Unionism would be unforgiving of Irish language act: Orange Order chief

Mervyn Gibson made his remarks at last month's Twelfth demonstration in Newcastle
Mervyn Gibson made his remarks at last month's Twelfth demonstration in Newcastle

Sinn Fein’s demands for legislation to protect the Irish language has drawn strong criticism from many unionists, who have urged the DUP to stand firm on the matter.

At last month’s Twelfth demonstrations, Orange Order Grand Secretary Mervyn Gibson set out the institution’s objections to any form of legal protection for Irish.

During his speech at Newcastle, Co Down, Mr Gibson said: “Let me make it clear, the Irish language poses no threat to Northern Ireland; the threat arises when republicans politicise it and want to elevate it to a position that is neither sustainable or warranted.

“I believe unionism would be unforgiving of anyone who provided republicanism with a legal framework to create a political cultural weapon that would be used as a blunt instrument to diminish and demean our sense of Britishness.”

Mr Gibson argued that Irish is “well resourced and recognised” in Northern Ireland, and asserted it needs no law or statute to support it.

“This republican demand is just another attempt to bolster up their so-called rights and equality agenda,” he said.

“Republicans used civil rights as a trojan horse for their age old struggle for a united Ireland – their terrorist campaign was the antipathy of civil rights.

“Sinn Fein want a united Ireland – their tactics may have changed, but everything they do seeks to advance that goal.”

Morning View: The debate has long moved past whether an Irish act is standalone