Belfast Telegraph

UUP attacks Sinn Fein push for Irish Language Act

By Suzanne Breen

Three Ulster Unionist councillors launched a blistering attack on Sinn Fein's demand for an Irish Language Act at their party's annual conference.

Mid Ulster councillor Trevor Wilson noted that Sinn Fein had not bothered to include Irish language legislation in the Programme for Government when it held office at Stormont.

"Now that they see a few votes in it, they're suddenly interested," he said.

"And like every other issue they pick up on, they'll press it until the pips squeak no matter what the consequences for this country.

"Waiting lists - doesn't matter.

"School budgets - doesn't matter.

"Welfare reform - doesn't matter.

"It's all right for Gerry Adams. He can fly to the United States for private health treatment.

"Meanwhile the rest of us mere mortals have to sit and wait."

Mr Wilson said the Union flag no longer flies on his council's civic buildings, the premises' signs were now all bilingual, poppy boxes had been removed from the main council premises, the Irish language was the first language on headed council notepaper, and five times more was spent on Irish than on Ulster-Scots.

"I'll tell you how that makes me feel and I would say the majority of unionists in Mid Ulster - it's still 'Brits Out'," he added.

"Mid Ulster Council is rapidly becoming a cold house for unionists.

"It may have the facade of power-sharing but in reality it is majority rule in Mid Ulster. And that's a fact."

Belfast Ulster Unionist Deputy Lord Mayor Sonia Copeland, said that her two children spoke Irish, but she accused Sinn Fein of using the language as "a weapon" against its enemies.

Newry, Mourne and Down District councillor David Taylor also opposed an Irish Language Act.

He added that being a unionist on the council wasn't "a particularly pleasant or comfortable experience at times".

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