United Nations call for Irish Language Act

The United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights has called for the adoption of an Irish language Act ….

The Committee is concerned that there is still no protection in respect of the Irish language in Northern Ireland, whereas the Welsh and the Gaelic languages are protected by the Welsh Language Act 1993 and the Gaelic Language (Scotland) Act 2005, respectively. (arts. 15 and 2)
The Committee recommends that the State party, or the devolved administration in Northern Ireland, adopt an Irish Language Act, with a view to preserving and promoting minority languages and cultural heritage, and invites the State party to provide detailed information on the progress made in its next periodic report.

This development is understood to be as a result of lobbying by the Irish language group POBAL and has been welcomed by Gaelic speaking MEP, Bairbre de Brún.

POBAL chief executive, Janet Muller is to be heard speaking on this subject on last nights Blas program on BBC Raidió Uladh.

Unfortunately for the Gaelic language in Ulster and its speakers, the demographics of Northern Ireland guarantee that there can be no Irish language act, at least in this generation and the British government shows no inclination towards the commitments it made in the St. Andrew’s agreement, they never will in my opinion, though they may be persuadable on certain aspects of the proposed legislation. Due to devolution both Westminister and Stormont would have to consent to the various aspects which would constitute an Irish language act.

Despite this, Irish speakers will view the UN stance as an important moral victory and vindication in what is sure to be a campaign measured in years. The lack of further protection for the Irish language in education will be of particular concern for many given the seeming inevitabilty of a DUP education minister next time round and that party’s attitute towards the sector.

Freelance journalist, working mostly in Irish.

Have my own independent news website – antuairisceoir.com – which is in constant need of material.

I am the former editor of the newspaper Gaelscéal, www.gaelsceal.ie