Irish language project beats target
A campaign to encourage 1,000 people to sign up to becoming fluent in Irish has passed its target only months after being launched.
Culture Minister Caral Ni Chuilin, who unveiled the cross-community scheme to promote the language in September, has now confirmed the project's early success.
The sporting bodies for Gaelic games, football and rugby joined the minister at the Stormont launch of the plan to encourage 1,000 people to commit to becoming Liofa, or fluent, by 2015.
It emerged at the time that more than 100 police officers were among the first to sign-up to the project and the minister has announced that she has already passed her target.
"The Liofa project's initial target was to encourage 1,000 people from all walks of life across the North to sign up to becoming fluent in Irish by 2015," she told an event at the Culturlann Irish cultural centre in west Belfast.
"The fact that we have exceeded our target in less than four months is a great milestone and demonstrates that Irish is indeed a shared language that can be enjoyed by everyone."
The project was separate from the continuing political debate over the provision of legislation to promote and protect the language, and was aimed at promoting enjoyment of the learning experience.
The minister congratulated all those who had signed up and confirmed that she is among those who are trying to extend their knowledge of Irish to become fluent over the next four years.
"I am also taking part in this journey, as I have personally committed to achieving my gold Fainne and becoming fluent by 2015," she said.
"Like most people, I sometimes find it difficult to find the time to fit in my lessons. However the benefits of perseverance are beginning to pay off - an experience which I hope is being shared by others who have signed up to the challenge."