Paula Bradshaw MLA has said there is no excuse for the DUP and Sinn Fein to continue the political impasse after Alliance presented the two parties with workable proposals on an Irish Language Act.
Ms Bradshaw said while the issue of an Act was not a priority for Alliance, movement on the logjam was clearly needed before an Executive could be re-established and issues such as health and education dealt with.
“I have been engaged in discussions throughout the summer with parties and other interested groups to put together proposals which deliver on the requirement to fulfil obligations on the Irish language, while at the same time enhancing our cultural and tourism offering, including reference to Ulster-Scots.
“We are at the stage now where this process is complete and the proposals can be agreed. The deal is there to benefit on a cross-community basis – all that is required is the political will to do it. We have a fair and proportionate way forward to ensure respect for all those who cherish the language, enhancement of the rights in education and the legal system, and a legislative foundation to enable the development of the language as part of our common cultural wealth. But we have also ensured there will be no compulsion whatsoever on those who take no interest in the language.
“We have also put forward a timeframe in the proposals to enable the restoration of the Executive with a guarantee the proposed legislation will become law swiftly upon the re-establishment of the institutions, but with full Assembly scrutiny in advance.
“With a deal on these language and culture issues now clearly available, there is now no further excuse whatsoever for the DUP and Sinn Fein not to proceed to nominate a First Minister and deputy First Minister early next month. The issues in front of us – in health, education, the economy and a whole host of others – are too important for them to continue to opt out of their responsibility to form an Executive.”
Alliance’s proposals to deliver a non-discriminatory Irish Language Act will serve to:
– protect and promote the language as part of our cultural heritage;
– demonstrate respect for all who cherish the Irish language;
– broaden rights without introducing cost and compulsion.
Alliance’s proposals will not:
– compel pupils to learn Irish in schools;
– force the introduction of dual-signage in public places;
– Introduce discriminatory employment practices;
– legislate for costly government programmes and policies.
– meet the requirement to deliver on past agreements;
– deliver language and culture legislation with cross-community benefit;
– put education and promotion ahead of cost and compulsion.
These proposals will show no issue is insurmountable with good will, courage and political leadership. You can find Alliance’s position paper on the Irish language here.