Page last updated at 12:50 GMT, Friday, 5 June 2009 13:50 UK

Executive 'fails' on language

Irish language graffiti
Language politics are divisive in the Executive

The Executive has failed to contribute to a major European report on minority languages because of disagreement between Sinn Fein and the DUP.

It was supposed to submit details of how it is fulfilling a commitment to promote Irish and Ulster Scots under the terms of a European charter.

The Scottish and Welsh administrations have made lengthy submissions.

A document has been produced by the direct-rule NIO but is understood to amount to only a few pages.

Countries which have signed the European Charter for regional or minority languages must produce a report every three years explaining their policies and the actions they have to taken to fulfil their commitments.

The report is submitted to the Council of Europe.

The UK government is committed to protecting Welsh, Scots, Scots Gaelic, Ulster Scots, Irish, Manx Gaelic and Cornish.


Much of the implementation of the treaty is the responsibility of the devolved administrations.

At Stormont a cross-departmental group of civil servants works on implementing the treaty.

In a statement Stormont's Department of Culture said a report had been produced but has not been agreed by the Executive.

In a written answer to the Stormont Assembly the Culture Minister Gregory Campbell laid the blame with the Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness.

He said: "The Northern Ireland input is still being considered by the Deputy First Minister.

"I raised this issue at the Executive meeting on Thursday 23 April but agreement has still not been achieved.

"At this stage I am unable to specify when the report might be finalised.

"The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has advised my Department that the UK Report will issue to the Council of Europe in the near future, including input from the Northern Ireland Office, but without input from the Northern Ireland Executive."

Janet Muller from the Irish language group Pobal said the inability to agree a report was "a failure at the highest level of the devolved government."

"The First Minister and the Deputy First Minister cannot agree on the report about what is actually happening here in respect of the European charter and for this reason, after a ten month delay, the UK government has submitted a report with gaping holes in relation to the North.

"'This is an historic failure that shows the extent to which the protection for the Irish language has deteriorated since the re-establishment of the NI Assembly," she added.

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