‘Gaps remain’ in Irish language deal

Mary Lou McDonald
Mary Lou McDonald

Irish language organisation Conradh na Gaelige has said the rumoured deal between the DUP and Sinn Fein contained “essential elements” for legislation to protect Irish, but added that “gaps remained” in the package.

Sinn Fein president Mary Lou McDonald outlined details on Thursday of what she said was a draft deal to restore Stormont power-sharing, which included proposals for an Irish language act. She insisted the deal was struck before the DUP pulled the plug on negotiations.

The republican TD also claimed the deal included provision for official recognition of Irish, the creation of an Irish language commissioner, and the repeal of the ban on Irish in the courts.

Ciaran Mac Giolla Bhein, advocacy manager for Conradh na Gaeilge, said the group was “dismayed” that the DUP was unwilling to accept what he described as “basic proposals” to protect the Irish language.

He added: “Conradh na Gaeilge welcomes the support from Sinn Fein, from the four other parties (Alliance, People Before Profit, the SDLP and the Greens) and from the Irish government, for a standalone Irish language act.

“There are, however, gaps remaining in the package which was revealed to us, particularly around the visibility of the language, which we call to be included in any future Irish language act.”

Mr Mac Giolla Bhein claimed it was “abundantly clear” that there would be an Irish language act and called on the UK and Irish governments to “press ahead with legislation” to protect the language.

The language activist previously told the News Letter that his organisation “would not rest” until such an act has been achieved.

Conradh na Gaelige is now seeking meetings with Secretary of State Karen Bradley, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney.