DUP defends decision to scrap Irish correspondence from education department

Differences over the Irish language between Sinn Fein and the DUP have been highlighted again

Differences over the Irish language between Sinn Fein and the DUP have been highlighted again

The DUP has defended the education minister’s decision to stop the translation of correspondence from his department, after the party was accused of “hating” the Irish language.

Official letters from the Department of Education had previously been written in English, Irish and Ulster Scots.

Now they will not be translated into any other languages, as Education Minister Peter Weir’s new policy makes clear “the principal language is English”.

Speaking to BBC’s Good Morning Ulster programme on Friday, Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness claimed there was “ a cohort of people within the DUP who hate anything to do with the Irish language”.

The Sinn Fein MLA added: “We have to deal with the reality that the political institutions we’re part of are institutions that bring into government people who have different views about many of these matters.”

However, a DUP spokesman said the education minister would “continue to meet all statutory obligations”.

“It is clear there will not be unanimity within the Executive on the issue of the Irish language, but the DUP’s position is clear,” the spokesman added.

“It is unfortunate that the Irish language has been politicised but the education minister will continue to meet all statutory obligations.

“There is always a responsibility of government to make best use of public money, but particularly in a time of such financial constraint. The policy adopted by the Department of Education ensures the maximum amount of funding goes towards front-line education services.”

While she welcomed the development, Ulster Unionist education spokesperson Sandra Overend MLA added: “The DUP and Sinn Fein can have a spat over this, but there are more important issues in education which will have to faced up to in the coming months.”