British Government to introduce Irish language act in Northern Ireland by October
Sinn Féin and the DUP averted a crisis in Stormont after nominating a First Minister and Deputy First Minister.
The British government has agreed that it will introduce an Irish language act in Northern Ireland in October if the Stormont Assembly does not do so by September.
On Wednesday, Sinn Féin Leader Mary Lou McDonald said that her party had nominated a Deputy First Minister at Stormont after she received a commitment from the UK Government to legislate for Irish language protections at Westminster.
The development came after a night of intensive talks between Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis and DUP and Sinn Féin delegations in Belfast.
After Arlene Foster’s resignation as First Minister on Monday, the DUP and Sinn Féin had just seven days to nominate for the two positions, or else power-sharing would collapse.
An October election would have been on the cards had a First Minister and Deputy First Minister not been nominated, but this scenario has now been averted.
Following the commitment, McDonald said her party is nominating Michelle O’Neill as Deputy First Minister.
Meanwhile, the DUP will nominate Paul Givan as First Minister.
McDonald said on Twitter: “The British Govt has tonight agreed to legislate for Acht Gaeilge.
“This is the only way to break the cycle of DUP obstruction of rights. Sinn Sinn Féin will nominate [Michelle O’Neill] as Deputy First Minister. We have important work ahead.”
Following the introduction of Irish language legislation by Westminster, she told reporters: “For a very long time the DUP has sought to frustrate these rights and that is most unfortunate, it’s also unacceptable and tonight we have broken through that logjam of DUP obstructionism.”
McDonald added that the agreement with the UK government marked a “special moment” for Irish-language speakers.