Belfast Telegraph

PSNI and sporting bodies urged to back Irish plan

Northern Ireland's police service and a string of sporting bodies are being asked to back a plan to create an extra 1,000 Irish speakers by 2015.

Culture Minister Caral Ni Chuilin will ask high-profile figures, plus members of the public, to agree to try to become "liofa", Irish for fluent, by the target date.

The Sinn Fein minister said she hoped "Liofa 2015" would attract people from across the political divide and said the Gaelic language should be seen as belonging to all communities.

Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) Deputy Chief Constable Judith Gillespie is among the public figures set to attend the Stormont launch of the project on Monday.

While the language has sparked rows between unionists and nationalists at the Assembly, the minister said Liofa 2015 was a bid to get away from political divisions.

"At times the Irish language came up for debate in the Assembly and, because of the conduct and the remarks that were made, members of the Irish language community felt very hurt and offended," she said.

Ms Ni Chuilin added: "We want learning Irish to be a natural and normal thing that people do without any comment."

The Department of Culture's website will offer details of where classes are available.

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