Plans to legislate on Irish language set out in Queen’s Speech - Carla Lockhart ‘we want the border to go in the Irish Sea’

Plans to legislate for the Irish language have been announced in the Queen’s Speech.

By PA reporters
Tuesday, 10th May 2022, 1:40 pm

There had been an expectation that the Westminster Government would introduce the legislation before the Stormont election last week.

It fell to the Northern Ireland Office after the Stormont parties were unable to agree to introduce cultural and language legislation in the Northern Ireland Assembly which was part of the New Decade, New Approach (NDNA) deal.

The plans include an Office of Identity and Cultural Expression to promote respect for diversity as well as an Irish Language Commissioner and a commissioner to develop language, arts and literature associated with the Ulster Scots/Ulster British tradition.

The Prince of Wales leaving the Palace of Westminster after attending the State Opening of Parliament in the House of Lords, London. Picture date: Tuesday May 10, 2022. PA Photo. The Prince of Wales read the Queen's Speech for the first time as the Queen missed the State Opening of Parliament for the first time in almost 60 years. The Queen, 96, pulled out of the ceremonial occasion - when she reads out the Government's legislative programme for the forthcoming parliamentary session - as she continued to experience "episodic mobility problems". See PA story POLITICS Speech. Photo credit should read: Chris Jackson/PA Wire

DUP MP Carla Lockhart said she was disappointed that there were no specific details in the Queen’s speech on combating the cost of living crisis in Northern Ireland.

Speaking on BBC News 24 minutes after the ceremony at Westminster ended, DUP Upper Bann MP Carla Lockhart said: “Our position remains very clear on this issue. The Government cannot have the Protocol and the Executive. It is one or the other. And we want the border to go in the Irish Sea. Our agenda has always been to ensure the Government act on this.”

She added: “We want to see legislation brought forward that will restore Northern Ireland’s place within the United Kingdom. It cannot be hyphened off. You only have to look at how the cost of living in Northern Ireland can be addressed because of the Protocol so we want to see the Protocol go,” Ms Lockhart said.

The Queen, 96, pulled out of the ceremonial occasion – when she reads out the Government’s legislative programme for the forthcoming parliamentary session – as she continued to experience “episodic mobility problems”.

In the Queen’s absence, the Prince of Wales announced plans to deliver a package of identity and language measures, as promised in the NDNA deal that restored powersharing in early 2020.

The move had been flagged in advance of the speech, but delays in bringing forward the measures had been criticised by Irish language campaigners.

Earlier this year campaigners said that they walked out of a meeting with UK junior minister Conor Burns, citing a lack of clarity on when legislation would be brought forward.

The promised legislation will also place a duty on the Northern Ireland Department of Education to encourage and facilitate the use of Ulster Scots, with the Secretary of State empowered to step in to ensure the commitments are followed by the Executive.

Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald said she had raised the issue in a meeting with Northern Ireland