Northern Ireland news

Assembly must be allowed to scrutinise Irish language Act, urges Doug Beattie

Ulster Unionist leader Doug Beattie. Picture by Hugh Russell

THE assembly must be given the opportunity to scrutinise the Irish language Act, Ulster Unionist leader Doug Beattie has urged.

Mr Beattie said he was concerned by the prospect of legislation being pushed through Westminster.

The former army captain has said he has no issue with the Irish language but has problems with what is being proposed as it could "end up driving more division".

In a radio interview yesterday, Mr Beattie said the package had been designed by, agreed by and would be delivered by Sinn Féin and the DUP.

"If the DUP don't now bring the legislation forward, people like me and my party will not have the opportunity to dig into it, to scrutinise it, to look at the different bills, to amend them and change them and just make sure that it is fit for purpose," he told The Nolan Show on Radio Ulster.

"If it goes to Brandon Lewis in the autumn and he brings it forward, we will not have an opportunity to scrutinise it and he will bring it forward with accelerated passage. Nobody will get a chance to dig into this legislation.

"We need it now in the assembly so we can challenge and scrutinise this legislation."

Asked about the detail of the act, Mr Beattie said "this is the whole point of having a legislative process".

"There's a lot of ifs and buts that need to be scrutinised. Now that we know it is coming through, it's going to be here in this mandate, what we need to do is make sure it is in the assembly and all MLAs get an opportunity to scrutinise it," he added.

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