Councillors’ body backs Swann on Irish language

UUP leader Robin Swann
UUP leader Robin Swann

The Ulster Unionist Councillors’ Association has unanimously passed a motion endorsing the position of party leader Robin Swann on a possible Irish language act.

Councillor Trevor Wilson, chair of the Ulster Unionist Councillors’ Association and a former board member of the Ulster Scots Agency, said: “A motion endorsing our party leader’s opposition to an Irish language act was passed unanimously at the meeting of the Ulster Unionist Councillors’ Association on Saturday.

“There is simply no need for an Irish language act and it is a disgrace that it is being used as an excuse to prevent the restoration of the Northern Ireland Assembly and an Executive.

“The language has already been legislated for and the evidence for that is there for all to see.

“If unionists were to demand the disbandment of the Parades Commission or some other form of culture legislation before restoring the Assembly, other political parties would be jumping up and down, condemning us for holding such an intransigent position.

“Yet instead we see those same parties backing Sinn Fein intransigence and giving Gerry Adams political room to get away it. There is incredible hypocrisy on display.

“We also acknowledge the comments of the Grand Master of the Orange Order who is reflecting wider opinion within the unionist community.

“It also sends a timely warning that unionists will not be bought off by those who may think they can throw a few crumbs from the table as cover for slipping through an Irish language act, whether it is labelled as one or not. Ulster Scots should not be used as a bargaining chip.

“They can package it whatever way they like, but there is simply no need for it.”

Last week, on the News Letter’s letters page UUP leader Mr Swann wrote: “The experience of the Republic of Ireland should act as a warning as to how legislation is no guarantee to promoting the Irish Language.

“After almost a century of compulsory Irish language lessons in schools and support from the state, the use of the Irish language is still in decline and English is the common tongue.

“And as the previous Irish taoiseach Enda Kenny said on BBC`s the View on March 26 2015, Ireland is ‘an English speaking island’.”