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Councillors vote to hire Irish and Ulster Scots language officers


Belfast City Hall

Belfast City Hall

Belfast City Hall

Belfast city councillors have voted to hire language officers for Irish and Ulster Scots, after a public consultation found support for the proposal.

The move, revealed by the Belfast Telegraph yesterday, would see two officers recruited. One would be responsible for the Irish language while a second "additional Linguistics Officer" would be responsible for Ulster Scots and other languages, including sign language.

The vote was passed at a meeting of the Strategic Policy and Resources committee yesterday.

The issue will now be put to the full council for approval on October 2, before it can take effect.

The two officers would be responsible for the promotion of their respective languages, as well as some translation and education services.

The proposals were contained in the council's draft Policy on Linguistic Diversity which was subject to an eight-week public consultation period between May and July of this year.

The consultation document noted that Belfast has a higher proportion of Irish language speakers than Northern Ireland as a whole, with 13% of Belfast residents reporting that they have some ability in the language compared to 10.6% of the population at large.

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However, it noted that fewer people in Belfast speak Ulster Scots than elsewhere in the region, with 5% of Belfast residents having some Ulster Scots ability, compared to the higher rate of 8% overall in Northern Ireland.

Speaking before the vote, Alliance councillor Michael Long said the Irish language shouldn't be a divisive issue.

"If Linda Ervine speaks it, if there are classes on the Newtownards Road, then I think that shows it is a language for everyone," he said.

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