Ulster-Scots Agency ‘not consulted by the DUP’ on hybrid act proposals

Ulster Scots Agency board member David McNarry says he has not been consulted about the possibility of a hybrid Irish Language-Ulster Scots Act.
Ulster Scots Agency board member David McNarry says he has not been consulted about the possibility of a hybrid Irish Language-Ulster Scots Act.

The DUP has been criticised for allegedly failing to consult with the Ulster-Scots Agency about the possibility of a hybrid Irish Language Ulster-Scots act.

Ulster-Scots Agency board member David McNarry made the claims after reports that the DUP was countering Sinn Fein demands for an Irish language act with proposals for compromise legislation which would extend similar rights to Ulster-Scots culture.

SDLP MLA for Mid-Ulster, Patsy McGlone, says his party does not support affirmative action for the Irish language act.

SDLP MLA for Mid-Ulster, Patsy McGlone, says his party does not support affirmative action for the Irish language act.

Sinn Fein has put demands for an act at the top of its conditions for restoring the power-sharing assembly, arguing that it was included in the St Andrew’s Agreement.

However the agreement did not specify what form the act must take and former DUP leader Peter Robinson said the then Labour government had said it “would not make good its commitment as the power would be devolved”.

But David McNarry, a former UUP and UKIP MLA, said the issue had not been mentioned at any of the recent board meetings of the Ulster-Scots Agency.

“I have attended every board meeting this year and there has been no consultation by any party with the Ulster-Scots Agency relating to anything that appears to be reported in media and that is rather surprising to me.”

Mr McNarry added that it would seem to be to be good practice and a matter of “politeness” that “the board members must at least have been consulted”.

“It is not for the Ulster-Scots Agency to contact the DUP about the matter,” he added.

Asked if further rights would not benefit the agency, he added: “I can’t answer that because I don’t know what the potential is.”

Mr McNarry objected to “the board of the Ulster-Scots Agency being bartered with” in the talks and that it was potentially “a bit like a takeover”.

The DUP said it recently met with the agency’s chief executive to discuss legislative issues. The agency did not offer any comment.