UUP 'walk out on Ervine over Irish'

Published Tuesday, 25 March 2014
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The Ulster Unionist Party has defended its position after staging a walkout ahead of a presentation on the Irish language by Linda Ervine at Down District Council.

UUP 'walk out on Ervine over Irish'
Linda Ervine, pictured at the Irish lanaguage centre in east Belfast. (© Presseye)

Councillors Robert Burgess, Desmond Patterson and Walter Lyons left the council chambers on Monday night before Ms Ervine could speak about the historical links between Protestants and Irish.

In a tweet, Sinn Féin councillor Willie Clarke praised the presentation and criticised the UUP members who, in his words, "ignorantly left".

But the UUP has claimed that they took the decision because the Irish language had been used as "a political weapon".

Ulster Scots and Gaelic belong to us all.

Linda Ervine

In a statement on behalf of the party group on Down District Council, Walter Lyons said: "For years, the Irish language has been used as a political weapon by some in Down District Council - when instead, it could be used as a means of reconciliation.

"Unfortunately, the views of unionists and others have been ignored in the implementation of Irish language policy in Down Council."

However, he said the UUP councillors had been "delighted" to meet with Linda Ervine before the council meeting went ahead.

Mr Lyons added that they had "agreed to meet again at the East Belfast Mission to learn of the work that she does, to hear of positive aspects of the Irish language and to lend our support to her group".

Linda Ervine, who is an Irish language development worker in a loyalist area of east Belfast and the wife of former PUP leader Brian Ervine, has dismissed the row as a "storm in a teacup".

She confirmed that Mr Lyons had called her in advance about the plan to walk out and to explain why, adding on Twitter: "Sadly, language became embroiled in row over flags."

© UTV News
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38 Comments
p in t wrote (239 days ago):
if I learn Irish is there anywhere in Ireland I could go where people only speak irish? is there anywhere else in the world I could use it? would I be able to get a job where only Irish is spoken? would I use it so infrequently that I'd have to learn a few words again and write it down each time I want to use it like certain politicians? shall I wait for Dorothy to come down the yellow brick rd and answer me or will I learn chinese mandarin which I believe our money would be better spent on to attract tourists and inward investment from one of the fastest developing countries in the world
G-Man in N.I wrote (239 days ago):
I am thinking of having a child very soon, but how can I explain to him/her this world we live in. One word - hate. And it's making me hate this place, I am tired of it.
John in London wrote (240 days ago):
@east belfast, its not actually... Spanish is the most spoken language in the world, followed by Mandarin. Spoken in China. Im guessing by your comments you wouldn't know that...if I was you I would concentrate on learning the english language. Terrible grammar.
doirecormac in Derry wrote (240 days ago):
Unionists walked out? My god this is so unlike them. So out of character. I would never have believed it if I hadn't read it here.
culchy in the stix wrote (240 days ago):
Or in other words, what's Irish for Compact Disc and Blu-ray?
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