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Last Updated: Tuesday, 9 October 2007, 16:07 GMT 17:07 UK
NI Assembly Irish ban is rejected
irish slogan
MLAs reject a motion calling for an end to Irish in the chamber
The NI Assembly has rejected a motion calling for an end to Irish being spoken in the Stormont chamber.

The UUP's David McNarry, who tabled the debate, said the language was being "forced down unionists' throats".

Nationalist assembly members put down a petition of concern, which means unionists cannot push through the measure against their will.

However, the petition was not needed as the motion was rejected by 46 votes to 44, with Alliance also opposing it.

Mr McNarry said his party rejected any nationalist attempt to smear unionists as bigots over discomfort with the use of gaelic.

A Sinn Fein petition ensured the motion, requesting the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister (OFMDFM) prevent the use of Irish in the legislature, would require significant cross-community support.

Mr McNarry said the debate was: "A clear definitive signal that unionists are fed up with the Irish language being thrown in their faces."

"There is no demand here, just a request, no abuse of anybody' rights and I reject any attempt by any republican to smear any unionist by branding him a bigot," he added.

Sinn Fein's Caral Ni Chuilin said the debate would recruit scores of fresh Irish language recruits.

"The issue of language rights, a non-controversial issue in Wales, Scotland, the south of Ireland and throughout Europe, an expression of human rights, has now become a political football in the battle for supremacy between the unionist parties," she said.

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