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Irish speakers need to be 'as vocal as possible'

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Irish speakers need to be 'as vocal as possible' thumbnailSHOWING their support for the An Dream Dearg demonstration for Irish Language rights in Newry on Saturday.

A SPOKESPERSON for Irish language movement An Dream Dearg has stressed that the Irish language community needs to be "as vocal as possible."

Around 700 people gathered outside Newry Town Hall on Saturday as part of a public demonstration calling for an Irish-language Act.

Pádraig Ó Tiarnaigh, spokesperson for the group said: "As the election draws near, it is important for the Irish language community to be as vocal as possible.

“The failure of Stormont to deliver on promises made to us makes it imperative that our rights are delivered prior to the resurrection of any executive."

Meanwhile, Janet Muller, who is Director of the umbrella advocacy group for the Irish speaking community in the north, POBAL, said that Irish speakers in county Down and the surrounding area deserve to see the language protected.

“[Saturday promised] to be an exciting day, when people of all ages from Newry, Armagh and Down [gave] the message - no return to government without the Irish language Act," she said.

“POBAL is supporting local people in the march in Newry to call for the Irish Language Act.

“Ten years ago, the British government made a promise in the St Andrews Agreement to introduce legislation and we do not think the people of this area, or any part of the north, should have to wait any longer.

“A whole generation of school children have gone through pre-school and primary education in Newry, Armagh and Down waiting for the politicians to come to agreement on this.

“Now the Assembly has fallen, and POBAL is calling for a commitment from the nationalist parties that they will not return to government without an unbreakable guarantee that the Irish language Act will be brought in within an agreed time scale."

Speaking after attending the event, Sinn Fein election candidate for Newry and Armagh Megan Fearon said that there is a clear demand for an Irish language act.

“The large crowd at this demonstration in Newry and similar events in Derry show the level of public anger at the DUP's total lack of respect for the Irish language and identity," she declared.

“The Irish language is an integral part of the lives of a growing number of people who use it daily and their rights should be protected.

“No one has anything to fear from the Irish language or an Irish language act.

“The British and Irish governments need to implement the commitment for an Irish language act from the St Andrew's Agreement and outstanding commitments from other agreements.

“This is is clear issue of rights and Sinn Féin is standing up for the respect, integrity and equality for all."

And SDLP candidate, Justin McNulty, congratulated An Dream Dearg for organising the protest.

Mr McNulty said, "The rights and demands of the Irish language community across the north must be protected in law. 

"We are all too aware of the constant and vile attacks on our language and culture from some within Stormont.  This only underpins the need for protection in law.

"The Irish language is a rich and diverse language, it offends no one and cannot be trailed through the gutter at the whim of some politicians.  The Irish language community are sick, sore and tired of the empty platitudes from Stormont and they are as equally angry and insulted by the constant sectarian attacks on the language and culture.

"The language is part of our rich heritage and should be protected, just as Gaelic is in Scotland and Wales.  We need to see legislation that protects the rights of those who wish to use the language and government must not be allowed to stall or stop its promotion and growth."

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