Jim Allister: Don’t pay Sinn Fein ransom to get Stormont back

Jim Allister
Jim Allister

In a platform article, TUV leader Jim Allister warns of the dangers of agreeing the substance of an Irish language act.

We believe that in the new dispensation, a rejuvenated and determined Republican movement can utilise the [Irish] language to such an extent that it can characterise our struggle in the new millennium”.

That quote is from the An Phoblacht, IRA/SF newspaper, dated 8/12/05, under title: “Irish is central to republican struggle”.

No unionist should be in any doubt that obtaining an Irish language act is key to the republican agenda. Hence the discomfort of Sinn Fein when the DUP did not go through with their deal.

Sadly, despite the bluster, it looks like DUP negotiators were willing to agree the substance of an Irish language act – an outstanding issue being whether it was part of a trilogy or a trinity!

I’m glad they were called out by grassroots rejection, but vigilance is essential as a process of conditioning unfolds.

The starting point in the ‘agreement’ is that official recognition will be given to the status of the Irish language (the precise ramifications of this must await the fine print of the bill, but, clearly official recognition could elevate it to parity with English).

However, we do know official recognition of the status of Irish will be enforced through an Irish language commissioner with statutory powers.

This zealot will set standards that every public body must meet in the use of Irish in the delivery of its services, with obvious recruitment advantage to Irish speakers.

The enforcer, with statutory authority, will require executive departments and all public bodies to promote and deliver services “through the medium of Irish” (para 2.3 iii).

So, take, by way of example, the Department of Infrastructure, which delivers directional signage on our roads.

Will such now be delivered through the medium of Irish?

And, if not, won’t some publicly funded legal challenge insist on such, because a right has been established to have the delivery of services through Irish. I fear so.

The pattern of language legislation in Wales and Scotland is of a progressive tightening of the noose. It will be no different here because the standards required to be met by public bodies will be reviewed every five years, providing fresh opportunities for escalating Sinn Fein demands.

The fig leaf of an Ulster-Scots act is a nonsense. It is not wanted or needed.

Incidentally, what is on offer is the poorest of relations because unlike the Irish language commissioner the Ulster-Scots commissioner would have no powers to set standards that must be met.

With almost £200m spent feting the Irish language in the last seven years, there is no conceivable basis on which to warrant further endless squander on Irish for the sake of paying the Sinn Fein ransom to get a failed Stormont back.

And, of course, the Stormont now on offer is a trilingual farce where every word spoken in English would be printed and translated into Irish and Ulster-Scots and vice versa. What a travesty!