Arlene Foster: 'No stand-alone Irish language act'

Arlene Foster: 'No stand-alone Irish language act'
From BBC - February 13, 2018

Democratic Unionist Party leader Arlene Foster has said there will be no free-standing Irish Language act.

She told BBC News NI she wanted to "clarify matters," because some speculation had been "off the mark".

However, Sinn Fin said an Irish Language act is "essential" to any deal that restores the power-sharing executive at Stormont.

It was widely anticipated that the DUP and Sinn Fin were close to ending their 13-month stalemate.

But, despite a visit from Prime Minister Theresa May and Taoiseach (Irish prime minister) Leo Varadkar on Monday, a deal has not yet been unveiled.

Northern Ireland has been run by civil servants since the power-sharing executive made up of the DUP and Sinn Fin collapsed in January last year.

The then deputy first minister, Martin McGuinness, pulled Sinn Fin out of the coalition after a series of disagreements with the final straw being the DUP's handling of a scandal over green energy scheme.

A major stumbling block to progress has been Sinn Fin's demand for an Irish language act.

Weakens the union?

On Tuesday, the DUP leader said there would be no compulsory Irish language in schools, no one would be forced to learn Irish, there would be no quotas for Irish speakers in the civil service and there would be no bilingual road signs.

Mrs Foster would not be drawn on reports that the package under discussion includes three separate bills or acts dealing with Irish, Ulster Scots and other cultural matters.

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