Adams says no Assembly without an Irish Language Act

The Sinn Fein President, Gerry Adams was speaking at an event organised by Conradh na Gaeilge.

Also at the event supporting an act were the SDLP, Alliance, PBP and Green parties (combined they make up 50/90 MLAs).

In the lead up to remarks expected by the DUP Leader, Arlene Foster tomorrow night about the future of devolution, Adams said;

“The British Government and Unionist parties have failed to fulfil their commitment to an Acht Gaeilge and to the full implementation of the Good Friday and St Andrew’s Agreements. 

“Implementation of these matters must be a bedrock of any future Executive.

“Equality must be a bedrock for any future Executive. 

“The rights of Irish speakers must be recognised and respected.

“Acht Gaeilge is a right, like a Bill of Rights, marriage equality and the rights of families to coroners’ inquests.

“These basic rights are protected in England, Scotland, Wales and the rest of Ireland. It is time they were extended to citizens living in the North.”


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  • Aodh Morrison

    Indeed. I often wonder to whom are Irish nationalists referring to when they demand that unionists be ‘more like the British’.

    What cultural norm connects a north Wales Ukipper and vote leaver with a north London europhile Corbynista? I have often found that a diversity of opinion and cultural totems is perhaps the defining British characteristic.

    On the language question specifically in the UK context, and using Wales (somewhere I know quite well of late) concerns about Welsh provision that moves away from ‘need’ (the raison d’être of the Welsh Language Act) are quite common.

    When these questions are raised (and by no means are they the product of the fevered imaginations of English incomers) they are not met with cries of ‘bigotry’ and ‘lack of respect’.

    Perhaps the percentages of Welsh speakers in Wales (something Ireland south or north is nowhere near emulating) is reflective of an environment in which legitimate concerns can be raised in a healthy debate, and not, as in NI in particular, as a opener to yet another reprise of ‘800 Years of Oppression’s Greatest Hits’.

  • Glenn

    The Above shows the dilemma of modern UK. Do we pay for health, education water, roads, farm subsidies etc or do we give in to all demands and have a language act for a few? I still go for the hip replacement and the NHS especially that my brother was rushed to hospital last night and is in a serious condition.

    I put Life over a language, roadsigns and multi language letters and official documents.

    Swamping the hospital in Irish isn’t going to improve my brothers condition or treatment.

  • sparrow

    Calling for an Arabic Language Act in Bradford would be akin to unionists here suggesting that Polish or Cantonese or Ulster Scots be included alongside Irish in a Language Act. None of those are indigenous languages, none are under threat (Polish is thriving in Poland, by all accounts). Ulster Scots is not a distinct language, it is a dialect of English and should be accorded the same treatment as dialects elsewhere. Here’s one way in which it could be recorded and preserved:
    Irish alone, in Ireland, is the type of language the UN seeks to protect and promote.

  • james

    Hmmm…. Respect is a one way street for you, isn’t?

    That, really, is the kind of cultural supremacist attitude which is scuppering the push for an ILA.

    Why do Irish speakers get their inflated sense of entitlement from?

    Speakers of Polish, Cantonese, Urdu, Portuguese, Spanish and, yes, Ulster Scots are no less deserving than speakers of Irish. They have no less right to be here than speakers of Irish.

  • james

    I think he’s right. There is a massively disproportionate funneling of finding towards Irish already.

  • Karl

    So tell me what unionists are primarily?
    Are they British?
    Are they a sub section of British?
    Are they Irish?
    Are they Northern Irish?
    Given the point you raise in your first line.
    Each of the 4 raises a lot of questions about how they are to be treated and their goals and aspirations viewed.

  • sparrow

    Please cut and paste the bits where I’ve said that Poles, Spanish, Portugese, etc have no right to be here. Cut and paste too where I’ve said that they are less deserving. I’ll wait until you’ve done that before I respond further. I’d hate to be trying to have a discussion with someone who just makes stuff up.

  • james

    Well, I’m “suggesting that Polish or Cantonese or Ulster Scots be included alongside Irish in a Language Act.”

    You say that shouldn’t happen on the grounds that
    ” None of those are indigenous languages….”

    My thinking is that once these people have children here, and most commonly they do continue to speak their first language in the home, then the mother tongue of people born here may indeed be Polish, Urdu, Cantonese, Spanish, Lithuanian or whatever it happens to be.

    If we ‘need’ a language act then it should accurately reflect and respect the actual languages used here. On what grounds is Irish more deserving than Polish in a Languages Act?

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Zigactly, if a water provision act provided for the desired goals of the language advocates then so be it, mission accomplished.

  • mickfealty

    My “conviction” as you put it is that there’s nothing to be gained by flat-packing democracy. Even Jim with the DUP is 29. Would there be DUP defectors? I don’t know. But its not looking like we’re getting a chance.

