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Adams says young people will be radicalised by the DUP’s refusal to embrace their rights

Unlikely to reach a deal anytime soon, the Northern Ireland Assembly has remained empty since January.

Image: Sam Boal via Rolling News

SINN FÉIN PRESIDENT Gerry Adams has said there will be no re-establishment of the Northern Ireland Assembly without a stand-alone Irish Language Act.

Speaking this morning, Adams that there will be “no Assembly and no Executive without a stand-alone Irish Language Act”.

The proposed Irish Language Act is something Sinn Féin is adamant on pushing through, and an issue that has halted an agreement between the party and the DUP.

As outlined here, the DUP had begun to roll back on certain funding commitments to Irish language projects under the last Assembly, and this was heavily fought by Sinn Féin.

Speaking to RTÉ Radio One’s Morning Ireland, Adams said: “Do we harp back to the old days in the North where one party comes to the Assembly and say ‘sin é’ – that’s it – and they’re in charge? Or do we develop, as the Good Friday Agreement envisages, a society in which everyone’s rights are upheld and protected? That’s the crossroads that the leadership of Unionism is at.”

As our FactCheck on the matter delved into, there are 104,943 people in Northern Ireland (or 6% of the population) who can speak Irish.

The legislation proposes protection of Irish as a minority language, and to give it a similar standing that the Welsh language has in Wales.

It proposes giving the Irish language an official status, enables public bodies to provide a baseline level of interactions in Irish, and legislates for Irish place names on road signs.

Sinn Féin has made it clear that, unless the DUP follow through and agree with the proposed legislation, there will be no agreement, and the Stormont Parliament will remain closed, as it has since January.

“The North is changing. It must be a place which embraces all of its citizens and respect all on the basis of equality. This does not threaten anyone,” Adams said in a statement this morning.

Speaking on Morning Ireland, he had even stronger words of criticism.

“Even this morning, talking to young people… the first language used to me was Irish.

These kids, I told the DUP this four or five years ago, are going to be radicalised and politicised by the DUP’s refusal to embrace their rights.

“These young people, if they had politics at all, it was just politics of identity, of Gaelic games, of sport, of song and of culture. Now, given the occurrences over the last year when they were dismissed… look at the big crowds that came out for the big Dearg Le Fearg march in Belfast.

Do we want a future in which there’s respect, in which there is tolerance, in which there is a legislative basis for everyone’s rights, or do we want to continue with the stand-off with the DUP where they put themselves on top?

Adams was questioned a number of times during the interview about what he meant when he said “radicalised”, however he failed to give a clear explanation.

DUP’s stance on the act 

FactCheck from earlier in the year pointed out that the DUP has never really committed to an Irish Language Act.

The DUP wants to change the Irish Language Act as it currently exists and expand it to a more wider ranging piece of legislation that would include protection for not just Irish language speakers, but Scottish Gaelic speakers and other Protestant cultures in Northern Ireland.

Earlier this summer, the DUP rebuked the Irish government for trying to interfere in the matter, with MLA Christopher Stalford accusing the government of “undermining its own credibility” by supporting Sinn Féin’s stance on the Irish language.

Arlene Foster has also alluded to the act being a particular stumbling block.

She said: “It’s a case of making sure that those who we represent also feel valued in Northern Ireland.

What we can’t have is one section of the community having cultural supremacy over the other.
With reporting by Sean Murray

Read: Explainer: Why the DUP and Sinn Féin can’t reach a deal on power-sharing in the North

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