Foster dismisses Irish Language Act as she claims a Sinn Fein First Minister would push Adams' agenda
Arlene Foster has insisted she will never agree to an Irish Language Act, hinting that Polish people here have a stronger case.
The DUP leader also warned that Gerry Adams is back “front and centre” and out for a valedictory run before he “leaves the scene”.
In a no-holds-barred attack, she said: “If you feed the crocodile they just come back for more.”
Mrs Foster said if there was to be an Irish language act, there should be a Polish language act because more people in Northern Ireland speak Polish than Irish.
“The cost that would be incurred, in terms of the Irish language would be quite incredible and all for a tiny minority of people who chose to speak the language, and of course they’re entirely entitled to do so”, Mrs Foster said.
“But if we have an Irish language act maybe we should have a Polish language act as well because there are more people in Northern Ireland that speak Polish, than speak Irish.
“So this characterisation of we should have given something to Sinn Fein to keep them appeased is not the way I do business.”
Mrs Foster said she was not prepared to “reward bad behaviour or to “capitulate to manufactured demands”.
Formally launching the party’s election campaign yesterday, Mrs Foster also admitted making “mistakes” in the recent past, and added: “No one feels worse about what has happened than I do.”
She also attacked the “rank hypocrisy” of “those who have most to say about maladministration” but little to say about the “murder and mayhem” brought to Northern Ireland over many years.
Mrs Foster said she believed her former power-sharing partner, Martin McGuinness, had been genuine when he signed off on a joint newspaper article on November 21 promising there would not be a return to direct rule from Westminster.
But in contrast, she said Sinn Fein’s new Northern Ireland leader, Michelle O’Neill, had been “handpicked” by Mr Adams — who is no longer “in the shadows” — to do his bidding.
She also denied attempting to turn the Sinn Fein president into a “bogeyman” for this election in the same way Mr McGuinness had featured in past warnings that he could become First Minister.
Mrs Foster also claimed: “Come election day, Sinn Fein could have enough seats to be the biggest party, capture the First Minister’s post and push to implement Gerry Adams’s agenda for Northern Ireland.
“Just imagine what that would mean for our way of life.”
The results of the March 2 election could, she argued, be “very close.”
Almost all the party’s 38 Assembly candidates turned out for the early morning launch at Brownlow House in Lurgan to hear their leader warn: “Michelle O’Neill was installed by Gerry Adams and she will be instructed by Gerry Adams.
“How do we know? Because she told us. When asked about making decisions she said she is, ‘part of Gerry’s team’.
“She went on to say, ‘he is still our president so we will be working with him very closely’.”
Responding, Mrs O’Neill said: “We are not interested in negativity. We are fighting this campaign. Our candidates are standing on three key principles: respect, equality for all, and integrity in the political institutions.
“That’s our job of work, that’s what we are concerned with.”
Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams, in response to the ‘crocodile’ remark, quipped: “See you later, alligator.”
Last night, Mrs Foster’s remarks on the Irish language came under attack.
POBAL, the advocacy organisation for the Irish-speaking community, said the comments were “deplorable”.