A recent Council of Europe report has strongly recommended that the Stormont Executive ‘adopt appropriate legislation protecting and promoting the Irish language’ 

Newry man Dr Niall Comer, the new President of Conradh na Gaeilge has added his thoughts to the debate commenting “This report emphasises the clear role of the British Government regarding creating the ‘consensus’ for an Act. It is evident they have not achieved this despite their commitments – not only regarding the St Andrews Agreement but also responsibilities on the British Government to protect and promote the Irish-language as per the international treaties and charters they have ratified. This is not the first time the British Government has been subject to criticism from international committees due to the lack of progress on Irish-language rights but we now hope, with the spotlight currently focusing on the language questions, that satisfactory provision will be implemented without further delay.”

A section of the crowd at the recent Newry protest in support of the Irish Language. Photograph: Columba O'Hare
A section of the crowd at the recent Newry protest in support of the Irish Language. Photograph: Columba O'Hare

In it’s 4th Opinion Monitoring Report, published yesterday 9 March, the Advisory Committee on the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities has strongly criticised the absence of any legislation to protect and promote the Irish language as was agreed in St Andrew’s Agreement 2006.

There are several key recommendations highlighted in the report for immediate action. Those recommendations, amongst other recommendations around Irish Medium education and Irish-language broadcasting, include:

Calls on the Executive to: “adopt appropriate legislation protecting and promoting the Irish language and take measures to ensure progress on language rights of persons belonging to the Irish minority”;

Calls on the UK Government to: “to help create the political consensus needed for such adoption.”

Ciarán Mac Giolla Bhéin, Advocacy Manager, Conradh na Gaeilge, says “The most recent monitoring report from the Council of Europe supports what the Irish-language community has been saying for years – that there has not been any satisfactory progression made on the issue of protective legislation for the language, despite the clear duties signed up to in the 2006 St Andrews agreement. This report closely follows clear recommendations made in recent reports published by the United Nations calling on the British Government to implement an Irish-language Act as a priority. There is now strong international support for the Irish-language Act as a majority in the newly-elected Assembly, 50/90 new MLAs, also support the legislation. Now is the time for action – Act Now!”