Page last updated at 17:29 GMT, Monday, 8 November 2010

Irish language strategy

DUP ministers were accused of using delaying tactics to hold up the establishment of a strategy for the Irish language, on 8 November 2010.

Barry McElduff moved the Sinn Fein motion calling on Culture Minister Nelson McCausland to establish a language strategy.

He quoted a long list of delays he ascribed to DUP culture ministers regarding the Irish language.

"We have seen endless delay mechanisms and great dishonesty over this matter over a long period of time," Mr McElduff said.

The debate paused for question time.

Dominic Bradley moved an SDLP amendment calling for an Irish Language Bill.

Mr Bradley said that if there was not to be an Irish Language Act brought through the Assembly then legislation could be enacted at Westminster.

Lord Browne of the DUP said he fully backed the minister. He added that an Irish language Act would cost £290m and people would prefer to see the money spent on other things.

Lord Browne said supporters of such an act wanted a privileged position for Irish speakers.

Ken Robinson of the UUP was opposed to both the motion and the amendment.

Anna Lo of the Alliance Party said she was disappointed that an Alliance amendment had not been adopted. This had referred to the rights of speakers of all minority languages including sign languages.

The Culture Minister replied to the motion.

Nelson McCausland said there was no requirement in the St Andrews 2006 Act to bring forward an Irish Language Act.

The minister said he would bring forward a minority languages strategy to cover both Ulster-Scots and Irish.

The strategy had been held up on two fronts, broadcasting and education, he added.

Mr McCausland said the BBC had a well-funded Irish language unit but its treatment of Ulster-Scots had been derisory. He had had a meeting with the BBC and was hopeful that the situation would change.

The minister said that if Sinn Fein members wanted to know who was holding up the strategy the answer was their own education minister.

The motion was defeated on a cross-community vote.

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