Sun, 03 Jul 2022

Irish language bill to be introduced at Westminster

Robert Besser
27 May 2022, 17:07 GMT+10

LONDON, England: For the first time, the British government has introduced legislation to recognize and protect the Irish language in Northern Ireland.

"The introduction of this Bill represents a significant milestone..in laying down a new cultural framework for the people of Northern Ireland," said Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis, as reported by RTE.

"The legislation is carefully balanced, as negotiated by all parties, to ensure everyone in Northern Ireland benefits," he added.

Called the Identity and Language Northern Ireland Bill, the Irish language will be officially recognized by the UK.

It also takes note of the separate Ulster Scots as a National Minority in Northern Ireland.
In recognizing Irish, the language will be granted official status and a new commissioner will be appointed in the UK to protect the Irish language.

Additionally, the British government will deposit 4 million pounds into the An Ciste Infheistiochta Gaeilge, the Irish Language Investment Fund.

"The Irish language community has been fighting for these rights for decades, and in that regard to see the Irish language be afforded official status here for the first time is indeed historic," said President Paula Melvin of the Irish language rights group Conradh na Gaeilge, as reported by RTE.

But, she noted, "Painful experience with the British government has taught us to take nothing for granted. Until we see this Bill enacted and indeed implemented in practice, we will continue to push ahead with the campaign."

Also urging caution, Conradh na Gaeilge's Advocacy Manager, Conchur O' Muadaigh, warned that without the bill proceeding in Parliament, "This legislation won't be worth the paper it's written on"

Meanwhile, Ciaran Mac Giolla Bhein said the introduction of the bill is a "historic achievement".
Speaking on RTE, he said, "This is a recognition that we were able to push an issue which was, to be completely fair, on the very edges of the political debate around 2016, right to the very centre and get it over the line to secure rights. We've much more work to do, but this is a historic achievement."

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