“The Executive Committee shall adopt a strategy..”

With the NI Executive’s Culture minister, the DUP’s Edwin Poots, expected to make a statement to the Assembly [new link] on the prospects, or otherwise, of an Irish language Act, it’s possibly worth looking back in the Slugger archive at this previous post. And worth looking at how any promises made via the St Andrews Agreement were translated into legislation via the St Andrews Act. Update [new link] The expected statement has now been made And Full ministerial statement here

“The enhancement and protection of the development of the Irish language is an important matter for Northern Ireland, as is the enhancement and protection of the Ulster-Scots language, heritage and culture,” [Edwin Poots] said.

“However, I remain unpersuaded that there is a compelling case for progressing legislation, at this time.

“There is, in my view, insufficient community consensus; potentially significant costs; and a real possibility that legislation could undermine good relations and in so doing prove counter productive to those wishing to see the language developed in a non-politicised and inclusive manner.”

From the St Andrews Act

15 Strategies relating to Irish language and Ulster Scots language etc

After section 28C of the 1998 Act insert—

28D Strategies relating to Irish language and Ulster Scots language etc

(1) The Executive Committee shall adopt a strategy setting out how it proposes to enhance and protect the development of the Irish language.

(2) The Executive Committee shall adopt a strategy setting out how it proposes to enhance and develop the Ulster Scots language, heritage and culture.

(3) The Executive Committee—

(a) must keep under review each of the strategies; and
(b) may from time to time adopt a new strategy or revise a strategy.”

That’s not to say that the Westminster government couldn’t impose such an Act. But, with it being a fully devolved matter, such an imposition would breach the Sewel Convention [pdf file] risking a political row with both Scotland and Wales at a time when the Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, may have other things on his mind..

Adds In the Belfast Telegraph, Noel McAdam quotes “Stormont sources”

“The cost of passing and then implementing the legislation would be too much and too difficult to justify in the current budgetary climate.

“It is also difficult in the current political climate. There is not the cross-community consensus for an Act at this stage,”

More In this report.

Update Mark Devenport quotes “informed sources”