Like many Protestants I am at ease with Irish, but not with the prospect of pro-Irish job bias

State sector-educated Protestants or Catholics will have their employability massively reduced
State sector-educated Protestants or Catholics will have their employability massively reduced

Sinn Fein has tried to re-assure unionist voters that an Irish language act is nothing to fear.

In support of this they have referred to the experience in Wales regarding the Welsh language.

Alas, the actual Welsh experience suggests that one of the most likely outcomes of making Irish an official language in NI is to make non-Irish speakers nearly unemployable in the public sector – and less employable even in the private sector.

If public-facing staff must by law be equipped to deal with anyone who wishes to exercise their right to communicate only in Irish at (for example) a court, a doctor’s surgery, a library or a police station, the solution for the organisation or business is obvious: employ an Irish speaker.

The logical conclusion of this is a state sector-educated Protestant (or Catholic) will have their employability massively reduced.

If all this sounds like exaggeration, your readers should look at the ‘essential’ and ‘desirable’ criterion for many jobs in the public and private sectors in Wales. For an indication of how common this Welsh language requirement is, take a look around the www.careerswales.com website.

In a great many instances, non-Welsh speakers can’t even apply. Unless this discrimination is expressly forbidden within the act, non-Irish speakers will be de facto barred from many public and private sector jobs here in NI.

Like a great many Protestants here, I am very much at ease with the Irish language and the wide and diverse cultures we all share on this island. Perhaps Sinn Fein might want, however, to re-assure us on this particular aspect of ‘equality and mutual respect’.

S. Wilson, Magheralin

Other views on Irish language:

Ben Lowry: Moderate advocates of Irish language act should turn their ire on pro-Gaelic hardliners

Robin Bury: Compulsory Irish has failed in the Republic, at huge cost to taxpayers

UUP councillor: SF have used Irish as battering ram in Newry and Mourne

Paying republicans the Dane-geld means they will come back for more

Queen Elizabeth probably conversed in Gaelic with Grace O’Malley

DPP: I enjoyed learning Gaelic in Scotland where the speakers are Presbyterian