The comments of Janet Muller of Pobal yesterday should leave unionists in no doubt about the agenda behind an Irish language act (ILA).
She is quoted on the BBC on Thursday as saying: “There will be no value in any act unless it creates a significant number and range of guaranteed rights in political institutions, local authorities, administration of justice, education and media.”
In other words, an Irish language act needs to provide Irish speakers with employment opportunities in local authorities, justice and the media.
This will place non-Irish speakers at significant disadvantage when it comes to obtaining employment and will make the public sector and the legal profession a cold house for unionists who do not have any affinity with or desire to learn the Irish language.
It is simply untrue to claim Irish speakers face discrimination.
We already have a lavishly funded North-South body with executive powers to promote Irish.
Irish street signage is already facilitated where there is local demand. Northern Ireland already provides Irish medium schooling at a cost of over £20m per year.
An Irish medium school has even been opened with just 12 pupils. You couldn’t do that with an English language school. Those who demand to use Irish all fluently speak English.
The real danger of discrimination arises from the implementation of an Irish language act, not the lack of one.
The demand is for a ‘rights based act’ because that is the launching pad for equipping the public service with legions of Irish speakers to meet the ‘rights’ of those insisting on being dealt with in Irish.
Jim Allister, MLA, North Antrim