Irish Language Legislation

Oral Answers to Questions – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 3:45 am on 11th June 2007.

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Photo of Francie Brolly Francie Brolly Sinn Féin 3:45 am, 11th June 2007

16. asked the Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure if, following the consultation on the Irish language legislation, he will enact it without delay, as referred to in the St Andrews Agreement.            (AQO 7/07)

Photo of Edwin Poots Edwin Poots DUP

The consultation on draft clauses for Irish language legislation closed on 5 June 2007, and my officials are analysing the responses received.

There were a high number of responses — somewhere in the region of 11,000 individual written responses. The Member will appreciate that in the circumstances it will take some time to process those.

Photo of Francie Brolly Francie Brolly Sinn Féin

How much need was there for a consultation in the first place? The question of the Irish language is about a right. This is the only part of these islands that does not have legal protection for the indigenous language. Surely what is good enough for the Scottish Gaels and the Welsh is good enough for us here in the Six Counties?

Photo of Edwin Poots Edwin Poots DUP

According to the Member’s Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, who was speaking a few minutes ago, that is not the case. Northern Ireland has its own issues and has its own way of doing things. The consultation process is now closed. However, there is a history of Ministers not abiding by the responses of consultations as the sole means of taking an issue forward — academic selection is a case in point.

I will look at all the issues involved. Along with rights go responsibilities, and those include financial and fiscal responsibilities. All of the issues will be investigated, and I will report back to the House, probably in the autumn, with a decision on the matter.

Photo of William Hay William Hay Speaker

That concludes this afternoon’s Question Time. We will now return to the item of business interrupted at 2.30 pm.