Belfast Telegraph

Loyalists hold Stormont protest against Irish Language Act

Loyalist protesters outside Stormont yesterday
Loyalist protesters outside Stormont yesterday
Tawf Morgan (left) and John Ross of Unite Unionist
Allan Preston

By Allan Preston

A small group of loyalist protesters gathered at Stormont as the political talks restarted to urge the DUP not to agree to an Irish Language Act, which they claim would be used by Sinn Fein "to batter Protestants/unionists".

Six members of the Unite Unionist group stood in the rain holding Union flags yesterday while the parties continued negotiations inside Stormont House.

The group are calling for a single unionist party for Northern Ireland and claim Sinn Fein are only interested in "weaponising" the Irish language to destabilise Northern Ireland.

Spokesperson John Ross (66), from east Belfast, said: "The dogs in the street know that Sinn Fein want an Irish Language Act to weaponise it.

"It's a very well catered for language and we don't begrudge that. What we do object to is street signs being imposed in areas we don't want them.

"We object to people on the road from Dublin not knowing if they're in the north or the south because all the signs are in a dual language."

Asked about the work of Linda Ervine to promote the Irish language in east Belfast and who has also cited the history of Presbyterians speaking Irish, Mr Ross said: "I understand that, but people used to live in caves and I don't want to go and live in a cave. It's a dead language.

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"When you talk about the health crisis, why should we spend millions of pounds that we can ill-afford on an Irish Language Act?"

His wife Margaret Ross (67) said she did not want the latest Stormont talks to succeed and supported the return of direct rule.

"Sinn Fein are not interested in people learning Irish, they're interested in using the Irish language as another tool to promote the Republic of Ireland taking over Northern Ireland," she claimed. "It's just another tool to batter the Protestants with.

"I would rather Stormont wasn't back to business, I would like direct rule.

"I do not want that place (Stormont) back. I want to see the DUP having some backbone and saying no for a change and standing up for the Protestants instead of capitulating to Sinn Fein every time."

Donal Crawford, from Fermanagh, said he still objected to a decision by Sinn Fein in 2015 to locate an Irish school with just 40 children on the site of the 140-pupil Lisnaskea High School, which was closed due to low numbers.

At the time the then Education Minister, Sinn Fein's John O' Dowd, said the Irish-medium school had "outgrown" its premises and was only taking up part of the school site.

However, Mr Crawford said decisions like it had upset others, adding: "This is why people are so annoyed and against this Irish Language Act. It is weaponised... they will use it as a tool to beat the Protestant/unionist people with."

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