More than a year since the collapse of the Assembly over, among other things, the refusal of the DUP to respect previous agreements which promised an Irish Language Act, we’re no further on this issue and, it could be argued, any of the other outstanding issues.
One thing I don’t understand is why the British Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, neither this one or the previous incumbent, have met the Irish language groups campaigning for the legislation or, rather, campaigning for the fulfilment of the promise the British Government made at St Andrews.
The fact is I don’t remember there ever being a meeting between any British Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and Irish language activists. There was a time back in the pre-GFA era when there were secret dinners involving high ranking officials and ‘non abrasive Gaels’. But there were no photo opportunities or the likes.
I looked over the NIO press release archive and saw that the previous British Secretary of State for NI had meetings with the Northern Ireland Local Government Association, the Business Advisory Group, the Ulster Farmers Union, Seagate Technology and the Apprentice Boys of Derry. But never a meeting with the Irish language sector. Why not, I wonder?
The failure of one Secretary of State to meet a key party which could be instrumental in the resolution of this impasse is unfortunate. The failure of a second successive Secretary of State to meet representatives of the Irish language community seeking an Irish Language Act which was promised in an international agreement by the British Government of which the Secretary of State is now a representative, now that would be careless.