Belfast Telegraph

Orange Order refuses to give its backing to proposals because of 'far-reaching' provision for Gaelic speakers

The Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland has said it
The Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland has said it "cannot support" the new deal to restore power-sharing due to the provision of an Irish Language Commissioner
Ralph Hewitt

By Ralph Hewitt

The Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland has said it "cannot support" the new deal to restore power-sharing due to the provision of an Irish Language Commissioner.

Published by the UK and Irish Governments on Thursday, the document, New Decade, New Approach, offered a deal which meant no party could wield a single veto. It also said that there would be an Irish Language Commissioner put in place instead of a standalone Irish Language Act.

However, in a statement the Orange Order said it has very serious concerns over the deal and described its provision for Irish language as "far-reaching".

"The Orange Institution has, on many occasions, stated its opposition to such legislative provision and has clearly articulated this message in the media and to our politicians and government," read the statement.

"The detailed raft of proposals including the provision of an Irish Language Commissioner are clearly at odds with the stated view of the Institution and as such, we cannot support them."

The Order also expressed concern at "ambiguous" references to Ulster-Scots and Ulster-British culture when compared to Irish language proposals outlined in the deal. It is feared within the institution that there is a severe lack of detail and delivery mechanisms on Ulster-Scots culture.

"As British citizens living in the United Kingdom we have a complex and multi-layered identity which in many areas is wider than simply 'Ulster-Scots'," continued the Orange Order.

"We remain unconvinced that the cultural traditions and identity of the Orange family will be meaningfully promoted or safeguarded by these proposals."

DUP leader Arlene Foster conceded parts of the deal will be challenging for people she represents. She said: "But overall and on the whole I feel that it's a fair and balanced deal and that's why we were able to recommend it last night to our party officers and to the elected representatives. I think people will note that while there is a recognition of the facilitation of Irish language, there is also very much a recognition of those of us who are Ulster British and live here in Northern Ireland as well, and many mechanisms to strengthen the Union."

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