Friday, 4 December 2009

Minister's Relationship with Statutory Committee Hits New Low

The Belfast Telegraph reports that Barry McElduff, Sinn Féin Chairman of the Stormont Committee for Culture, Arts and Leisure, has condemned the Department's DUP Minister, Nelson McCausland, in some of the most forthright terms heard thus far. The criticism followed the latter's delay in advancing strategies on indigenous languages — the minimum foreseen by the St. Andrews Agreement as an alternative to a language Act.

The following sentences are of particular interest.

"He pretends to be a promoter of Ulster Scots as a ruse, in my opinion, to diminish public investment in Irish language projects.

"I question his interest in any cultural aspect."

Earlier this week the Blether Region quoted Fermanagh lawyer Seymour Major as saying that the requirement for language strategies was "only as strong as the most obstructive member of the Executive".

A recently issued consultation paper on a Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland contains the anodyne words "The Government believes these duties are important, and would encourage the Executive to complete and publish these strategies."

It seems that, in the absence of legislation on the Irish language and as long as the Assembly sits, the Minister can do as he chooses.

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