Belfast Telegraph

Belfast City Council advertises for Irish language officer

By Michael Sheils McNamee and Andrew Madden, Local democracy reporter

Belfast City Council has advertised for a new Irish language officer.

A majority of councillors backed the creation of the post last October, along with a second language officer position which will deal with Ulster-Scots, sign language, languages for new communities, and communication and language needs for disabled people.

Both roles have been posted to the Council's website.

The new Irish language officer will be responsible to the Council's Equality and Diversity Officer, and involved in the implementation and monitoring of the council's language strategy.

The job description says the appointee will "promote a positive environment for the inclusion of the Irish language in the provision of council services and information, including the establishment and delivery of associated action plans".

Applicants for the position will be required to be fluent both in written and spoken Irish, as well having a range of other special skills and attributes.

Included among these are a requirement for 'political sensitivity skills', in which involves "the ability to deal with sensitive issues, using political awareness and sensitivity, when working with elected members, senior managers and representatives of outside organisations".

The second wider-ranging language post - which includes responsibility for Ulster Scots - contains similar responsibilities but does not require candidates to pass a language test.

While the majority of councillors backed the creation of the posts last year, there has been a split between the DUP and Sinn Fein on the value of having two positions.

DUP group leader on Belfast City Council Lee Reynolds said his party haven't "accepted the need for the two language officers".

"There was a political decision by the council and that is now being implemented but, on the basis of what was identified as the needs of the language groups in Belfast and how those would best be serviced, we still believe that one officer would have been sufficient and could have addressed the concerns of all the various language communities in Belfast," he said.

Deirdre Hargey, Sinn Fein council group leader, said it was "a good day for the council".

"There's a language framework that has now been agreed, which has Irish language and Ulster Scots policies and also minority policy. It's within the context of rolling out those frameworks that these posts have been created," she said.

The creation of the new posts forms part of its 2018-2023 Language Strategy set to be launched next week and included in the Council's Belfast Agenda - a wide-ranging community development plan aimed at creating improvements for people across the city.

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