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Last Updated: Tuesday, 5 June 2007, 13:35 GMT 14:35 UK
Major push for Irish language law
Irish language consultation document
There was a big response to a consultation on the Irish language
As many as 4,000 responses to a proposed new Irish language law have been sent to the government, as a consultation period comes to an end.

The draft bill proposed that public bodies should specify measures for using Irish when providing services.

It also proposed the creation of an Irish language commissioner and giving people the right to use Irish in court.

Nationalists are strongly in favour of the measure, but unionists have promised to block any bill in Stormont.

It is thought Department of Culture officials will not finish analysing the responses until the end of the summer.

In a previous exercise this year, the department received 688 letters, 1376 postcards and a petition signed by 2,500 people.

Protesters outside the BBC in Belfast
Irish language activists protested outside the BBC in Belfast
Out of these responses, 93% were in favour of the Irish Language Act.

The current consultation, ending on Tuesday, is on the basis of draft legislation prepared under direct rule, which former culture minister Maria Eagle described as a middle-ground approach.

Meanwhile, supporters of the legislation gathered outside BBC Broadcasting House in Belfast to protest about coverage.

Irish language activists and Sinn Fein's Francie Brolly were joined by pupils from a primary school in Turf Lodge to protest against what they said was the BBC's failure to cover a march through Belfast supporting the act in February.

The campaigners also wish to see more Irish language programming and greater protection for Irish speakers' rights in Northern Ireland.

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