On the DUP Website on a post dated 4thFebruary, the First Minister, Peter Robinson made the following remark about the recent draft Irish Language Bill put forward by the SDLP.
He said this (quoting Diane Dodds):
“It is now Republicans who are on the back foot. Look at the record – we have binned the Irish Language Act…..”
The words, particularly “binned” are words of contempt. They are clearly not intended to be endearing in any way.
Mr. Robinson may feel that he is First Minister to only one section of the community. Though we are used to this kind of political division in Northern Ireland, there is still something rather repugnant about his conduct.
As first minister, Mr. Robinson is obliged to act in the interests of all Northern Ireland people. As the premiere holder of public office in Northern Ireland, one would expect that even If he is in disagreement with a particular proposal, he would still treat it with respect.
In addition to that, he and the rest of the Executive have a statutory duty in relation to the Irish and Ulster Scots Languages. Section 28D of the Northern Ireland Act 1998 reads as follows:
“(1) The Executive Committee shall adopt a strategy setting out how it proposes to enhance and protect the development of the Irish language.
(2) The Executive Committee shall adopt a strategy setting out how it proposes to enhance and develop the Ulster Scots language, heritage and culture.
(3) The Executive Committee—
must keep under review each of the strategies; and
may from time to time adopt a new strategy or revise a strategy.”
Neither Mr. Robinson nor anybody else in his party has so far come up with any strategy for the enhancement, protection and development of the Irish Language or the Ulster Scots Language and Culture for that matter. Whether he likes it or not, Mr. Robinson’s party will have to address this issue. It will not go away simply because he is making full use of his wastepaper basket.
I do not agree with the SDLP draft bill which goes beyond the remit of section 28D. I have no desire to prevent promotion of Irish Heritage, including the Irish Language. It is quite the opposite. My wife is a college lecturer in charge of languages. The delivery of Irish is part of her brief. My reasons for opposing the imposition of the SDLP’s bill are practical.
Although I have already provided some of my opinion about the Irish Language Bill in comments on other weblogs, this is a “hot” political issue. In order to do justice to it, I intend to write and publish a comprehensive post on the subject. This will appear on this Weblog in the next few weeks.
Filed under: Culture, DUP, Good Friday Agreement, Heritage, Irish Language, Peter Robinson, Sinn Fein, Stormont Tagged: | Culture, DUP, Good Friday Agreement, Heritage, Heritage and Culture, Irish Language, Peter Robinson, SDLP, Sinn Fein, Stormont