Bradley: Irish Language Act is an act for everyone
The Newry and Armagh MLA, who has been to the forefront of the fight to bring forth legislation for an Irish Language Act at the Assembly, said language acts in the Republic, Wales and Scotland show nobody has anything to fear from legislation here.
He said: “The SDLP continues to fight for an Irish Language Act, and to stand with community groups such as POBAL and Turas, who visited Stormont this week to outline their anger that there is still no movement on the commitment to bring in legislation that was promised at St Andrews.
“Latest census figures show 184,898 people here have an knowledge of Irish, 11 per cent of the population in the North. A sizeable amount of people speak Irish as their language of choice, every day, in their homes, their neighbourhoods and their place of work.
“Irish is a rich, ancient language with its own historical literature. It is an official language of the European Union. In the north, notable recognition was given to the Irish language within the parameters of the Good Friday Agreement and on the European Charter of Regional and Minority Languages and under other international legislation.
“It’s quite clear that not enough is being done to protect the language from ignorant and blatant sectarian attack.
“The SDLP believes that the Irish language is available for everyone. It has the ability to bring our two communities together through the learning of our shared history and heritage. Throughout the world people are learning Irish. There are Irish language groups in many European countries, in the USA, Australia and Canada to name a few, where living Gaeltachts are thriving.
“Legislation would help grow and protect the language against attack. There are language acts in the south, in Wales and in Scotland. They pose a threat to no-one. Northern Ireland is the only place on these islands where the indigenous language is not enshrined in legislation.
“That was promised at St Andrews in 2006. Eight years later, it is long overdue. Irish is for everybody and an Irish Language Act is for everyone.”