Belfast Telegraph

State papers: Bid to 'depoliticise' Irish language years before Stormont power-sharing impasse

By Michael McHugh

The UK Government was attempting to depoliticise the Irish language in 1990.

A report discussed among civil servants suggested a "quiet but progressive" approach had succeeded in developing the tongue while avoiding negativism and divisiveness.

An official from the NIO summarised the conclusions, decades before the Irish Language Act became a key sticking point in the current negotiations to restore Stormont power-sharing.

He wrote: "It was necessary to underline that the British Government were not and would not be working towards bilingualism.

"Great strides had been made in assisting the development of the Irish language and while the pace of progress might not suit everyone it had to be recognised that the British Government had done a great deal.

"The British Government were well aware of the need to depoliticise the Irish language... those who doubted the British Government's commitment and work in this area should contrast the position with that which was obtained 10 years ago.

"The quiet but progressive approach which had been adhered to during that period had succeeded in developing the Irish language while avoiding negativism and divisiveness."

A Standing Advisory Commission on Human Rights had said the Government was good at implementing "soft" recommendations like social and environmental issues.

However, it added it was very poor in accepting hard recommendations like law and order, security and human rights.

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