Ulster Unionists: Sinn Féin has hijacked Irish Language campaign to promote form of cultural supremacy
The campaign for an Irish Language Act has been hijacked to promote a form of cultural supremacy by Sinn Fein, according to Doug Beattie, the Ulster Unionist Party’s Justice spokesperson.
Speaking the day after Irish language campaign group Conradh na Gaeilge met with Secretary of State Karen Bradley, Mr Beattie said: “It is becoming clearer day by day that the Acht na Gaeilge campaign has been hijacked by Sinn Fein to promote - not equality - but a form of cultural supremacy."
Conradh na Gaeilge called on the British government to fulfil the obligations of the St Andrews Agreement and implement a standalone Irish language act.
School children demonstrated at Stormont ahead of the meeting.
Mr Beattie said he took issue seeing "our children - our country’s future - stand with signs that say “Revolution is the Solution” while at the same time promoting a political party they probably know nothing about."
An impasse over Sinn Féin's demand for an Irish Language Act is at the heart of the powersharing crisis at Stormont, with the DUP standing firm in their opposition to a stand-alone piece of legislation that does not incorporate other cultures, such as Ulster Scots.
Calling on the Government to prepare to implement direct rule if the current talks end in failure, Mr Beattie said: “Let’s stop the political jockeying for position between the DUP and Sinn Fein. Both know neither will concede to the demands of the other, and a token Ulster Scots Act or some concessions over the Armed Forces Covenant will not hide the devastating and divisive effects an ILA will have on Northern Ireland in today’s political environment."
“Nobody is more frustrated at the lack of progress than I am. It is clear to me that unless the Government grabs the current impasse by the scruff of the neck and puts alternatives on the table should these current talks fail - such as voluntary coalition - I now believe there will be no alternative to direct rule.”
Conradh na Gaeilge president Niall Comer described yesterday's meeting with Mrs Bradley 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.