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28 September 2006 Edition

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Call for Irish Language Act

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams speaking at the launch of a new pamphlet on language rights published by Sinn Féin's Culture department, Roinn an chultúir, has called for an Irish Language Act for the Six Counties.

Speaking in Belfast City Hall Adams said that the Irish language had made great strides forward in recent years, much of which had been community driven. He added however, that the protection of a language was not the sole domain of the voluntary and community sector.

"Governments have an important role and indeed a duty to support indigenous languages. Indeed the Good Friday Agreement makes clear commitments to Irish. It is past the time when the British Government should honour its commitments. The pursuit of comprehensive legislation to protect and promote the Irish language is therefore a logical part of Sinn Féin's core work programme", Adams said.

"The European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages is currently the only protection for Irish in the Six Counties. POBAL's research on its implementation shows that the British Government, after signing up to the Charter in 2001, has failed utterly in its implementation and that strong legislation is the only way forward."

POBAL has drafted proposals calling for Irish to be recognised as an official language in the north. It proposes legislation that will guarantee the rights of Irish speakers and through schemes overseen by a Language Commissioner provide a practical mechanism for government departments and agencies to develop their ability to deliver services through the medium of Irish. It is based on international best practice', said Adams."

He concluded by saying that Sinn Féin supported POBAL's Acht na Gaeilge and that Councillors had a clear role to play to raise awareness in council and in their communities about it and to ensure that the campaign receives as much support as possible.

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