It would be good to hear more from the DUP about the “Culture Act” Gerry Adams told the Dail yesterday was “meaningless” He’s not necessarily the best conduit for the proposal. May we decide for ourselves please DUP? .
Most of his speech was an uncanny repetition of Michelle O’Neill’s latest.
Regrettably, the DUP’s approach throughout the talks was to engage in a minimalist way on all of these key issues. There was no substantive progress on any matter.
A DUP proposal to introduce a so-called Culture Act is a case in point. This was to encompass the Irish language; Ulster Scots and a British armed forces covenant. What on earth has the Irish language got to do with the British armed forces? What on earth has a British armed forces covenant got to do with any legislation about language rights? It was entirely inappropriate. While Sinn Féin has no difficulty with supporting Ulster Scots – it is a very essential part of our culture and has been for 400 years – what is required is a stand-alone Irish language Act. What was on offer was meaningless, had no legislative authority, no strategy, no power, no funding, no teeth. This is unacceptable. During the talks the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Deputy Flanagan, assured our team that he supported the need for a free-standing Acht na Gaeilge. He has also made the case privately and publicly at a lecture for Pat Finucane, the murdered human rights lawyer, that the British Government needs to fulfil its outstanding obligations on the funding of legacy inquests…
It is a mistake to think that the talks failed over an Irish Language Act. That was part of it, but the main fault lies within the DUP’s refusal to embrace an equality or a rights-based future.
“Totally opposed “ to Direct Rule
Sinn Féin has no objection to the British Secretary of State leaving some time for further discussions to take place and our team, led by Michelle O’Neill, is engaging with the other parties as we speak. However, we are totally opposed to, and we would look to the Irish Government to oppose, any new legislation to bring back direct rule. The new dispensation for the relationship between these islands is set out in the Good Friday Agreement. This governs the disputed territory and it has to be upheld.
“Joint letter” approach to Brexit sought from the DUP
We are also very mindful that the British Prime Minister Theresa May is today triggering Article 50 of the Lisbon treaty. The social, economic and political implications of this for the island of Ireland and for the relationship between our two islands are enormous. While it would be better if the North was speaking through the Executive with one voice in opposition to Brexit, the reality is that the DUP and UUP support the pro-Brexit position of the British Tory Party and of UKIP. Nonetheless, Sinn Féin is working with all the other party leaders to agree as united a position as possible and we are seeking a joint platform with all of the parties on Brexit, including the DUP, based generally on the letter released by Arlene Foster and Martin McGuinness. This is especially important given that the British Prime Minister has been dismissive of any meaningful involvement by the devolved administrations in the Brexit issue.