A move 300 years in the making: UK takes steps to recognise the Irish language

·2-min read
A move 300 years in the making: UK takes steps to recognise the Irish language

Since the UK divided Ireland, successive Governments in London have discouraged people from speaking the Irish language in the Northern part of the island.

Activists then attempted over the next101 years to get the language fully recognized. Now the UK has begun the process to do just that.

In Belfast, Irish nationalists have welcomed the move.

Caoimhín O’ Seanáin, a teacher in West Belfast, told Euronews: “We no longer have to be second-class citizens in our own Country.

“The Irish Language will be much more visible. It will be available for use in the Courts. Legislation that goes back centuries will be removed.”

The Act will also recognise the relatively unknown Ulster-Scots language.

The Irish lanague is becoming more popular. In the British heartland of protestant East Belfast, a growing number are trying to learn it.

“I think it’s a really important first step,” said Aodán Mac Seafraidh, a member of the language and culture project Turas in East Belfast.

“It gives the language official recognition in Northern Ireland for the first time since the foundation of the State".

However, in East Belfast, some locals are opposed to the move and believe the €4 million Irish Language Investment Fund budget could be better spent elsewhere.

“I don’t approve of it. At the end of the day I was brought up British so I believe in being British,” said one resident.

“I think it’s a disgraceful waste of money because there are very few people who know Irish in this country, so what is the point of it?” said another resident.

Some unionists are also opposed to the Act because they believe it is a concession to Irish Nationalists.

But others in Belfast believe recognition of the language would both save a piece of Irish culture and prevent it from going extinct.

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