SDLP criticises NI Assembly Commission’s Language Policy on Irish

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Thursday, January 19th, 2012
SDLP Spokesperson on the Irish language, Dominic Bradley has said that his party finds the Assembly commission’s draft Language Policy unacceptable in relation to the Irish language. Commenting on the draft policy Mr Bradley said, “Whilst the SDLP welcomes the publication of the NI Assembly Commission’s Language Policy we find it disappointing in the extreme in relation to the position of the Irish language in the Assembly.”
“The draft policy as it stands gives no greater recognition than formerly to the Irish language and fails to recognise the rights of Irish language speakers both within the Assembly and in the community in general. Nor does it take account of the growing Irish medium sector in our education system, both primary and post primary levels and of the growing Irish language community in Northern Ireland,” he continued.
Bradley also believes the Assembly Commission’s policy totally ignores the fact that Irish is the second most frequently used language in the Assembly chamber. He said, “It shows little vision around the development of services through the Irish language. In the view of the SDLP the policy falls below the standards flowing from the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, the Belfast Agreement 1998, the St Andrews Agreement 2006, and Human Rights legislation. The SDLP believes that the policy should commit to the provision of simultaneous translation equipment and of an adequate translation staffing complement for the Irish language and should ensure that such equipment and service is available in the Assembly Chamber and in a suitable Committee venue such as the Senate Chamber.”
On how the Commission can improve Bradley continued, “We want the Commission to ensure that the Irish language is more visible in signage throughout the environs of Parliament buildings and to promote bilingual announcements there in both English and Irish. The Commission should increase the amount of Irish on the Assembly website with a view to having a fully bilingual site in the future related to Assembly business. We would also like to see bilingual agenda and other papers relating to Assembly business provided in Irish.”
‘With a growing Irish medium sector we need to provide an Irish language education service to Irish medium schools both at primary and post primary levels and to facilitate the sale of gift items branded bilingually including an Irish language history of Parliament Buildings. As well as developing the facility to offer tours of parliament buildings in the Irish language we will be seeking the Commission to facilitate an Assembly Road Show for Irish speakers. We will be including all these points in our response to the draft policy and our representative on the Commission, Pat Ramsey MLA, will pursue these vigorously,” the SDLP MLA added.
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