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Republicans using Irish as a political football

Thinking back to the collapse of the power-sharing Executive at Stormont, it was all about the RHI scandal.

Sinn Fein decided they had enough of alleged DUP arrogance and cover-ups regarding their inability to manage what should have been a beneficial scheme to encourage industry and householders to change to renewable heating sources.

Now, RHI seems to have taken a back seat to an Irish Language Act (to name one issue).

Personally, I don't have an issue with any individuals, or groups, who wish to speak Irish.

Today, for republicans, the Irish language seems to be extremely important - more important than a Budget, which is vital to the everyday running of Northern Ireland and its citizens.

Yet, at the Easter Rising events which took place throughout the country this year, not one of the main speeches was delivered in Irish. Why not? Was it that those delivering the orations were not confident enough to give a full speech in their native tongue? Maybe they appreciated that the vast majority of those listening - like myself - would not be able to understand what they were saying.

Whatever the reason for the lack of Irish being spoken on these occasions, what do they hope to gain with an Irish Language Act?

It now appears Arlene Foster is softening her position towards Irish speakers by offering to meet with those who have no "political" interest in progressing its use. By all means, she should explore the use of Irish throughout Northern Ireland. But she should be asking if we need an Act to promote and preserve its use, or whether there are other options to advance it.

Unfortunately for unionists, they missed the boat with Irish speaking. They should have been all over it years ago, claiming it for all the people of Northern Ireland and not allowing republicans to monopolise the language for their own political agenda.

stephen wilson

Banbridge, Co Down

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