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'No desire' for a Polish language act in Northern Ireland

Jerome Mullen has said he does not think a Polish language act would ever be appropriate. Picture by Peter Makem
Gareth McKeown

THE Polish Consul has said he does not believe Poles in Northern Ireland would want a Polish language act.

Honorary consul Jerome Mullen was speaking after DUP leader Arlene Foster said she would "never" agree to an Irish language act, adding that "if we have an Irish language act, maybe we should have a Polish language act as well because there are more people in Northern Ireland who speak Polish compared to Irish."

The retired Newry businessman described the comment as a "political point".

"I don't think Polish people would ever want or look for a Polish language act," he said.

"The people of Poland though would be interested in having Polish as a language available for study within our education system. That's not a Polish language act and I don't think that it would ever be appropriate to look for that."

He added: "It's quite a different question for the Irish language as it is the language of this country, outside of English.

"I think Arlene Foster made that as a political point as it is not a justifiable comparison."

A DUP spokesman told The Irish News Mrs Foster's comments were based on the 2011 Census, which found that more people spoke Polish - 17,731 - as their 'main language' than Irish (4,164).

However, the census also recorded that 184,898 people (11 per cent of the population) aged three and over have 'some ability in Irish'.

Of this number more than a third (64,847) said they can 'speak, read, write and understand Irish'.

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