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Queen showed how to respect Irish language

On May 18, 2011, in a historic visit to Dublin Castle, Queen Elizabeth II, in a magnanimous show of respect for the Irish language addressed the gathering with "A Uachtarain, agus a chairde".

Five days later on May 23 in College Green, former US President Barack Obama in addressing tens of thousands of citizens, courteously paid due regard to Ireland's native tongue when he said: "Is feidir linn".

It was regrettable, but not surprising, that in November 2014 the DUP MLA Gregory Campbell, when addressing the Stormont Assembly, aligned himself, not with the respectful sentiments of Queen Elizabeth II, President Obama and civilised society, but with bile and bitterness by saying that he would treat a proposed Irish language act like toilet paper.

Some other unionist members of the Assembly cannot conceal their contempt and loathing of the Irish language, some referring to it as leprechaun language. It is this ignorant dismissal of an important aspect of Irish culture by elected unionists that makes it imperative that demands for a freestanding piece of legislation that would enshrine statutory protections for the Irish language is vigorously pursued.

It appears the philistines and curmudgeons of unionism are still unwilling to endorse an Irish Language Act despite Sinn Fein, the SDLP, Alliance Party, the Green Party, and People before Profit joining forces to call for an Irish Language Act.

Ireland's fine Protestant cultural tradition, honed over the centuries which gave us the likes of Berkeley, Burke, Swift, Hyde and Yeats, should not be allowed to be defined by the current political crop at Stormont.

Tom Cooper


Belfast Telegraph Digital

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