Paula Bradshaw: The UUP is all over the place on the Irish language

Alliance MLA Paula Bradshaw, centre, with other politcians including Sinn Fein's Gerry Adams at an event in Belfast demanding an Irish language act. Picture Philip Magowan/PressEye
Alliance MLA Paula Bradshaw, centre, with other politcians including Sinn Fein's Gerry Adams at an event in Belfast demanding an Irish language act. Picture Philip Magowan/PressEye

It is unfortunate the UUP is now in such a state Alan Chambers (Alliance and the Greens stood with Adams before SF gave any details on Irish language act, September 14) cannot even find time to communicate with his assembly colleagues.

For if he had done so, he would realise his prejudicial rantings about the Irish language and indeed the very process of restoring devolution are pure nonsense.

What has in fact happened, as has been made clear on the pages of this newspaper among others, is Alliance has put forward its own proposals for comprehensive and inclusive language and culture legislation, aimed at meeting the requirement both of meeting past agreements and achieving cross-community backing.

We have met all the other party groups in the assembly, including Mr Chambers.

Indeed, no fewer than 30% of his party’s assembly team as well as advisers were present at the meeting in which we discussed these with them.

We made it clear at that meeting we cannot make progress by Sinn Fein or anyone else getting everything their own way, and any legislation based on cost and compulsion rather than opportunity and openness will be bound to fail in any case.

It’s unsurprising Mr Chambers’ party is all over the place, given it takes no fewer than three separate positions on the issue – ranging from absolute opposition, to waiting and seeing what a commission says, to waiting and seeing what emerges in the legislation.

The three MLAs taking those separate positions, as well as Mr Chambers, are of course welcome to knock my door and further discuss our proposals at any time.

It is telling though they choose instead to make misleading public comment instead.

The only thing clear is Mr Chambers and others have no interest in the greater good. Others have made it clear agreement on this issue is necessary.

My colleagues and I have been working hard to push the two biggest parties towards that, so we can get on with health reform, improving education and creating jobs.

The UUP may be content to snipe from the sidelines, condemning themselves to further irrelevance.

Meanwhile, we will continue to work hard to get the institutions up and running and deliver policy and legislation reflective of our common heritage and of the diverse, shared and prosperous future to which we are committed.

Paula Bradshaw, Alliance MLA, Stormont