Wednesday, 1 November 2017

When the Alliance Party damned an Irish Language Act as 'expensive' and 'divisive'!

Alliance MLA Paula Bradshaw(centre) backs an Irish Language Act
Today the Alliance Party supports the introduction of an Irish Language Act and among the foremost advocates is Alliance MLA Paula Bradshaw.   

On 30 August she lined up with other politicians for a photo opportunity to declare her support for an Irish Language Act.  In the photograph with her were Nichola Mallon (SDLP), Steven Agnew (Green Party), Gerry Carroll (People Before Profit), Gerry Adams (Sinn Fein), Ciaran Mac Giolla Bhein (Conradh na Gaeilge) and Niall Comer (Conradh na Gaeilge).  

Also that same day she was interviewed on the Radio Ulster programme Talkback and defended her party's support for an Irish Language Act.

Ian Parsley with his wife,  Paula Bradshaw MLA
However that was not always the position of the Alliance Party. 

The following letter from Ian James Parsley, then an Alliance Party councillor in North Down, appeared in the Irish News on 16 November 2006..

He was responding to a latter from Margaret Ritchie in the Irish News (15 November 2006) and in his reply he referred to 'a damaging and expensive Irish language act'.  Ian Parsley then continued:

Ian Parsley(Alliance)
Firstly, an Irish language act would place the language's development in the hands of officials and lawyers - and take it away from those who truly think and feel for the language and have led the process so successfully so far.  One of the most dynamic cultural movements in Europe would be reduced to a rabble of bureaucracy.

Secondly,, an (Irish language) act would inevitably bring with it huge cost.  That money will be taken from other budgets....

Most people, regardless of political background, will come to view the language as nothing more than an expensive way to divide up our people, rather than the source of cultural wealth, pride and unity it could be.

Ian Parsley rejected an Irish Language Act as damaging, expensive and divisive, which would involve 'huge cost' and that was his verdict as a prominent party member.  He was the party's policy director from 2007 to 2009 and also the unsuccessful Alliance Party candidate in the 2009 European election.

But that was in 2006 and today the Alliance Party supports an Irish Language Act.  Indeed Ian Parsley himself has written in favour of Irish language legislation and his wife, Paula Bradshaw, is an enthusiastic supporter.

I find that hard to understand because if an Irish Language Act would have been divisive, expensive and damaging in 2006, it would be just as divisive, expensive and damaging today, maybe even more so.

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