Westminster must Act now on Irish Language Irish speaking community should reject Act proposals if they are too weak

 POBAL, the independent Irish language advocacy group has said that if the current talks fail, Westminster must introduce Irish language legislation. However, the group is urging Irish language organisations and Irish speakers to reject any future proposals for an Irish language Act if they are too weak to meet the needs of the community. Speaking before the deadline to the political talks process, Janet Muller, POBAL’s Director said, ‘Politicians who support the introduction of legislation must stand firm in the knowledge that the Irish speaking community will not be satisfied with tokenism, however well intentioned. Weak  legislation would only lead to confusion and frustration and we call on the Irish speaking community to send out a clear message that we have waited long enough to be taken seriously.’

 Today (Monday) Irish speakers will gather at Stormont at an event organised by protest group An Dream Dearg, to call once more for an Irish language Act. Janet Muller said, ‘This issue is now outstanding for 10 years. Recently, there have been several discussion papers and costings published by politicians and others and we welcome this further debate on the Irish language Act. However, POBAL has been concerned to see that some of these documents leave out key areas, propose weak solutions to complex issues, and project the costs of the act at what may be unrealistically low levels. The Irish language act must represent good value for public money, but this can only be measured by cost-benefit analysis looking at the advantages and potential of the legislation to generate wealth and improve services for all.’

 She continued, ‘POBAL has consistently called for the implementation of our comprehensive, realistic and reasonable proposals for Irish language legislation as the basis of any act. This is because these proposals have been drafted with continuing advice from some of the world’s foremost experts in language law. They have been the subject of numerous community discussions and in government-led consultations, they have consistently been given exceptional levels of support by Irish speakers themselves. Getting agreement to implement the St Andrews commitment on Irish language legislation is only the start of what may be a lengthy process of discussion, debate and negotiation. If the bar is set too low at this stage, it will be much more difficult to achieve effective legislation which will create a significant number of guaranteed rights and services and clarify for government bodies what they need to do and when. And let’s face it, anything else will be a waste of time which will create more friction than it resolves. Irish speakers should reject weak proposals and Westminster must act now.’

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