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Gerry Adams: DUP must step up on Irish language

December 8, 2016

Gerry Adams has challenged the DUP to live up to its responsibilities in government to the Irish language.

The Sinn Féin President was speaking today at the Sinn Féin Irish language event Slógadh taking place in Richmond Barracks, Dublin.

“There are very real and justifiable concerns amongst the Irish language community relating to the absence of an Irish language strategy from the draft Programme for Government in the north,” he told the audience. “The reality is that the DUP has so far not agree to its inclusion.”

“Despite the continuous opposition of the leaders of Unionism, Sinn Féin have delivered considerably for the Irish language in government – through negotiations and through our departments the north. Sinn Féin Ministers have consistently improved the condition of Irish medium education. We have supported Acht na Gaeilge and have continuously called on both the Irish and British governments to fulfil the commitments made in the St. Andrew’s Agreement.

“Carál Ní Chuilín brought an Irish language strategy to the Executive in the last term, but it was rejected by the DUP and UUP.”

Last month Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness accused the DUP of “hatred” towards the language after education minister Peter Weir took the decision to cease the Department of Education policy of translating official correspondence into Gaelic.

Gerry Adams said despite the oppososition they would continue to promote the language.

“In relation to the recent Programme for Government, we were successful in including a commitment to an tAcadamh, taking forward the Gaeltacht Quarter Action Plan and securing an acknowledgement of the importance of Gaeilge to our cultural heritage.

“We tried to get agreement on the inclusion of an Irish language strategy right up to the close of negotiations and we recognise the frustrations of the Irish language community regarding its absence. I share those frustrations, and it is crucially important that the voice of Pobal na Gaeilge is heard.

“We must demand that the DUP steps up to the plate, and acknowledges that Irish identity, culture and the Irish language are as equal and valid as any other cultural background and must be treated as such. That respect must be reflected in government. It also means respecting and assisting Gaelscoileanna develop and to reach their full potential as a sector that positively contributes to society and to the lives of thousands of citizens.

“There is a real need now for a collective recognition that an Gaeilge is an asset to our nation and communities, and organisations are equipped with the means of growing use the language. Unionist leaders must acknowledge that the Irish language is not a threat to anyone.”

The Irish News