Political news

Scrapping of Irish language bursary ‘straw that broke the camel's back'

Sinn Fein's Mairtin O Muilleoir, left, and the DUP's Paul Givan. Picture by Niall Carson, Press Association 
Paul Ainsworth and Allison Morris

SINN Féin's Máirtín Ó Muilleoir has said the scrapping of a £50,000 Irish language bursary scheme was the “straw that broke the camel’s back” following the RHI fiasco.

The Líofa project, introduced in 2012 to allow people on lower incomes to take part in Gaeltacht courses, was abruptly brought to an end by DUP communities minister Paul Givan in an email two days before Christmas.

Mr Givan cited “efficiency savings” for the decision, but nationalists expressed anger at the move when the DUP minister had found an extra £98,000 for a grants scheme for marching bands on top of £200,000 announced last July.

The scrapping of the bursaries has also prompted threats of legal action from the Irish language sector.

In his resignation letter on Monday, Martin McGuinness hit out at the DUP’s “negative attitude to nationalism and to the Irish identity and culture”.

“For those who wish to live their lives through the medium of Irish elements in the DUP have exhibited the most crude and crass bigotry,” he said.

Mr Ó Muilleoir, a fluent Irish speaker, also claimed the DUP's “disrespect for the nationalist tradition” was evidenced by the Líofa decision - "that Paul Givan would take £50,000 from children who want to learn the Irish language”.

Mr Givan, who was also described as an "ignoramus" by Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams at the weekend, insisted the funding withdrawal “wasn’t an attack on the Irish language”.

He said: “Whenever you look at bursaries around £500 per child, is that money that could be better spent?”

Victims campaigner Margaret McGuckin, left, and Kincora survivor Clint Massey pictured at Banbridge Court House. Picture by Arthur Allison, Pacemaker Press

Victims of child abuse fearful amid executive's collapse 

VICTIMS of institutional child abuse have expressed fears the collapse of the executive may have dire consequences for their justice campaign.

The completed Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry report, chaired by retired judge Sir Anthony Hart, was handed over to the Executive last week.

However, with a date for the return of devolved government now unclear, Margaret McGuckin of Survivors and Victims of Institutional Abuse (Savia) said "the fears are very real now" among those she represents.

"They can see the government fall apart and survivors' hopes and promises falling apart with them," she said.

She urged politicians to commit to compensation payments before the assembly collapses next week.

Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Subscribe from just £1 for the first month to get full access

Political news