Among Sinn Fein’s list of grievances claiming lack of unionist respect is the failure to introduce an Irish Language Act. It is an important but seemingly not a red line issue. Oddly enough this may make it more amenable to settlement. It is among the SDLP’s desirables. It looks as if Enda Kenny will back it in whatever happens after the Assembly election.
At first glance the chances of any sort of development are unpromising. It raises all the hackles and is easy campaign fodder. As David has reported below, with her familiar lightness of touch Arlene Foster has borne down on the language issue in her undiplomatic reply to Sinn Fein’s “diplomatic offensive.” We need not take this as the last word after 2 March. As she knows, Mrs Foster misses the point while Ms O’Neill has declined to lock horns on the issue.
We know how on this as in many others, rival parties make a battlefield out of the fine print of legal entitlements and equality impact assessments. This gets us precisely nowhere.
Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London