Arlene Foster spoke today at the 5 Leaders, 5 Days event, and covered a bit of controversial ground on the Irish Language.
John Manley of the Irish News captured this interesting little back-pedal from the DUP leader, failing to remember that she accepted some of the blame for the perception that she was anti nationalist or anti republican (from her Irish News article published only four days previous).
Mrs. Foster turned the question from John around to reference the Irish Language, which is what she really meant. The video can be found here.
Prior to drilling into the detail of what Arlene Foster said, it’s worth establishing the following: the Irish Language Act does not exist. It is not a thing. It is nothing more than a conversation topic. There is no framework, no current consultation, no committee evidence heard, no plenary session, no bill, no act, no schedule, appendices, not even so much as a cover page. – the Irish Language Act is a real as the Abolish Easter Licensing Laws Act. It is an idea, currently, nothing more.
Mrs. Foster however says of the ILA,
people are absolutely entitled, and if they want to be, encouraged to express themselves through their love of the Irish Language or indeed their love of Irish Culture.
My difficulty with the Irish Language Act around the cost piece, around the fact that it would have equity and equality with the English language, that in terms of the civil service there would have to be affirmative action for people who were Irish speakers. That there would be criminal offences if people didn’t co-operate with an Irish Language Commissioner. All of those things.
Arlene Foster seems to be willing to speak publicly on what is in the Irish Language Act – even down to how it will be translated into criminal law. Foster did however stop short of telling us the sentencing guidelines for not having dual-language special offers signs in supermarkets.
If Arlene Foster and the DUP as a whole, are against the Irish Language Act because of the above, well then given that they
have had a majority of seats in the Assembly, an have had the ability to deploy the Petition of Concern at will, blocking whatever they so choose… what have they to fear from an Irish Language Act?
Should an Irish Language Act come to pass, legislators will legislate for what it contains then, what provisions it allows for and all that other good stuff, it’s very odd that the former First Minister seems to already know what that Act will look like.