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East Belfast Protestant's "love" of Irish language

East Belfast Protestant Linda Ervine has spoke of her "love" of the Irish language
Connla Young

A HIGH profile Irish language activist who comes from Protestant and loyalist background has told how she was left 'confused' when she found herself inexplicably drawn to the language.

In an article published in today’s Irish News east Belfast based campaigner Linda Ervine revealed how her initial reluctance eventually gave way to the a “love” for the language.

A sister-in-law of former PUP leader David Ervine, the east Belfast woman is currently spearheading a revival of the language in unionist areas across the north.

Both she and former president Mary McAleese have spoken of the place Irish has in their lives as part of a campaign by Foras na Gaeilge to promote the language.

Foras na Gaeilge Chief Executive Officer Ferdie Mac An Fhailigh said the language is open to everyone.

“We are trying to raise awareness of the Irish language and the importance of the language and we see these people saying ‘this is what the Irish language means to me,’” he said.

He said Mrs Ervine, who is funded by Foras na Gaeilge, plays an important part in helping to develop the language.

“The language is viewed as something that belongs to the Catholic nationalist population,” he said.

“Our view is firmly that it belongs to everybody who wants to belong to it and does not belong to one section of it.

“No section of the community can say they own a language.”

In her article Mrs Ervine said she is determined to “reclaim” the language and wants to share it with others.

“My feelings of doubt and confusion gave way to anger and sadness; this was my language, the language of my homeland, a language spoken in Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man, a language which had been denied to me for one reason and for one reason only, I was a Protestant,” she said.

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