Appalling plan for Westminster to deliver Irish is still in place

News Letter editorial of Wednesday October 27 2021:

By Editorial
Wednesday, 27th October 2021, 9:27 am
Updated Wednesday, 27th October 2021, 12:41 pm
News Letter editorial
News Letter editorial

It is no exaggeration to describe the recent language arrangement to get Sinn Fein its Irish language act as one of the worst political moments in unionism since 1921.

It was unforgivable for a Conservative and Unionist secretary of state to arrange for republicans to have special Westminster assistance to get their tribal language plan priority above all other issues, particularly after SF kept Stormont down for three years until the party got its cherished Gaelic goal.

It was unforgivable for a DUP leader, Edwin Poots, to acquiesce in this plan, albeit protesting against it.

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An Irish language act, while very bad, is not of itself what makes this so unacceptable. It is the precedent of the way in which it was delivered that is the biggest problem.

Unionism and the UK government showed to republicans that they are both desperate to retain Stormont, no matter how reprehensible Sinn Fein conduct.

We will pay a price for that display of utter vulnerability.

An Irish language act, with a powerful commissioner who will be used to ensure that services are provided in Irish in executive departments and public bodies, should never have been agreed, let alone after the blackmail of making Stormont dependent on it.

We have Brandon Lewis echoing previous DUP descriptions of it as a “culture package,” as if the legislation is balanced when Irish is its key element. This will have lasting impact on the republican-led proliferation of Irish usage, in order to make non nationalists feel uncomfortable.

The secretary of state is saying that he wants all elements of the New Decade, New Approach deal “delivered in full,” which again implies a balance that is in fact missing from the implementation of that deal. Irish got special treatment as a policy goal and special priority as legislation.

Despite unionist contempt for this appalling language delivery proposal having been evident in the ousting of Mr Poots, the special arrangement to appease SF is still in place.