A motion calling on the British government to remedy its outstanding breach of the St. Andrew's Agreement by introducing an Irish Language Act will be debated by Derry City and Strabane District Council this Thursday afternoon.
The motion is being tabled by Sinn Féin's Irish language spokesman, Councillor Kevin Campbell, who has pointed out that London has thusfar reneged on its commitment at St. Andrews over ten years ago to "introduce an Irish Language Act reflecting on the experience of Wales and Ireland and work with the incoming Executive to enhance and protect the development of the Irish language".
He said: "Acht na Gaeilge is an issue of respect, an issue of recognition and an issue of rights.
“An Irish Language Act has both practical and symbolic importance in recognising and respecting Irish national identity.
"There needs to be language rights and protections in the north, just as there is in the rest of Ireland, in Scotland and in Wales."
Colr. Campbell said commitments to protect and promote the Irish language were integral to the Belfast Agreement, which was signed on Good Friday twenty years ago.
He said it was time for the British government to fully fulfil those commitments and to make amends for the ongoing breach of faith represented by the non-introduction of an Irish Language Act as promised at St. Andrews.
London has not been true to its word, he indicated.
“Irish language rights are a central part of the Good Friday Agreement and an Acht na Gaeilge is a part of the 2006 St. Andrew’s Agreement.
“Irish language speakers in Derry and Tyrone are entitled to the same language rights as enjoyed by citizens in other parts of these islands.
"These rights threaten no one; they humiliate no-one.
“In this council area, there is a fast growing Irish Language community; including the 563 children who are being educated through the medium of Irish. Their rights must be protected
“It is time now to end the denial of rights and disrespect shown to the Irish language, culture and identity. It is time for an Acht na Gaeilge.”
Colr. Campbell's motion will call for the introduction of Acht na Gaeilge as promised in the St Andrews Agreement.
It will further call for the "indigenous language of this island" to be "protected in legislation".