Stormont being sued over failure to introduce Irish language strategy

Stormont
Stormont

Stormont’s politicians are to be sued over the lack of laws to promote the Irish language.

Campaigners at Conradh na Gaeilge said they were taking the Northern Ireland Executive to court after it failed to put a 20-year strategy to protect the use of the language on a legal footing.

They want to see the devolved government enshrine proposals to allow for bilingual Assembly and court business as well as official recognition of Gaeltacht areas and the right to Irish medium education.

Ciaran Mac Giolla Bhein, Conradh’s advocacy manager, said a lawsuit was needed to force action.

“The Irish-language community here is hugely disappointed and frustrated that the Executive hasn’t adapted the Irish language strategy to promote and to protect our language,” he said.

An Irish Language Act has been planned but it is opposed by the DUP.

It includes provisions for place names to be identified in Irish as well as the appointment of an Irish language commissioner and Irish to be used by public bodies.

Caral Ni Chuilin, Stormont’s Minister for Culture, Arts and Leisure, has promoted the planned laws and launched the 20-year plan to enhance and protect the Irish language in January last year.

But she has faced criticism from some DUP quarters for not putting the same emphasis on the use of Ulster-Scots.

Conradh na Gaeilge said that in the year since a “close partnership” has been fostered between the Sinn Fein MLAs’ department and the Irish-language but it had failed to introduce legislation on the strategy despite its obligations.

Conradh president Coilin O Cearbhaill said Irish speakers must be given the support they deserve.

He said there is a commitment for the legal binding strategy from the British Government in the 2006 St Andrews Agreement, as well as efforts by Ms Ni Chuilin’s department to promote the language.

“Conradh na Gaeilge therefore finds it unsatisfactory that the strategy has not yet been accepted by the Executive, despite the progressive steps as outlined above having been taken,” Mr O Cearbhaill said.

The legal action against the Stormont Executive will seek a judicial review of the failure to introduce new laws on the Irish language.

Conradh said the legal papers were lodged with the High Court in Belfast last week.