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Alliance's tribal jibe was a slur on Irish language

This week's attack on the Irish speaking community by the Alliance Party follows on from comments by the same party during an Assembly debate in November about an Irish language strategy when they referred to Irish speakers as "a tribe". Whilst their recent comments may be part of an effort to woo Unionist and loyalist voters prior to May's elections it is nonetheless shameful.

This week's attack was in response to Conor Murphy's proposal to give communities the option to erect Irish signage in their towns and villages if they requested it (at no cost to DRD). There are of course already town place name signs in parts of North Antrim such as Ballycastle and Cushendall which are in both Irish and English. This has not led to a "tribal ghettoising carve up of the area" as the Alliance's Judith Cochrane ludicrously alleged. Is the Alliance Party seriously suggesting that GAA clubs, schools and other groups who have a sign in the Irish language outside their premises or on a road side are involved in "tribal ghettoising"?

Promoting an indigenous language is normal in the rest of Ireland, Scotland, Wales and indeed most of Europe. The argument which Alliance is putting forward has been the doctrine of the DUP and UUP for years and is based on intolerance.

David Ford, as leader of Alliance, owes the Irish language and Irish cultural community an apology for these slanderous comments. His party talks a lot about a shared future, but the Alliance version of a shared future clearly does not include promoting the Irish language and culture.

Daithí McKay

Sinn Fein MLA, North Antrim


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