Skepticism has been expressed about the UK Government’s plans to legislate on culture and language in Northern Ireland.
The paper released after the Queen’s speech contained plans for the Identity and Language Act (Northern Ireland).
The Westminster government was expected to introduce the law ahead of the Stormont general election last week.
It fell to the Northern Ireland office after the Stormont parties failed to agree to introduce culture and language laws in the Northern Ireland Assembly – which was part of the New Decade, New Approach (NDNA) deal.
The plans include an Identity and Cultural Expression Office to promote respect for diversity, as well as an Irish Language Officer and an Officer for the Development of Language, Arts and Literature linked to the Ulster Scots/Ulster British tradition.
Michelle O’Neill, Vice President of Sinn Féin, expressed skepticism about the plans under discussion.
During a visit to Ulster Hospital in East Belfast on Tuesday, she told the media: “I never trusted Boris Johnson, I don’t trust the Tories but what I will do is burn the political commitments they made to have.
“They have shown time and time again that they are not honoring political commitments, so I will wait until I see the ink on paper regarding the language and culture laws.”
The package of identity and language measures had been promised in the NDNA deal that restored power-sharing in early 2020.
The move had been announced ahead of the speech, but delays in bringing the measures forward had been criticized by Irish-speaking campaigners.
Earlier this year, activists said they walked out of a meeting with Britain’s junior minister, Conor Burns, because they weren’t sure when legislation would be tabled.
The promised legislation will also require Northern Ireland’s Department of Education to encourage and facilitate the use of Ulster Scots, with the Foreign Secretary having the power to step in to ensure commitments are met by the Executive.
The Irish-language lobby group Conradh na Gaeilge reacted cautiously.
President Paula Melvin said they’ve been here “many, many times” and requested a delivery date.
“The UK government originally committed itself to introducing an Irish Language Act in 2006 in the Saint Andrew’s Agreement,” she said.
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/politics/scepticism-over-uk-governments-plans-for-language-in-the-north-41637369.html Skepticism about British government’s language plans in the north