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Pupils and teachers hold protest over Irish language legislation deadlock

Pupils from Irish medium schools outside Stormont. Picture by Siobhan Fenton/PA Wire

PUPILS from Irish-medium schools have rallied outside Stormont to protest the deadlock over the introduction of language legislation.

About 100 pupils from primary and secondary schools attended, along with teachers and activists.

Campaigners wore red tape across their mouths and stood in silence to protest the ways in which they claim the Irish language community is being silenced due to the lack of an Irish language act in Northern Ireland.

At the steps of Parliament Buildings, protesters unfurled a bilingual banner asking of Arlene Foster in both Irish and English "Arlene, do my rights humiliate you?"

Sinn Féin leader Michelle O'Neill was among those attending, along with party assembly members Caral Ni Chuilin, Conor Murphy and Gerry Kelly, as well as People Before Profit MLA Gerry Carroll.

Ciaran Mac Giolla Bhein, spokesman for the Irish language act campaign, said: "There is increasingly more and more support for a standalone Irish language act from broad sections of the community and that is being accompanied with an ever-growing understanding across society that language rights are human rights.

Katy Rose Mead, an upper sixth pupil at Colaiste Feirste in Belfast said: "Statements that the language is somehow a weapon are just crazy.

"Learning any language gives you a new perspective on the world, it helps you develop, so it's always good to have numerous languages, especially here in Ireland, where we can learn a lot from our ancestors."

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