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DUP blasts TV ad in Irish as waste of public’s money

October 2, 2012

The DUP has accused the Education Minister of wasting money on a new television advertisement broadcast solely in Irish.

The ‘Get Involved’ advert aired during the UTV news at 5.45pm, and was swiftly condemned by East Londonderry MP Gregory Campbell. Mr Campbell said the Sinn Fein minister, John O’Dowd, was “potentially acting illegally” and was more concerned with a party political agenda than the education of young people. “At a time when all government budgets are under pressure and schools are seeing budgets cut it is entirely inappropriate for the Education Minister to sanction a politically motivated television advert in Irish,” Mr Campbell said.

“The last census figures we have available highlight that around 90% of the population of Northern Ireland have absolutely no knowledge or use of the Irish language. “Of those who do speak, write or understand the Irish language in Northern Ireland, there are none who are unable to speak English. “This therefore is an example of public money being spent on a party political promotion of the Irish language with no benefit either to the education of our young people or to society as a whole.” Mr Campbell claimed the DUP Finance Minister, Sammy Wilson, had withdrawn the Department of Education’s ability to spend money in this way. He called the decision to proceed with the advert a “petty stunt” and said he believed the broadcast could be in breach of the Communications Act (2003). But Mr O’Dowd said he was “disappointed with the criticism” of the campaign, which is also being broadcast on radio and online.

The Education Minister said the advertisement was in keeping with his department’s statutory duty to encourage and facilitate Irish-medium education. “Not only did I go through all the due processes to procure this campaign, but it is one that is of vital importance to our society,” he said. “It is aimed at raising the value we, as a society, place on education.” Meanwhile, at a Belfast City Council meeting last night the DUP failed in its attempt to prevent the erection of a ‘Nollaig Shona Duit’ (Merry Christmas) sign being erected in the grounds of City Hall again this year.