Council of Europe calls for Irish language legislation

The Northern Ireland Assembly must legislate to protect and promote the Irish language, a new Council of Europe report has said.

In its 4th Opinion Monitoring Report, the Advisory Committee on the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities criticised the lack of political consensus on the enactment of an Irish Language Act.

It states: “The Advisory Committee sees appropriate legislation by the Northern Ireland Assembly as a necessity to protect and promote the Irish language and calls on the UK Government to help create the political consensus needed for such adoption.”

Dr Niall Comer, president of Irish language group Conradh na Gaeilge, said: “This report emphasises the clear role of the British Government regarding creating the ‘consensus’ for an Act.

“It is evident they have not achieved this despite their commitments – not only regarding the St Andrews Agreement but also responsibilities on the British Government to protect and promote the Irish language as per the international treaties and charters they have ratified.

“This is not the first time the British Government has been subject to criticism from international committees due to the lack of progress on Irish language rights but we now hope, with the spotlight currently focusing on the language questions, that satisfactory provision will be implemented without further delay.”