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20 February 2015
The Good Friday Agreement

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Irish Language
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Shortly after the Agreement was signed, the British government announced its intention to sign the Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. On 2 March 2000 the UK government signed the Charter recognising Irish, Scottish, Gaelic, Welsh, Scots and Ulster Scots for Part II. In a letter issued by both British and Irish governments on 5 May 2000, Prime Minister Tony Blair and Taoiseach Bertie Ahern pledged that the Council of Europe Charter would be ratified by September. The Charter was ratified on 27 March 2001, specifying Irish, Welsh and Scottish Gaelic for Part III. The Charter will come into force on Monday 2 July 2001. The Government has agreed to conform with the specified requirement of Part III, Article 10-Administrative Authorities and Public Services.  
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The body that will co-ordinate the government's policy for implementing the Charter in Northern Ireland is the Linguistic Diversity Branch. This was set up within the Central Community Relations Unit in February 1999 to devise a language policy for Irish, Ulster Scots and the languages of the ethnic minority communities. The Branch was later transferred to the newly established Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure (DCAL).    
Steps have been taken to implement the Agreement's commitment to linguistic diversity. The North/South Language Implementation Body came into effect on 2 December 1999, when powers were devolved to the Northern Ireland Assembly. The implementation body has responsibility for the following functions in relation to the Irish language:    
 -  Promoting the Irish language
 -  Facilitating and encouraging its use in speech and writing in public and private in the South and, in the context of Part III of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, in Northern Ireland where there is appropriate demand
 -  Advising both administrations, public bodies and other groups in the private and voluntary sectors
 -  Undertaking supportive projects, and grant-aiding bodies and groups as considered necessary
 -  Undertaking research, promotional campaigns, and public and media relations
 -  Developing terminology and dictionaries
 -  Supporting Irish-medium education and the teaching of Irish.

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