Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 23 July 2014

Ruane presses for Irish language act

The Education Minister in Northern Ireland yesterday warned that the Irish language needed to be enshrined in law.

Caitriona Ruane highlighted the lack of an Irish Language Act after a meeting with a European committee probing the implementation of the European Charter for Regional and Minority Languages.

"For our part Sinn Fein is totally committed to securing effective, rights based legislation for Irish speakers here in the north," she said.

Former DUP Culture, Arts and Leisure minister Edwin Poots in 2007 opposed an Irish language act.

Unionists are keen to develop the use of Ulster Scots.

But Ms Ruane said: "I stressed with the committee that the work that my department and others such as the DRD have been engaged in is taking place in the absence of both an effective rights-based Irish language act, despite the British Government committing themselves to this at St Andrews, as well as in absence of the languages strategy as promised by successive DUP culture ministers."

Meanwhile, later tonight the South Down MLA meets Jerry Weast, schools superintendent at Montgomery County, Maryland, about improving standards.

He said selection at age 11 didn't work, around a quarter of young people here were not achieving enough and there needed to be consistent efforts to reach minimum standards from a younger age.

"I think selection... what it did was ensure to some parents that if you passed the selection test it ensured that you got a pretty good education and also was a credential accepted in the next level."

He said more focus needed to be put on ensuring at least 80% of people had basic academic qualifications and said this was the foundation stone for many trades as well.

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