Robin Swann: Gifting Sinn Fein an Irish language act in any guise will sow seeds of deep mistrust

An Irish language act will gift Sinn Fein a licence to bring forward deeply divisive legislation that would be in direct conflict with the intention of the Belfast Agreement
An Irish language act will gift Sinn Fein a licence to bring forward deeply divisive legislation that would be in direct conflict with the intention of the Belfast Agreement
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There has been a lot of speculation about what is contained in any potential deal between Sinn Fein and the DUP, but as yet neither party has seen fit to share the details with ourselves.

However one thing is clear and should be to the fore of the minds of the DUP leadership.

Robin Swann, leader of the Ulster Unionist Party and MLA for North Antrim. '''Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com

Robin Swann, leader of the Ulster Unionist Party and MLA for North Antrim. '''Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com

If you grant an Irish language act in whatever guise in return for getting into power, you are opening up Pandora’s Box.

It will gift Sinn Fein a licence to bring forward deeply divisive legislation that would be in direct conflict with the intention of the Belfast Agreement and would change the face of Northern Ireland.

The spokesperson from Conradh na Gaeilge was honest enough to admit the ultimate ambitions of an Irish language act in recent interviews.

People should take note. We can only build a shared society where mutual trust and respect are at its core.

Imposition of an Irish language act will go against those principles and potentially sow seeds of mistrust for years to come.

We have no quarrel with the Irish language or those who wish to cherish and speak the language, but don’t make the mistakes of the past in a headlong rush to get into power.

The very reason that previous language bodies were created was to take language out of politics, but now we seem to be putting the Irish language at the very heart of Northern Ireland politics and everyday life, whether people like it or not.

It is not the way to build a truly shared society.

While speculation continues over the Irish language, we should not lose sight of other major issues such as legacy.

We made clear in our meeting with the Irish government our dissatisfaction with their approach to dealing with the past.

The current proposals on legacy are imperfect and unbalanced and will potentially impose further focus on the state while the terrorists escape scrutiny for their murder campaigns.

• Robin Swann is leader of the Ulster Unionist Party and an MLA for North Antrim

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