The Latest News On Irish Language Act In Northern Ireland


Irish Language Act In Northern Ireland 🇮🇪: There have been quite some developments overnight on the dispute to implement an introduced Irish language legislation, which has died down for quite some time. 


How hard is it to implement the Irish language legislation? Is it as hard as taking the Irish language Leaving Cert? Or, is it as hard as even learning Irish as a beginner?


15 years ago, there was an agreed upon Irish language Act at St Andrews, called the St Andrews Agreement, between the Irish and British governments and various parties in Northern Ireland on the devolution of power in the region. Tensions arose since that time, of course. They have been going about it for a couple of years, and now, they have seemed to picked up where they left off again, recreating the strain from years ago.


Big names in this currently-developing story include the Sinn Féin and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP). In this blog, we will explain what goes on today and, of course, also discuss the definition of the Irish language act and what it means for the people. Read on to learn more.



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Irish Language Act In Northern Ireland: what is it?


To first understand the current happenings, you should know the legislation and what the “fuss” is all about.


The Irish Language Act (Acht na Gaeilge in Irish), a proposed legislation in Northern Ireland, would give the Irish language a monumental boost in official usage. Basically, it will give the Irish language an equal status with English.


This Sinn Féin-supported legislation would allow for the following, for example, to happen:


  • courts, the Assembly, police and state bodies using the Irish language
  • the instilling of an Irish language commissioner
  • establishing designated Gaeltacht areas in Northern Ireland
  • the right for people to attain education through the Irish language
  • using both English and Irish (i.e., bilingual) on buildings, road signs and more


Aside from that, and more importantly, the legislation will also officially recognise the status of the Irish language.


A statement was made that this autumn, by October, the British government will implement the Irish language legislation. They will do so if the Assembly around that time fails to implement it themselves. 


Many, of course, wants this to happen. This is, after all, a way to restore the language the Irish formed many eons ago. Aside from Sinn Féin, various bodies such as the SDLP, Republic of Ireland, Green Party and the Alliance Party.


What would the Irish Language Act in North Ireland mean?


The mass sees the Irish Language Act as a positive, with many such as Gaelscoileanna campaigning for its implementation. This would be a big moment for the Irish-speaking community in Northern Ireland.


According to an RTE News written by Samantha Libreri, its implementation would mean so much. Quoting the news article:


“It would be recognition psychologically for the Irish language community that they’re loved, that they’re protected, that they’re recognised. We’ve been battling and fighting from day one,” Séamus Ó Tuama, Principal of Bunscoil Phobal Feirste, said.


He added: “The Irish language now has 95 different schools throughout the North, over 7,000 pupils learning through the Irish medium.


“It’s about time that that was recognised properly and not fobbed off, that the language was protected and that the children’s rights to a proper education on is on a par with anything.


“It’s about time that it was officially recognised and given that wee bit of extra protection that it deserves”.


But with supporters also come oppositions. The Irish Language Act is greatly opposed by both the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) – the body we mentioned a while ago that is relevant to the developing story – and the Ulster Unionist Party.


To a common folk not familiar with this news, it would probably make little sense to oppose such a legislation that will allow the Irish language to grow and thrive in Ireland. But a bit of research will show why the unionist community abhor it.


What could happen (in the eyes of the unionist community)?


According to them, implementing the Irish Language Act in Northern Ireland would cause a number of concerns.


One concern they have voiced out is the money that will be spent implementing this legislation. “We can spend it on other meaningful and better ways!”, a voice for the unionist community has mentioned.


Additionally, the unionist community has mentioned that this legislation only serves political purposes instead of linguistically.


Again, according to the RTE News:


“We have no difficulty with the Irish language at all, over £30 million is put into the language every year, so we’re not against the language per se, what we are is how it would be used,” he said.


He added: “It was once said during the troubles that every word spoken in Irish is a bullet for the cause and we believe that would still be the case in the sense of it’d be used for job creation schemes.


“If the legislation was introduced it would be judicially reviewed, and more and more places would be required to speak Irish, that means that you have to get a translator in, and we believe that’s solely for political purposes, rather than pure linguistic purposes”.


What’s more


“We’ve only 3-4% of people speaking the language here in this country and the money that we spend on it I think could be used in better ways. Ordinary people have concerns. We’ve seen so many cases in the past where Republicans have asked for something and when they’ve got it and they’ll agree to it then they want more.


Mr Gibson said the Act “could be used as a political tool by Republicans for identity purposes”.


“They could demand us use translators in post offices or in other local places like chemists and then we’d have to supply that service. Now the act might not say that initially but we believe that’s the trajectory it would take. The way it’d be used and pushed down your throat as an Irish identity as opposed to a language”.


Irish Language Act in Northern Ireland: conclusion (for now)


We will just have to wait for news in the meantime. It has its ups and downs for those concerned – the reason for having difficulty in attaining a compromise, not that they didn’t already do. Nothing is really set in stone and anything can happen before October.


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Now that we have shared with you the latest news on the Irish Language Act in Northern Ireland, we want to discuss how we can help you in everything Irish-related.


ba mhaith linn plé leat freisin conas is féidir linn cabhrú leat i ngach rud a bhaineann leis an nGaeilge.


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