Sinn Féin Councillor Kevin Campbell has said Communities Minister Paul Givan should immediately restore the funding for bursaries to the Líofa initiative.
The party’s Irish language spokesperson said the decision by DUP Minister Paul Givan to remove £50,000 bursaries from the Líofa initiative “shows further disregard for the Irish language”.
The means tested bursaries helped Irish language learners fund the costs involved in visiting the Gaeltacht region of Donegal.
Colr. Campbell said: “This scheme has helped people from right across the community and is not only an attack on the Irish language but on Irish culture and identity as well.
“Since it was set up by my party colleague Carál Ní Chuilín, Líofa has been hugely successful and has helped thousands of people learn and improve their Irish.
“These people are from every political, religious, social and cultural background.”
He added: “The DUP Minister’s decided to cut £50,000 from the Gaeltacht bursary scheme in the midst of the Renewable Heating Incentive (RHI) scheme crisis, presided over by other DUP ministers, which will now result in an actual loss to the Northern Executive’s total budget of approximately £500 million.
“Paul Givan must heed public calls and accept he has done the wrong thing in this instance.
“He needs to reverse this decision and stop denying young people from disadvantaged backgrounds a modest but vitally important support service.”
The Department for Communities has issued notifications stating that due to “efficiency savings” they will not be offering the bursaries in 2017.
The decision has been widely condemned.