Alliance’s language proposals ‘simply a distraction’

Paula Bradshaw
Paula Bradshaw

The UUP has branded Alliance’s proposals for three separate language bills as a “distraction from bigger issues” in Northern Ireland.

In the hopes of ending the political stalemate at Stormont, Alliance has suggested bringing forward legislation that would deal with the Irish language, another bill focusing on Ulster Scots and English, and a third measure recognising the importance of minority languages and regional dialects in Northern Ireland.

Sinn Fein’s demand for a stand alone Irish language act is the key factor behind the ongoing political impasse in Northern Ireland.

Alliance MLA Paula Bradshaw said the proposal leaves “no excuse” for the parties to continue their impasse.

But Ulster Unionist MLA Alan Chambers dismissed Alliance’s mooted plans as a “complete distraction”, and stating there is “simply no need” for an Irish language act.

He added: “The people of Northern Ireland face bigger priorities in the shape of the crisis facing our health service, school budgets, decent housing and jobs.”

Mr Chambers also claimed that Alliance’s “real stance” on the Irish language issue had been demonstrated when MLA Paula Bradshaw was pictured alongside Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams at an event aimed at drumming up support for a stand-alone Irish language act.

TUV leader Jim Allister has also rejected the idea, describing it as a “roll-over” to Sinn Fein’s demands.

• Read Mr Allister’s full statement on page 10