International body backs Irish language role

Graffiti in Belfast calling for an Irish Language Act

Language commissioners from six countries have supported a similar role being established in the North of Ireland.

Members of the International Association of Language Commissioners voiced their support in a letter to the Irish language organisation, Conradh na Gaeilge.

An Irish language commissioner was a key feature of previous proposals for an Irish language act.

However, the proposals have been politically contentious.

Language laws ‘strengthen not threaten’
The power of words
Both main unionist parties have opposed a standalone act, but other parties have supported calls for one.

The International Association of Language Commissioners is an umbrella body for language commissioners in a number of countries.

Eleven commissioners from Canada, Spain, Wales, Ireland, Kosovo and Belgium have signed the letter of support.

Five of the signatories are from regions of Canada, while both the Basque and Catalonian language commissioners from Spain have put their name to the letter.

Police standards
The principal role of an Irish language commissioner would be to promote and facilitate the use of the language.

They would also police the standards required of public sector bodies in delivering services in Irish.

The letter said that language commissioners brought many advantages.

“In our view language commissioners can be central in the protection and preservation of a language that is spoken by a minority,” it read.

Dr Niall Comer, from Conradh na Gaeilge, said that independent commissioners were vital in protecting language rights.

“Language rights and rights-based legislation are afforded to minority and indigenous language communities across these islands and indeed across the world,” he said.

“If anything we are the anomaly.”

A working group on rights, languages and identity has been established as part of the ongoing talks between the political parties at Stormont.

With many thanks to: BBCNI and Robbie Meredith NI Education Correspondent for the original story

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Stormont stalemate

DUP’s Ian Paisley accuses The Irish News of ‘running hate campaign’

DUP MP Ian Paisley, speaking out about Brexit at Westminister this week.

THE DUP’s Ian Paisley has accused The Irish News of running a “hate campaign” against a council chief executive following an article about an Irish language funding row.

The paper yesterday reported how Conradh na Gaeilge (CnG) said it intended to make a formal complaint against Anne Donaghy in a dispute over comments at a council meeting.

CnG strongly rejected her claims that she had contacted the group and arranged a meeting but it failed to turn up, accusing her of risking it “reputational damage”.

It also claimed her comments impacted on a vote at Mid and East Antrim council on holding events for Irish Language Week (Seachtain na Gaeilge).

The council said a meeting was arranged through a councillor last year and released a redacted email, but no messages were disclosed showing any correspondence with CnG.

Referencing the report yesterday on Twitter, North Antrim MP Mr Paisley wrote: “The Irish News appear to be running a hate campaign against Mid and East Antrim chief executive – every month or so they run ‘well placed sources’ reports attacking her.”

Responding to his comments, CnG advocacy manager Ciarán Mac Giolla Bhéin said it had only spoken out “because of assertions made by the chief executive that we had not shown up to a meeting arranged with her”.

He said CnG has asked for the record to be amended and the council vote on Seachtain na Gaeilge retaken because her remarks “obviously influenced that”.

Ms Donaghy’s comments were made on Monday while councillors discussed whether to hold an event to mark Irish Language Week.

CnG had written to the council in January asking it to consider providing funding for groups or organising its own event.

During the discussion, Ms Donaghy said: “I did contact Conradh na Gaeilge and had a meeting and sat at the meeting with two officers and they didn’t turn up.”

Rather than holding an event, most councillors instead backed TUV councillor Timothy Gaston’s proposal to note CnG’s correspondence and refer the group to the council’s grants scheme.

The council later said its mayor is still “committed to hosting an event to mark Irish Language Week”.

In a fresh statement, a council spokeswoman said: “Contact with Conradh na Gaeilge was made via the chief executive’s office through an elected member.

“The chief executive’s understanding was that this invitation had been extended to the group through the elected member, as requested, and as is often normal practice.

“The chief executive has always been and remains willing to meet groups from all backgrounds and communities, including Conradh na Gaeilge, and has since contacted the group to reiterate this.”

It is the latest controversy to hit the council chief executive.

Last year SDLP councillor Declan O’Loan said Ms Donaghy contacted him to say she was making a complaint after a search of his emails – which Mr O’Loan claimed were searched without his consent or knowledge.

And in October Ms Donaghy faced criticism after claiming that UVF flags put on display during a loyalist band contest were “historic and not illegal”.

With many thanks to: Brendan Hughes and The Irish News for the origional story.

Irish language group in row with council chief over ‘damging’ comments

Anne Donaghy, Chief Executive of Mid and East Antrim council.

AN IRISH language organisation has said it intends to make a formal complaint against a council chief executive in a dispute over comments she made at a council meeting.

Conradh na Gaeilge (CnG) strongly rejected Anne Donaghy’s claims that she had contacted the group and arranged a meeting but it had failed to turn up.

The Irish language group said it has “no record of any such meeting being requested” and accused Ms Donaghy of risking them “reputational damage”.

Ms Donaghy made the claim on Monday at a meeting of Mid and East Antrim council, during which councillors discussed whether to hold an event to mark Irish Language Week.

CnG had written to the council asking it to consider providing funding for groups or organising its own event.

During the discussion, Ms Donaghy defended the council’s efforts to look at holding events for Seachtain na Gaeilge 2018.

She said: “Just to say I have put some work into this. I have done the best I can and I did contact Conradh na Gaeilge and had a meeting and sat at the meeting with two officers and they didn’t turn up.

“Now we contacted them and asked them, and I asked them to come back to me, and they haven’t come back to me.

“I did arrange the meeting and that’s what happened.”

Rather than holding an event for Irish Language Week, most councillors instead backed TUV councillor Timothy Gaston’s proposal to note CnG’s correspondence and refer the group to the council’s grants scheme.

Making his proposal, Mr Gaston referred to Ms Donaghy’s comments about CnG and said it was “embarrassing they couldn’t even turn up”.

Mid and East Antrim council later said its mayor is still “committed to hosting an event to mark Irish Language Week”.

Ciarán Mac Giolla Bhéin, advocacy manager for CnG, yesterday disputed Ms Donaghy’s comments and said the group would be making a formal complaint.

“We would like to state on record that we have no record of any such meeting being requested and were unaware of any meeting having been arranged,” he said.

He said the group “risks reputational damage”, adding: “Given that this was referenced by some councillors during the debate on whether or not to support Seachtain na Gaeilge, we believe it had an impact on the debate and impacted negatively on the outcome from our perspective.”

Asked about Ms Donaghy’s comments, last night the council said a meeting was arranged between several councillors, staff and a CnG representative for August 15 last year but that “a number of those invited did not attend”.

To support this, the council released a redacted email in July last year from Ms Donaghy to a councillor in which she says she would be “happy to meet”.

However, no messages showing any correspondence directly with CnG were disclosed.

Independent councillor Paul Maguire expressed concern over the dispute.

“This is a very serious situation, and an embarrassment for Mid and East Antrim council. Good Relations within both the corporate body and constituency, is consequently at a very low ebb,” he said.

It is the latest controversy to hit the Mid and East Antrim council chief executive.

Last year SDLP councillor Declan O’Loan said Ms Donaghy contacted him to say she was making a complaint after a search of his emails – which Mr O’Loan said were searched without his consent or knowledge.

And in October Ms Donaghy faced criticism after claiming that UVF flags put on display during a loyalist band contest were “historic and not illegal”.

With many thanks to: Brendan Hughes and The Irish News for the origional story.