SDLP West Belfast representative Paul Doherty has urged support for an Irish language march in Belfast this weekend.
An Dream Dearg are organising the march on Saturday calling for the British government and Stormont to ensure that the Irish language commitments in New Decade, New Approach are delivered upon.
Mr Doherty said the march was an opportunity to send a clear message that language rights were long-overdue and must be introduced as soon as possible.
The march will begin at Cultúrlann McAdam Ó Fiaich at 1pm and travel to Belfast City Hall.
Mr Doherty said:
“I’m looking forward to joining with thousands of Irish language activists from right across the North and further afield on Saturday to send a clear message that we must see Irish language legislation introduced as soon as possible. A cultural package for language rights was agreed over two years ago as part of New Decade, New Approach (NDNA) and we have waited far too long already to see this become a reality.
“I have been continually inspired by the strength and determination of our Irish language community and their crusade to see rights delivered, the SDLP has always stood with them despite a number of unfair roadblocks being placed in their way. The Irish language poses no threat to anybody and it’s deeply regrettable that others have tried to weaponise it or use it to score cheap political points.
“It’s fitting that this march is starting in West Belfast, a community where the Irish language thrives and plays a huge part in our everyday lives. From our Irish-language medium schools, the local GAA and sports clubs, our language classes for people of all ages and abilities and our Irish language community groups, West Belfast is one of the heartlands of the language in the North.
“The DUP signed up to this legislation at NDNA, and when they failed to live up to their agreement the British government promised to introduce it at Westminster. There can be no further delays, the Irish language community just want to be treated with equality and respect and they cannot be denied any longer.”