Northern Ireland news

Pupils ask Santa to deliver Irish Language Act this Christmas

Pupils from Gaelscoil an Lonnáin have recorded a song calling for an Irish Language Act this Christmas. Picture from YouTube
John Monaghan

CHILDREN from a west Belfast primary school have made a special request to Santa in a song calling for an Irish Language Act.

The pupils, from Gaelscoil an Lonnáin on the Falls Road, have recorded Ba Mhaith Liom Acht na Gaeilge don Nollaig for Christmas.

It was penned by principal Ciara McBride and performed for parents at the school's Christmas show but has also been widely shared on YouTube.

Based on the tune of the Gayla Peevey hit I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas, the chorus translates as "We want an Irish Language Act for Christmas".

"We want an Irish Language Act for Christmas, because we need an Irish Language Act, we don't want a car, we don't want a doll," sing the pupils.

"The language of the Gael... if we can't speak Irish together the language will be in danger.

"We want an Irish Language Act for Christmas because Irish is in our heart. Language rights are human rights, we want recognition.

"Rudolf Little Nose and Santa Claus are both Dearg le Fearg (red with anger). Oh friends up on the hill, listen to us."

Irish language campaigners have urged Sinn Féin not to sign up to any deal to restore devolution at Stormont which does not include legislation covering the language.

The DUP has strongly opposed a standalone act protecting Irish.

Caragh Martin, from Gaelscoil an Lonnáin, said "our rights threaten nobody and our pupils are not second class citizens".

"All of our pupils were born since the Good Friday Agreement; a lot of them even since the St Andrew’s Agreement, when our community and children were clearly promised an Irish Language Act based on those in Scotland, Wales and the south of Ireland," she said.

In October, a High Court judge ruled that a decision to turn down the school's bid to relocate from its current 115-year-old building must be quashed.

The Department of Education was told to reconsider the plan to move to the former site of St Comgall's School, following a legal challenge against the decision by former DUP minister Peter Weir by the mother of two pupils.

Mr Weir turned down the proposal last year amid concerns about the school's sustainability. It currently has just under 60 children.

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