Belfast Telegraph

Human rights body calls for introduction of Irish language act

Human rights watchdog the Council of Europe (CoE) has made fresh calls for an Irish language act in Northern Ireland.

The CoE - which is not affiliated to the European Union - is an international organisation which advocates for free media expression, democracy, and human rights in Europe, and is made up of 47 members.

Part of the organisation's focus is on the use of minority languages, and compliance with the European Charter for Regional and Minority Languages.

The BBC reports a delegation of experts responsible for writing language reports, led by Dr Aleksandra Oszmianska-Pagett, were in Belfast to meet with a number of language activists representing both Irish and Ulster Scots. 

"To have the legislation in place is one of the most important obligations stemming from the charter, from just the legal point of view," said Dr Oszmianska-Pagett.

"But from a practical point of view this is essential because then education, culture and media are not held hostage to political tensions."

Legislation for minority languages in Northern Ireland has been at the centre of the political deadlock between the DUP and Sinn Fein dating back to January 2017.

In February speculation was rife an agreement had been reached on the issue, with a package of three acts which would legislate separately for the Irish language and Ulster Scots - before DUP leader Arlene Foster stated categorically her party would not support a stand-alone Irish language act.

In a report earlier this year to the Council of Europe on the treatment of minority languages, the UK government omitted information on how it was dealing with Irish and Ulster Scots.

Last year, the Council of Europe hit out at the UK government for failing to do enough to promote the cultural importance of the Cornish language.

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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