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Language Strategy

CULTURE, ARTS AND LEISURe – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 3:45 am on 13th October 2008.

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Photo of Stephen Farry Stephen Farry Alliance 3:45 am, 13th October 2008

5. asked the Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure to report on his plans for a language strategy.            (AQO 618/09)

Photo of Declan O'Loan Declan O'Loan Social Democratic and Labour Party

11. asked the Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure to provide an update on the development of the indigenous languages strategy.           (AQO 671/09)

Photo of Gregory Campbell Gregory Campbell Shadow Minister (Work and Pensions)

With your permission, Mr Speaker, I will answer questions 5 and 11 together. The interdepartmental charter implementation group has begun consideration of a strategy for indigenous minority languages. That strategy aims to protect, enhance and develop the Ulster-Scots language, heritage and culture and the Irish language. I will present an initial paper to the Executive Committee on that later this year.

Photo of Stephen Farry Stephen Farry Alliance

Does the Minister see a role for himself in depoliticising the controversy that surrounds the Irish language? Also, does he see any merit in a potential compromise based on the language-scheme approach that his Department consulted on prior to the restoration of devolution, which reflects the reality on the ground from the bottom up, rather than imposing something from the top down?

Photo of Gregory Campbell Gregory Campbell Shadow Minister (Work and Pensions)

I do not disagree with the general thrust of the Member’s comments. Depoliticising the Irish language is an excellent idea, which should have been thought of many years ago. There are many Irish-language enthusiasts who do not politicise the language, but those who do should cease forthwith. Hopefully, we can advance a proposal for languages per se within a non-political framework and in a non-contentious manner.