Will UK government push Irish act through? It will not say

The Northern Ireland Office has failed to respond to questions about whether the government is prepared to impose an Irish language act on the Province from London.

Wednesday, 16th June 2021, 12:01 pm
Brandon Lewis
Brandon Lewis

The Conservatives have already faced a storm of criticism for introducing a liberalised abortion regime for Northern Ireland over the heads of devolved politicians (as well as gay marriage).

Now it is facing demands from nationalist/republican quarters for it to do the same with a new Irish language law.

The SDLP for example said yesterday that it will attempt to tack Irish language clauses on to the end of unrelated bills in the Commons next week, in an effort to get it onto the statute books.

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However this would require Conservative support, because the DUP and Tories between them have enough MPs to block such efforts, even if all other parties and independents in the Commons back such a motion.

Brandon Lewis, former Tory chairman who now serves as NIO minister, said on Monday that “over the coming days I will remain resolutely committed to engaging with all the Northern Ireland parties and doing everything I can to ensure that a stable and functioning Executive continues to be in place”.

Yesterday, the News Letter asked the NIO if the UK government is minded to legislate at Westminster for an Irish language act (or cultural act, as it is sometimes termed, since it would likely also include elements of Ulster Scots).

Failing that, it was asked if the government would encourage or permit its MPs to vote for such legislation put forward by another party.

It did not respond to either question.

More from this reporter:

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