NI: Executive breached duties by failing to implement Irish language strategy

NI: Executive breached duties by failing to implement Irish language strategy

The Northern Ireland Executive has breached its statutory duties by failing to implement an Irish language strategy, the High Court in Belfast has ruled.

Mr Justice Paul Maguire ruled in favour of a judicial review brought by Irish language group Conradh na Gaeilge, who said the Executive had not made good on promises to adopt an Irish language strategy as promised in the St Andrews Agreement and the Programme for Government 2011-2015.

In a written judgment, Mr Justice Maguire said: “The court is of the opinion that it should make a declaration that the Executive Commitee has failed, in breach of its statutory duty under 28D (1) of the Northern Ireland Act 1998, to adopt a strategy setting out how it proposes to enhance and protect the development of the Irish language.”

Application for leave in the case was granted in May 2016 and the case was heard in full in the High Court on 8 February 2017.

In a statement after the ruling, Conradh na Gaeilge commended the work of its legal team, especially solicitor Mícheál Ó Flannagáin, and the support of the PILS Project throughout the case.

Dr Niall Comer, CnG president, said: “Conradh na Gaeilge welcomes this historic decision in the High Court today, a ruling that proves that Irish language-based cases can be won in the north.

“Conradh na Gaeilge always maintained there was no need for this case, that the Executive’s obligations were clear from the beginning, obligations that stem from the St Andrews Agreement. Instead of implementing their commitments over the last ten years, certain parties have opposed a development strategy for the Irish language.

“The law has confirmed today, however, that there must be an end to the delay and to the pretence.”

Julian de Spáinn, general-secretary of Conradh na Gaeilge, said there was “added pressure on the state to ensure rights and protection of the Irish-language community.”

He added: “Conradh na Gaeilge maintains that the only way to guarantee these developments is through protective legislation for the language in the form of an Act.”

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