Statement by TUV leader Jim Allister:-
“With Sinn Fein and the aggressive Irish language showing no sign of retreating from their destructive demand for Irish Language legislation it is looking increasingly likely that the centrepiece of any deal will be a DUP climbdown.
“Even more important than the embarrassment in the DUP’s dietary switch from curried yoghurt to humble pie, will be the irreversible republican advance in hollowing out the Britishness of Northern Ireland. Moreover, success for Sinn Fein’s politics of ransom guarantees more instability, not less, as the lesson will not be lost on them.
“In 2014 Gregory Campbell boasted to the DUP party conference to wild applause:
“We’ll say it slowly so that you understand Caitríona and Gerry – we will never agree to your Irish Language Act. Do you understand? The paper that your wish list is written on well, we’ll just regard it as toilet paper.”
“A question which the DUP now has to face is – is the Sinn Fein wish list still “toilet paper” or or is it now the programme for government?
“It doesn’t matter if the Act is wrapped up with a few tartan bows for the sake of the optics. What matters is what is actually in the legislation. If, as Sinn Fein demand, it is legislation of substance, then it will a key part of fusing Northern Ireland into Gaelic Ireland.
“DUP MLAs who won their seats on the back of a campaign premised on “not feeding the crocodile” would do well to reflect long and hard before rolling over on this issue. Having promised repeatedly that there will never be an Irish Language Act on her watch the Unionist community will be looking to Mrs Foster to deliver.
“There is no case for further legislative provision for Irish. The Irish language school sector is lavishly funded by the state. Indeed, Irish medium schools receive preferential treatment with the threshold for opening one much, much lower than that for other sectors. They have a North-South promotional body with executive powers.
“The pronouncements of Irish language zealots on the media in recent days should leave no one in any doubt that regardless of any safeguards which may or may not be built into any legislation agreed now it will be the launching pad for an ongoing cultural war on unionists.”