Irish language group funding ‘snub’ claim rejected by DUP

Sinn Fein councillor Patrice Hardy
Sinn Fein councillor Patrice Hardy

A DUP councillor has rejected claims that unionists “snubbed” a request to fund an Irish language event.

Irish language group Conradh na Gaeilge submitted a request to Mid and East Antrim Council to fund an event as part of Seachtain na Gaeilge (Irish Language Week), which takes place each March.

Sinn Fein councillor Patrice Hardy claimed unionist councillors had “refused to even countenance” the request, adding: “Seachtain na Gaeilge is a hugely positive, global event which this council should be supporting rather than snubbing.

“The Irish language community aren’t seeking special treatment, they are only seeking equality.”

Last year, Ms Hardy accused the council of being “anti-Irish to the core”, after a move to have the local authority participate in Irish Language Week was rejected following a vote by members.

In a statement yesterday, she added: “Despite all the controversy over the previous refusal to fund Seachtain na Gaeilge or even to engage with the Irish language community to discuss this, it appears that some members of the council have learned nothing.”

But DUP Councillor Gregg McKeen said Conradh na Gaelige had been treated “the same as any other group” who had made a funding request, by pointing them towards the council’s grants programme.

He told the News Letter: “They will be assessed under the same criteria as everyone else. It is not that they are being refused funding, but they need to go through the same process as everyone else. We don’t want to set them on a pedestal above other groups.”

Earlier this year, an Irish language event hosted by then DUP Mayor of Mid and East Antrim was commended by Irish language groups.