International body backs Irish language act

Sinn Fein leader in the northern ireland, Michelle O'Neill, and Sinn Fein MLAs join with An Dream Dearg and pupils from Irish language schools at a protest in support of an Irish Language Act at Stormont: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker Press
Sinn Fein leader in the northern ireland, Michelle O'Neill, and Sinn Fein MLAs join with An Dream Dearg and pupils from Irish language schools at a protest in support of an Irish Language Act at Stormont: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker Press

Language commissioners from six countries have supported a similar role being created for Northern Ireland.

Members of the International Association of Language Commissioners gave their support in a letter to the Irish language organisation, Conradh na Gaeilge.

An Irish language commissioner was a key feature of previous proposals for an Irish language act, but was opposed by unionists.

Commissioners from Canada, Spain, Wales, Ireland, Kosovo and Belgium have signed the letter of support.

The letter said that language commissioners brought many advantages.

“In our view language commissioners can be central in the protection and preservation of a language that is spoken by a minority,” the BBC reported.

Dr Niall Comer, from Conradh na Gaeilge, said that commissioners are vital to protect language rights.

“Language rights and rights-based legislation are afforded to minority and indigenous language communities across these islands and indeed across the world,” he said. “If anything we are the anomaly.”

Language rights are one area under discussion as part of the ongoing Stormont talks.