Allister fears DUP will concede on Irish language act

TUV leader Jim Allister says the cost of an Irish language act would be phenomenal
TUV leader Jim Allister says the cost of an Irish language act would be phenomenal

TUV leader Jim Allister fears the DUP could agree to Sinn Fein’s demand for a version of the Irish language act and further their aim of “de-Briticising Northern Ireland”.

Mr Allister warned against “opening the door” to Sinn Fein and said any language act could have serious implications.

“One of my fears would be that such was the DUP’s desire to get power that they would pay a price that shouldn’t be paid,” he told the News Letter.

“It could be that we’d end up with something called the Language Act rather than the Irish Language Act. It might make some meaningless nod to Ulster Scots as well.

“But if it gave the recognition that Sinn Fein was demanding to Irish then it would be a noose around our necks financially and another part of the de-Briticisation of Northern Ireland. Because that’s really what it’s all about for them.”

Discussing the implications of such an act, he said: “It would give you the right to have your trial in Irish at the courts and everything at the Assembly spoken in English would be translated into Irish. That seems to be the sort of demands that Sinn Fein have.”

The MLA continued: “And what would it say is the official language of Northern Ireland? Would it say we have two official languages? Would Irish be given the status as an official language?”

Mr Allister said the act would further enhance the right to have public buildings named in both English and Irish.

He asked: “Would parliament buildings itself require to have an Irish name? Would our courts all require Irish on their fascia? Would all government-headed paper require the same? Where do you stop?

“The costs would be phenomenal. For Sinn Fein it’s all about radically de-Briticising Northern Ireland.

“I don’t think there’s much scope for anyone to make any concessions to them on (an Irish language act) but I wouldn’t be confident that the DUP wouldn’t be willing.

“I fear that there would be a temptation which they should not succumb to, to give something to Sinn Fein.

“The experience is, that once you open the door on any of these issues, it ends up being pushed all the way.”

Mr Allister said another election doesn’t solve anything in terms of “suddenly making an agreement more feasible”, but for Sinn Fein he said it is “part of a building process towards their ultimate agenda”.

In terms of another election he said: “Sinn Fein think their tails are up and no doubt they’ll be exploiting and living off the idolising of McGuinness as well.

“They have an army at their back and are very good at getting people on to the electoral register. Unionism has been fairly slack at that so I think there’s a job of work to be done across unionism in that regard because I’m quite satisfied there’s a lot of people out there not even bothering to be registered.”