Linda Ervine is set to address the Seanad, the Senate of Ireland the upper house of the Oireachtas, to mark Seachtain na Gaeilge on Thursday.
The prominent Irish language activist was invited to address the House during the festival, an annual international event promoting the Irish language and culture, both in Ireland and all around the world.
Ms Ervine is the Manager of the Turas Irish Language Project at the East Belfast Mission and President of East Belfast GAA. Last year, she was awarded an MBE by the Queen for services to the Irish language.
Senator Mark Daly, the cathaoirleach or chairperson, said he’s “delighted” Ms Ervine accepted the invitation. “I am a great advocate for how language and culture can deepen our connections throughout this island,” he said.
“Linda has been a stalwart in her community in east Belfast, promoting the Irish language to connect people from traditionally Protestant/Unionist/Loyalist communities with their own history.
“Since the establishment of the Turas project in 2012, Linda and her colleagues have been working hard to provide Irish classes to non-traditional learners of the language. She has shown that language is a medium that can unite communities, promote reconciliation and heal divisions through learning about our shared history and culture,” he said.
Senator Daly was the work of Irish language project Turas has gone from strength to strength in recent years since it was established in 2011. “In addition to regular classes, they have established a scholarship scheme to encourage language learners to undertake third-level qualifications in Irish,” he said.
“It is a testament to the impressive work of Linda and her colleagues in teaching and promoting the language, that six out of nine of their scholarship students are from a Protestant background and did not have the opportunity to learn Irish in school or at home. Linda herself is currently undertaking a degree in Irish from Queen’s University Belfast.”
The address to Seanad Eireann can be viewed live on Oireachtas TV.