THOUSANDS OF people took part in a march through Belfast on Saturday seeking the immediate implementation of an Irish Language Act.
The event was organised by An Dream Dearg and saw participants march from Cultúrlann McAdam Ó Fiaich to Belfast City Hall.
Legislation on a cultural package, including the protection for the Irish language, had been expected before the end of the last assembly mandate.
It was part of the 2020 New Decade, New Approach deal.
SIN É!! An Lá Dearg 2022! ⭕️👏
WOW!!! 17,000+ Gael demanding Irish Language rights! #AchtAnois
We are here to stay and demand language rights now!!!
Go raibh maith agaibh gach duine a sheas linn 👏👏👏 @dreamdearg abú pic.twitter.com/L9MUYMQeX9
— An Dream Dearg 🅾️🦸🏽♀️🦸🏻♂️ (@dreamdearg) May 21, 2022
This has not been implemented to date, but the Northern Ireland Office has said it will introduce an Identity and Language Bill as part of its legislative programme for the next parliamentary session.
The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Brandon Lewis MP, says the Bill will “also recognise and celebrate Northern Ireland’s rich heritage with a balanced package of identity and culture measures previously agreed by the Northern Ireland parties”.
Conchúr Ó Muadaigh, spokesperson for An Dream Dearg, told today’s rally: “It is time for the British Government, the DUP and others with power and influence to end their decades-long veto and obstruction of Irish language rights.”
He added that “the Irish language Act is long overdue and our community cannot be made to wait any longer for the same language rights enjoyed by citizens across these islands”.