Communities Minister Paul Givan has hit back at Sinn Fein’s claim that he “snubbed” the Irish language by axing funds from a bursary scheme.
Last month, the DUP minister cut bursaries worth £50,000 from the Líofa initiative, a means-tested scheme which enabled those on lower incomes to attend summer Irish language classes in a range of locations across Donegal.
At the weekend, Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams accused the DUP of showing “serious disrespect” for the Irish language and described Mr Givan as an “ignoramus”.
Speaking to the Nolan Show on Wednesday, Mr Givan denied he was trying to get back at Sinn Fein by withdrawing the funding and added: “The Irish language does not belong to republicans, nationalists or to the Catholic community. It belongs to all of us.
“And to sectarianise it the way Sinn Fein has, does damage to the language and they need to reflect upon that.”
Mr Givan added: “If there has been a disparity of funding it has been toward the Irish language and its heritage traditions compared to Ulster Scots.
“So that nails the myth I have been pursing something that is anti-Irish – quite the opposite.”
Asked what he thought of Mr Adams’ “ignoramus” remark, Mr Givan said: “I don’t need to give credence to someone of his character in respect of the way he wants to go about throwing names about.
“We know what he said in the past that ‘equality was the Trojan horse to break these...’ and he then used the expletive word. So I suppose being called an ignoramus is progress on what he called us a number of months ago.”
In November 2014, Mr Adams told a public meeting equality legislation was the “Trojan horse” of the entire republican strategy to “break these b*****ds”. He later insisted he was talking only about bigots and racists.