UUP's Swann issues warning to Sinn Fein over Irish language used as bargaining chip
UUP leader Robin Swann has urged Sinn Fein to stop using the Irish language as a red line to prevent the restoration of the Executive.
Mr Swann and Assembly colleague Doug Beattie met Irish language sector groups at Stormont yesterday.
Mr Swann said: "We welcomed the opportunity to engage with representatives of the Irish language community - Conradh na Gaeilge and Forbairt Feirste. The talks were conducted in a frank and respectful manner. We reiterated that we have no problem with the Irish language but remain unconvinced of the need for an Irish Language Act.
"We raised our concerns that the current debate surrounding an Irish Language Act is serving to divide society further.
"We also voiced our frustration that the issue of an Irish Language Act has become a red line in the current talks impasse and is effectively being used to hold Northern Ireland to ransom. This cannot be allowed to continue."
Conradh na Gaeilge spokesman Ciarán Mac Giolla Bhéin said the meeting with Ulster Unionist politicians was "evidence of the strength of this remarkable community-led campaign for respect, rights and recognition for the Irish language".
He said the group had now met representatives from most of the Assembly parties.
"We have had a long line of meetings with almost every party, five of which now support the community call for a rights-based, stand-alone Irish Language Act, including Alliance, Green Party, People Before Profit, SDLP and Sinn Fein," he said.