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20 Feb 2017

image2POBAL, the umbrella advocacy group for the Irish speaking community in the North and the group which has spearheaded the campaign for the Irish language Act for over twelve years, has said that Irish speakers in County Armagh and the surrounding area deserve to see the language protected.

Janet Muller, POBAL’s Director said: ‘Today promises to be an exciting day, when people of all ages from Newry, Armagh and Down will give the message  – no return to government without the Irish language Act.”

And Sinn Féin have backed POBAL in their demand for an Irish Language Act. This will certainly be one of the political hot potatoes coming up to the March 2 election as the DUP has rejected the idea of such an act and may likely partner Sinn Féin in government (if both parties stake first and second places.)

Calling for the Irish Language Act at the An Dream Dearg rally in Newry, Janet Muller added: “At today’s event, POBAL is supporting local people in the march in Newry to call for the Irish Language Act. Ten years ago, the British government made a promise in the St Andrews Agreement to introduce legislation and we do not think the people of this area, or any part of the north, should have to wait any longer.

image3“A whole generation of school children have gone through pre-school and primary education in Newry, Armagh and Down waiting for the politicians to come to agreement on this. Now the Assembly has fallen, and POBAL is calling for a commitment from the nationalist parties that they will not return to government without an unbreakable guarantee that the Irish language Act will be brought in within an agreed time scale.

“The British and Irish governments were both signatories to the St Andrews Agreement and they must now work together to resolve this outstanding issue since it is clear that the DUP is unable or unwilling to treat the Irish speaking community with respect and equality.”

POBAL has spearheaded the campaign for the Irish language Act since 2004. It has drafted expert proposals for the contents of the Act (POBAL: Acht na Gaeilge TÉ Eis II:
www.pobal.org/uploads/images/Acht%20na%20Gaeilge%202012.pdf)
and their model has been supported overwhelmingly by in excess of 95% of respondents in government-run consultations in 2007 and 2014.