Derry gaeilgeoirí rallied outside Cultúrlann Uí Chanáin on Wednesday to demand “civil rights for Irish speakers”.
The protest was part of the ongoing campaign for the enactment of an Irish Language Act, which was pledged under the St. Andrews Agreement over a decade ago.
Pupils from Irish medium schools were among whose who gathered in the city centre ‘Gaeltacht’ carrying placards demanding ‘Equal rights for Irish speakers’.
Under St. Andrews the London government in 2006 promised to introduce an Irish Language Act and “work with the incoming Executive to enhance and protect the development of the Irish language”.
It didn’t. But the introduction of an act to gave statutory force to Irish language rights has continued to be a manifesto pledge for parties such as Sinn Féin and the SDLP. The former First Minister Arlene Foster, at present the most likely prospective Executive partner for the nationalist parties, on Monday provoked the ire of Irish speakers by stating that the DUP would never agree to an Irish Language Act.
Sinn Féin Assembly candidate for Foyle, Raymond McCartney, who was among those in attendance at Wednesday’s rally, said: “There is considerable anger in the Irish language community in Derry and across the island about the DUP’s lack of respect for the Irish language.”
Mr. McCartney indicated his party would be demanding the implementation of legislation in any negotiations to form an Executive.
“The DUP have continually shown disrespect to the Irish language and identity and have held up progress on both an Irish language strategy and an Irish language act.”