Northern Ireland news

Mark Durkan 'spoke Irish in Commons years before Welsh MP'

Former Foyle MP, the SDLP's Mark Durkan, in Derry earlier this year. Picture by Margaret McLaughlin

THE SDLP has said former MP Mark Durkan spoke Irish in the Commons several years ago, following reports a Plaid Cymru MP was the first person to speak as Gaelige in the house since partition.

MP Liz Saville Roberts spoke a sentence in Irish on Wednesday as she called for a language act in Northern Ireland during a Commons debate.

She and language body Conradh na Gaeilge said they understood it was the first time Irish had been spoken in the chamber.

However, the SDLP said yesterday that Mr Durkan had said a few words in Irish during a debate in July 2015.

The former Foyle MP wished SNP MP Angus MacNeil a happy birthday and best wishes in Irish.

Mr MacNeil replied by thanking him in Irish and Scots Gaelic.

The exchange was recorded by Hansard, Parliament's official record.

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