Protesters at Stormont call for Irish Language Act as political agreement breaks down

Sinn Féin's northern leader, Michelle O'Neill, joined protesters outside Stormont calling for an Irish Language Act. Picture by Mal McCann
John Monaghan

AS the deadline passed for the parties to reach agreement on a deal to save Stormont, a protest was taking place outside the Assembly in support of an Irish Language Act.

The demonstration followed on from several protests in recent months, on an issue that has proved one of the most divisive between Sinn Féin and the DUP.

Organised by campaign group An Dream Dearg, protesters again repeated a call for parties not to sign up to any agreement to restore devolution which does not include an Irish Language Act.

Ciarán Mac Giolla Bhéin, spokesman for An Dream Dearg, said: "The Irish Language Act has been clearly identified as one of the key unresolved issues emerging from these negotiations.

"This is despite the fact that we now have a clear majority of elected MLAs supporting our demand for Irish-language rights-based legislations, as 50 out of 90 MLAs publicly support our campaign.

"We would ask all of those MLAs, and the Irish government, who also have a key duty as co-guarantors of recent agreements, to ensure that no deal is concluded without the necessary agreement being reached around the Irish Language Act.

Sinn Féin North Belfast MLA Carál Ní Chuilín said: "It is past time for an Irish Language Act. The rights and entitlements of Irish speakers should and must be protected by legislation."

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