Northern Ireland news

Irish language act would 'cost around £3.8 million a year'

Irish language activists and Sinn Féin representatives protesting at Stormont last month. Picture by Mal McCann

AN Irish language act would cost around £3.8 million a year, according to new figures.

Irish-language organisation Conradh na Gaeilge said the total cost over the five-year span of a typical Executive would be £19m and not the £100m figure suggested by the DUP.

Last month former DUP MLA Nelson McCausland claimed an Irish language act would be "extremely contentious and divisive" and cost "around £100m a year".

However Conradh na Gaeilge said the actual figure is much lower.

It calculated that a one-off cost of £9m was needed to "create the basic infrastructure to support legislation".

An extra £10m over five years, or £2m a year, would be needed to implement the act, it said.

The body launched the figures as part of a discussion document explaining the costs associated with the introduction of an act.

The document breaks down the costs into 11 sections, including the use of Irish in the assembly, in local government and in the Department of Education as well as the role of a Language Commissioner.

It estimated that introducing bilingual road signs would cost £1.5m a year over a five-year Executive.

Other estimated costs included £100,000 to set up a central translation department in the Executive Office.

Julian de Spáinn, the body's general secretary, said it was confident an act can be agreed.

He said the figures, based on the body's own research were "reasonable costs that are based on practical proposals, especially if the Act is implemented properly and willingly".

Dr Niall Comer, President of Conradh na Gaeilge, said it was time for the north's parties to agree an Irish language act.

"We are calling on the parties now to come together and support these proposals, and to implement Irish-language legislation, as recently recommended by both the Council of Europe and the United Nations, and as was promised over ten years ago in the St Andrews Agreement," he said.

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