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Paisley' views on Irish language legislation at odds with new political arena

15 August, 2007

Commenting on a letter signed by DUP leader Ian Paisley on the Irish langauge Sinn Féin Party whip Caral Ní Chuilín has said that Ian Paisley's intentions to block any language legislation are not line with the St Andrews Agreement and are ill-advised as the findings from the second Department of Culture Arts and Leisure consultation are not yet available.

Ms Ní Chuilín said:

"The revival of the Irish language has been a cultural success story. More and more people are using Irish. Young children in particular are being educated in increasing numbers through the medium of Irish and it is their future and their rights that must be secured through legislation.

"Ian Paisley, as First Minister should recognise the obligation to make provisions for those Irish speaking children and all Irish speakers in general. I urge my colleagues in the Assembly to act without delay to copper fasten and implement the agreement made at St Andrews.

"It is essential that Irish speakers are granted the following basic demands:

  • That rights are at the heart of the legislation;
  • That adequate resources are provided to implement the Act;
  • That the proposed commissioner shall have the power, staff and resources to oversee the Act.

Ms Ní Chuilín continued,

"The Irish language is not the property of one section of our people. It belongs to everyone. It threatens no-one.

"It provides Sinn Féin and the DUP with a unique opportunity to move forward. It provides Ian Paisley with a unique opportunity to move forward. There is an opportunity now the Irish language and give ownership to all our people - Unionist, Republican, dissenter and the 'new Irish'.

"Sinn Féin have met with Minister Poots recently to discuss Irish Language legislation and for Ian Paisley to claim the campaign is divisive and discriminatory is wrong. The reality is that it is the resistance to legislation on rights for the Irish speaking community." Críoch

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