Statement by TUV leader Jim Allister:
“It is easy for Arlene Foster to shoot down the most extreme and long term goals of the Irish language zealots but it is also clear that she is dodging the key questions such as:
- Does Mrs Foster stand over her promise to the people ahead of the last Assembly election – “We will never accede to an Irish Language Act”?
- Are the DUP prepared to concede “rights based” legislation, whatever it is called, which will open the door to perpetual judicial reviews funded by the taxpayer?
- Are the DUP prepared to give Irish official language status in Northern Ireland with all the resulting ramifications which arise from that including an expectation that Irish speakers will be dealt with in Irish by the civil service and public bodies? If that happens non-Irish speakers will be discriminated against as there will be roles they simply cannot perform.
- Are the DUP prepared to lift the ban on Irish in the courts with all the ramifications that will have for employment of non-Irish speakers within the legal profession and indeed the administration of justice?
- Are the DUP prepared to commit to equal status with English?
- Are the DUP prepared to concede a language enforcer in the form of a Commissioner with statutory powers?
- Has the DUP abandoned its previous position of opposition to more expenditure on the Irish language?
“The long-term goals of Sinn Fein/IRA and the Irish language lobby are clear. Any legislative provision for Irish has been repeatedly categorically ruled out by the DUP and they will not be permitted to go back on their word. I suspect that the strength of the reaction to suggestions that the DUP are preparing to move on the issue has forced Mrs Foster into making her comments today. The reaction of the Unionist grassroots on social media is there for all to see. Unionism is in no mood to compromise on this issue, not least because the Welsh and Scottish experience proves that a single Act would not be the end of the matter, but the beginning of a rolling process of ever expanding ‘rights’.”