Standards and Privilege

Part of Assembly Standing Orders – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 7:45 pm on 9th March 1999.

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Photo of Ms Brid Rodgers Ms Brid Rodgers Social Democratic and Labour Party 7:45 pm, 9th March 1999

Sono capace di parlare italiano oppure francese. Derò vorrei più di tutto parlare Gaelico perchè è la mia prima lingua.

I am, of course, speaking Italian. I have just said that I am able to speak Italian or even French. However I would prefer to speak Gaelic in the Chamber because it is my first language, but I appreciate that that might make it difficult for Members to understand me. The reason I support the use of the Irish language in the Chamber and facilities for those Members who wish to use Irish is that Irish is my native language. It is the language that I first spoke; it is the language of the community in which I was reared; it is the language with which I totally identify; and it is the language in which I speak most comfortably.

I would appreciate it if Members, in particular Mr Cedric Wilson, would recognise that I find it difficult to understand why some Members find my speaking my own language so offensive.

I very much respect the words of Mr Adamson and his respect for all languages, including Welsh, Ullans, Irish and English. It is unfortunate that there are those who favour simply having the English language and downgrade the Irish language. As my Colleague pointed out, they complain about parity of esteem for Ullans whilst trying to deny parity of esteem in respect of the Irish language. To me that is contradictory. That, in a sense, is looking on language as a political tool rather than looking on it as something which enriches us all. The Irish language in particular enriches us all.

Most of the place names around us come from the Irish language, and it would be very unfortunate if we were to lose the meaning of those place names. I ask Members to recognise that when we speak in favour of parity of esteem for the Irish language and Ullans — and I have learned a lot about Ullans since I came to the Assembly. I did not realise how much Ullans I spoke when I was growing up in Donegal. I know what words such as "sheugh" and "oxter" mean. These words were frequently used, and which I did not know then —