    Now, there’s a possibility there’s another vote hanging around somewhere, but if it doesn’t materialise, it’s through. If there’s another election, that window almost certainly closes again.

    Now, how does anyone think there’s much to be gained from moving into silent negotiation mode directly? A “silent negotiation mode” which has been remarkable in the past for the barrenness of product?

  • Karl

    It didnt do much for me. It smacked a bit of rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. The real issue is that unionism is losing its majority. It is a few steps behind the rest of the western world in its outlook to social issues and it is using the fear of a UI, over which they keep insisting will never happen, to focus their electorates attention away from substantive issues to the border.
    Until this is dealt with there is no point for new parties or anything else.

  • Get The Grade Get The Grade

    James, your analogy couldn’t be any more ridiculous. I’ve come to the conclusion you are simply afraid of the Irish language – it’s re-establishment in the North deeply unsettles you.

  • The Saint

    I’d imagine things like Irish teacher maybe translators etc, naturally one would relevant competencies to work in a specific area.

    I could hardly work as an accountant without those qualifications, is that discrimination?

    As stated an ILA will not impinge negatively. And I have no interest to inform on any possible Ulster S.act, however I would support it.

    James you’ve lobbed in everything from the troubles to discrimination. You’ve claimed not to understand that what I state is what I mean and continually draw from what I write the most outlandish and offensive things which were clearly not stated.

    You have summed up unionist intransigence in this thread and in many others with a robotic adherence to the “no surrender” defunct mindset.
    Unionists like you may very well like to consider yourself “british” but in reality paticularlt to real Britons from actual Britain they see right through this over compensation with a culture more alien to them than anything “on these Isles”. Il wager you didnt need a me to tell you that either.

  • The worm!

    There’s a chinese takeaway in Cushendall where you can hear English, Ulster-Scots, and Chinese all from the same person in the space of a couple of minutes.

    Now that’s a proper language fest if that’s your thing, and it didn’t take any act, public money, or artificially created circumstances to bring it about, it just happened.

    I still don’t get why any language needs any legislation or any money spent on it. It’s not like it’s banned or you need an operation to allow you to speak it.

    It just seems such a faff when there are many, many much more important things to deal with.

  • The Saint

    if I might paraphrase you from earlier, surely a case of it’s both or none. Joint authority or Stormont. Return to direct rule is unacceptable and the present assembly numbers clearly bear that to be a matter of fact.

  • Stephen Kelly

    Sorry there are about 15 different translators in Craigavon hospital and my doctors surgery so no hip replacements sorry. But lets all get together on both sides and vote for the block grant to be 15 billion you know it makes sense.

  • Stephen Kelly

    No no no the truth is the block grant is to small we need it increased to about 15 billion to be comfortable.

  • Stephen Kelly

    Its all over the guardian its everywhere i wish people wouldn’t write erm.

  • Stephen Kelly

    No no no increase the block grant to a proper amount so my sister in-law doesn’t have to worry about `15 different types of translater’s coming out of her health budget see its simple the block grant is to small.

  • Concubhar O Liathain

    Facts, not fanciful notions,if you please James.

  • james

    “Republicans like you may very well like to consider yourself “Irish” but in reality paticularly to actual Irish from actual Ireland they see right through this over compensation”(paraphrased).

    Now would you consider that offensive?

  • Concubhar O Liathain

    Poor James has no game except his extreme anti Irish attitude. Note how he segues from an ILA to an Arabic Language Act. I believe there should be an ILA and if others mount a vigorous campaign for Urdu or Polish or Ulster Scots legislation, that should be considered then. At present the campaign for an Irish Language Act is the only visible campaign.

  • Concubhar O Liathain

    Exactly what I proposed here: The only caveat is where is the campaign by Ulster Scots language activists for legislation to protect their language?

  • Distancerunner

    I expect Steven Agnew looks forward to an assembly where the parties are willing to work together on the basis of compromise and move forward to achieve the bigger goals, rather than that they participate on the principle of ‘not an inch’ and the minority veto. This is the deeper meaning of the SF demand.

    The cost implications of an Irish language Act are trifling in the scheme of things.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    I think as you say it’s only used as a petty pawn to check any perceived advance on an ILA.
    I think it should be included to some degree but I really resent how its gone from being a language to ‘prods only’ club with surgically carved parts weeked off of Scottish culture.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    indeed, there’s a wide acceptance in Wales that encouraging Welsh is a Good Thing, whether you personally speak it or not. It threatens no one and it’s not really divisive. In the Northern Ireland context the use of Gaelic plays into a quite different cultural dynamic, one where two competing groups feel threatened by the assertion and territory marking of the other group. It’s a language that deserves to be funded and cherished and all that too. Hence I support legislation to help its growth if it helps. But we’d be naive to pretend there aren’t really sensitivities to be taken account of around its use in shared spaces in particular. Rightly or wrongly it is widely seen as the badge of one community and not the other and sensitivity over any big change in its public role is therefore required.

