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Irish language rights a key priority in new Assembly term - Adams

9 September, 2007

Speaking in advance of the new assembly term on Monday, Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP, MLA said:

"There will be many difficult and important matters facing the Assembly in the new term that begins on Monday.

"The Assembly will have a very full agenda dealing with issues ranging from rural planning, through health, education, economic investment, housing and much more. Among the important matters which will require progress in the time ahead is the issue of the rights of Irish speakers, and how these rights can be safeguarded through appropriate legislation."

Mr Adams said:

"Recognising in law the rights of Irish speakers is about demonstrating in a positive way respect for the rights of others. The Irish language and Irish language rights threatens no one. It is not compulsory. Nor is it the property of any one section of our people. It belongs to everyone.

"Great progress has been made this year. Great opportunities for even more progress lies ahead but it will require nationalists and unionists and republicans working together in the common good. The issue of Irish Language rights provides the DUP with a unique opportunity to demonstrate real leadership and a willingness to embrace their neighbours who wish to use the Irish language.

"Consequently, I will be urging my Assembly colleagues to move forward in the spirit of partnership and implement the agreement made at St Andrews.

"For the DUP this should be about respecting the rights of their neighbours and of their neighbour's children, thousands of whom have already gone through Irish medium education or are currently doing so.

"It should be about ensuring that they have the resources to do so on a par with all other children and that they have the same rights and same job opportunities when they leave school.

"In the time ahead Sinn Féin will continue to press for an Irish Language Act. We will continue to argue that such a development makes sense and will enrich our society. I am hopeful that we will succeed in making progress in the time ahead." Críoch

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