Belfast Telegraph

DUP described '£19m estimate for an Irish Language Act as reasonable' - Claim

By Claire Williamson

The DUP described a £19m estimate for an Irish Language Act as "reasonable", it has been claimed.

Irish language group Conradh na Gaelige met a DUP delegation in April which included Arlene Foster and Edwin Poots.

It came after Mrs Foster said she wanted to engage with Gaelic speakers who lacked political baggage. She also visited Irish language students at Our Lady's Grammar School in Newry - where she said 'thank you' in Irish.

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

Mrs Foster previously said the DUP would never agree to the act. She made the now infamous remark, "If you feed a crocodile it will keep coming back and looking for more".

She made the remark during the Assembly Election campaign when addressing Sinn Fein's wish to have an Irish Language Act and said she was not prepared to "reward bad behaviour, and to capitulate to manufactured demands".

Conradh na Gaeilge said Mr Poots told them the £19m cost was "reasonable".

President of Conradh na Gaeilge Dr Niall Comer said: "When we met with the DUP in April we were told that there would be legislative provisions for the Irish language. The meeting was largely focused on the Conradh na Gaeilge discussion document that includes detailed costings of the Irish-language Act.

"DUP representative Edwin Poots also acknowledged, significantly, that our costings were “reasonable”. We see this as a considerable development, considering the public statements previously made by the DUP in which cost was used as the main obstacle to progressing legislation.”

Conradh na Gaeilge have released their discussion document on their proposals for legislation that costed an Irish-language Act at £2million per year with an additional, one-off, cost of £9million needed to build the basic infrastructure to support the practical implementation of the legislation.

It said these costs are based on a "five-year plan over the lifespan of an Executive, leaving the total five-year cost at £19million (£3.8million per year) and should, if implemented effectively, decrease over time".

When contacted for a response the DUP said: "Our views are well known and documented. We want to see mutual respect for all languages and cultures in Northern Ireland but not one elevated above all others.".

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