Protest over decision to axe Irish language bursary to be held at department HQ

Campaigners are calling on Communities Minister Paul Givan to reverse his decision to cut an Irish language bursary scheme. Picture by Mal McCann
John Monaghan

A PROTEST against a decision to scrap an Irish language bursary is to be held outside the Department for Communities headquarters in Belfast.

Communities minister Paul Givan sparked outrage after scrapping the Líofa scheme, which enabled around 100 people a year to attend the Donegal gaeltacht with bursary help totalling £50,000, in an email announcement two days before Christmas.

Ciarán Mac Giolla Bhéin, from An Dream Dearg, a campaign group which is organising the protest entitled 'Bursaries not Boilers' at 12.30pm in Bedford Street on Thursday, said that people were "outraged at the decision".

"There is an impression that this came about because of the Líofa decision. The campaign for rights, respect and recognition of the Irish language has been ongoing for a number of years and we had been re-convening since November on a number of issues," he said.

Mr Mac Giolla Bhéin said that the political upheaval of recent days would not affect the decision to protest.

He said: "Someone will still be responsible for it. The department won't cease to exist. It doesn't matter who is in charge.

"However, we want no party to enter into an agreement for government without a guarantee that the rights of Irish speakers will be enshrined in legislation.

"We don't want to be in the position again where a minister can take a decision like this."

A symbol of a white circle against a red background, alongside the slogan #DeargleFearg (red with anger), has been the subject of a social media campaign and has been adopted by several party leaders and boxers Michael Conlan and Paddy Barnes.

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