Or contact Niall Ó Donnghaile in our press office.

So, the Irish language cause is being actively pursued on a number of fronts by Sinn Féin.
This Blog has also been busy lobbying the British Prime Minister on the need to continue resources for building the Irish language infrastructure and the arts.

I am pleased to be able to reveal that Gordon Brown has committed the British government to carry on funding the Irish Language Broadcasting Fund for a further four years after 2011, and will provide resource to continue the development of Irish language infrastructure. The resource, including the extended funding for the Broadcast Fund will amount to £20 million.

Given that this is not coming out of the Executive budget this is a welcome development.

The work goes on.

But it’s bigger than Sinn Féin. We cannot change society on our own. But we can and do work with others. Our party wants to be used as a resource by those who want to create a bi-lingual society. This has to include services that ensure cradle to the grave opportunities to live through the medium of Irish, if that is your choice.

There is plenty of room for everyone in this endeavour.

It should truly be a national effort. Bígí linn." CRÍOCH

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