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Enough cash blown on Irish language already

 

The current debate around Sinn Fein's demand for a stand-alone Irish Language Act has thrown up a number of facts which were probably not widely known and which are, frankly, alarming.

I was aware that there has been significant expenditure on Irish language issues in recent years, even without an Irish Language Act. What I have only recently learned was that Stormont has spent around £171m on the Irish language over the last five years.

That averages over £34m per year and I'm guessing that figure will not decrease if there is an ILA.

I seem to remember an understandable public furore over the prospect of RHI expenditure of £500m over 20 years: an average annual figure of 'only' £25m up in smoke.

What were the Stormont political parties thinking when they splashed out £171m on Irish language issues, at a time when our economy is under severe financial pressures?

How much better could that £171m have been spent? How many potholes could have been filled? How many overgrown roadside hedges cut back? How many leaking school roofs repaired? How many new school books purchased? How many more doctors and nurses employed in our hospitals?

For starters, that deeply worrying £70m 'black hole' in our local NHS budget could have been filled. But, no, instead of spending that money on all of the people of Northern Ireland, Stormont politicians shook the magic money tree and flung £171m of taxpayers' hard-earned cash at Irish language speakers.

Heaven help the local health service if Sinn Fein get their Irish Language Act and the Ulster-Scots lobby gets a 'financial package' as a quid pro quo.

Judging by the financial decisions taken by Stormont in recent years, the long-suffering citizens of Northern Ireland simply cannot afford the return of the financially illiterate Stormont politicians.

My advice to Stormont is the same as Cromwell's advice to the equally useless 'Rump Parliament' in 1653: "In the name of God, go!"

MASON POWELL

Belfast

 

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