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Spanish state must respect language rights – Ní Riada

25 June, 2015 - by Liadh Ní Riada MEP

Speaking from Brussels this afternoon Liadh Ní Riada strongly criticised the Spanish state for ongoing discrimination and attacks against users of indigenous and minority languages ahead of Spain’s appearance before the United Nations Human Rghts Committee. The Sinn Féin MEP also called on the European institutions and on states across Europe to protect and promote linguistic diversity and respect the rights of speakers of indigenous, minority and endangered languages.

“As a Gaeilgeoir and a woman from the Gaeltacht it galls me to see speakers of indigenous or minority languages disrespected and discriminated against. Language help shape our cultures, and brings great diversity and richness to our countries and our continent. Speakers of indigenous and minority languages must have their rights respected.

“Within the Spanish state there is a tremendous diversity of languages, cultures and national identities. Its apparent however that conservative elements within that state wish to hark back to a proscriptive and discriminatory language policy that belongs days of dictatorship

“European Language Equality Network (ELEN) will present its report on discrimination in the Spanish State at a special hearing of the United Nations Human Rights Council. The report will detail specific cases of discrimination on the grounds of language use againsts speakers of Basque, Catalan, Galician, Aragonese and Asturian. Cases range from discrimination in the provision of state services, to public humiliation and beatings by police.

“Solidarity is a two-way street. I have received fantastic support from language users and activists across Europe, but especially from the Basque Country, Catalonia and Galicia. I am saddened and angered by the treatment of speakers of indigenous and minority languages by the Spanish State, and I will be calling on the EU to open infringement proceedings against Spain for contravening the Charter of Fundamental Rights.

“I am prevented from using Irish in my work as an MEP, despite it being the first national language of Ireland and an official language of the European Union. I am determined to stand up for my rights and for the rights of Irish speakers and Gaeltacht communities.”

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