The Grand Master of the Orange Order today reiterates the institution’s opposition to an Irish language act (ILA).
Writing in the News Letter, see link below to the full article, Edward Stevenson says that the order has “no quarrel with those who enjoy the Irish language and wish to use it and we have never sought to deny anyone the right to enjoy these traditions”.
Indeed, he writes, leading Orangemen have been champions for Irish such as Rev Dr Rutledge Kane, a predecessor of Mr Stevenson as Grand Master who was “reviving Irish language use in Belfast in the early 20th century”.
Today, Mr Stevenson adds, some Orange members in border counties are fluent speakers of Gaelic.
But, he writes, “when language is used as a cultural weapon by political republicanism it clearly becomes a threat to our identity and community”.
Mr Stevenson writes about how the Irish language has been generously supported by Stormont, including new Irish medium schools with a small number of pupils “in locations where much larger state schools have been closed”.
“In that same period, only a fraction of this amount has been spent on the promotion of other cultural traditions, while the constant demonisation of our Orange practices and traditions has continued unabated,” he writes.
Mr Stevenson also refers to Gerry Adams’ “plans to break our community using the Trojan horse of equality”.
The Grand Master’s essay comes amid signs of hardening unionist opposition to a standalone Irish language act.
In Saturday’s News Letter, the Ulster Unionist Party leader Robin Swann, see link below, reiterated his party’s opposition to such legislation.
One of his UUP MLAs today, Alan Chambers, also writing for the News Letter, see link below, queries why centrist political parties posed beside Gerry Adams demanding a standalone act before Sinn Fein had clarified its proposals for an act.
He writes: “ ... in the absence of any documentation, and the fact that the previously rejected paper now seems to be the Sinn Fein basis for an ILA, I was somewhat surprised to see representatives of both the Green Party and the Alliance Party photographed recently alongside Gerry Adams of Sinn Fein smiling as they held aloft banners featuring a thumbs up to an ILA.”
Last week,the TUV leader Jim Allister launched a social media document spelling out what it described as the dangers of an Irish language act.