Political news

Paul Givan is ‘an ignoramus' for scrapping Irish language scheme, Gerry Adams says

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams branded Paul Givan an "ignoramus". Picture by Jonathan Porter, Press Eye
John Monaghan

THE DUP minister behind a decision to scrap an Irish language bursary scheme has been branded an "ignoramus" by Gerry Adams.

Communities minister Paul Givan sparked outrage after ending of the Líofa scheme was bluntly announced in an email two days before Christmas.

First piloted in 2012, around 100 people a year received bursaries worth £50,000 to improve their Irish language skills at classes in the Donegal gaeltacht.

However, in an email sent from the Líofa office to the boards of the affected colleges on December 23, the department said: "Because of efficiency savings, the department will not be providing the Líofa bursary scheme in 2017. Happy Christmas and Happy New Year."

Speaking at a meeting of Sinn Féin activists in Belfast to address the Renewable Heat Incentive fiasco, Mr Adams described the funding cut as "an ignorant decision taken by an ignoramus".

The Louth TD said: "The DUP has shown a serious disrespect for the Irish language and to those citizens who wish to live their lives through Gaeilge. How could anyone hate a language?

"The decision on the eve of Christmas to cut funding for the Líofa programme was a very deliberate snub to the Irish language."

He added: "Of course we will forgive him for this. After he restores the funding and treats our teanga with the respect it deserves."

Mr Givan, who has previously been criticised for reinstating a grants scheme for marching bands worth £300,000 at a time of cuts in the arts sector, has not made any comment on the remarks by the Sinn Féin president.

The decision to scrap the funding is set to be challenged through the courts by a Co Antrim woman whose daughter has attended the gaeltacht with the help of the scheme.

Her solicitor Michael Brentnall claimed the decision to bin the bursary amounts to discrimination.

Irish language umbrella organisation Pobal has also said it is "taking advice" on the issue.

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