Belfast Telegraph

Arlene Foster Irish language meeting open and engaging, says POBAL director

DUP leader says she is on a 'journey' with the Irish language

Arlene Foster has met Irish language groups at Stormont.

Mrs Foster met with representatives of POBAL, the independent advocacy group for the Irish language, and Conradh na Gaelige, a forum for Irish speakers  on Thursday morning.

Following the meeting, Pobal director Janet Muller described the discussions as open and engaging.

She said: "Not by any means are we of one mind on the issues, but there was sense everyone was listening and I think that is very welcome."

The meeting comes a day after the DUP leader spoke Irish as she met Irish language students at a school in Co Down.

There is nothing to be feared from engaging with another culture. Arlene Foster

Read more: Watch: Arlene Foster says thank you in Irish during school visit

The meetings are part of her outreach to those who speak the language.

An Irish Language Act is one of the major hurdles in the crisis talks between the DUP and Sinn Fein aimed at restoring the power-sharing Executive.

The former first minister has stated she wanted to engage with Gaelic speakers who lacked political baggage.

Read more:

Arlene Foster: We're stronger together but it must be built on respect and tolerance for all

Mrs Foster said recently that she is on a "journey" with regards to the Irish language.

During her visit to Our Lady's Grammar School in Newry on Wednesday she said: "There is nothing to be feared from engaging with another culture, in fact I think it's a sign of strength if you engage with another culture that's not your own."

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In February, Mrs Foster said more people spoke Polish than Irish in Northern Ireland and declared the party would never agree to an act protecting the language.

On Tuesday she added: "I have met with some individuals already around why they believe Irish is so important to them.

"One of the very strong things that came across was the passion that the girls had for the language and it is really good to strip away all the politics out of this issue and just to listen in a very clear way as to how Irish and the language has helped in the study of other languages and to give them a head start in relation to job opportunities as well."

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