Mid Ulster District Council is expected to open their public consultion on its draft Irish language policy, at the beginning of April.
The consultation will take place as part of an ‘equality impact assessment’, giving members of the public an opportunity to comment on the content of the draft policy, which sets out a series of guiding principles and positive actions to promote, enhance and protect the Irish language.
The new draft policy has been developed under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages which aims to safeguard specific languages by ensuring they are promoted and encouraged in speech and writing, as well as in private and public life.
Presiding Councillor (Chair) of Mid Ulster District Council, Councillor Cáthal Mallaghan, has welcomed the development of the policy:
“In Mid Ulster almost 23,000 people, which equates to 17.4% of the population, have some ability in Irish and just over 6% can speak, read, write and understand the language, so Irish is a significant part of the multi-cultural and multi-lingual society which makes up our new Council area.
“The development of a new policy is a way of recognising, supporting and encouraging that linguistic diversity, as well as meeting our obligations under the European Charter”.
Chair of the Council’s Policy & Resources Committee, Councillor Sean McPeake, is encouraging local people to respond to the consultation when it begins:
“The measures and actions in the proposed policy are intended to be practical and positive ways of promoting the language, as well as raising awareness of Irish as a reflection of the broad linguistic culture and heritage of Mid Ulster.
“I would encourage those who already have an interest in and knowledge of Irish, as well as those who aren’t familiar with the language to consider the policy and feedback their views as part of the equality impact assessment process”.
Consultation on the draft Irish Language Policy is expected to begin in April and a sister policy for Ulster Scots is also under development by the Council.