  • 05OCT68

    Well it seems millions of British believed the lie. it was after all premised as a promise. And the lies told by Brexiteers are partially responsible for the Trump presidency. Trump a keen observer of the Brexit campaign realized the bigger the lie the more a gullible electorate will believe it. Build a wall not happening, getting out out Afghanistan, not happening, sort out healthcare, not happening.

  • Concubhar O Liathain

    The Ulster Scots language needs to be protected from the DUP. And Nelson McCausland.

  • NotNowJohnny

    The problem with your argument is that you only focus on the Irish language before health and not farm subsidies, translation services for polish people in police stations or the Ulster orchestra. On this basis it seems that your real issue is not that the health service requires more funding but rather that the Irish language should get any.

  • jporter

    Indeed. Gerry knows rightly that anything he says will immediately have the DUP shouting for the opposite, so they effectively end up doing his work for him.

  • The Saint

    I’m afraid you haven’t answered my question in relation to is it discrimination for one qualified in a field to work in that filed, is that discrimination?

    You must have thin skin? didn’t you mention something about Irish not being as canny in an earlier post? It would serve you well to treat to neighbours as equals second place isn’t going to happen again to either community.

  • jporter

    As I’ve said many times before, the successful persuaders for a united Ireland will not be Sinn Fein, but the DUP with their ‘not an inch’ attitude.
    An Irish language act could have been an easy giveaway for them in terms of a longer game and a way of showing respect for the nationalist community, but their utter arrogance and lack of political nous means that, as usual, they have already painted themselves into a corner with bluster and insults.
    Go for a stand alone act with costs to be decided later (Gerry’s even gifted them this bit with his lack of detail) and SF are immediately on the back foot and without reasons not to go back into the assembly.

  • jporter

    All the more reason for the DUP to call his bluff on it.

  • jporter

    The ‘dilemma’ which is an utter fiction in one of world’s richest nations.

  • jporter

    Without invented ideological austerity, we can afford both.

  • jporter

    Absolutely spot on.

  • jporter

    Every utterance he makes is a wind up. The sad thing is how well it works.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Yes. A thousand times yes.

  • Nevin

    The DUP and SF are both intransigent and they have a mutual veto on The Executive Office. My point about the Green Party support for the current SF boycott stands.

  • Nevin

    The DUP and SF are both intransigent and they have a mutual veto on The Executive Office. My point about Green Party support for the current SF boycott stands.

  • Distancerunner

    Inevitably SF will drive hard when faced with the blanket ‘No’ to any proposal seen as a concession to Irish identity – that is the essence of unionism as reflected by the DUP. It is what renders power-sharing non-viable ultimately, but what SF nevertheless continually strives to overcome.

    Your point about the Green Party can hardly stand when the cost objection has been torn to shreds and lacks credibility.

  • Get The Grade Get The Grade

    Muslims have been settled in Yorkshire for a good while. George Galloway calling for an Arabic Language Act in Bradford, ironically, would be akin to Enoch Powell (if he were still alive) calling for an Ulster Scots Language Act in the North.

  • Nevin

    I wouldn’t describe SF as the essence of Irish nationalism – even if or when constitutional nationalist parties occasionally offer the political wing of the PRM a comfort blanket.

  • sparrow

    One of the main reasons for an Irish Language Act is to preserve the language. The UN for one recognises that some languages are threatened with extinction and that a language lost is a loss to all of us.
    Irish is the ancient language of this island and is spoken nowhere else. If we don’t protect it, noone else will. The other languages you mention – Polish, Urdu, Cantonese, etc – may well be spoken by people native to this land, but they are spoken by millions of people around the world and are in no danger.

  • james

    Ok, granted.

    But doesn’t the threat of extinction of Irish imply that the demand simply isn’t there for things like IM education on a scale much larger than we currently provide for? And it would certainly lead one to the conclusion that there is no need whatever to have, say, 10 percent of the workforce of the civil service being fluent Irish speakers.

  • Aarrnn

    Would love to see the actual funding figures and to understand what and who it’s disproportionate to.

  • sparrow

    Slightly shocked this morning, as I find myself at least in partial in agreement with John Taylor! From the BBC webpage:

    He said he was a supporter of equality of opportunity for everyone including Irish language speakers, but that it was important to know the content of any proposed Irish language act.

    “I think Irish is more important than the question of speaking it, after all more people speak Chinese or Polish in Northern Ireland than speak Irish,” he said.

    “It is not a question of who speaks it, it is a question of where it belongs and the Irish language is an old language in Ireland and we have a duty to preserve it, but it depends how you do that.

    “I think we are doing it very well in Northern Ireland in the way we finance and encourage the teaching of Irish throughout the schools.

    “We have got to spell out what is in this Irish language act.”