Belfast Telegraph

Irish language bill to be published

Proposals for an Irish language act in Northern Ireland are to be published next month.

Culture Minister Caral Ni Chuilin has outlined plans to circulate Irish and Ulster Scots strategies later this month and open a consultation on an act protecting Gaelic in February.

Senior Democratic Unionist Gregory Campbell has said he would treat demands for Irish legislation as no more than toilet paper.

Sinn Fein MLA Rosie McCorley said: "Irish speakers will welcome the long-awaited progress on this important issue.

"The rights of Irish speakers need to be afforded official protection in legislation.

"This consultation will also show those who have been opposed to Acht na Gaeilge in the past that the Irish language belongs to all our people and threatens no one.

"It will give everyone the opportunity to see just what an Irish language act contains and debunk any myths which have surrounded over recent times."

She said an Irish language act was a key outstanding commitment of the 2006 St Andrews Agreement which paved the way for power sharing.

There have been calls to protect the language. But unionists including some in the DUP have been fiercely opposed to the plan; First Minister Peter Robinson accused his opponents of using the tongue for political purposes.

If the act is raised before the Executive it would need unionist support to proceed.

Last year Mr Campbell began an address to the assembly with: "Curry my yoghurt can coca coalyer", in imitation of the Irish sentence "go raibh maith agat, Ceann Comhairle" which translates as "thank you, Speaker".

Mr Campbell started his speech at a DUP party conference by saying it was always good to start the day with a healthy breakfast.

He then brought out a tub of yoghurt and said: "So I got some yoghurt today.

"And I'm looking forward to lunch, because they tell me there's some curry there."

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