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Sinn Fein dismisses 10% Irish speakers in civil service demand claim as 'bunkum'

By Jonathan Bell

Sinn Fein has dismissed a claim by an Alliance MLA that it is seeking a clause in an Irish Language Act that 10% of new civil service staff should be Irish speakers.

Kellie Armstrong claimed the republican party wanted the "sun, the moon and the stars" from the failed talks process.

She clarified that her 10% claim came from a Conradh na Gaeilge discussion document which called for one in 10 new recruits to be fluent in Irish.

Responding, Mairtin O Muilleoir told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: "That's what we call bunkum here. We don't want to see any more rights for Irish speakers than what there is in the south of Ireland.

"And of course in the St Andrews Agreement of 2006, the British Government committed to bringing forward an Irish language act."

In 2015 Irish language act proposals, set out by Sinn Fein minister Caral Ni Chuilin, it called for the "provision for affirmative action in favour of Irish speakers in recruitment to the civil service and other public bodies".

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UUP leader Robin Swann described a quota for Irish speakers for public jobs as "unacceptable" and said Sinn Fein should outline what figure that had originally intended.

"This is one example of why any reasonable person could not agree to the proposals for an Irish Language Act. Sinn Fein need to make clear what figure they had in mind in their 2015 proposals where they supported affirmative action.

“Stormont has just spent many millions on a Voluntary Exit Scheme for civil servants as an outworking of the Stormont House and Fresh Start Agreements. One can only imagine what kind of expensive scheme Sinn Fein have in mind in order to recruit enough Irish speakers to the civil service to suit them.

"Then no doubt in short order, attention will turn to the police and other public bodies. And let us never forget, the 2011 Census told us that some 4,045 people (0.2%) use Irish as their main home language.”

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