Use of Irish in Parliament meant to reflect shared heritage in Northern Ireland, says Alliance's Farry
Newly-elected North Down MP Stephen Farry began his maiden speech in Parliament yesterday with a sentence in Irish, suggesting the gesture reflected the "shared heritage" of the Irish language in Northern Ireland. "Go raibh maith agat, Leas-Cheann Comhairle," the Alliance MP said as he began his first remarks to the House of Commons chamber.
The phrase means "Thank you very much, Deputy Speaker" and is often used in the Irish Parliament in Dublin by TDs, as well as in the Northern Ireland Assembly by some nationalist MLAs. Mr Farry continued: "I want my first formal comments in the chamber to be in Irish, to reflect the shared heritage of the language across all the traditions in Northern Ireland.
"I am also very pleased to be here as a representative of the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland, following in the footsteps of my party leader Naomi Long."
The Alliance MP also paid tribute to Lady Hermon, the previous holder of the North Down seat, describing her as someone who had been a "diligent member over 18 years, and conducted herself with tremendous integrity".
Mr Farry's party do not accept the UK's 2016 referendum decision to leave the EU, and in his speech he also indicated that he would be voting against the Government's Withdrawal Agreement.
In the event, the Government won yesterday's Withdrawal Agreement vote by 358 to 254.