Stormont to be sued over lack of Irish language laws

Politicians in the North are to be sued over the lack of laws to promote the Irish language.

Campaigners at Conradh na Gaeilge said they were taking the Northern Ireland Executive to court after it failed to put a 20-year strategy to protect the use of the language on a legal footing.

They want to see the devolved government enshrine proposals to allow for bilingual Assembly and court business as well as official recognition of Gaeltacht areas and the right to Irish medium education.

Ciarán Mac Giolla Bhéin, Conradh’s advocacy manager, said a lawsuit was needed to force action.

“The Irish-language community here is hugely disappointed and frustrated that the Executive hasn’t adapted the Irish language strategy to promote and to protect our language,” he said.

An Irish Language Act has been planned but it is opposed by the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).

It includes provisions for place names to be identified in Irish and English, as well as the appointment of an Irish language commissioner and for Irish to be used by public bodies.

Carál Ní Chuilín, Stormont’s Minister for Culture, Arts, and Leisure, has promoted the planned laws and launched the 20-year plan to enhance and protect the Irish language in January last year. However, she has faced criticism from some DUP quarters for not putting the same emphasis on the use of Ulster-Scots.

Carál Ní Chuilín, Stormont’s Minister for Culture, Arts, and Leisure,
Carál Ní Chuilín, Stormont’s Minister for Culture, Arts, and Leisure,

Conradh president Cóilín Ó Cearbhaill said Irish speakers must be given the support they deserve.

He said there is a commitment for the legally binding strategy from the British Government in the 2006 St Andrews Agreement, as well as efforts by Ms Ní Chuilín’s department to promote the language.

“Conradh na Gaeilge therefore finds it unsatisfactory that the strategy has not yet been accepted by the Executive, despite the progressive steps as outlined above having been taken,” Mr Ó Cearbhaill said.

The legal action against the Stormont Executive will seek a judicial review of the failure to introduce new laws on the Irish language.

Conradh said the legal papers were lodged with the High Court in Belfast last week.


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