SDLP South Belfast MP Claire Hanna has said the UK Government must ensure that there can be no further blockage of Irish language rights in Northern Ireland.
She was speaking after an SDLP amendment to the Identity and Language (Northern Ireland Bill) was defeated in the Commons on Wednesday, with the legislation passing its final reading.
The amendment seeked to compel the Secretary of State to ensure the legislation is carried out, even without an Executive or Executive Office in place or if any attempt was made to block part of the legislation.
South Belfast MP Ms Hanna said:
“The amendment brought forward by the SDLP today would have guaranteed that all parts of the government legislation, as agreed by the parties at New Decade, New Approach (NDNA), would be brought forward even without the institutions in place. It would also have stopped any further attempt to block the implementation of language rights by any Minister or party.
“Despite the failure of the amendment, we need the UK Government to provide reassurances that the passage of this bill through Parliament will finally see hard-won language rights introduced for people in Northern Ireland. Campaigners have fought tirelessly for well over a decade to see the Irish language formally recognised here and there can be no further delay.
“It’s disappointing that nearly three years on from agreement at NDNA, we are still having to fight for overdue language rights. The provisions of this bill will be beneficial for people in Northern Ireland, they will foster growth and recognition of language and recognise the important role it plays in our culture. We cannot allow political failure or brinkmanship to get in the way any longer.”