Jim Allister says Irish language legislation ‘remains unacceptable’

Jim Allister

TUV leader and North Antrim Assembly member Jim Allister has again warned “of the dangers inherent in Irish language legislation, whether it is packaged as an add on to existing legislation or bundled with an unnecessary Ulster Scot figleaf”.

Mr Allister said: “The core demands of Sinn Fein in relation to Irish present a very real threat to British identity in Northern Ireland and indeed equality, as does the NIO’s summary paper in the current talks.

“Key to the Sinn Fein agenda is obtaining Irish as an official language in Northern Ireland and securing the appointment of an Irish Language Commissioner – an enforcer – whose role would be to “promote and facilitate” the use of Irish Language across the public service, including Executive Departments, Local Government, Public & Arm’s Length Bodies.

“The statutory authority to “promote” means an ever tightening noose, with the inevitable result that Irish speakers will be at an advantage in recruitment and in filling the multiple posts decreed bilingual.

“Anyone who hopes to see their children or grandchildren employed and promoted in the Civil Service should be alert to what is afoot.

“If people are to have the right to have court proceedings conducted in Irish it will add hugely and unnecessarily to costs, but significantly discriminate against non-Irish speakers when it comes to the legal profession – a profession already imbalanced.

“The expansion of specially funded Gaeltacht areas in Northern Ireland would mark parts of the Province out as belonging only to one community.

“The huge cost in providing a fully bilingual public service with endless and needless expenditure on translation in courts, councils and Assembly is something which no Unionist, or indeed anyone interested in prudent use of public money, should countenance.

“Furthermore, it is a key part of Sinn Fein’s plan to use “equality” to “break the b*******” and seek to make those who don’t see themselves as Irish feel alienated in their own land.

“The idea that Irish speakers are discriminated against is nonsense. Consider the facts: Northern Ireland already provides Irish medium schooling at a cost of over £20m per year.

“An Irish medium school has even been opened with just 12 pupils. You couldn’t do that with an English language school.

“We already have a lavishly funded North-South body with executive powers to promote Irish.

“Irish street signage is already facilitated where there is local demand.

“A critical fact overlooked in all of this is that those who demand to use Irish all fluently speak English. They are not denied access to any service.

“In truth, the real discrimination will be against non-Irish speakers in the event of Irish language legislation making it on to the statute book in Northern Ireland.”

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