Plans to legislate on Irish language set out in Queen’s Speech

Prince Charles read out the speech instead of his mother due to her health problems.

LAST UPDATE | May 10th 2022, 1:24 PM

PLANS TO LEGISLATE for the Irish language have been announced in the Queen’s Speech.

There had been an expectation that the Westminster Government would introduce the legislation before the Stormont election last week.

It fell to the Northern Ireland Office after the Stormont parties were unable to agree to introduce cultural and language legislation in the Northern Ireland Assembly which was part of the New Decade, New Approach (NDNA) deal.

The plans include an Office of Identity and Cultural Expression to promote respect for diversity as well as an Irish Language Commissioner and a commissioner to develop language, arts and literature associated with the Ulster Scots/Ulster British tradition.

The British Queen, 96, pulled out of the ceremonial occasion – when she reads out her Government’s legislative programme for the forthcoming parliamentary session – as she continued to experience “episodic mobility problems”.

In the Queen’s absence, Prince Charles announced plans to deliver a package of identity and language measures, as promised in the NDNA deal that restored powersharing in early 2020.

Aside from the Irish language act, absent was legislation to implement the Government’s threat to tear up the post-Brexit deal on Northern Ireland’s trading arrangements.

Charles was joined by Prince William, with the pair jointly opening Parliament on the Queen’s behalf as Counsellors of State after the monarch delegated the important duty to them.

The 73-year-old prince sat not on the sovereign’s throne, which had been removed, but on the consort’s throne, which used to be occupied by his father, Prince Phillip, and which Charles has used in recent years.

A space remained next to him, where the Queen’s missing throne is usually located, under the opulent canopy, with the monarch’s Imperial State Crown in front on a velvet cushion.

On either side of Charles were William, in a morning coat, at his first State Opening, Camilla Parker-Bowles, wearing a day dress and hat, in the Chairs of State.

Charles delivered the speech in the third person, using “Her Majesty’s Government”.

As he took on the head of state’s major constitutional duty for the first time, the move has been interpreted as a symbolic and significant shift in his responsibilities as a future monarch.

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