FULL STATUTORY EQUALITY FOR THE IRISH LANGUAGE
“Successive British Governments…have totally failed to meet their obligations…to protect the rights of the Irish language community” -Martin McGuinness
Under the section of the Good Friday Agreement entitled Rights, Safeguards and Equality of Opportunity it acknowledges “the importance of respect, understanding and tolerance in relation to linguistic diversity, including in Northern Ireland, the Irish language, Ulster-Scots and the languages of the various ethnic communities, all of which are part of the cultural wealth of the island of Ireland… the British Government will, in particular in relation to the Irish language, where appropriate and where people so desire it: take resolute action to promote the language; facilitate and encourage the use of the language in speech and writing in public and private life where there is appropriate demand …”
Eight (8) years later, under the terms of the St. Andrews Agreement of 2006, the British Government committed to introducing an Act to give the Irish language official status equal to that accorded the Scots Gaelic and Welsh languages. They failed to honor this obligation, and the Democratic Unionist Party explicitly repudiated it. Subsequent DUP moves in government to defund Irish language study was a major contributing factor to the resignation of Martin McGuinness as Northern Ireland’s Deputy First Minister in 2017 when he cited that party’s lack of “respect” for the rights and cultural traditions of the Irish nationalist community in the North.