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Irish Language Act

British MP uses Irish language in address at UK House of Commons for first time since 1901

Liz Saville-Roberts spoke as Gaeilge as she urged Karen Bradley to implement an Irish Language Act in Northern Ireland. / YouTube

THE IRISH LANGUAGE has been used during an address at the UK House of Commons for the first time in more than 100 years.

Liz Saville-Roberts, a member of the Welsh party Plaid Cymru, spoke as Gaeilge as she called on Northern Ireland Secretary of State Karen Bradley to implement an Irish Language Act.

She urged Bradley to introduce the act if the Northern Ireland executive is not restored within six months, following the collapse of the power-sharing government at Stormont in January 2017.

“Is cearta daonna iad cearta teanga agus tá cothrom na féinne tuilte ag lucht labhartha na Gaeilge [Language rights are human rights and the Irish-speaking community are entitled to equality],” she said.

Saville-Roberts added that the British government had already pledged to introduce the act under the St Andrews Agreement of 2006, which resulted in the restoration of the Northern Ireland Assembly.

“Will the Minister uphold its commitment by introducing an Irish Language Act if power-sharing institutions are not restored within six months?” she said.

The Welsh MP is believed to be the first person to speak Irish in the House of Commons since February 1901.

On that occasion, West Kerry MP Thomas O’Donnell used the language during a provocative speech in which he is understood to have asserted his right to speak in Irish.

Commenting on the historic occasion, president of Conradh na Gaeilge, Dr Niall Comer thanked MPs like Saville-Roberts for their commitment to the Irish language community.

“All we are asking is to be brought into line with the other indigenous language communities on these islands,” he said.

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