Irish language campaigners to demonstrate in Belfast

Irish school classroom Irish language campaigners are seeking greater recognition of the language by the Irish government and the NI Assembly

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Irish language campaigners are to hold a demonstration in Belfast to highlight the need for a rights-based Irish language act in Northern Ireland.

The demonstration, organised by Irish language support group Conradh na Gaelige, is scheduled for 12 April.

Local and European election candidates are to be canvassed on their attitude to Irish and asked to honour promises.

News of the Belfast demonstration follows a rally attended by thousands of people in Dublin on Saturday.

Irish language enthusiasts said they intended to press the Irish government and the Northern Ireland Assembly to recognise their language rights and ensure "equality for the language throughout the island".

Conradh spokesman Julian de Spáinn said: "There will be a number of actions in the weeks ahead including a demonstration in Belfast on 12 April.

Resignation

"This demonstration will focus on the need for a rights-based Irish language act in the north.

"There is nothing unusual about legislation to protect speakers' rights. There is such legislation in the south of Ireland, in Wales and in Scotland."

Mr de Spáinn said the campaign would also focus on the upcoming local and European elections.

"We will be asking candidates to choose a future for Irish, and when elected, to act on that choice made."

A demonstration is also to be held in Connemara, at the offices of the Irish government's language commissioner.

The commissioner, Seán Ó Cuirreáin, has announced his resignation in protest at what he described as the marginalisation of the Irish language by the government of the Republic of Ireland.

The Northern Ireland Assembly was recently criticised in a Council of Europe report for failing to provide the council with information on the use of both Irish and Ulster-Scots, because the NI parties could not agree a submission.

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