Belfast rally for Irish language rights

Published Saturday, 12 April 2014
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People have taken part in a rally in Belfast to demand better promotion and protection for the Irish language.

Belfast rally for Irish language rights
Campaigners marched from the Falls Road to Custom House Square. (© Samuel Severn)

On Saturday campaigners called for the introduction of an Irish Language Act in the region, a comprehensive Irish-medium education system as well as adequate resources for the Irish-speaking community.

Police said up to 4,000 people marched from An Chultúrlann, the Irish language and cultural centre located in west Belfast, to Custom House Square in the city centre.

An Lá Dearg campaign committee member Caoimhe Ní Chathail said that the event was "just the beginning".

"Today we are making a stand, but tomorrow we will be engaging with our elected representatives to compel them to act to keep their promises in the hope of a better and brighter future for the language - free from hostility, discrimination and demonization," she said.

"The language threatens no one and enriches us all. We ask only for the legal protections of our rights and that the promises we have heard are made real in practice."

Saturday's demonstration and others across Ireland, including a 10,000 strong march in Dublin, come in the wake of a damning Council of Europe report that claimed promotion of the Irish language in Northern Ireland is being hampered.

Attending the rally was Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams, who said: "All these young people are entitled to speak through Irish, it threatens no one, they are being reared through Irish anyway, we have a burgeoning Irish language sector."

He added that Culture Minister Carál Ni Chuilín and Education Minister John O'Dowd had been working to ensure the Irish language receives funding, "against some considerable opposition".

© UTV News
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89 Comments
Ryan in An Dun wrote (178 days ago):
Well Lucy I pay for my Irish classes. I believe it should at least be a choice in more schools. So you would just not bother with Irish/Ulster Scots? You would have our museums and heritage centres empty then Lucy? It is important to keep our past alive. So we and our children and grandchildren know about where they have come from. Instead of wasting money, more should be put into education and health. If you only knew how money was wasted. Hospitals using money that has been granted to them for the year because if they don't use it up, they don't get as much the next year. The same with the roads. Spraying tar and throwing stones on country roads to use up their budget. Until they are held to account for the money that's wasted then nothing will change. It's not what you know, it's who you know.
lucylou in belfast wrote (185 days ago):
RYAN in AN DUN==If we don't at least strive for perfection what's the point.? I would simply be more selective in what I put my energies into in the hope of changing it. My priority would be something that has tangible benefits for EVERY single citizen, those things that are essential in improving every day living. My humble opinion tells me learning Irish/Ulster Scots is fine when and if cash is available when the essentials are properly addressed re funding required. I ask myself if I were paying for all services myself would I prioritise something like this higher than say a drug that is withheld from patients because it is deemed too 'expensive' regardless of who and from whatever 'community' needs it. The bigger picture matters to me.
Ryan in An Dun wrote (190 days ago):
@ Lucy so so want everything to be perfect in a perfect world? You see if we don't protest about education, then it won't change, if we don't protest about health care, then it won't change, if we don't protest about jobs, it won't change, etc. How can we make change to your list without the means to protest and rally? When your see how far we have come from the 60's with reference to discrimination, education, health care, transport, international investment, etc. things like this doesn't change itself. It takes the people to demand change. That's what these rally's are about, change. I'm not saying rallying and protesting about everything will change it but it's a start. People come on here and say how it's a dead language but it should be up to us to change that way of thinking. Making it more available and easy to access.
lucylou in belfast wrote (191 days ago):
RYAN in AN DUN===I guess we will have to agree to differ regarding prisoner releases. I don't for one minute believe a government would not have come together had they been made to serve their sentences instead of being freed and leaving victims relatives feeling their relatives lives were worth nothing. I did vote for the GFA even though it meant compromise, as I'm sure it did for some people in both communities. I mentioned those specific murders purely because they came after the GFA and peace was supposed to be the order of the day. As far as I am concerned all killing is wrong whether it's a member of security forces, innocent civilians killed by terrorists, or because of the actions of the state colluding with said terrorists. I also believe that to kill a member of the IRA ,UDA, UVF, PROVOS or whatever organisation was also wrong. You see Ryan ,to me, they are all just human beings, one life as precious as the next. All ending up in the organisations they did due to the lottery of birthplace /circumstances. I personally have no allegiance to any organisation, state funded or otherwise just as I would not support SINN FEIN, UNIONIST, SDLP, PUP, DUP . Any views that are non inclusive are not for me, I want politicians who don't speak in terms of two communities. I want forward thinking leaders, not idiots who are trying to hold their ground with the same old divisive rhetoric. I want a great education for all children in the same classrooms. I want our city not to be blighted/divided by so called 'peace' walls. I want the best and most advanced healthcare for all our citizens. I want people of all faiths to be able to worship as and where and how they choose .I want the elderly to be properly and well cared for when they need it. I want good training and job opportunities for everyone .I want decent homes for all our citizens. I want decent salaries for people. I want people to be concerned with these things instead of parades, flags, protests rallys , what Oliver Cromwell or William of orange did 100's of years ago. This is the ''list I have to hand'' Ryan..... but what did you say?..... 'you can't always get it all your own way'?. Message received and understood.
Ryan in An Dun wrote (191 days ago):
@ Lucy Lou. Well Lucy on the 22 May 1998 the Good Friday Agreement was endorsed by the majority of people on this island, (I don't know if you where one of those or you just don't like certain parts - you can't always get it all your own way) and the early release of prisoners is an important part of that agreement. I think the early release of prisoners was a vital part to bring a government together that represents everyone in the community. David Irvine once said that "There are hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people who are alive that might be dead, were it not for changing circumstances in Northern Ireland." Look at how the agreement has changed how we live in the north. Jobs, the economy and international events such as The MTV awards a couple of years ago. Could you have seen that in the 70's and 80's Lucy? If there are parties that you don't agree with Lucy, don't vote for them. There have been many men and women in the past that have died to give us that right. There have been prisoners from different groups returned to prison and rightly so if they have broke the terms of their licence. I notice Lucy you always have a list to hand of victims from this and that but not many victims of state violence. I am not for one minute condoning the murder of police officers Kerr and Black. But you don't seem to mention too much about victims of collusion and victims of state violence. Are you Jim Alister by any chance? With reference to your question about Irish language Lucy, it helps to read the story before commenting. "On Saturday campaigners called for the introduction of an Irish Language Act in the region, a comprehensive Irish-medium education system as well as adequate resources for the Irish-speaking community." First paragraph Lucy.
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