Northern Ireland

DUP Irish language decision 'motivated by hate', says McGuinness

Martin McGuinness said some in the DUP hate 'anything Irish'
Image caption Martin McGuinness said some in the DUP hate 'anything Irish'

The DUP has been accused of "hatred" towards the Irish language following a decision to stop the translation of correspondence from the Department of Education.

It comes after DUP minister Peter Weir adopted a new policy which makes clear "the principal language is English".

Official letters had previously been written in English, Irish and Ulster Scots.

Now they will not be translated into any other languages.

Responding to the news, Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said: "There's a cohort of people within the DUP who hate anything to do with the Irish language".

The Sinn Féin minister suggested some within the party "hate anything Irish".

"We have to deal with the reality that the political institutions we're part of are institutions that bring into government people who have different views about many of these matters," told the BBC's Good Morning Ulster programme.

Image copyright Press Eye
Image caption Peter Weir said he will "try to treat everyone equally" while he is education minister

However, DUP MLA Nelson McCausland denied that his party hated the Irish language.

"I have no animosity towards the language," he told the BBC.

"I have an interest in all minority languages, but the Irish language has been used and abused by republicans for political ends, that's the core issue."

Suggesting that the language had been used as a "cultural weapon", the former culture minister pointed to a 1982 quote by a Sinn Féin cultural officer who said every word spoken in Irish was "a bullet in the freedom struggle".

But Sinn Féin's Niall Ó Donnghaile - who sits on the Irish Seanad - said the DUP had politicised the language.

"When you have a minister for education, who has a statutory obligation to promote and enhance the development of Irish medium education, taking the decision to shut out the visibility of Irish and saying it will be an English-only department, then that is ill intent, that is negative and that is politicising.

"The DUP are punishing thousands of children from every religious and cultural background."

After taking up office in May, Mr Weir said he would be a minister for all schools and would not give preferential treatment to one sector over another.

During a visit to the Irish language school, Coláiste Feirste in west Belfast, he said that "no pupil should be disadvantaged by what is on their school badge".

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