Oral Answers to Questions — Northern Ireland
Mr John McFall (Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Northern Ireland Office; Dumbarton, Labour/Co-operative)
In June last year, the Government announced their intention to sign the Council of Europe charter for regional or minority languages, and to specify Irish for the purposes of part III of the charter at an early date. In July, the Education (Northern Ireland) Order 1998 was enacted, placing a statutory duty on the Department of Education in Northern Ireland to encourage and facilitate Irish-medium education. A new branch within the Northern Ireland civil service is being established to develop policy on linguistic diversity, including the Irish language. The agreement of 18 December 1998 determined that there should be a cross-border implementation body with responsibility for promoting the Irish language.