Full speech in Irish given to Stormont Assembly for the first time

The Stormont Assembly has heard its first speech given entirely through the Irish language.

By Gráinne Ní Aodha, PA
Friday, 13th May 2022, 5:01 pm

Sinn Fein MLA for Belfast West Aisling Reilly gave the speech, and a translation was provided live through headphones available in the chamber, as well as online.

A similar service is available for Ulster Scots.

“It is important to realise that this is the first time that a member is able to give a full speech in Irish before this Assembly, and it is nice to see that we have a simultaneous interpretation in this building,” Ms Reilly said.

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Sinn Fein's Aisling Reilly gave a speech in Irish at the Stormont today

“It’s quite an important step forward for language rights and equality. Every party here should get behind this initiative.”

Details of how the translation service will be used has been issued to MLAs.

“This is a very important day for all those who love the Irish language and who have fought to protect rights for Irish language users.

“Irish is not a threat to any member or any member of society, it is something which should be celebrated. That is true of the Irish language, that is true of an Irish Language Act.

“This is another step forward towards equality, I am looking forward to seeing a new society being built upon equality and respect.”

Later, SDLP MLA for Newry and Armagh Justin McNulty made reference to the spirit of ‘meitheal’, an Irish word that was used to describe how neighbours would assist each other in the saving of crops.

“‘Meitheal’ was the high point of the year. Let that be now,” he said, “where neighbours carry each other in tough times.”