Belfast Telegraph

Thousands march in Belfast backing Irish Language Act

By Ryan Hooper

Thousands of Irish language activists turned out in strength to march through Belfast on Saturday calling for a new law to protect its use in official settings.

The proposed Act is currently one of the stumbling blocks in the Stormont talks aimed at restoring power-sharing.

In February DUP leader Arlene Foster likened concessions to Sinn Fein on an Irish language Act to feeding a crocodile.

But recently Mrs Foster appeared to soften, insisting she had not ruled out the possible introduction of an Irish Language Act - as long as there is also respect for the Ulster-Scots, Orange and British cultures.

Irish language group Pobal said Westminster "must act now to fulfil its St Andrews' promise and bring in legislation". Director Janet Muller said: "Even if local politicians could come to some realistic agreement about the Act - and it is far from sure that they can - even then, Westminster legislation would be needed so that important areas of life, like the media, could be included."

North Belfast Sinn Fein candidate John Finucane said: "The denial of equal rights to these children and young people and the wider Irish language community has to end. "

Alliance West Belfast candidate Sorcha Eastwood said: "Despite the political football the Irish language has become in recent months, we must remember it is for people from all backgrounds and the entire community. It is part of our shared culture and heritage."

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