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Bairbre de Brún demands equality for Irish language speakers in the North

2 March, 2006


Sinn Féin MEP Bairbre de Brún has today called for Irish language speakers in the six counties to be 'afforded the same rights and entitlements as speakers throughout the rest of the country'.

Ms de Brún made her comments today as a guest speaker at a report launch by the Irish Language group POBAL. The report is entitled "The Implementation of the European Charter for Regional and Minority Languages".

Today's event is taking place in the EDGE, May's Meadow at 11.00am.

Speaking today Ms de Brún said:

"I want to commend POBAL for putting so much effort into ensuring that Irish language speakers in the six counties are afforded the same rights and entitlements as speakers throughout the rest of the country.

"The efforts of POBAL and other voluntary and community organisations need to be matched and surpassed by those of government departments.  At present this is very far from the case.


"The POBAL report focuses upon ensuring the full implementation of the European Charter for Regional and Minority Languages in respect of the Irish language. The charter had been widely regarded as an opportunity to elevate the Irish language onto a similar level as other such languages throughout the EU. However, the British Government is guilty of dragging its feet and adopting a piecemeal approach to implementing its
provisions.

"The British Government's position is particularly ironic given the fact that the Irish language is more popular in the six counties than at any time in our history.

"The report being launched today shows that the British government commitments under the Charter have not led to the requisite resolute action.  This further strengthens the case for an Irish Language Act for the north.


"Sinn Féin is committed to ensuring equal status for the language and will be facilitating a delegation from a range of Irish language groups at the European Parliament on March 7th, to meet with NGOs, European institution officials, MEPs and and political group staff to discuss Irish language rights, the status of the language as an official, working language of the EU, proposals for an Irish Language Act for the Six Counties and promotion of the language in the context of the European Charter for Regional and
Minority Languages."

"Sinn Féin is actively working with POBAL and other leading Irish language organisations to ensure that this issue remains a priority for both governments. We have raised the issue again recently in our contacts with others and will continue to do so in the coming months. As an Irish speaker and an MEP I will continue do all I can to assist." ENDS

Note:

The European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages (ECRML) was ratified by the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office on behalf of the British Government on 1 July 2001.







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