SDLP confirms support for Irish Language Act at party conference

Carntogher Cllr Martin Kearney and Patsy McGlone MLA at the SDLP Conference on Saturday April 7.
Carntogher Cllr Martin Kearney and Patsy McGlone MLA at the SDLP Conference on Saturday April 7.

SDLP has reiterated its support for the Irish language and a rights based Irish language act.

Members voted for a motion that supports the establishment of a rights based Irish Language Act, which would include the establishment of the Office of an Independent Irish Language Commissioner.

The motion was proposed by Mid Ulster MLA, Patsy McGlone and seconded by his colleague Councillor Martin Kearney.

Mr. McGlone said: “Conference passed a motion which reiterates the SDLP’s support for the establishment of a rights based Irish Language Act which recognises the cultural and social importance of the language.

“This includes support for the establishment of the Office of an Independent Irish Language Commissioner which would have a comprehensive range of powers to ensure official recognition of the Irish language in government, public bodies and in public life. A fully independent commissioner would be active in protection and development of the Irish language.

“This is an issue that the SDLP has been working on. Even before the collapse of the institutions, I was preparing legislative proposals to protect, promote and enhance the rights of Irish speakers. For far too long, Irish language speakers have been kicked, insulted and diminished by some politicians. This cannot continue.

“The Irish language should not be a political issue, it should not be a weapon or leverage against other communities. An Irish Language Act threatens no one and no tradition. It is clear that the only way to protect the language and those who cherish it, is through legislation.”