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In Pictures: 'British government must fulfil Irish language pledge'

Secretary of State Karen Bradley with representatives from Love Equality. Picture by Kelvin Boyes/Press Eye

CONRADH na Gaeilge has called on the British government to fulfil the obligations of the St Andrews Agreement and implement a standalone Irish language act.

The call came following a meeting yesterday between the Irish language campaign group and Secretary of State Karen Bradley.

The annex of the 2007 St Andrews Agreement includes a commitment from the British government to "work with the incoming executive to enhance and protect the development of the Irish language".

Conradh na Gaeilge president Niall Comer described the meeting as "important and significant".

He said the ultimate goal for Gaeilgori in the north was an "independent Irish language act".

"The demands made by the Irish speaking community are both realistic and reasonable and they are consistent with the same rights afforded to Welsh and Gaidhlig speakers," he said.

"The Irish language is an integral part of this society and until that is recognised officially, and until the appropriate provisions are in place, provisions recognised internationally by experts, the efforts to secure an independent Irish language act will not cease."

Mrs Bradley also met representatives from the Ulster Scots Agency and same sex marriage campaigners.

Patrick Corrigan of the Love Equality coalition, which is campaigning for civil marriage equality in Northern Ireland, said the secretary of state needed to introduce legislation at Westminster if there is no breakthrough in the current negotiations at Stormont.

"We would prefer our own assembly to deliver marriage equality, but if it cannot or will not, then it is unacceptable that same-sex couples here should be made to wait a moment longer for the right to be treated equally under the law," he said.

A crowd mostly made up of young school children attend an Irish Language protest at Stomront in east Belfast regarding the Irish language act not being put through the Northern Ireland Assembly. Picture Mark Marlow.

"Frankly, the UK government should be embarrassed to preach a message of human rights and equality for LGBTI people around the world, while it oversees discrimination in its own backyard here in Northern Ireland."

Commenting on the series of meetings, Mrs Bradley said: "It’s clear issues such as equal marriage and minority languages are important to many people across the community in Northern Ireland, so I welcomed the chance to listen and be informed by today’s meetings.

"The fact remains, the issues these groups lobby on are devolved, therefore it is essential all parties use the opportunity provided by the current phase of talks to restore devolved government and allow any important decisions on these issues to be taken by locally-elected politicians."

A crowd mostly made up of young school children attend an Irish Language protest at Stomront in east Belfast regarding the Irish language act not being put through the Northern Ireland Assembly. Picture Mark Marlow.

A crowd mostly made up of young school children attend an Irish Language protest at Stomront in east Belfast regarding the Irish language act not being put through the Northern Ireland Assembly. Picture Mark Marlow.

A crowd mostly made up of young school children attend an Irish Language protest at Stomront in east Belfast regarding the Irish language act not being put through the Northern Ireland Assembly. Picture Mark Marlow.

A crowd mostly made up of young school children attend an Irish Language protest at Stomront in east Belfast regarding the Irish language act not being put through the Northern Ireland Assembly. Pictured are Carál Ní Chuilín, Michelle O'Neill and Conor Murphy. Picture Mark Marlow.

A crowd mostly made bup of young school children attend an Irish Language protest at Stomront in east Belfast regarding the Irish language act not being put through the Northern Ireland Assembly.Pictured is courtney Jonston from Gaelscoil An Lonnain. Picture Mark Marlow.

A crowd mostly made up of young school children attend an Irish Language protest at Stomront in east Belfast regarding the Irish language act not being put through the Northern Ireland Assembly. Picture Mark Marlow.

A crowd mostly made up of young school children attend an Irish Language protest at Stomront in east Belfast regarding the Irish language act not being put through the Northern Ireland Assembly. Picture Mark Marlow.

A crowd mostly made up of young school children attend an Irish Language protest at Stomront in east Belfast regarding the Irish language act not being put through the Northern Ireland Assembly. Picture Mark Marlow.

A crowd mostly made up of young school children attend an Irish Language protest at Stomront in east Belfast regarding the Irish language act not being put through the Northern Ireland Assembly. Picture Mark Marlow.

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