Northern Ireland news

Conradh na Gaeilge voices concern that DUP may again veto Stormont Irish language strategy

Conradh na Gaeilge president Niall Comer. Picture by Twitter

CONRADH na Gaeilge has welcomed Sinn Féin minister Deirdre Hargey's confirmation that work has begun on an Irish language strategy but has voiced concern that the DUP may again veto the initiative.

On Saturday, The Irish News revealed that the Department for the Communities (DfC) had started initial work on the development of an Irish language strategy and an Ulster Scots language, heritage and culture strategy.

Ms Hargey said expert advisory panels to work on the strategies had already been established, fulfilling commitments in the New Decade, New Approach agreement.

The commitment for an Irish language strategy was originally given at the 2006 St Andrews Agreement.

In 2015, a draft Irish language strategy by Ms Hargey's party colleague, then culture minister Carál Ní Chuilín, was blocked by the DUP.

Conradh na Gaeilge launched a successful judicial review two years later, with Justice Maguire ruling the executive had “failed” to bring about a new Irish language strategy.

Niall Comer, the Irish language advocacy group's president, welcomed the communities minister's announcement and said Conradh na Gaeilge looked forward to working with the expert panel.

He said the Irish language community in the north had been waiting over 15 years for progress on the issue.

"We are very cognisant, however, that serious questions remain whether the DUP, who have refused to allow the strategy to be added to the executive agenda since December 2020, will continue to deny language rights and exclude sections of the community by blocking progress on this strategy at later stages including when inter-departmental groups are to be set up and when the draft strategy returns to the executive for approval," he said.

The absence of a timetable for delivering the strategy, as promised in New Decade New Approach, is also very concerning, meaning the timetable was blocked and the minister was forced to bypass the executive."

Mr Comer said it was "totally unacceptable" for any party to continue to deny language rights.

He called on the DUP to clarify whether it planned to implement "agreements made only 18 months ago".

The DUP or DfC did not comment.

Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Subscribe now to get full access

Northern Ireland news