An Orange lodge has called for unionists to rally together and voice their strong opposition to a mooted Irish language act.
Queens LOL 1845, a lodge for students, staff and alumni of Queen’s University Belfast, has warned the DUP that unionists in Northern Ireland have “no appetite” for legislation which would grant protection for Irish.
It comes amid mounting speculation that the DUP is on the verge of striking a deal with Sinn Fein to restore devolution.
Sinn Fein’s demand for an Irish language act has been the main barrier to restoring power-sharing at Stormont, with the DUP making it clear they will never accede to a stand-alone act.
But there have been reports that the two main parties are in the final stages of thrashing out a deal which could see the creation of three separate bills; one for the Irish language, one dealing with Ulster-Scots and one for wider cultural issues.
In a post on Facebook last night, Queens LOL 1845 said there was “no price” at which an Irish language act could be allowed into law.
The lodge added: “Concessions for Ulster-Scots do not hide the fact that an Irish language act will have far ranging ramifications across civil society. None of which will have a positive impact on the nation.”
It also called on the unionist community to make it “resoundingly clear that no amount of funding for Ulster-Scots, bands or other cultural activities can be accepted in lieu of this act”.
Setting out their objections to an Irish language act, the lodge stated: “The promotion of cultural supremacy, under the guise of equality, will only further entrench divisions in Northern Ireland.
“It paves the way for public expenditure on education and civil infrastructure to appease a language spoken as a main language by only 0.2% of the population. Money that will be diverted away from our hospitals to indoctrinate generation after generation of school children. Where is the tangible benefit in that for Northern Ireland?”
The lodge, whose stated purpose is to “promote Orangeism at Queen’s University and her associated colleges”, claimed that the DUP had “gradually soften their anti-Irish language act rhetoric” over recent months.
It added: “While we know that there are those within the DUP who do strongly oppose the act, their silence has been deafening. While many may not wish to put their head above the parapet when it is easier to toe the party line, the rumours of this act cannot go unchecked.
“It is not too late to act. We would therefore urge all DUP members from the grassroots, to councillors, MLAs and MPs to publicly express their strong opposition to such an act.”
The lodge further encouraged unionist voters to voice their opposition by contacting the social media outlets of the DUP, visiting constituency offices and e-mail/telephone their local representative.
It added: “It is imperative that you take this action now. Viewing the current situation apathetically will only further strengthen the resolve of those within the DUP who believe it acceptable to legislate for such an act.
“When the pages of history are written there are two ways in which the events of the coming days may be remembered. Either it will be remembered as the occasion unionism stood firm and defeated an Act which paved the way for a republican state in all but name.
“Or, alternatively, it will see the current crop of DUP politicians, and grassroots members, remembered as the people who failed Ulster in her hour of need; the people who chose political expediency and self-preservation over the needs of the people they were elected to represent.”