Irish Language Bill blocked

AN Irish Language Bill will not be brought before the Northern Ireland Assembly, because it could cost the Province around £500,000 a year.

Culture Minister Edwin Poots said today there was not sufficient consensus to bring such a Bill forward - but said that a strategy for enhancing and protecting the language would be a more cost-effective and proportionate approach.

COST

He said: "Based on a high level cost estimate, the introduction of even a modest language scheme legislative model would have very significant resource implications.

"Mindful of the constraints on public expenditure and, in particular, the pressures in my own department alone, I cannot reconcile the likely opportunity costs of introducing legislation against other spending priorities."

It had been argued by Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams that such an Act was needed to protect speakers' rights.

DIVISIVE

But aside from costings, Mr Poots said that political sensitivities also meant the proposal of an Irish Language Act was clearly divisive.

"Advancing this proposed legislation, which is unlikely to command sufficient consensus within the community at this time, has the potential of damaging good relations, increasing polarisation and entrenching patterns of antipathy and suspicions," he said.

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